My Twitter Feed

July 14, 2024

Headlines:

No Time for Tuckerman -

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Quitter Returns! -

Monday, March 21, 2022

Putting the goober in gubernatorial -

Friday, January 28, 2022

Return of Bird of the Week: Long-tailed Sylph

Long-tailed Sylph, Ecuador

A reader has pointed out that the Bird of the Week feature has had almost exclusively hummingbirds for a half a year now. It’s a fair point. WC is far from exhausting his collection of hummingbird photos, but there are dozens of other families of birds. So WC will change tracks starting next week. But let’s end the hummingbird series with a bang: here’s a Long-tailed Sylph. It’s a difficult bird to photograph. A photographer is forced to a vertical composition, and the famous “Rule of Thirds” has to be thrown out at the start. And no matter what the…

Read More

Wasilla GOP Candidate Forum Madness!

I WATCHED THE MAT-SU REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FORUM SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO Yep, I watched it all, courtesy of the video taken by the eponymously-named Republican blogger, “Politadick.” There’s no easy way to prepare you for this, so let’s just dive in. But first, a visit to the United States Flag Code:   THE EMCEE: Mike Coons, recently reappointed by Gov. Dunleavy to the Alaska Commission on Aging hosted a Mat-Su candidate forum this past weekend. It took place at the Senior Center in Wasilla. Why isn’t the governor’s appointee to the Commission on Aging wearing a mask at an…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Collared Inca

Collared Inca, Peru

The taxonomy of this hummingbird is a mess. Depending on which ornithologist you are talking to, the Collared Inca is actually four species (GReen, Collared, Gould’s, Vilicamba) or just one. WC ran out of digits attempting to count the subspecies; again, it depends entirely on the bird researcher. WC has seen three of these “species” but counts it as one. Birds of the World (paywalled) has lumped the four and treats them as a single species. This is a cloudforest bird, resident year-round in the humid montane forests of the Andes, mainly at 1,800–3,000 meters altitude, sometimes lower at 1,500 meters….

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Gray-breasted Sabrewing

Gray-breasted Sabrewing

Return of Bird of the Week was delayed a day for the Fourth of July. With that behind us, let’s have a look at another hummingbird. This is a species WC has only seen once, and only briefly. This is the best of the three poor quality photos WC managed to get before the bird left. Like last week’s much more colorful Violet Sabrewing, this is a member of the genus Campylopterus, probably the drabbest member of that genus, and the subspecies Obscurus, the drabbest of that species. Kind of the polar opposite of its Violet cogener. WC has not been…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

Another stunningly beautiful hummingbird, to which WC’s photo doesn’t being to do justice. A gem of purple, blue and green, with a strongly decurved bill, this is another ridiculously colorful hummingbird. It’s also Central AMerica’s largest hummingbird, measuring 15 centimeters (a little over 5.25 inches). Unlike most hummingbirds, male Sabrewings compete for females on a lek. As many as ten birds gather and sing in saplings in the forest understory or edge, two to four meters above the ground. The song is described as “a long series of evenly spaced but variable notes: cheep tsew cheep tik-tik tsew cheep …, high-pitched…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird, Sawtooth NRA, Idaho

WC has access to his bird database again, so we’ll return to Hummingbirds for a bit longer to pickup some of the North American species; to this point, all but one of the 20 or so hummingbirds WC has shown have been endemic to Central and South America.[^1] We’ll start these last few with the Rufous Hummingbird. Alaska’s sole breeding hummingbird species. The Rufous Hummingbird has the longest migration of anybird species, at least if you measure the length of migration in the length of the bird doing the migrating. WC has photographed this species in Resurrection Bay, west of…

Read More

Sullivan, Murkowski & Young cry racism? WHAT?

Hey, Republicans – you’re doing it wrong. In a time when the most NON-political issues have become political third rails like, I dunno… basic hygiene during a pandemic, the Republican party never ceases to amaze. As the Black Lives Matter movement rolls forward, demanding that Alaskans and all Americans look hard at reforming our law enforcement agencies in the wake of decades of horrific inequities and violence against people of color, toxic seeds of racial division are being sown even by our Republican Congressional Delegation. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. IT’S ONLY RACIST IF THERE’S OIL…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting Male, Boise Foothills, Idaho

We’ll take a break from hummingbirds for a bit. WC is being forced to change his digital asset management software – the software that stores and organizes his 180,000 plus photos – and the change process makes all those photos unavailable for the duration. Which is probably measured in days. Happily, WC has been testing other digital asset management software, and has bird photos cached there. Including some shots of Lazuli Buntings, photographed last month in the Boise foothills. There are a handful of North American bird species that WC thinks are a terrific introduction to the pleasures of birding….

Read More

Alaska Republicans Silent and Absent. Again.

WHAT A WEEK! We say that every week, but this week sets the bar for bad weeks in the Trump administration. The historical lack of equal justice in our country, the horrific murder of George Floyd, the violence on the streets of our cities, the President threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 and turn the U.S. military against its own citizens… The headlines we see on a daily basis sound like the stuff of dystopian fiction. But one thing that has happened as a result is that the response to these events by individuals has told us a…

Read More

Return of Bird of the Week: Volcano Hummingbird

Volcano Hummingbird, Costa Rica

The Volcano Hummingbird is tiny, even for a hummingbird, just 7.5 centimeters (a little less than 3 inches) long. It also has a tiny habitat, ranging in the higher mountains of Costa Rica to western Panama. And within that habitat it prefers to scrubby vegetated areas. In that part of Central America, taller mountains tend to be volcanoes; hence, the species’ common name. The background in this first photo is in fact a volcanic cinder field. The species also has tiny territories, in some cases just 15 square meters, which the males defend aggressively. Unlike a lot of hummingbirds, the…

Read More