Where there’s salmon….


Brown bear mother with two cubs at fish wier
Brown bear mother with two cubs at a fish weir

Recently, I went to a large lake near my home in southeast Alaska to make an Encounters radio program about subsistence salmon fishing.  I found these bears taking advantage of sockeye salmon piling up behind a weir (used by biologists to count fish returning to spawn).

This program is the beginning of an Encounters series exploring various aspects of salmon and their place in the history, economy, and culture of Alaska’s people.  The series is funded by the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund.

I spent many hours watching the fish.  I even managed to catch a few, and I was lucky enough to keep peaceful company with a mother brown bear and her two tiny, hopelessly cute cubs.

And the next day, a very dark brown bear took advantage of the huckleberries in my own back yard.                                                                                                                            ~ R. N.

very dark brown bear in my backyard

A very dark brown bear in my backyard

Posted in Alaska, Bears, Salmon | 10 Comments

Creepy Biting Scary Nasty Nature

Huntman--a large spider--on toilet paper roll

Unwelcome surprise at Bittangabee Campground in Ben Boyd NP

An outhouse in a wild, remote Australian national park should be a peaceful and undistracted place to reflect on…well, nature. 

A few days ago, I visited one such facility, where the toilet paper dispenser was a tall, rectangular steel box with several rolls stacked vertically inside. The bottom roll was empty, so I removed the cardboard tube and stuck my fingers into slots on either side of the box to pull down a fresh roll. Continue reading

Posted in Australia | 4 Comments

Cuckoo for Kookaburras

Kookabura bird in Southeast Forest National Park

The kookabura has a maniacal, infectious laughing call

For the past few days I’ve been camping in Southeast Forests National Park, a gorgeous place in the mountains a couple hours’ drive inland from the southeast coast of Australia. I’ve had the campground completely to myself, far from any busy roads, nested in silence and solitude.  

My “office” is a shaded picnic table and my home is the tent just a few yards away. It’s the middle of a warm February day—midsummer in this part of the world—with the sun blazing down between patchy white clouds.  

There’s a broad green meadow in front of me, densely surrounded by tall Eucalyptus trees. And pouring out from the forest edge is an absolutely preternatural sound—a chorus of intense, frenetic, chattering, high pitched almost maniacal laughter. This has been going on intermittently all day, but I can’t help stopping to listen every time it happens. Continue reading

Posted in Australia | 6 Comments

Dingo in Mt. Kaputar National Park

Wild Dingo-Dog Mt Kaputar Road

Wild Dingo-Dog on the road from Mt. Kaputar National Park

 I had a surprise sighting on the long drive down from Mt. Kaputar National Park. The road tunnels through a forest of white-trunked Eucalyptus trees. Just where it starts opening onto patchy meadows, a dog broke from the underbrush and trotted across the road in front of me.   

It was built like a medium husky but with bright golden-red fur. I knew instantly this was no ordinary dog. It was a dingo—the wild dog found only in Australia.   

I stopped the car and kept the engine running (to avoid the sudden silence that often spooks wildlife), while the dingo slowed to a saunter about 40 yards into the meadow. Where, to my amazement, it turned sidelong and stared at the car.  Continue reading

Posted in Australia | 4 Comments