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Our Spectacled Eiders have finally begun to lay in earnest!! One more egg from the first lay-er, in addition to another from a separate female. It was an exciting day for us duck-people.

With the upcoming AZA accreditation inspection, everybody is become frantic, getting ready for the big day. Getting recognized by the AZA will be a big step for the ASLC, so it’s important that we pass…and there is a fair amount to do to get ready. I personally think it’ll go well…the people here at the ASLC are in it to win it. There’s still a few weeks, too, so I’m confident everything will go

swimmingly.

Other than that, I got some good pictures of the resident male King Eider (there are never enough pictures of these birds, especially when they are so cooperative some days). I’ll upload them next blog post.

That’s all, folks.

Okay, so how about instead of posting every day, I just post when I have pictures and stories. Sounds good? Sounds good.

Late post is rather late.

So this morning I got up early thinking I had food prep…only to discover that I don’t have food prep today, or for the entire week.

I ended up having an hour to myself, so I dropped by the Sea Bean. Of course I didn’t update my blog…there was no time for that!! I had to fool  around on the internet. While I was surfing the web, an older man came in, and in his arms…an adorable puppy. He went out to meet a friend, leaving the wee one to his own devices in the coffee shop, where the only two possible sources of attention were the barista, and myself. Guess who he chose.

I got some fun video of the little fluffball, plus this picture where he looks like he’s laughing maniacally because he knows none can resist his fluffy adorableness.

Our first Spectacled Eider egg came today!!!! The mother isn’t at all who was predicted to lay first. Like I said, sorry, no pictures, research animals, blah blah. Apart from that, work was just work. Really. Tomorrow’s blog will be cooler, I promise*.

*Note: The author only promises the possibility of a maximum of 20% more coolness. Restrictions apply, results may vary.

…aaaaaand I jinxed it. I looked out the window at the cloudy skies, and said to myself, “The instant I get on that trail, it’s going to start raining.”

It didn’t even take that long. I was about halfway to the trail when the skies released their fury upon me. I walked back to my apartment, sullen and soaked…and within a half hour, the rain had ceased. Did I mention how much I loved Seward weather? I don’t think I did.

So most of the day was spent inside, doing this, listening to music, and looking out the window at the sky angrily, knowing that if I attempted to go out again, the evil Frenchman in the sky would pull his happy little lever again. “ANND NOW IT IS RAIN, AND NOW IT IS NOT!!! IL PLEUT! IL NE PLEUT PAS!!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.”

Yes, the incarnation of everything that is wrong with the weather is a sadistic French guy. Watch Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, and you may start to understand

Sadly most of the day was spent inside. So yeah. Pretty dull.

So my mighty paycheck was about $53. Damn it.

Well, I should’ve figured as much. Maybe I should just take a second job…I don’t want to blow through everything so fast.

Another cruise ship came in today, even bigger than the last. As a result, the sea life center was packed. Glad it was the weekend for me.

I guess after that I picked up some groceries, enough to last me until the next paycheck. Which is good, because I nearly spent everything I got. The sales tax here is criminal. I can’t even imagine living here for 3 months, imagine being that poor sucker. Oh wait…

Later in the evening, I went with some of the other interns to walk the smaller Exit Glacier trail. It was really something seeing the bit of the glacier that we did…most impressive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to grab my camera before we left, so no pictures for now. I’ll have to make it back there at some point.

The glacier trail was teeming with Violet-Green Swallows, which seemed to be an odd place for them. They were landing right on the ropes…a picture would have been so easy. Again, why did I forget my camera?? I also saw some Common Redpolls.

I am really enjoying all this sun. Too bad I had to run errands today, didn’t have time to walk any trails, so here’s to hoping that it’s sunny tomorrow!!!

Of Sea Birds and Seals

WOOOO!!! Made it through my second week of work. And tomorrow is pay day. Sweet justice, indeed.

Work was alright…we finished up the ramps for the Steller’s nests, and fed everyone silversides (fish) for treats. Some of the Specs will feed right from your hand, which is a lot of fun. It’s also cool to watch them dive for the stuff that falls to the bottom. Food prep was a pain though…I’m still finding scales on my clothes. It took long too, since it was just me and Natalie for most of the time.

Still, it was a mercifully easy day, overall. During lunch, I took some pictures and video of the harbor seals, because honestly, who doesn’t love them (apart from fish, I guess)?

Later I got some great pictures of the birds, including the male King Eider, the male Harlequin, a curious Tufted Puffin, and some of the Long-Tailed Ducks (finally!!).

I also finally learned the story of those domestic-looking feral rabbits. Apparently, a while back, some dude was just raising rabbits. Officials told him he had to money, so he should get rid of some. The reasonable man decided he would get rid of all of them…by letting them loose in the city. Within a few years, the population had exploded, since not many things around here want to eat rabbits except possibly for dogs and bears (the eagles around here only eat fish, since they are Bald Eagles. If there were Golden Eagles around, the story might’ve gone differently).

Tomorrow, I should get some good birding in. I also learned some good places to get decent pictures of wild sea lions, for all you folks that think the birds are dreadfully dull and boring and don’t have the decency to just STOP READING (just kidding, of course).

Day of the Octopus

Work was the same as ever. It’s not that I don’t find it fun or enjoyable work…there just isn’t much that really merits discussing since it’s not anything new. The Specs are going to lay their eggs any day now, so I’ll let you know when that happens.

After work, I was walking around, when I noticed Lulu the Giant Pacific Octopus had begun to stir. She seemed to be very active, more so than usual. I got some good photos and video, and a crowd had begun to amass around the tank. The great red cephalopod seemed curious, and I was immediately struck by how aware and intelligent-looking it was when it started paying attention to its crowd.

Pictures of a Steller’s Jay I saw on the way to work, plus a pic of Lulu and of a fish:

Well that’s about it. No new life birds. Check on my Youtube for new videos.

Engineer’s got it right.

So it’s difficult to try and keep on time with my posts, so I think I’ll settle for posting a day late. Too bad, so sad.

In the meantime, check out my pictures and Youtube channel, if you would be so kind. If you do, I might not feed you to Woody.

…aaaaand I cursed myself. Now I’m a day behind again…worth it.

So work was pretty much same old. New and exciting stuff included me working with Seth and talking about Ohio Wesleyan and (naturally) birding. I also got to meet Tasha today, since she’s back from field work for a little bit.

Today we made some ramps for the Steller’s Eiders, and fixed up the Spectacled Eiders’ nests. I’ve really come to find that I prefer working with the Specs; they’re a lot more friendly and inquisitive. Their personalities are really much more obvious; for example, Mrs. Pink is a little neurotic and scatterbrained. Okay, very neurotic and scatterbrained. Apparently, she laid her eggs in the skimmer one year.

After work, I went out birding with Seth, Tasha, and Hannah at the airport. It turns out that when I tried to walk there, I wasn’t even close. Meh.

I saw some good shorebirds, including Semipalmated Plovers, Western Sandpiper, and some Short-Billed Dowitchers, as well as a Merlin that harassed and in turn was harassed by a group of Arctic Terns. There were lots of the plucky little seabirds in the area, diving for fish. There was also a myriad of ducks, including American Wigeon, Green-Winged Teal, and Northern Pintail. While we were walking, we accidentally flushed a duck out of the grass (I didn’t catch what sort it was). It turned out it had been sitting on its nest, and after we took some pictures, we covered it up to keep the eggs warm until the mother came back.

Before we got back to the car, we also saw some Black-Legged Kittiwakes amongst the Mew and Glaucous-Winged Gulls. Seth mentioned that even though he had been in Seward for 3 years, he was still getting finding life birds. This pleases me greatly. He also told me a lot of places to try to nab a lot of the life birds I’m after, so all in all it was a very productive day, bird-wise.

The weather helped too; the sun actually stuck around for the whole day, and it was pretty warm (about 65 degrees, I’d say). I got some nice pictures of GUESS WHAT MORE MOUNTAINS in the morning and afternoon.

Hopefully, I’ll get tomorrow’s post done on time tomorrow so I can actually get back on track for more than a day.

Total Alaska Life Bird Count: 25 (Western Sandpiper, Short-Billed Dowitcher, Merlin, Black-Legged Kittiwake). A special note, I broke 200 on my life list!! It stands at 203.

Day 7: A Moosey Fate

Today at work was mostly uneventful. Cleaned stuff. Watched for poop. Fed the ducks. Daily cyle, pretty much.

The only merciful thing about today was that I ended at 4 instead of 5. I think I might have gone nuts if I had to go another hour.

The sun actually shines in Seward!! It’s real!! I was starting to think the sun only shines on the continental U.S. I have proof!!

…okay, that’s kind of crappy proof. But nonetheless!!

After birding the Two Lakes trail for a short time, I have learned two things: 1.) I still LOVE Alaska, and 2.) Moose scare the crap out of me.

Allow me to explain the first point. The scenery was absolutely amazing; I’m going to do some pictures there when the lighting is better. Also I saw a Northern Goshawk while I was walking, which is not just a life bird, but one of my goal birds for the state.

Now to the second point…as I was walking the trail, at one point I forgot what all the safety guides tell you as far as making noise goes and keeping your eyes forward on the trail, being a birder with ADD. I was standing still just taking it in, when I heard some rustling on the trail ahead. I saw a giant brown mass, and I ceased all movement. Heck, I was barely breathing at that point. Somewhat to my relief, it was not a bear, but a moose. Also somewhat to my relief, it was not a bull, which probably is the only reason I am still typing instead of lying in a broken pile in the woods somewhere.

Yes, this was a cow, yet it was still big enough to give me pause. This is where my being relieved stopped. It was moving right towards me. I started backing up very slowly. The moose kept coming. I started backing up a little faster…and it still kept coming. This moose was intent on checking me out. Finally I did, quite possibly, the stupidest thing ever.

I ran for it.

If this were anything other than sheer curiosity on the moose’s part, I probably would have been screwed at that point. The moose was probably shocked at how something that seemed so big and clumsy sprinted so fast, even with field guides, binoculars, and backpack weighing it down.

It looks like I actually caught up on my blogs! Now I’m not a day behind. YAY.