By Michael Armstrong
The 25th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival celebrates its silver anniversary with a look backward to one of the first birders to document the annual arrival of shorebirds to Homer. George West, who died in 2016, is the festival’s featured artist. His painting of five shorebirds serves as the festival’s logo this year.
The Homer Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 24th Annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament (WKT) on Saturday, March 18. Mark your calendars, get your boats ready, get out and fish.
Forty-two volunteers participated in Homer’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, five watching feeders in their own yard and the others out in the field.
The weather was not too cooperative with icy walking, limited visibility for most of the day and resulting decreased available daylight hours, but many were expressing the same thought, “We’ve seen much worse!”
A total of 64 species were seen on the Count Day (Saturday, Dec. 17).
Jay Landreville, deckhand on the Arctic Envy of Silver Fox Charters, holds up a wolf-fish a client caught July 12 off Pogibshi Point. The client had been jigging for rockfish when he caught the wolffish. Landreville of Hutchinson, Minn., estimated the fish was between 4.5 and 5 feet long. They let the fish go.
Glenn Holliwell, a fish biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Homer, confirmed the identification of the wolffish. Holliwell wrote in an email that the wolffish he’s seen are usually dark brown, but do have a reddish-brown color phase.
To his great surprise and elation, Seldovia resident Dick Wyland caught a 245-pound halibut while fishing with Seldovia Fishing Adventures on July 15 after hooking a yellow eye. It turned out that the halibut was attempting to eat the yellow eye, a meal that landed the fish on the boat deck.
Kayaking, though a popular summer activity in Homer, can prove dangerous if not approached with the proper information and equipment.
“Homer has had, I think, two kayak deaths. There have been numerous people who have gotten into trouble and had to be rescued,” said True North Kayak Adventures founding member Alison O’Hara. “That happens occasionally and that can be the realm of people not being aware of the tides … and get swept out to sea. Kayaks tip over. The occasional person gets into trouble because of poor judgment or the weather kicks in.”
One greenhouse, two high tunnels, three fenced open-air garden plots and three-and-a-half years of work make up Synergy Gardens, a producer of Homer-grown vegetables.
Located about 10 miles out East End Road on Wilderness Lane, Synergy Gardens is owned by three humans and one dog — Lori and Wayne Jenkins, their son Obie, and a Golden-Bernese mountain dog mix named Lilu.
Every Saturday from 4-7 p.m. in Homer, often at Karen Hornaday Park, brave warriors fight evil lizards, or escort a princess with a flag across a battlefield, or simply take part in a free-for-all death match.
But it’s not as violent and bloody as it sounds.
The arrow tips are made of cloth-stuffed socks and the swords forged of foam. Most weapons weigh about as much, or less, as the average foam swimming pool noodle. However, to the subjects of the Shire of IceFire Bay, the glory — and fun — of the games are quite real.
Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park has launched a Bear-Resistant-Food-Container (BRFC) lending program to promote safe and clean camping. These bear-proof food storage containers are available to borrow for camping and outdoor adventures in areas where bear hangs are not an option. Containers should be placed on the ground or under rocks at least 100 yards from a camping area.
The BRFCs can be checked out from the following locations:
• The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Homer office; $80 cash deposit, refunded upon return
Correction: This column has been updated to show that fishing is not allowed at Deep Creek.
The chinook run at The Fishing Hole has been fluctuating lately and may slow down a bit with the smaller tides rolling in but, as of 03:30 a couple of days ago, the fish bowl was full. Unfortunately, the critters were downright ill-mannered.
When fishing starts heating up in the pristine waters of the lower Kenai it’s akin to being in Vegas and rolling consecutive sevens from dusk to dawn with the payoffs in pure silver and greenbacks.
Last week combo charters were nailing both shiny kings and moss colored halibut while the rivers surrendered coffers of dazzling chinooks.
And, they kept on coming: On June 6, 2016, 150 of the beauties passed the Anchor River weir bringing the total of the upstream stampeders to 2,236.
Homer Wilderness Leaders (HoWL) is offering six expeditions across Kachemak Bay, six day-long trips hiking and stand-up paddle boarding, and eight Discounted Rates for Boys and Girls (DiRtBaG) Service Corps days during June and July.
“Even if you have done one of these trips with HoWL before, new staff and altered curriculum makes it a whole new experience,” wrote interim programs director Leah Lamdin in a press release.
A dreary chinook run has plagued the Kenai River for the past few years, but numbers for 2015 shine a somewhat bright light on the state’s most heavily fished river and most iconic species.
Don’t be surprised to hear the haunting refrain of bagpipes as musicians gear up for the upcoming Kachemak Bay CeltFest at Karen Hornaday Park. On June 19-20, kilts, fiddles and Celtic heritage will abound as the Kachemak Bay Celtic Club puts on the two-day CeltFest and Highland Games.
One, two, three, four…
Step after step. Step after step. Thousands of steps are adding up into millions of steps all in one tiny town across Kachemak Bay.
Despite the odd spring weather, the roads and beaches of Seldovia have had a little extra traffic — not from vehicles, but pedestrians.
In March of this year, the Seldovia Village Tribe, or SVT, launched a nine-week walking challenge. Participants were given free pedometers and asked to log their steps each day.
It takes a special place — and a special person — to host a whole crew of children and their parents for an afternoon.
On April 4, more than 200 kids and parents attended Family Farm Day, sponsored by Nature Rocks Homer and hosted by Mossy Kilcher and Seaside Farm.
Kilcher began hosting the annual event after a conversation with Carmen Field, chairperson of Nature Rocks Homer, a group of community members trying to help kids reconnect with nature.
It WILL snow. Do not fear it. Our environment needs water and snow is one way to get it. However much we get won’t last long. Think of it as adding nitrogen to the soil. Think of it as a plus. Or don’t think about it at all.
The greenhouse is providing sufficient shelter for the tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and green beans that will live in there all season. The other crops are all seeded and planning on spending the next six weeks or so nicely tucked in. They will be coddled until they meet the truth of a Far North summer.
“... and o, the winds do blow. ...”
Cold winds. Single digits for the next five days or so. Who knows?
I have been coaching my plants: “Don’t listen to the varied thrush. They’re early. Don’t you follow suit. Hang on. Wait. Patience. Survive. Pleasepleaseplease ...”
I’m grateful for the spruce boughs that have been covering the perennial beds throughout this very mild winter. I often thought that they were out there for naught. No. They are right where they should be — protecting perennials from the vagaries of March and April.
Fat bikes. Fat-tire bikes. Snow bikes. Omni-terrain vehicles. Ask Chase Warren and they’re all the same. They also are the centerpiece of the Big Fat Bike Festival 2015.
Warren and other members of the Homer Cycling Club have created a festival agenda that begins Friday and continues through Sunday. It includes food, bonfires and lots of fun activities, all of it centered around fat bikes and the places those bikes can take you.