In yesterday’s post, I featured some beautiful landscapes of Alaska’s Chilkat River Valley in winter (“Just How Cold Does It Really Get in Alaska?”). Today’s post includes some more photos made during that trip to Alaska’s Inside Passage.
While photographing the Bald Eagles of the Chilkat River Valley, I noticed some apparent movement in the snow around me, yet could not spot anything. This went on for some time. Not seeing anything, I thought maybe the extreme cold was making me crazy! But after a little while, I did pinpoint what had been causing the motion I had seen … a Short-tailed Weasel (Mutela erminea) that was foraging among the snowy landscape. Here are a few of my favorite images:
After watching him scurry around me for some time, I finally saw him re-appear, with prey in his mouth:
These little guys are quite fun to watch … very quick and always on the move. During the summer months, his coat is dark brown above and white below, with a brown tail and black tip. But in the winter, his coat turns white, except for the black tip on the tail. The short-tailed weasel is also called “Ermine” or “Stoat”. In the above photo, his prey appears to be a vole, one of the weasel’s favorite foods. And apparently the extreme cold is not a big deterrent to the weasel … this one was very active and I got to watch him several days.