Tag Archives: alder

More from Wrangell

Wrangell-park-sketch-hockerOne of the fun things about traveling in Southeast Alaska is noticing the often-subtle differences in vegetation from place to place. Wrangell is just far enough south so that cedars are a major component of the forest, lending it a a different texture. Here in Juneau, we have to hike quite a ways in to find the little pockets of cedar that exist here.

The fauna's a little different too. Northern flickers are fairly common around Wrangell, but not so commonly seen here. I love watching their wings and tails flash fiery orange as they fly.

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Storms of Birds

Birdstorm2 The Weather Service says we had a dry October, but that doesn't mean sunny. The days have been windswept, cold, and cloudy, for the  most part. On my walks I've been watching the tops of the leafless alders, fascinated by the pattern of dark branches against shining sky.

It all looks so cold and lifeless… and then I'll walk past another tree and hundreds of small birds (siskins and probably redpolls too) will explode from the branches and swirl into the sky. They'll eddy for a moment like a river current, then descend to clutter the branches of the next alder. Then, as I approach, they'll take off again, all in unison so that hundreds of tiny, soft wing-claps merge into a great and startling "whump".

This sketch was inspired by those patterns of branches and birds. I haven't quite got the gestures of the alder branches, but I think it captures some of that restless motion.