Tag Archive: wildlife


White on white. A new 10-Nugget postage stamp, featuring an Arctic Fox, a digital painting of an Arctic Fox, Vulpes lagopus, on the polar ice, has just been issued by the Alaska Postal Authority. The sun hangs low in the bright blue arctic sky. Do not stare at the sun as it can harm your eyes.

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arctic fox stamp

Alaska Arctic Fox Postage

As usual this image is available on an ever increasing number of items at one of my Zazzle. stores. Search for “arctic fox.”

The Arctic Fox is comfortable in deep cold; it does not begin to shiver until temperatures drop to about −70 °C (−94 °F) due to its dense, multi-layered fur. Other adaptations to a frigid climate include fur on the soles of its feet, short ears, and a short muzzle. Arctic foxes live in burrows, in a blizzard they may tunnel into the snow to create shelter.

The coat of the Arctic fox, sometimes blue-gray, is very effective winter camouflage. The natural hues allow the animal to blend into the environment. During the short warm season its coat changes to brown or gray, again acting as camouflage in tundra rocks and plants.

During the winter, when prey is scarce, the foxes follow hunting Polar Bears on the ice pack feeding on scraps. During the summer the eat rodents, birds, eggs, and even fish. They will also feed on berries and seaweed.
Arctic Foxes have extremely keen hearing, aided by their wide, front-facing ears, which allow them to locate the precise position of their prey beneath the snow. If it hears something moving under the snow it leaps into the air and pounces, punching through the snow to catch its prey.

The range of the Arctic Foxes is circumpolar; they can be found throughout the far north. The only land mammal native to Iceland, it arrived by walking oversea ice at the end of the last ice age. The species is in generally good shape except for the population on the Scandinavian mainland. However it is losing out to the larger Red Fox where their ranges overlap.

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Reindeer (Caribou), Rangifer tarandus, may suffice for once-yearly, late-December deliveries, but when you need a heavy lift capability nothing beats the Flying Moose, Alces volanti.  Not only is the Flying Moose able to lift a much heavier payload than is the Reindeer, but its wings allow for greater precision when landing as well as hovering capability.  A wild Flying Moose, sighted somewhere over British Columbia, is pictured below.

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flying moose - alces volanti

Alces volanti – the Flying Moose

The Flying Moose has been adopted by at least one mythical, all-purpose flying service in Talkeetna Alaska – Flying Moose Aviation (FMA). FMA’s motto is “Flightseeing, glacier landings, cargo, hunting and fishing charters.  We fly; tell us where you want to go.”  A leather patch, as worn by FMA bush pilots on their jackets, is below.

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flying moose aviation logo patch

Flying Moose Aviation Jacket Patch

Northern Idaho and surrounding areas of Washington and Montana are blessed with a great variety of both flora and fauna.  The southern edge of the boreal forest, the Rocky Mountains and inter-montane habitat types blend into one another into.  Many species of migratory birds pass through the Idaho panhandle following Pacific flyway routes. Canada Geese, often called Honkers, are one of the most common.  Large flocks settle on the lakes and rivers.

Some Canada Geese are also year-round residents in the Sandpoint-Lake Pend Oreille area.  The image below depicts some of them on Sand Creek just a short distance upriver from Sandpoint.

While we do not seem to have suffered from a loss of birds that has plagued many part of North America I have noticed an increasing number of dead geese, and fish, in recent years while in my kayak. Whether that somehow results from the appearance of Eurasian Milfoil in out waterways, chemicals used to combat the infestation, construction and habitat degradation near the water, or some other factor, I do not know, but I worry about environmental degradation in this are as the population grows.

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honkers and cattails

Canada Geese And Cattails

Breakup

In the north the term “breakup” refers to melting of the ice in lakes and , especially, rivers. When breakup occurs masses of ice begin melting and moving; spring soon follows,

I recently picked up a few tips that will allow me to become better at the mechanics of using 3D software to make art. Those tips are incorporated into this image; a mountain lake in spring. Sunlight reflects off trees in the distance in a more natural way that I was able to achieve previously. And I think I was able to render a fairly good approximation of ice as it appears on a lake in spring when it melts most days and then refreezes at night. And the partially-melted snow on the hills also looks natural.

I added a Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) in the foreground as they are one of the most beautiful and interesting birds in the upper left hand corner of North America. We call them screeches as that is what they do.

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a mountain lake in spring

A Mountain Lake In Spring

Busy with another project I almost let a month go by without posting something.

Here is a simple image I made a few years ago; two bull caribou strive for dominance, with the sun setting in the background. More of a study than a finished piece, though it does appear on a few items at my Zaazzle store. I like the colors and one of these day I will make a more polished version.

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two bull caribou strive for dominance

Caribou Duel

Whales With Spears

A traditional travel poster-style image of two male narwhal “tusking,” crossing their tusks, with sea ice and the mainland of Greenland in the background.

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narwhals

Narwhal Off The Coast Of Greenland

“Kalaallit Nunaat” is what Greenlanders call their island The purpose of tusking, a common activity during warmer parts of the year, is unknown. It may be a friendly greeting or a way to remove lice that typically infest the base of the tusk. Even the ultimate purpose of the spiraled tusk is not known for sure. It may serve the same purpose as deer and moose antlers, the peacock’s tail feathers, or a lion’s mane – to attract a mate. Some researchers believe it may serve as a sensory organ. Perhaps it serves more than one purpose.

As usual, this image is available at my Zazzle store.

A bald eagle perched on a driftwood log washed up on the rock-strewn coast of Alaska; mountains loom in the distance.

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bald eagle perched on driftwood along Alaska coast

Bald Eagle

This is a follow-on to the most recent post.

Alaska already has one Copper River; it does not need another. Here’s a Pebble Mine Penny made from copper to be taken from the mine. As copper leaching from mine tailings will seriously impact salmon spawning grounds the coin features a fish skeleton. It also features text reading “IN PERPETUITY” (forever), which even the mine developers admit is how long the tailings pile will remain dangerous. And when the Salmon are gone that will be in perpetuity as well.

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stop pebble mine - a pebble mine penny

Pebble Mine Penny

A penny for your thoughts. Write the EPA and ask them to disapprove the Pebble Mine.

As with the earlier Pebble Mine graphic I will donate a hefty percentage of any proceeds from the sale of items bearing this image to organizations fighting Pebble Mine. The more items sold the greater percentage I will donate. Search “Stop Pebble Mine” at my Zazzle store.

In any event, please help stop Pebble Mine. For starters find more information here and here

After the Salmon are gone what will we eat? A depiction of a Sockeye Salmon in its red spawning phase.

stop pebble mine

Stop Pebble Mine

Miners want access to a very large deposit of gold, copper and molybdemum, located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay is home to one of the world’s few and most productive wild salmon strongholds that supports a $500 million commercial and sport fishery. Plans for the mine include the world’s largest earthen dam to be built, some 700 feet high and several miles in length. Independent scientists have questioned whether the dam could withstand the force of a massive earthquake, such as the 9.2 quake that devastated Anchorage in 1964. The dam and 10-square-mile-wide containment pond are intended to hold between 2.5 billion and 10 billion tons of mine waste that Pebble would produce over its lifetime – nearly enough to bury Seattle, Washington.

Mine tailings would include sulfides, which become sulfuric acid, as well as copper. The area around the mine is a spawning ground for salmon. Salmon are highly sensitive to pollution, especially copper. If salmon are exposed to even miniscule amounts of copper (parts per billion), their sense of smell is interfered and impairs their ability to locate spawning grounds and identify predators. By the consortium’s own admission the earthen dam will need to be maintained in perpetuity (i.e. forever) in order to ensure acid-generating tailings do not damage the environment. Activity at the mine will last for approximately thirty years until the ores are exhausted. And, we are supposed to believe that the consortium will still be around ten thousand years from now protecting the environment; or maybe just one thousand years from now, or even fifty years from now. Forever is a long time. After the mine is played out the consortium will be gone leaving an inevitable catastrophe in its wake.

In addition, the mine is to be sited in an active geological zone, but we are told the fault line miraculously goes around the site and poses no threat.

The consortium, the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP), includes the world’s second largest multinational mining corporation, London-based Anglo American, along with Northern Dynasty, a junior mining company headquartered in Canada. Anglo American’s environmental track record does not bode well for Bristol Bay and Northern Dynasty has little experience safeguarding the environment having never developed a mine to date.

Anglo has a disastrous track record on the environment and worker safety at its worldwide mines, including:

Zimbabwe – Acid runoff contaminated groundwater and polluted the Yellow Jacket River from a mine owned by Anglo American until 2003
Nevada – Anglo American is responsible for the largest source of mercury air pollution in United States history. Recommendations to limit fish consumption have been issued for downwind fisheries.
Ireland – Lead and zinc contaminated river sediments and sections of the river were closed to anglers.
Over 220 mine workers have died at Anglo American mining operations in the last five years.

This image is available on many items at my Zazzle store, search under “After Salmon.” I will donate a hefty percentage of any proceeds from the sale of items to organizations fighting Pebble Mine. The more items sold the greater percentage I will donate – even up to 100 percent. In any event, please help stop Pebble Mine. For starters find more information here and here

Canada Geese goslings are escorted along the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho by an adult; nice blue mountains on the other side of the lake. This is a typical scene at City Beach park in Sandpoint.

For many years there was a group of resident geese. The powers that be decided they had to go – too many droppings – despite protests. The geese were eliminated and, in my opinion, it was a loss to the town. Now, however, there is a new group of year-round residents. They are fairly tolerant of humans allowing for close viewing and photography.

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canada goose and goslings

A stroll on the beach