May 17 – Encounters with BS and Rattled Raven

Bear Spray, that is. A few weeks ago, I accidentally discharged a can of bear spray in my birding vest pocket while it and I were in my car. Very unpleasant, obnoxious and memorable. Today while doing my second Birds ‘n’ Bogs survey I got to smell that nasty smell again. At least it was outside the car and intentional. Early in the survey I had noticed a moose along the edge of my walk down to the bog.


The moose seemed uninterested in me, so I walked down the other side of the big open area that goes down to the bog. It was a lovely though cloudy day, with everything turning green.

When I got down to the bog, the moose was no longer visible. I watched and listened to birds, all the while keeping an eye and ear out for the moose. After about 20 minutes, the moose appeared, having risen from its nap, and walked down to the bog to drink.

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I have no further pictures of the moose, because then it proceeded to walk straight toward me, calmly, but steadily toward me. There was nowhere for me to hide, so I just watched and tried to move out of its way. I fumbled with the new can of bear spray (now in a plastic bag because I definitely never want it to accidentally discharge again), and did a trial squirt to be sure it worked). It seemed that whichever way I tried to ease out of the way, the moose seemed to aim in that direction. Eventually, the moose passed by me, maybe 15 feet away, and kept going, and I didn’t have to find out whether bear spray would deter a moose. Shaking with relief, I walked in the opposite direction as the moose, only to walk through droplets of bear spray that remained suspended in the still air. It took more than an hour for my lips and face to stop tingling from the oily pepper spray, but all’s well that ends well.

Birdwise, the survey was uneventful, except for the  constant bombardment of Wilson’s Snipe (can be heard in the moose video).

Yesterday’s birding at Lakes Hood and Spenard produced my first Horned Grebes, Pacific Loons and Bonparte’s Gulls of the year (in Alaska), along with the usual scaup and goldeneye, Northern Shovelers, and Red-necked Phalarope.

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Again, the Red-throated Loon was the highlight, coming right up to and within 3 feet of me on the shore.

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I ended yesterday by watching a very rattled Common Raven that appeared to be upset about everything. Some days can be like that, but not recently.


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