Friday, June 20, 2014

A Bunch of Photos From My Trip to Alaska


I don't like posting trip reports.  When I started this dumpy website, I wanted to fill the gap in the bird blogosphere between Hey Here's A Cardinal In My Backyard bird blogs and Here Is Some Insane Endemic Trogon I Discovered On An Island blogs.  Reports of my lame 30-species-days were not my area of interest.

But, dear reader, screw you.  It's my damn website and if I go to Alaska and see a ton of cool shit and lug around some huge lens everywhere to get pictures, then you're going to have to look at them.  So buckle in.

A quick note - my autofocus doesn't work.  I lucked into a Canon 30d camera body when my friend, it's previous owner, dropped it into a saltwater swamp.  He went to upgrade, I inquired about the condition of the damp body, he said it sorta worked, the rest is history.  Most of the time the thing works fine, but the electronic connections are rusty and there's not much communication between the lens and the body.  So some of the photos aren't that great and aren't in good focus but who cares.  Just so you know.

I traveled with my buddy Jake to Anchorage, Homer, Seward and Nome, Alaska.  I got 21 ABA lifers.  140 species total.  I drank a bunch of beers.  I saw musk oxen, sea otters, killer whales and guys smoking crack.  Here are some of the birds.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear

Golen Eagle
Golden Eagle



Golden-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow

Arctic Ground Squirrel
Arctic Ground Squirrel

We started in Anchorage, where after a quick nap in the car we headed up to Alpine Valley to look for ptarmigan.  I hadn't seen any, and Jake was working on Rock and looking for Rosy-finches.  We didn't see any, but we had some nice Wheatears at the top of the peak (a bird I am conditioned to go nuts for as an eastern vagrant) and had our tower buzzed by Golden Eagles.  It was great.  Tons of Wilson's and Orange-crowned Warblers, Golden-crowned Sparrows and other cool stuff.  It was a hell of a hike for two flatlanders.

Northwestern Crow
Northwestern Crow

Sea Otter
Sea Otter

Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler

Aleutian Tern
Aleutian Tern

Yellow-billed Loon
Yellow-billed Loon

Common Murres
Common Murres

Black-legged Kittiwakes
Black-legged Kittiwakes

Homer, Alaska.  We birded the pants off the place.  Lots of cool birds around, from boreal species like gray jays and boreal chickadees to nesting seabirds aplenty to lingering waterfowl.  Could spend a lot more time.

Horned Puffin
Horned Puffin

Kittliz's Murrelets
Kittlitz's Murrelets

Tufted Puffin
Tufted Puffin

Rhinoceros Auklets
Rhinoceros Auklet

Red-faced Cormorant
Red-faced Cormorant

The major pelagic of the trip was a 7-hour trip through Kenai Fjords National Park, leaving from Seward, Alaska.  The conditions were not great.  Some rain, wind and big swells.  We were told soon after leaving port that we wouldn't be able to stop at the Chiswell Islands - home to breeding Red-faced Cormorants and Ancient Murrelets, and our best chance to find open-sea birds like Short-tailed Shearwater and Fork-tailed Storm-petrel - because of the seas.  High schoolers on a trip from Oklahoma were puking all over the place.  It was a scene, and we were kinda bummed out.  We had managed to find our other target bird - Kittlitz's Murrelet - the day before in Homer, so we didn't need it anymore (look, it was great to see a bunch more, obviously, but this was an expensive boat ride!).  The trip ended up being pretty great - we got like 25 more Kittlitz's, a TON of Rhino Auklets blown in by the wind, and incredibly managed a pair of Red-faced Cormorants at Cape Resurrection.  Salvaged, for sure, but we still strongly considered returning to Seward at the end of the trip to try again.

Red-necked Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope

Mew Gull
Mew Gull

Bristle-thighed Curlew
Bristle-thighed Curlew

Rock Ptarmigan
Rock Ptarmigan

Willow Ptarmigan
Willow Ptarmigan

Musk Oxen fighting
fighting Musk Oxen

Bluethroat
Bluethroat

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit

Rock Sandpiper
Rock Sandpiper

Pacific Golden-plover
Pacific Golden-plover

Spectacled Eider
Spectacled Eider

Nome.  What can I say?  It was unreal.  Anything is possible here, and everything was new.  We didn't score any of the Asian vagrants that were flooding Gambel, but we saw so so many good birds.  Plus, we scored some great company, hanging out with some off-duty guides, salty old Alaskan birders, and guys in the ABA 850+ club.  Lots of great stories and good laughs.  Let's go back soon.





1 comments:

John Beetham said...

Most of those photos are quite good. Sounds like a great trip!

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