Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eagle Field of View

Salmon are no longer in the Kodiak streams so the eagles are coming to town, hoping to find food at the fish processing plants. Here is one looking around. They can turn their necks more than 180 degrees to see what is behind them, without turning their bodies! Note that their feet keep facing forward. This is not trick photography.

A Democratic friend recommended that I send this to the Secret Service, to remind them to keep an eye for intruders at the Presidential Ball. But I think that might get me in trouble.

Monday, November 23, 2009

When the weather is bad....

What do you do when its been around 20 degrees for a week, snow has accumulated, and suddenly the temperature rises to 34 degrees? If the rain is coming down, you stay out of that slush. You look at your summer pictures and reorganize them into a slide show with music! So here is a new presentation of our bear viewing trip.
Join ous on a trip from Kodiak Island, across the Shelikof Strait, to Geographic point at Katmai Nat. Park. We sat by a "fish hole" in the river and let the bears come close to eat salmon. There were up to 29 bears we could count closeby at one time. We had at least 17 in view at any one time. We felt safe since they were interested in eating their salmon. Some were so close that they could almost have reached out and touched us. Only at one time did we think of using our "mass" for protection. The plan was to have us all stand up at the same time on the count of 3. Fortunaltely at the count of 1, the approaching bear turned away. Three hours of "communing with nature", shortened to 9 minutes. What do you think of the music?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Winter arrives in Kodiak

It has been under 20 degrees since last Friday. Just a few inches of snow, but all of it is still on the ground. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, just one week before Thanksgiving. It seems strange because the last 2 years it didn't get this way till January. Is there Global Warming where you live? Hope you enjoy yourselves, whether it's hot or cold.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is it a seal or a sea lion?

You could get all scientific and try to see if it has external ear lobes. Then you know its a seal.
But I go by size: if it's big, its a sea lion. If it's 11 feet long and 1,200 pounds (2 - 3x's a Sumo wrestler's size): it's a male sea lion. Eight feet, 500 pounds: it's a female sea lion. A seal is 200 pounds as an adult. Needless to say it is really easy to determine which it is when you are kayaking and one of the two comes up to you. When your heart suddenly starts racing, you know your adrenaline has kicked in because your subconcious noticed a sea lion before you could even meaure it's size. Anything that is almost as long as your boat and 3 times as wide is something that makes you pray!

Sea lions swim under your boat and seem to say, "You are lucky that I am in a good mood today because I could easily bump your toy boat and have my way with you". Seals come up to you with their puppy dog eyes and seem to say, "Want to play?" I hear they have come on shore to play with some people's dogs. I keep taking my dogs there but I guess they don't look friendly to the seals.

Do you get which I like better? There are a few people in Kodiak who are known to have pieces missing from their buttocks. Sea lions like to jump on board the fishing boats when they are unloading their catch. If you try to push them away from your catch, they are likely to push you over the side. Or in a few cases, they'll take a bite out of you. In fact, seals are thought to be related to nice small otters and sea lions are considered related to bears. They say if you find a sea lion skull near on a beach you might have a tough time determining it is not a bear's.
Anyway, here is a video I shot of a sea lion rookery this summer. They seem nice and playful when they are that far from you. Enjoy them at a distance.

Notice in the video how the sea lions are able to push themselves and almost "walk" on their hind legs. I hear they have remnants of hip sockets that let them do that. This is why they can climb such steep cliff walls. Seal are more like fish; they lack those hips. When on land they use their front paws like paddle wheels on a Mississippi riverboat to pull themselves forward. No steep beaches for them.

Enough for today. Another day we'll talk more about their first few day of life and perhaps about what I've learned form people who used to hunt them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crime Scene Investigations....Kodiak Style

The following was in the Kodiak Daily Mirror newspaper State Trooper Blotter:

Friday, Oct 30, 2009
At 12:10 pm a call was received from a person at the landfill reporting a foot was found in a dumpster next to a bag with meat and unknown fatty substances. Officers determined the foot was the foot of a bear and the bag contained the rest of the bear."

Your police probably get calls to investigate killings. You would think the State Troopers must have gotten all excited. But no. It was just another successful hunt they were called to investigate.

PS The picture is not not of the crime scene. It is one of my bear skinning photos. Those bear paws are pretty good to study anatomy. Only in Kodiak.