Sunday, July 15, 2012

Resurrection Bay and beyond

We left Kachemak Bay enroute to Seward.  I thought I would have the opportunity to see a lot of Boreal Chickadees, but when we stopped for lunch at picnic tables by a small woods and lake just off a commercial road, we saw our only Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonica) for the trip. The fuzzy photo below is the best I could get.  We also saw our only Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) of the trip here.  

From the same spot along the small lake where we saw the chickadee and a few other birds, this pick-up truck pulling a sea plane was creating a small traffic jam.  Like the earth moving machine hauling a fishing boat out to the water at Anchor Point, this scene will remind me that, in Alaska, things are just done differently. 

We arrived in Seward and checked into the hotel and had dinner at a very nice restaurant called Chinook's Waterfront Restaurant.  The reviews on the link provided are mixed, but I thought it was very nice and the view over the marina was great.  After dinner we went to Ava's feeders where we saw redpolls, pine grosbeaks, siskins and our only really good view of Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) for the trip.  I had seen Varied Thrush only once before with a wayward bird at Caledonia State Park in south central Pennsylvania.  I drove through a snow storm enroute to Michigan from Maryland to see it.  Such an attractive but relatively secretive bird.  It was one of my favorite small birds for the trip. 

The next morning we were getting on a boat for the Captain's choice trip with Kenai Fjord Tours to go the Chiswell Islands and Aialak glacier. The Captain's choice day cruise was on a small boat specifically for wildlife viewing.  We might have been lucky to have just our group on the boat, but we were joined by a photography club of six individuals who wanted to see mammals.  Word got around that they were not happy to have a group of birders on board with them.   

Before getting on the boat, this Alaska Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) perched on a sign and sang. This bird is in the bright sun which seems to wash out its color.  While it does look different from our eastern song sparrow, I don't think it resembles either the adult Aleutian or the adult Pacific northwest song sparrow represented in Sibley's Western guide.  I didn't look through all of the guides, but perhaps Peterson shows the bird in this photo best, although it's a much darker bird in that guide.  

Dall sheep with baby viewed on a cliff side from aboard
the Misty.

We were on the "Misty" (name of our captain's choice boat) for more than eight hours.  As all of the photos below reveal, the day was spectacular.  There were two captains and one young crew member aboard with us.  On June 7th this excursion was at the start of their tourist season.  The crew member was a post high school kid from Minnesota whose uncle had got him the job with the company.  He was an excited newbie thrilled to have this job for the summer.  He commented that it was the best weather day he had thus far in his new job.    

View of Resurrection Bay

Life bird Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani).
Black bird on white rock - disaster for a photograph.

Sea Lions

Life bird Horned Puffins (Fratercula corniculata)

Life bird Rhinoceros Aukelt (Cerorhinca monocerata)
cropped from the photo below.

From this photo, you'll just have to take my word for it;
life bird Parakeet Aulets (Aethia psittacula)

Floating log with Common Murres.  Later a closer, cropped
photo review revealed that there were four Thick-billed
Murres (Uria lomvia) amongst the Common.

Aialak glacier

Sea Otters with pups

The Misty

Leaving Seward on the morning of June 8th, our final minutes there found these Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) floating along the shoreline.  

We moved on to nearby Exit Glacier where we saw a number of birds including singing Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) and the singing Orange-crowned (Oreothlypis celata) and Wilson's (Cardellina pusilla) warblers below.  But not, unfortunately, our target bird the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis).

My life morel mushrooms

Our first moose of the trip - a cow along a roadside pond

Perched at the tip of a tall spruce tree was a singing Varied Thrush. This was the second and last time we saw this bird on the trip.  But from time-to-time we would to hear them.  The Varied Thrush has a truly unique vocalization; I've linked the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recording.  Have a listen.

Now driving back to Anchorage, we again stopped at Summit Lake where two or three male Barrow's Goldeneyes (Bucephala islandica) had joined the previously unidentified female goldeneye of a couple days ago.  The Wandering Tattlers were gone.

A sooty Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) perched briefly for this photo. Then it was back in the van to Anchorage and beyond to Wasilla for our overnight stop at a hotel on Lake Lucille.

1 comment:

Jerry said...

Wonderful posts, Cathy!