Monday, January 16, 2012

Week in Review January 16, 2012

Wildlife in the neighborhood in January

Last Saturday when Doug got out of the bed, he looked out the window (as we always do - looking for wildlife and/or Northern Lights) and spotted moose tracks in the snow in our yard. The tracks were right beside our deck and patio door and led around the side of the house. We went from window to window and finally decided that the moose was no longer in our yard. When Doug went out later to scoop snow. he discovered the tracks led to the corner of the house right outside our laundry room window. The young (judging from the size of the tracks) moose had munched on what was left of our flower barrel in the corner. While the moose was dining in the corner by the house, he apparently got tangled in the extension cords of our outside holiday lights which Doug had placed "out of the way" off the sidewalk by the flower barrel. Doug found quite a tangled mess of cords on the sidewalk and the snow on the sidewalk pretty trampled down. It looked like the moose had quite a time extricating himself from the cords. Sorry - lots of evidence, but no pictures!


On Sunday when the sun came up we found new visitors to our bird feeders. These are Bohemian Wax Wings. As you can see they are much larger than our regular customers, the red polls, nuthatches and chickadees. Doug saw one that was orange-red from his head to his tail. He did not stick around for a photo- op. We see pictures of them in the Anchorage newspaper every winter, but have never actually had them at our house before this year. A couple of them have been back a few times this week.

You can really see the red breasts and red caps on the red polls.

At first when the red polls were at the feeder, the nut hatches and chickadees flew away. But they are now sharing the feeder more frequently.


We have had tons of birds, probably because we have had TONS of snow! Doug puts feed out every day. Sometimes we have 30-40 just on the porch feeders. They also feed on the ground under the deck. You can also see the red hanging feeder in these pictures.

Note the snow on the hanging feeder in the left center of this picture. The feeder is down the hill about 20' from the deck.

In this picture, between the porch railings, you can see the squirrel feed shelf on the tree about 40' down the hill. When the squirrel is not there, the birds help themselves to his feed.


We have had some resident eagles in the tree on a regular basis. The first couple of pictures were taken 2-3 weeks ago. We went through about 3 weeks of gray,
cloudy weather. As you can see by the snow on the house roof, this was taken before our last couple of weeks of snow, snow, snow. But we do count our blessings. We do not have anywhere near the amount of snow that has fallen at Valdez and Cordova.


These photos were taken on Sunday, January 15, 2012. Doug was outside chipping away at the ice on the driveway when he heard the eagles "talking" to each other. It is kind of a chittering noise. This house is four houses away from ours. You can see that the sun is out and the sky is blue. But it comes at a price. It has been about -15* all week and that trend is to continue this next week. It is VERY beautiful weather (if viewed from the inside). :>) And it is gorgeous outside if you are dressed for it. I have been substituting this past week and since it is not exceeding -20*, the kids still go outside for recess. They all bring their "gear" and out they go. Fortunately (for me), my current position does not require me to go outside with them.

Since the winter solstice (big party time here) on December 21, we have gained back 4-6 minutes of daylight each day. Actual sunrise is currently at 9:55 AM (it starts getting light earlier than that), and sunset is at 4:23 PM - 6 hours and 28 minutes -- not much less than a normal winter day in Nebraska. Of course, we will keep gaining until we are almost at 24 hours of light by June.


Speaking of "Wild Life"

These photos are of the spot where I slid into the ditch on the way home from school on Friday afternoon. It wasn't really a wild ride. It actually happened in kind of slow motion. Those of you who know me know that I can usually easily drive my way out of something like this. Not this time.

It was snowing like crazy and I met a car in our neighborhood just two blocks from our house who felt that his half of the road was the middle of the road. I moved over to the right, not worrying about going too far, as there was a monster snow berm on the side of the road where the maintainer had made a ridge when he cleared the road. I figured I would crunch in the hard berm and know when I was over far enough. I forgot what I have been telling you - that Alaska snow is light and fluffy. The berm was not hard and crunchy. I got over just far enough that I started to slide down into the ditch, and there was no driving out of it--just sliding down and sideways. I ended up with my front bumper in the snow on the passenger side, tilted so I had to crawl up out of the drivers door, and with my wheels completely packed in snow so that I could not turn them.

Thank goodness for cell phones. I called my Knight in Shining Armor (aka Doug) and told him of my predicament and told him if he wanted to pull me out while it was still light out, he should leave the office immediately. (Note that there was not an option given whether or not he would pull me out, just WHEN he would pull me out).

Doug shoveled on the passenger side and I shoveled on the drivers side. Then I got back in the car, ready to try again. Suddenly Doug knocked on the window and told me to look out the passenger window. There was a young moose munching on the tree in the yard beside us (picture #2, tree at the left side of the photo. You can see how close he was. The two-rail fence would not even have slowed him down if he headed for Doug.

As we were digging, the school bus arrived and dropped off kids. There was a mom waiting to pick up her kids from the bus. As often happens here, she had all the kids get in her car, in case the moose decided to attack. No "don't get in with strangers" in this case. The moose started walking toward the bus and her car. It apparently looked up and saw all the activity and turned around and went the other direction (Whew!) Sorry, no moose pictures here either.

Pictures, finally!!!!

When we got up this morning, Doug did the normal check out the window and not only saw moose tracks, but the actual moose! He was at the house next door. The tracks showed that he had been in our yard right beside our house earlier. I did get a few quick pictures before he disappeared down the hill.