The long-awaited return of spring is finally upon us, bringing warmth and renewed life to both the people and animals of Fairbanks, Alaska. After enduring months of freezing temperatures and scarce sunlight, I’m enthusiastically welcoming the vibrant signs of spring.
With the warmer weather steadily melting the snow, outdoor activities have become more inviting than ever. Having spent most of the past few months writing indoors, I made a conscious effort last week to venture outside and capture the season’s beauty through my camera lens.
I stopped at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge to see the incoming migration. Every spring, the International Airport DOT crews plow the fields here and scatter seeds and grains to draw birds away from the nearby runways – one of the few other snow-free areas in the region.
I was delighted to see numerous trumpeter swans and Canada geese already making their presence known. Interestingly, I’ve also spotted more greater white-fronted geese this year than ever!
On Wednesday, I encountered my first sandhill cranes of the season. While a group of about six cranes grazed far out in the fields, one particularly vocal crane ensured everyone felt its presence near the front fence.
One of my climbing team kid’s parents tipped me about a large fox den near their house, possibly home to up to nine adorable kits. Naturally, I couldn’t resist visiting to catch a glimpse of them. During one trip, I spotted at least six kits frolicking outside, though there might have been more, as they frequently darted in and out of the den’s multiple entrances. At one point, there were at least six of them visible simultaneously.
The sight of the tiny kits was heart-melting. They were so small that they could easily fit in the palm of your hand. Previously, the earliest I had ever seen kits was in late May, and they were considerably larger than these youngsters, who are about a month younger.
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The mother fox also appeared, lounging in front of the den. She had recently delivered a raven carcass to one of the den’s entrances, and one of the kits was fervently gnawing on it. Meanwhile, the other kits explored the area around the den, playfully pouncing and attempting to balance on a fallen tree. The entire scene was an absolute cuteness overload.
In just 30 minutes, I snapped over 200 photos before the kits vanished into the den. The mother fox had wandered off after about 15 minutes, seemingly unconcerned about my presence. Occasionally, one of the kits would glance my way, but they paid me little mind for the most part. They never ventured too far from the den and could disappear into the holes at lightning speed whenever they sensed something amiss. More photos are in my daily gallery here: April 26, 2023. I’ll likely share additional pictures once I’ve edited them.
Tomorrow is the first day of May and the first day of the month-long 3rd annual Fairbanks Birding Challenge hosted by the Alaska Songbird Institute. This challenge is fun and has interested me in birding and bird photography for the last two years! It’s $15 for an individual and $25 for a family or group to participate, and the money goes straight to the institute’s Creamer’s Field Migration Station. So many more spring photos are coming soon!