It was a Tuesday afternoon in May in the year of the winter that went too far. A friend and I decided a night of ice fishing was in order. With winter gear, rain gear, and a snow machine we headed South from Fairbanks on the Richardson Highway to Fielding Lake.
We observed a fair number of migratory birds on the way. Osprey, northern harriers, Harlan’s hawks, pintails, trumpeter swans, and a couple Canada geese. I expected more or wished for more because all the birds have been held up down south due to this late spring.
As we head up into the Alaska Range, the Delta River flows north just to the west of us. Bruce spots a canid about 100 yards from the road. I get some glass on it and see it a lone wolves loping away from us but constantly stopping and looking back. A cool and unique sighting that you don’t get everyday.
We arrived at the entrance to the Fielding Lake recreation area around 8 pm.
Ready to make the run to the lake…..
After settling in we decided to go drill a hole and wet some lines to catch some lake trout. No luck. The auger would not start. Augers always run. They are simple. Not today. Bruce worked tirelessly for hours on it but nothing came of it.
The next morning we tried again to get the auger running but no luck. Time to take a tour. We jumped on the machine and headed between the high points in the above photo. Ultimately we wound up above this photo on the right.
On the way up we spotted some caribou tracks
Me in the mountains
We decided to keep walking into this little snow field. Temperatures were soaring into the high 40’s.
And this little set of tracks makes it all worth while. Fresh wolf tracks. Based on the conditions of the snow this wolf’s tracks moved, these could only be a couple of hours old at best.
On the way down we spot more tracks. And what could this be?
The not even remotely elusive Alaska state bird, the willow ptarmigan.
Ah, finally some photos of charismatic mega fauna! I know I am all talk and no photo most of the time. At first I thought this was a cow and calf but…
the cow on the right approached as I took the photos. These appeared to be two generations of her offspring. Seeing two generations of moose with a cow is not very common but has been observed by others. We saw 11 more moose before we got home that night.
Back at the outlet of the lake I saw trumpeter swans, Barrow’s goldeneye, pintails, mallards, red-breasted mergansers, and mew gulls. A trip to the outlet also meant it was time to pack up and leave.
A porcupine along the highway.
A refill of fresh mountain water to take home.
One shot looking back just North of Delta. That’s where we just were.
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