It rained today. I still went for a walk. I feel like weather is just something to dress for. Some of my coworkers were complaining about the weather and when I said I liked it they said my opinion shouldn’t count since I also go for walks in the woods at -40 F. I have always found my center in the outdoors. Weather is just something that happens but not something that has ever stopped me. Growing up in Washington I used to love to go out in the big storms, to climb the tall cedar trees in our yard and feel the power of the wind, to stand on the shore of Puget sound and be blasted by storm flung rain. In Fairbanks I have spent the last two winters going on walks almost weekly no matter what the weather is like. I discovered that one of my favorite activities is going on long snowshoes on cold winter days. So today’s gentle rain and temperatures of 38 F seemed rather gentle and relaxing.
While I don’t mind being out in the weather, my camera is not as understanding. At -40 battery life is drastically reduced even when I keep it in my jacket for most of the time. And water can be a real killer. I destroyed a camera last year when it took a quick dip in the freezing Chatanika river. It was cold enough at the time that the water instantly froze on the body of the camera and even though it was only in the water for a second, it still died. I’ve been very cautious of water ever since.
Today I did go for a walk and I did take a few pictures, but not many and only very cautiously. I stopped by the community gardens today and looked for insects. I didn’t find much. It’s been getting down below freezing most nights now and what insects are left are hunkered down. I managed to find a spider and a centipede today but with the low light levels and the rain, getting good shots was difficult.
One of the difficulties locating bugs is many have camouflage that allows them to hide in plain site. Today I took some pictures of a spider. I normally try and get a side view not only because it is a great way to view the spider, but also it makes it stand out. I took a picture today of a spider from above and it almost disappears into it’s surroundings. It’s well framed, and mostly in focus but still almost invisible. It reminded me today that I am probably often walking past animals both big and small without ever seeing them. I know I see more than many people because of the photographs I take and he comments I get on them, but even so I still miss a lot. A couple years ago I took a picture of the Chatanika river and when I got home and opened the image on the computer I realized there was a moose on the other side of the river staring at me out of the brush. Sometimes you can be in the right place at the right time and still not get the shot because you just don’t see what is right in front of you.
After leaving the garden I still had time on my lunch break so I decided to take a walk through a stand of trees that is located near the gardens and behind the snow dump. It covers about 2 acres and this past winter was a frequent stop of mine on my lunch time walks. During the winter it was home to about 8 squirrels. I would often walk through the woods to watch them. It was also a stop on the flight path of a goshawk. Last winter I saw it on several occasions and on one day found it in a location where I could get some good shots of it. The cover photo for this album and the photo here was taken on that day.
As I approached the woods today I could hear the squirrels screaming. It is a pretty good indicator that predator is around. After listening and watching the squirrels all last winter I became pretty familiar with their calls. Even knowing that a predator is present does not mean you will spot it. On the day I took the below photo I was lucky, I scared the goshawk from it’s perch, but instead of flying out of the woods it just hopped to nearby tree and watched me. If it had not hopped trees I never would have spotted it.
As I walked through the woods I looked carefully for what was upsetting the squirrels without success. It was not till I was through the woods and walking back towards the truck that I discovered the source of their discomfort. Out of the corner of my eye I caught movement and turning I spotted a goshawk flying across the snow dump from the woods I’d just left. They are a beautiful bird to watch but that is all I could do today. I will continue to look for them in the area and hopefully get another good chance to photograph them sometime this winter.