A few weeks ago my girlfriend, Aubrey, departed on a soul searching voyage through Central and South America, and meanwhile I headed north to Fairbanks to visit some friends, and hopefully see the Aurora. Unfortunately it was cloudy every night we were there, but we found other ways to enjoy the cold. Highlights included getting frosty in some hotsprings, and figuring out how cut a hole in 2 feet of ice so we could try our hand at ice fishing (we got the hole, but no fish).
To thaw out (and to visit my parents, as well as my graduate fellowship supporters John Mather and the Hertz Foundation), I made a quick trip south to sunny California. What I miss most about California is not the sunshine (I miss that, too), but the ubiquitous chattering of the birds. Here in Seattle–in the city as well as in the wilderness–the birds are always eerily quiet. My favorites are the Anna’s Hummingbirds, and I spent several mornings in Mt Diablo State Park watching them through my telephoto lens. Though they may look delicate, male Anna’s Hummingbirds can be quite vicious when it comes to territorial disputes. They need to keep limber for their fighter-jet like maneuvers, so their morning routine involves a fair bit of stretching.