Alaska/Canada Mammals

Stone sheep x3

Driving through British Columbia was a wildlife watchers dream. These Stone Sheep pretty much posed for me. image018

And while one thing I do agree with Stephen Colbert on is that bears are heinous, I also admit they are thrilling to see in the wild – from the safety of a vehicle.

Black BearsBlack Bears

Grizzly BearGrizzly

I drove the Alaska Highway, alone, twice in one year – Fall, then Spring. This should be on everyone’s “bucket list”.

More Alaska!

More pictures from my Alaska trip; some were taken during a wildlife cruise (the sea birds), and the owl during my drive back through the Yukon.

Black-legged Kittiwakes nest in a noisy colonyBlack-legged Kittiwakes

A floating flock of Common Murres Common Murres

Great Grey Owl – this bird was initially on the side of the road, and I thought it injured at first. Obviously not! Great Grey Owl

And a rainbow…

Yukon Rainbow

I’ll finish up next week with some mammals!

Kenai Fjord Cruise

dalls porpoise Dall’s Porpoise

Highlights of a cruise around the glaciers. Of course the wildlife was the highlight for me! The Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians held their annual meeting in Seward, Alaska last week. These pictures are from an earlier trip, as it was not my turn to attend. Mountain Goats were visible on the shore, and Sea Lions on the rocks.

mountain goats sea lions

This Sea Otter was of special interest to the folks at the Alaska Sealife Center, where I worked for a winter. He had been sighted earlier in the year, with a traumatic amputation of his foot (unknown how it happened). Numerous attempts were made to catch him for treatment, but he eluded his would-be rescuers. Luckily I got pictures of him, healed and apparently healthy! You can see how his left rear leg is stumpy.  sea otter1

Also a cute Red Squirrel near the cabin I stayed in.

red squirrel

Bushtits

A large flock of Bushtits sweep through our yard occasionally. Though not a typical “feeder” bird, like many insectivores, they may be drawn in by a water source or a suet block. There are 11 members of the genus¬†Aegithalos, but only one is found in North America! These friendly birds with the funny name will often forage a foot away from a quiet, respectful human.

bushtit 1

Their usual Spring song, a series of squeaky toy noises, is replaced in the Fall by quiet chirps that seem to keep the flock loosely together. When one bird leaves a tree, the others follow, not in a big rush but leisurely peeling off, one by one. If there happens to be a predator, such as a Cooper’s Hawk, nearby, they pull out another distinct cry, louder but no less enchanting, a murmuration and confirmation as if they are saying, “Yes! We see you!”. Another interesting feature is that you can tell the males from the females, as the females have lovely yellow eyes. I don’t like that guidebooks call these little birds “drab”; their personality is more than colorful enough!

bushtit 6 bushtit 3