June 20, 2011

Happy Monday. Gray here and likely to precipitate.

Over the weekend we made a loop drive to Tangle Lakes 200 miles south of here to look for birds and then back to Fairbanks via the Denali Highway over to Cantwell near Denali National Park and then north home. The drive back on the Parks Highway is always eye-opening. People drive like they are on a California freeway but the road has lots of curves and hills, so it can be exciting. I was poking along at 60-65 and getting passed by guys in pickup trucks going 75-80. I was glad when we pulled into the driveway. The birding was fun. We got great looks at a lot of good birds despite the migration being off this year due to the cold spring. I think we saw maybe five kinds of duck this year, some of them a lone duck, whereas most years we see twice that many kinds, and some of the lakes that usually have scores of birds had none or just a few.

Anyway, it was peaceful to be wandering around on the tundra looking for interesting stuff—there were LOTS of wildflowers—and wondering why the moose in the distance was running our way. Just exuberant? Griz? We never found out. Also saw a couple of caribou, a marmot, a pair of ground squirrels, moose mom and baby, and quite a few bugs. Our best bird was a fleeting look at one that we’ve been stalking (in the wrong place, it turns out) for several years, Smith’s Longspur. We saw quite a few whimbrels, American Golden Plover, Horned Lark, Arctic Tern, and Long-tailed Jaeger, as well as quite a few brightly colored sparrows and warblers. It was nice to see a bunch of birds again, since Alaska in winter is not exactly a birding hotspot. (Look! There’s another chickadee!)

Local news is thin. Midnight sun baseball game tonight if it doesn’t get rained out.

Yesterday’s Police Report had this item—


Jessica Sipho, 29, was arraigned Sunday on one count of misdemeanor assault and one count of interfering with a report of domestic violence. Sipho and the victim, her boyfriend of six years, reportedly had been arguing, with Sipho believing her boyfriend was having an affair with another woman. Sipho reportedly started a fight with a woman the boyfriend was standing next to at the Hideout Lounge. Sipho and the victim reportedly left the club and returned to their shared home where Sipho allegedly pinned him on the couch and refused to get up despite his insistence that she move. When the boyfriend said he would call the police, Sipho reportedly began punching him several times in the face. A police officer reported lumps on the victim’s forehead, as well as a bloody upper lip and scratches on the back of his neck.

The News-Miner has gotten pretty cautious in reporting these incidents, inserting “allegedly” frequently to stay out of trouble but spoiling the prose. “Reportedly” drags down the style a notch also.

Photo by Pete Morris

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