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Gulls' return signifies the first days of spring

On a recent Friday afternoon, we were viewing the NEXRAD radar images from the Kenai station on the National Weather Service Web page. My co-worker and I noticed some peculiar bands crossing Prince William Sound between Middleton Island and Whittier. At the time we were just a little intrigued and I told him they looked suspicious. It looked like we might be watching the first waves of waterfowl making their way to Alaska. I have looked at these signatures before and there is a lot of quality work being done around the country, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, where researchers have used radar to track large movements of song birds making landfall in the gulf-states like Louisiana and Texas. In most of those cases the birds travel at night, so you typically see them make landfall just before first light and then just after sunset you see a large exodus on the radar on an otherwise perfectly clear night.
Did mammoths roam the Kenai?

Editor's note: This notebook is the first of two parts examining the presence of woolly mammoths in Alaska.
Part 2: Did woolly mammoths roam the Kenai Peninsula?

Editor's note: This is the second part of a Refuge Notebook looking at the possible presence of woolly mammoths on the Kenai Peninsula.
Shantatalik Creek fire bodes well for peninsula wildlife

It's fire time once again on the Kenai. There is smoke in the air and the sound of whirring helicopters. The Shantatalik Creek fire has burned approximately 14,000 acres since starting from a lightning strike on June 29.
Shanta Creek fire slows

...907-260-2342. Information is available by following the Shanta Creek fire link on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Web site,, or the NIMO InciWeb site at To comment or ask questions...
The fight against pike: Species invasive on the Kenai Peninsula

Since arriving from Tennessee about a month ago, I have learned a lot about some of the invasive species threatening the harmonious balance of Alaska's different ecosystems.
Birds, climate change together

On Dec. 19 volunteers will spend 24 hours focused on Soldotna's 2009 Christmas Bird Count. Every winter since 1983, local birders serving as citizen scientists have braved winter conditions to count all the birds found within a 15-mile diameter circle centered on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. The birds found are compiled and entered into a national database with over 100 years of observations.
Fish passage: Why did the salmon cross the road?

Why did the salmon cross the road? To get to the other tide.
Ermine: Bundles of boundless energy

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.
Adapting to climate change on the peninsula: Why bother?

After an unusually cold winter on the Kenai with a long period of minus 30 F weather over the holidays, it's sometimes hard to believe that global climate change is real.


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