Refuge Notebook

Biologist Daneil Rapp reaches way into a burrow to investigate its contents. (Photo by Sarah Youngren/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: The life of a biologist

It’s summer in Alaska when the daylight hours are long and nearly countless wildlife is reproducing. Nearly countless, but not entirely. A crew of biologists… Continue reading

 

Volunteer campground hosts meet with Refuge Rangers at Hidden Lake Campground. (Photo by Berkley Bedell/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: How campers make good neighbors

There’s just something about dinner roasted over an open fire (maybe a s’more or two for dessert), birds singing and kids playing games that don’t… Continue reading

 

A telephoto lens helps capture this photo of a black bear on the Kenai Peninsula while keeping a safe distance. (Photo by C. Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Being aware in bear country

I recently got a call from a friend that is a typical call we receive when living in places like the Kenai Peninsula. Our friends… Continue reading

 

After a few days, the chick is getting stronger and showing promise for a potential successful release. (Photo by Marianne Clark)

Refuge Notebook: Do our feathered friends need help?

For many, summer in Alaska is signified by lupine in full bloom and the bugs coming out in force. The abundance of insects is also… Continue reading

After a few days, the chick is getting stronger and showing promise for a potential successful release. (Photo by Marianne Clark)
Map of wildfire history on the Kenai Peninsula. (From Wildland Fire Science)

Refuge Notebook: Living with fire on Kenai Peninsula

Thinking back to my childhood days in Alaska, I don’t recall wildfires being a regular occurrence. I’ve learned that I was uninformed at that time.… Continue reading

Map of wildfire history on the Kenai Peninsula. (From Wildland Fire Science)
Range (shown in red) of the northern flying squirrel in Alaska. (Source: Alaska Fish and Game)

Refuge Notebook: Myth or mystery — flying squirrels on the Kenai

The northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) is somewhat of an enigma to the Kenai Peninsula. While it has an established home in the Interior and… Continue reading

Range (shown in red) of the northern flying squirrel in Alaska. (Source: Alaska Fish and Game)
A Dytiscidae larva (water tiger) spotted in a pond adjacent to the pipeline corridor within the Kenai Wildlife Refuge in June 2020 (USFWS/Matt Bowser)

Refuge Notebook: The little-known predator of the seasonal pond

Not to be confused with the more noticeable surface whirligig beetles that swim in a circle, predaceous diving beetles will most often be under the water tension.

A Dytiscidae larva (water tiger) spotted in a pond adjacent to the pipeline corridor within the Kenai Wildlife Refuge in June 2020 (USFWS/Matt Bowser)
A young bear grazes on roadside horsetails off Skilak Lake Road. (Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Lots to spot this spring on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Fluffs of shiny black fur, russet red velvety noses, bright yellow mouths open wide. Spring babies will be making an appearance on the Kenai National… Continue reading

A young bear grazes on roadside horsetails off Skilak Lake Road. (Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Ranger Nick Longobardi recording GoPro footage for Facebook content to bring sights from the refuge into your homes. (Photo by MJ Hendren/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Adaptation as consistency?

This year has been one for the books. Many of us had to change and adapt the way we function in our everyday lives. The… Continue reading

Ranger Nick Longobardi recording GoPro footage for Facebook content to bring sights from the refuge into your homes. (Photo by MJ Hendren/USFWS)
A male rufous hummingbird flashes his brilliant gorget after being captured for banding. This bird was banded in 2020 and returned to Seward for another breeding season. (Photo by Todd Eskelin/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Summer hummers

Recently, I was in Seward attempting to catch and band the first rufous hummingbird of the year. We had seen the bird the day before,… Continue reading

A male rufous hummingbird flashes his brilliant gorget after being captured for banding. This bird was banded in 2020 and returned to Seward for another breeding season. (Photo by Todd Eskelin/USFWS)
Looking east towards the sun rising over Caribou Island. (Photo provided by refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Paddling Tustumena

By JOHN MORTON Alaska Wildlife Alliance

Looking east towards the sun rising over Caribou Island. (Photo provided by refuge)
Large flocks of Pacific brant depend on a few key areas, especially Izembek Lagoon. (Photo by Heather Wilson/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: The outlook for Pacific brant

After a multiweek weather delay, Biologist/Pilot Heather Wilson and I took off from Kenai just before noon, Jan. 31, in a Cessna 206 on amphibious… Continue reading

Large flocks of Pacific brant depend on a few key areas, especially Izembek Lagoon. (Photo by Heather Wilson/USFWS)
The docile Pacific brant migrates thousands of miles between eelgrass beds in Alaska and Mexico. (Photo by Jeff Wasley/USGS)

Refuge Notebook: Meet our amazing Pacific brant

This is the first of a two-part series describing a charismatic but lesser known goose species, its past, present and future in the Pacific flyway,… Continue reading

The docile Pacific brant migrates thousands of miles between eelgrass beds in Alaska and Mexico. (Photo by Jeff Wasley/USGS)
StoryWalk along the Keen-Eye Trail. (Photo by Michelle Ostrowski/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Read a book, spend time in nature with StoryWalk

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss, “I… Continue reading

StoryWalk along the Keen-Eye Trail. (Photo by Michelle Ostrowski/USFWS)
Bleached, dying elodea in Sandpiper Lake on Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo by Mark Laker/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Update on non-native species in refuge

While some planned projects at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge were put on hold in summer 2020 due the pandemic, we in the refuge’s biology… Continue reading

Bleached, dying elodea in Sandpiper Lake on Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo by Mark Laker/USFWS)
Morel species collected from the Kenai Peninsula. Clockwise from upper left: Norwegian morel, beautiful morel, excellent morel, sixth black morel, exuberant morel and gray morel. (Photos by Matt Bowser and Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: A new perspective on Kenai morels

Years ago, a co-worker shared with me a place where morels appeared at the bases of cottonwood trees. I have found them at that same… Continue reading

Morel species collected from the Kenai Peninsula. Clockwise from upper left: Norwegian morel, beautiful morel, excellent morel, sixth black morel, exuberant morel and gray morel. (Photos by Matt Bowser and Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Melting ice patch in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. (Photo provided by National Park Service)

Refuge Notebook: Ice patch archaeology

Alaska’s mountains and glaciers are beautiful to observe, and many of us enjoy summertime hikes and backpacking among the peaks. Some hardy individuals even undertake… Continue reading

Melting ice patch in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. (Photo provided by National Park Service)
A snowmachine at rest in front of the Snag Lake public use cabin. (Photo provided by USFWS)

Preparedness is key to staying safe in the backcountry

If you spend any time in the backcountry it’s bound to happen: an ankle sprain halfway into a day hike, the afternoon blowup that unexpectedly… Continue reading

A snowmachine at rest in front of the Snag Lake public use cabin. (Photo provided by USFWS)
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff groom Marsh Lake Trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. (Photo provided by USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: When life gives you lemons, make a trail

The cross-country ski trails adjacent to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center at the top of Ski Hill Road in Soldotna are… Continue reading

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff groom Marsh Lake Trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. (Photo provided by USFWS)
Blood stars (top left) and leather stars (top right) were less impacted by the disease and are more likely to be seen today. Sunflower sea stars (bottom left), mottled sea stars (lower center, this one showing symptoms of disease) and ochre sea stars (lower right) used to be common, but were most affected by the disease and have become more rare. (Photos courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA, and Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Refuge Notebook: The fall of sea stars

Sea stars are a keystone species. As a top predator, they can restructure intertidal communities. For example, by feeding on mussels, they open up limited… Continue reading

Blood stars (top left) and leather stars (top right) were less impacted by the disease and are more likely to be seen today. Sunflower sea stars (bottom left), mottled sea stars (lower center, this one showing symptoms of disease) and ochre sea stars (lower right) used to be common, but were most affected by the disease and have become more rare. (Photos courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA, and Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks)