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.
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.
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.
Fire crews Friday and Saturday continued their work to keep the Shantatalik Creek fire contained in the limited suppression area on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
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.
It is a blessing for us as residents of the Kenai Peninsula to live in a time and place where we enjoy largely pristine or at least functionally intact ecosystems. Alaska, thanks to its cold climate and limited human disturbance, remains dominated by the same flora and fauna that existed before western colonization. Our vast forests and mountains may seem impervious, but they are nevertheless vulnerable.
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.
The recent drowning on the Kenai River at Naptowne rapids and other unfortunate drowning-related fatalities brought back memories and somber reflections of similar incidents on the numerous lakes and rivers throughout the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
The telltale sign of fireweed now blooming closer to the tip of the plant reminds me that summer is rapidly approaching its end. When fireweed has gone to seed they say that snow is six weeks away. Just this past weekend I felt the air changing and I noticed the mountain peaks are starting to change color. Fall is just around the corner.
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