Friday, July 06, 2012

Alaska -- Day 51

Our day has been filled with flowers, birds and dragonflies--with some bird traps and bug traps thrown in. Today we visited the Georgeson Botanical Gardens and the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, both on the grounds of Alaska University, Fairbanks. Since about 1951, scientists have been working to find ways to raise crops in the short growing season and long days of sunlight found in Alaska. Raised planting beds, adding ashes to the soil to melt snow and increase soil temperature, plastic mulch and other methods have been tried. The goal is to raise the soil temperature so plants will grow quickly. They have been successful for many crops. The Botanical Gardens are located amidst the experimental farm fields at the university.

I will share a number of flower photos, without trying to name most of them. The Delphinium is Alaska's state flower (It said. I thought it was fireweed.) We saw lots of delphinium.

John took almost as many photos today as I did.

In most of the lower 48, peonies bloom in May and June. In Alaska, they bloom in late June and July. Because of that, Alaska has a major agricultural export product--cut peonies. They certainly grow a lot of beautiful ones. My mother had peony plants in the garden at the house I grew up in. I love them.

There was a nice bridge over some water.

We drove down the road a little way to visit the bird refuge. They are most famous for the sandhill cranes that pass through here. Right now the breeding birds are further north, raising their young. Non-breeding birds are feasting on the plants at the refuge.

We didn't see a lot of waterfowl and most of those we did see were too far away. We did see a northern shoveler family and this lesser yellowlegs.

Here is a good stand of fireweed. I just love this flower.

It is hard to see in the picture, but the woman is putting up a net to catch birds for banding. She was covered from head to waist in mosquito netting. She will check the net about every 30 minutes to band and remove the birds that get caught in it.

This may look like a tree-house tent, but it is really a SLAM (Sea, Land, Air Malaise trap). Click on the link to learn what I am talking about.

Dragonflies are very difficult to photograph. They rarely stay in one place long enough. About all I learned about them while we were at Santa Ana NWR is that they each have a very small area or territory. Today I was lucky enough to get a picture of this beautiful specimen


  1. Love the beautiful flower pictures and the cranes!

  2. Great pictures and how lucky for you to see so many cranes