Photo Collections:

August 15, 2012

Alaskan Summer Part 2

I'm back from Alaska...In Lubbock, and suffering. Oh how I long for the wilderness. I thought it might help to get some pictures of wildlife up. This set is exclusively for the wild places and the creatures that roam.

Road to Denali

On the road to Denali, the twin peaks completely dominate the landscape. Those dots on the road are full-sized buses. Denali pierces the sky at 20,320 feet, towering way above the valley below, which sits at only about 2000 feet. This photo was taken on Eielson pass at roughly 6000 feet.


Magic Mountain

The mountain just keeps on going...You can see here how the mountaintop penetrates the clouds to reappear in the sky above, as if it were floating.


Arctic Ground Squirrel

Denali National Park is about the wildlife; from the small mammals like this arctic ground squirrel yelling at me to get off his lawn, to the great grizzly bears that you'll see on down the page.


Dall Sheep

My favorite were these Dall sheep. They live high in the mountains, beyond the reach of any predators, higher than most birds even. On my next visit I want to climb up to where these guys live and see what it's like up there. This photo was taken at my best zoom on my longest lens. You have to hike vertically for a long way before they begin to look like anything but white dots on a green mountain side.


Caribou Antler zoom

Speaking of birds, one of the most common in the park, but also with loads of character are the Gray Jays. These guys love to sit on the tiptop of the spruce trees and they will fly right up to you to say hello.


Loons on Wonder Lake

Another great bird in the park were these loons. Trust me, these are loons; I have some zoomed in photos that you could use to identify them, but once you hear their eerie, wolf-like calls, you just know they are loons.


Magpie

In the Crow family, Ravens and Magpies (shown here) are common up there.


Mew Gull

Even though the coast is some 250 miles away, there are Mew Gulls that live in the park. This one kept soaring over us with blue skies above.


Pika Calling

I could have a portfolio of just these little guys. The Pika are so cool and they make neat noises, like a dog-toy. This one is in the process of making that noise in this shot. They are so cute; it's hard to compete with the Arctic Ground Squirrel for personality, but the Pika win for overall cuteness.


Spruce Grouse

Back to birds again, we had this excellent bus driver on the last bus out of wonder lake. He was an old curmudgeonly fellow, but he really knew his birds. We thought this was a ptarmigan (Alaska's state bird) and he got all worked up telling us it was a Spruce Grouse.


Sandhill Crane

I love this shot! Hopefully it shot proves conclusively that you just have to get out there and take a lot of shots to eventually get one you really like. Cranes are my favorite birds and I was so stoked to see these sandhill cranes hanging out in Fairbanks. So stoked in fact, that I just had to add a couple more shots to this collection.


Sandhill Crane, In the Eye

I love the color and focus of the eye.


Sandhill cranes in flight

When birds with wingspans longer than you are tall take flight, it's a something to see. These birds have close to a 7 foot wingspan.


Momma Grizzly Bear with small cubs

This is about as close to grizzly bears as I ever want to get. I wish I had a longer lens for sure, but getting close to one of these guys, especially with cubs around, was high on my list of things to avoid. I have a whole lot of far away bear shots, of many different bears. This shot is fairly representative of the quality. As I was working on this collection, a hiker was mauled and killed by just such a grizzly in the park so don't think I'm exaggerating.


Mighty Buck Caribou

Unlike the bears, I didn't mind getting a little bit closer to the caribou. This old buck looks like a king with all those points on his antlers and I love how he's walking the ridge line all alone.


Young Buck Caribou

For comparison, here is what the antlers of a young buck look like.


Caribou Antler zoom

In case you couldn't see it clearly in the lowrez ridge line shot, here they are zoomed in. That's a lot of years.


Caribou shouting

This caribou is calling out.


Caribou Stare

And this one is checking us out. Getting to be eye to eye with wildlife makes it worth the journey.