Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Alaskan Journal Part 2

Jet lag is a mixture of good and bad news. The bad news is that we were wide awake at an obscenely early hour and the good news is that gave me the excuse to be on the shore of nearby lake with my camera at 5 am. After that little adventure and a good breakfast we headed due to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, stopping off at Hope on the way. Why stop at Hope? Excellent question.
I've always been grateful for my boy scout bushcraft training as it makes me an expert in animal tracking and enables me to spot very subtle clues to an animal's presence that the untrained eye would miss. One such is this rather discrete moose print in the mud of the lake shore.
And this is the lake with the shore in question. Again, notice the wonderful backdrop to the city. The lake is about 1 mile from the centre.
Another animal signature my trained eye was able to pick up was this gnawed trunk of a tree. Obviously rabbits were around.
And, if I'm not mistaken, there's one taking an early morning dip.
Here it comes. With an oddly flat broad head for a rabbit. Maybe it's a local species?
Oops, got that wrong. It's a beaver with a piece of wood in its mouth, presumably construction material for its dam/lodge? Once I got my eye in, there were may beavers around but no dams in sight. And then it occurred to me that they weren't using a dam but had made a large lodge on the side of the lake - and I was standing on it.
A Canada Goose. Noisy, dirty birds but rather attractive in the early morning sun.
As was this pair of Lesser Scaups.

A typical view as we headed south along the Turnagain Arm. Named after good old Captain Cook who sailed up it, found it was a deadend and so had to 'turnagain' to go back. Magnificant sea and mountain scapes all the way.

We made a 15 mile detour to visit the end-of-the-road township of Hope. During the gold rush years of early last century, some 25,000 people lived here. Nowadays the number is around 150. And some of these are very strange. So strange that we wondered if this was one of them. I'm sure it was waving it's flag as we drove passed.
I got quite excited when I saw this bird in the distance as I thought it was some sort of woodpecker. Not so, it's an American Robin. About twice as big as ours and, to my mind, not very robiny at all. I doubt if this one would ever be seem bob-bob-bobbing along.
Way out of Hope and up a track that was a bit of a white -knuckle ride was a 'recreational mining area' where some people (yes, they are all men) still pan for gold. They can use one of two permitted methods. The first is the traditional pan and sift: the second, as is shown above, uses a petrol driven pump to push water through a sieve. As the 'miner, seems to spend a lot of his time in a wetsuit in the water, it strikes me as a very wet and cold way to earn a few dollars and I certainly wasn't tempted to join them. There were 5 or 6 men in this stretch of the river plying their trade...
...much to the bemusement of this Harlequin Duck.

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