Monday, December 26, 2016

Winter Harbor Part I

Here in this corner of Alaska mid-December blessed us with an abnormal stretch of clear cold weather.   Combine that with Petersburg’s setting — one bounded by harbors that boats share with overwintering waterfowl and you have the recipe for a smile on Karen’s face despite cold hands and toes.  Multiple species of waterfowl that could be far to the south basking along sunny beaches dodging sunscreen slathered tourists, short circuit their migrations to remain here where they add color and life to our little burg.

At first glance, Petersburg's boat harbors look like they could have been taken anywhere in America -- er, make that Alaska.

Of course Karen has been making daily forays to commune with the harbor denizens with her camera.   And each day she brings back photographic treasures that are impossible to top -- until the next day.  While further south in wildlife refuges, and other areas popular with bird enthusiasts, she’d be shoulder to shoulder with camo-clad photographers vying for the best position, here Karen has the critters virtually all to herself — unless someone’s black Labrador retriever comes over to nuzzle her derrière while she’s zeroing in on a rare species she’s been stalking for half an hour.  Of course!  She might toss a stick.

OK, there are a set of different challenges for Karen, but she certainly rises to meet them.  Now she’s suggesting she would like to carry dog biscuits for her four-footed friends.  I’m not sure carrying such contraband would enhance her photographic efforts regarding the wild side of PetersburgBut, then Karen is not your everyday wildlife photographer.  She seems just as happy to bring home images of the domestic citizens too.

Actually both four-footed and two-footed friends can render an impressive stalk into an everyday scene around Petersburg.

Naturally Karen has been so productive that it is hard to include as many images as we would like in a single post. Thus, we'll break this one up into several installments. 

                      Barrow's goldeneye are a common resident in Petersburg's harbors.

Mallard drakes, so wary in areas frequented by waterfowl hunters find Karen about as threatening as a snowflake.

                        Three male surf scoters also consider Karen to be just part of the scenery.

For Karen common loons were one of the favorite parts of the north woods where she spent her childhood summers.  Now those north woods are down south in Wisconsin and the loon in winter plumage fails to match her childhood image.

 A female common merganser appears to have visited a local beauty salon.  Then again, with a natural coiffure like this, she didn't need to.  

                               A comparatively tiny female bufflehead paddles past Karen...

                                           And through a flock of snoozing mallards.

Karen was very excited to hear a hooded merganser was frequenting our harbor.  The sight of it didn't disappoint her.

 A great-blue heron looks like a grumpy old bird as it rests on one of the harbor floats.  This is the same species Karen has photographed in other pacific northwest states and, if she ventured all the way to Florida, she would likely still be aiming her camera at one.

                         Frost-covered grass kept distracting Karen, so she added it to her collection. 

This is but a sample of images Karen captured this month.  We plan to publish more very soon.  Oh, and about the cold toes.  It seems that when some footwear gets too cold it....EXPLODES.

                     Maybe that Salvation Army thrift store pair of boots was not such a bargain after all.

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