Palmer Seasons on the Hay Flats
Springtime on the Palmer Hay Flats is a birder’s paradise. An abundance of migratory waterfowl can be seen in great numbers, passing through the refuge in May including Canada Geese, Snow Geese, White Fronted Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, American Widgeons, Mallards, Green Winged Teal, Goldeneye, Common and Pacific Loons and many, many more. Sandhill cranes arrive to dance and prepare their nests, songbirds, boreal owls, yellow legs and wood frogs compete for dominance with their territorial songs. It is the time of renewal.
Summer is a halcyon time on the Hay Flats. Endless ponds reflect blue sky,
white clouds and magnificent mountains. Glorious northern sun revels
bright on the landscape. Young are born, wildflowers burst into profusion.
Autumn is a fleeting and spectacular time on the Hay Flats. Sweeping vistas of vast tundra appear as a woven, textural tapestry laid below high, jagged granite mountain peaks thrusting skyward, white under the first layers of “termination dust”. As fall descends over the refuge, the willows and sedges turn golden brown and migratory waterfowl pass through on their long journey south. Waterfowl hunting is a popular refuge activity commencing in September. (Alaska hunting regulations)
Wintertime on the Palmer Hay Flats is one of the most tranquil seasons to
enjoy nature. As the tides ebb and flow, moisture arrives on the landscape and
combines with frigid cold temperatures to create a magical world of frost.
Winter sun, now deep in the southern sky, brings spectacular sunrises and
sunsets of pink, peach, orange and hot magenta red, before fading to deep indigo
and black. Moonlight and sparkling stars bring “diamond dust” to the sleeping
tundra. Midnight aurora crowns all this beauty on frequent visits throughout the
long winter sleep.
All photos Copyright © 2005 Dawn Bragg