Snowshoe hares, especially during years of high populations, like those that have occurred here over the last couple of years, can have significant effects on vegetation that both hares and moose feed upon during winter.
A recent article in the Journal of Wildlife Management documented the expansion of cougars - also called mountain lions, pumas or panthers - into midwestern North America where they have been absent since being exterminated in the early 1900s.
As this year's Common Loon chicks appear on local lakes in late June and early July, you might still assume that loons mate for life. However, a recent summary of 18 years of research on individually marked loons on lakes in Wisconsin revealed new information on loon mating systems, territory acquisition by young adults, territorial defense by established residents and the function of vocalizations.
While watching ABC News Thursday evening (from my cushy recliner) I was intrigued by the story titled "Stand Up." After the news program I quickly forgot about the story until sitting behind my desk at work entering caribou telemetry data. I began having some back pain the past two months and sitting all day was aggravating the strain. I remembered the news story about how sitting for more than 6 hours a day can affect how long you live. Sitting could be deadly. I immediately got up from my desk, grabbed my sweatshirt and decided to take a walk on the trails here at the refuge headquarters. Even the short (1.9-mile) Centennial Trail was enough to get my heart rate and breathing elevated and made my senses more aware of my surroundings. Getting back to my desk I was more focused and more productive at finishing the data entry.
Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series. The first part appeared in the Nov. 12 Clarion.
New Year's Day for me is not only a day for reflecting on the events of the past year and anticipating those of a new one, it is also the date of my late father's birthday. Born on January 1, 1910 -- the year Halley's Comet made a spectacular reappearance -- he wondered if he would live to see the comet when it returned 75 years later. He saw it return in 1985 but chuckled at its then rather lackluster return appearance. I also thought of my father earlier in December when I read a newspaper article about the overall declining number of hunters in the United States.
Editor's note: This notebook is the first of two parts examining the presence of woolly mammoths in Alaska.
Editor's note: This is the second part of a Refuge Notebook looking at the possible presence of woolly mammoths on the Kenai Peninsula.
We have been fortunate this winter to have an ermine periodically come by our house. I first saw its tracks in the snow on our porch and around our woodshed in late November but did not actually see it until Christmas day. Early that morning after preparing giblets for our turkey dressing, I hung the remains of a turkey neck from a string on a nearby tree limb so that chickadees could feed on the remaining tissue lodged amongst the vertebrae. Then just before we sat down to eat our Christmas dinner we saw the ermine repeatedly leaping from a tree limb to reach the turkey neck; it was a constant blur of activity. We didn't see it again until New Year's Eve when I photographed it and saw it several more times later, most recently on Jan. 20.
While many residents may be familiar with the common loon (Gavia immer) of large lakes on the Kenai Peninsula, fewer may be aware that the Pacific loon (Gavia pacifica) also nests on smaller lakes on the Peninsula. In its breeding plumage the Pacific loon is in my opinion even more attractive than the common loon. The back of its neck is silvery-gray and the front of its neck black bordered on each side by striking vertical black-and-white stripes. It has a white spotted back, white breast and belly, and red eyes.
Peninsula Clarion ©2011. All Rights Reserved.