Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mustangs in the Russian Far East

Everybody knows that mustangs are horses which have become wild.  Big herds of those used to live in the American prairies. Horses can survive in the wild in much more severe climate, for example, in the Russian Far East. For example, I met these very handsome horses at the mouth of the Koppi River near Sovgavan. They did not let me to approach, and in general behaved watchfully. I’ve got info from local fishermen, that this pair lives here already a few years. Their owners, geologists, had gone long ago, and the horses still live at the meadow between the forest and the Sea of Japan.
Sakhalin Island looks like an enormous sturgeon: it has the nose (Shmidt Peninsula) directed north, wide opened mouth (Sakhalinskiy Bay), long and sharp dorsal fin in the east (Terpeniya Peninsula).  The tail of the fish is almost reaching Japan. The western blade of this caudal fin is named Krillion Peninsula. Here I met the Sakhalin mustangs. A few horses were living for many years near an abandoned settlement at the mouth of the Naychi River. In June, when is this picture was shot, the horses feel good, but how do they survive the long Sakhalin winter, when the island is heaped up by deep snows?
Into the tundras of north-western Kamchatka the horses got not by chance. Someone suggested to utilize them for herding the reindeer, and the idea appeared successful. The Yakutian breed of horses feel fine in a strange climate – not as harsh as in yakutia, but windy and damp. The whole year round they graze in tundra without every care or additional feeding. The Koryak reindeer herders mastered a new mean of transportation. It is much easier to work with the semi-wild herds from the horseback than on foot.  
Late autumn; the horses are crossing the freezing Utkholok River
 It is not Texas and not Mongolia. The Yakut horses graze in tundra of western Kamchatka.
Some of the native Koryak reindeer herders now ride horses as well as the Mongols.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

Feklistova Island (Shantar Archipelago, Sea of Okhotsk)

The shallow western part of the Sea of Okhotsk between the Shantar Archipelago and the mainland is called Shantar Sea.  This is the coldest part of the sea (this image was shot in July).  The best streams to catch trophy Siberian taimen, Uda & Tugur Rivers, are flowing namely into this part of the Sea of Okhotsk.  
 Shantar Archipelago has 15 islands longer than 1 kilometer, and many separate tiny islands & cliffs. 
 The bigger islands are covered with dense forest
Cliffs of red jasper at the north-western shore of the Bolshoi (Big) Shantar Island. 
Feklistova Island is the second biggest of the archipelago.  It is about 40 km long.
 In the first days of July the banks of Feklistova Island were covered by huge pieces of ice (low tide). 
Lebyazhia (Swan) River is the biggest stream of Feklistova.  Near the sea it is slow & smooth.    
This Dolly Varden charr is was wintering in the river.  Now it is preparing to move out into the sea for feeding. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fishing near the Talan Island, Sea of Okhotsk

The trip to Talan Island starts in the Nagaevo Bay near Magadan.  
Magadan is a sea port on the north coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. 

 The shores of this small island are steep and rocky.  Only its northern shore is formed by a plain deposited by the sea.  This area has bank formed out of big cobbles & boulders.
 I am trying to fish near the north-western bank of the island
 If you find a school of grey rockfish, they will be biting your fly every minute
 Spiny crab is close relative to famous king crab. This smaller crab is covered by sharp spines.  It is dwelling near rocky shores at 5-15 meters, and king crab is normally found on sand & silt, on bigger depth.  
 Saffron cod is biting any flies
 Rainbow smelt is possible to catch with small, sparsely tied streamers.  This small fish has big mouth with serious fangs.
 Smelt with Nagaevo Bay at the background. 
  Greenling is found on shallow places with kelps.
 Grey rockfish caught with red shrimp imitation
 Grey rockfish often comes to the surface and could be caught with dry line and a streamer. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Talan Island, Sea of Okhotsk

Talan is a tiny (1,3 km long) island in the north part of the Sea of Okhotsk, in the Tayiskaya Inlet near Magadan.

 Most of the island shores are steep and rocky
 The biggest cliffs are at its southern end exposed to the open sea.
 Black-legged kittiwakes at the nests
 Pelagic cormorants are drying their wings.
 Mures are sitting at the narrow rocky shelves.
Spectacled guillemots are feeding with tiny coastal fish.
Horned puffins
Crested puffin
 The most numerous bird of the island is crested auklet - about 2 million of these tiny birds are nesting st the island.  
 In the evening crested auklets are flying around the island. 
 Eaglets look like dinosaurs..  Every year several pairs of majestic Stellers sea eagles nest at the island.  

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Armenia, Arpa River - Caucasus brown trout - the end.

 The next species was Kura barbel - Barbus lacerta cyri  
 Finally I was lucky to land a nice trout.   
Beautiful fish!  It is my first trout from the Caspian Sea drainage.   
 In many cases we had to fish from steep rocky banks of the river.   
My Armenian friend was using standard local tackle - long pole with a bobber.  He was using worms as a bait.
 Local fishermen do not have catch-and-release tradition.. One of the fish was tiny rainbow trout, which had probably escaped from a nearby hatchery. 
 I was able to catch one more trout with a wobbler fly.  
These flies are very convenient to use when standing high above the river.
 Wild poppy flowers