The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

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Photo courtesy Bob Benda

What appears to be a mated pair of swans have been nest-building at what Valdez calls the Swan Pond near Mile 6 of the Richardson Highway. Last year, one of the parent raising swans died days after it was hit by a vehicle when the parents were attempting to herd their cygnets across the highway.

Fly-in this week

The Valdez Fly-In and Airshow begins this Friday and will run through Sunday.

"The event attracts pilots from all over Alaska and the lower 48," the event's website says. "The three day event highlights are a Poker Run and STOL competition in various classes of planes. It also includes a Flour Bombing competition, Aerobatics, Sky Divers, Static displays and a kids Balsa Plane event."

Organizers say it is a family friendly spectator event.

"Over 2,000 people attended last year," its website said.

Long Island Leaves

The Coast Guard Cutter Long Island left Port Valdez last week for its final voyage before it is decommissioned.

At the Valdez Civic Center Wednesday, the crew and local dignitaries gathered for a ceremony marking it's bon voyage.

"The Long Island will be officially decommissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, after serving in Alaska since 2003," the Coast Guard said in a press release.

The cutter will travel down the Pacific coast, through the Panama Canal and up the East coast of the Atlantic to reach Baltimore.

The family of crew members are left behind in the meantime.

The USCGC Farallon, currently serving in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be stationed as a replacement in Valdez later this summer.

Lt. Gov. meets with Canadians this week

(AP) Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott planned to meet with Canadian officials, tribal leaders and Canadian mining interests during a trip focused on trans-boundary resource issues.

Mallott's visit to British Columbia was scheduled to begin Monday. He said in a release that he looks forward to the trip and seeing the Canadian side of the trans-boundary issues.

Gov. Bill Walker has designated Mallott to lead a trans-boundary waters working group for the administration.

Mallott's office says three Alaska salmon rivers are in watersheds that could be affected by planned Canadian mines. Mallott says the rivers are important to the way of life in southeast Alaska.

Swan mystery

A pair of swans appear to be nesting at the swan pond site near the Robe Lake Subdivision along the Richardson Highway.

The site had been used for a number of years by what local bird watchers have presumed to be a returning pair of mated swans.

Late last summer, one of the parent birds was hit by a vehicle and was later euthanized at Bird TLC in Anchorage.

That left one adult and four large cygnets – baby swans – to migrate with only one parent.

In the summer of 2013, all four of the cygnets raised by the pair were also killed by a vehicle on the highway.

It is unknown if the pair now nesting at the site is one of last year's surviving parents with a new mate or a new pair of mated swans.

Photo courtesy USCG/Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Elliot strikes a ship's bell held by Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Sliker during a farewell ceremony for the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island last Wednesday.

Retired biologist Bob Benda believes it is highly likely that the new pair is indeed comprised of one of the surviving parents from 2014 - with a new mate.

Benda said that while it is impossible to say with certainty, last October, he did observe the surviving parent and four cygnets from 2014 spending quality time with a lone adult with one cygnet on Robe Lake.

"Maybe the Widower and the Widow got together," Benda said in an email. "I looked up facts and they said if the male lost its mate it might mate with another female. It might also not mate again. It may just be coincidental and this could be another pair taking over the pond."

Swan fans petitioned DOT officials last summer for a "swan crossing" sign in the area. DOT officials at the time said signage was in the design stage. It is still unclear whether or not appropriate will be posted this year.

 

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