Horned Puffin, Resurrection Bay

   
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Alaskan Adventure
15-22 July 2006
Narrated by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne and I took a wonderful week-long trip to the Denali Highway, Nome, and the Kenai Peninsula to see birds and other wildlife.
108
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   

Days 7-8: Kenai Peninsula & Resurrection Bay


On Friday morning we stopped at Potter's Marsh on the way out of town.  Lincoln's Sparrows were hopping about the underbrush, and at the first pond we watched a Greater Scaup with her chicks.  From there we drove south, trading in our sunshades for umbrellas, as the clouds & rain moved in, and the wind picked up.  At Beluga Point a flock of White-winged Crossbills were stripping seeds from cones on a fir tree.


Greater Scaup, Potter's Marsh  
 


Glaciers, Resurrection Bay

By the time we'd reached Seward, the clouds were hanging on the mountain tops, and wisps floated through the trees and over the glaciers.  We ate a snack lunch at Logan's Point, watching Marbled Murrelets feeding just offshore.

At 2:30 we boarded a large tour boat for a 3-hour cruise around Resurrection Bay--the water outside the bay was far too rough for the longer voyages.  Our first wildlife encounter was this lounging otter--an older fellow with a pale face.


Otter, Resurrection Bay
 

Throughout the day we spied many Bald Eagles, both in flight and sitting on trees and rocks. The boat sailed right next to this adult, who never even turned its head. 

 

Bald Eagle, Resurrection Bay
 

The prolific salmon runs in the bay provide more than enough food for the eagles, the bears, and the sea lions. As we neared the mouth of the bay, pelagic birds became more numerous, and we started seeing guillemots and murres.
 


Pigeon Guillemot, Resurrection Bay

 
 

After an hour of passing by glaciers, waterfalls, and beautiful coastline, we reached our first breeding colonies of pelagic birds.  These Common Murres were nesting in the lower crags, while Pelagic Cormorants were nesting above them.  On another near-by cliff face, hundreds of Black-legged Kittiwakes were sitting on nests and milling about.
 
 


Tufted Puffin, Resurrection Bay


Common Murres, Resurrection Bay

 
By far the most colorful of the sea birds were the two species of puffin.  This Tufted Puffin was one of only a handful we saw--much more common was the Horned Puffin (photo at top of page.)  These clowns of the avian world dive and swim underwater to feed on small fish and zooplankton, as do the murres and cormorants.  The Tufted Puffin is also known for its ability to steal bait fish from fishermen's hooks.


We saw many young and female Steller's Sea Lions--none of the adult bulls, which can top 1250 lbs.  They've undergone an alarming decline in the waters off the west coast, and this particular population is listed as an endangered species.  Their decline may be due to overfishing of fish stocks in the Gulf of Alaska.
  


 Steller's Sea Lions
Resurrection Bay

 
 

Northwestern Crow, Seward
 

The trip back to the harbor was pretty rainy, so I took a nap inside the enclosed cabin.  In Seward a number of Northwestern Crows were feeding along the shore and looking for scraps in the parking lot.  We decided that we were hungry, too, and ate a fine meal at Ray's Seafood Restaurant.
  

Saturday was our last full day in Alaska.  Our first stop was Exit Glacier, where we hiked to this beautiful river of ice in a light rain.  In Moose Pass we ran into a flock of magpies and Steller's Jays taking advantage of some bird feeders.  A final hike at Hillside Park turned up very few species; fortunately Suzanne spotted our only Northern Goshawk of the trip.  Early on Sunday we departed a cool and sunny Anchorage for the three-digit temps of Yuma, Arizona.

 


Exit Glacier, Kenai Peninsula

 
  Return to Page 1 : DENALI HIGHWAY


Alaska, 15-22 July 2006

a=Anchorage area
d=Denali Highway
n=Nome
k=Kenai Peninsula
 

# Species Notes
1 Red-throated Loon n
2 Pacific Loon d,n
3 Common Loon a,d,k,n
4 Red-necked Grebe a,d,k,n
5 Double-crested Cormorant k
6 Pelagic Cormorant k,n
7 Canada Goose a
8 Cackling Goose a
9 Brant n
10 Trumpeter Swan k,d
11 Tundra Swan n
12 American Wigeon a,d
13 Mallard a
14 Northern Shoveler a
15 Northern Pintail a
16 Green-winged Teal n
17 Greater Scaup a,d,n
18 Lesser Scaup d
19 Common Eider n
20 Harlequin Duck n
21 Surf Scoter d,n
22 White-winged Scoter d
23 Long-tailed Duck d
24 Bufflehead d
25 Common Goldeneye a,d
26 Common Merganser d
27 Red-breasted Merganser d,n
28 Osprey d
29 Bald Eagle a,k
30 Northern Harrier a,d,n
31 Northern Goshawk a
32 Golden Eagle n
33 Merlin d.n
34 Gyr Falcon n
35 Willow Ptarmigan d
36 Pacific Golden Plover n
37 Semipalmated Plover d,n
38 Greater Yellowlegs d
39 Lesser Yellowlegs d
40 Solitary Sandpiper d
41 Spotted Sandpiper d
42 Whimbrel n
43 Hudsonian Godwit a
44 Semipalmated Sandpiper n
45 Western Sandpiper a,n
46 Short-billed Dowitcher a
47 Wilson's Snipe d,n
48 Red-necked Phalarope d,n
49 Slaty-backed Gull n
50 Long-tailed Jaeger d.n
51 Bonaparte's Gull a,d,k
52 Mew Gull a,d,k,n
53 Herring Gull n
 

a=Anchorage area
d=Denali Highway
n=Nome
k=Kenai Peninsula
 

# Species Notes
54 Glaucous-Winged Gull n
55 Glaucous Gull n
56 Sabine's Gull n
57 Black-legged Kittiwake k
58 Aleutian Tern n
59 Arctic Tern a,d,k,n
60 Common Murre n,k
61 Pigeon Guillemot k
62 Marbled Murrelet k
63 Horned Puffin k
64 Tufted Puffin k
65 Rock Pigeon a
66 Hairy Woodpecker a
67 Northern Flicker a
68 Alder Flycatcher a,d
69 Say's Phoebe d
70 Northern Shrike d
71 Gray Jay d
72 Stellar's Jay k
73 Northwestern Crow k
74 Common Raven a,d,k,n
75 Tree Swallow a,d,n
76 Violet-green Swallow d
77 Bank Swallow d
78 Cliff Swallow d,n
79 Black-capped Chickadee a,d,n
80 Red-breasted Nuthatch a,d,k
81 American Dipper d
82 Golden-crowned Kinglet a,d,k
83 Ruby-crowned Kinglet a,d,k
84 Bluethroat n
85 Arctic Warbler d,n
86 Gray-cheeked Thrush d,n
87 Hermit Thrush k
88 American Robin a,d,k,n
89 Varied Thrush k
90 Yellow Wagtail n
91 American Pipit d.n
92 Blackpoll Warbler a,d
93 N. Waterthrush n
94 Yellow Warbler d,n
95 Yellow-rumped Warbler a,d,k,n
96 Wilson's Warbler d,n
97 American Tree Sparrow d,n
98 Savannah Sparrow d,n
99 Fox Sparrow d,n
100 Lincoln's Sparrow a,d,n
101 White-crowned Sparrow a,d,k,n
102 Golden-crowned Sparrow n
103 Dark-eyed Junco a,d,k,n
104 Lapland Longspur n
105 White-winged Crossbill d,k
106 Hoary Redpoll n
107 Common Redpoll d,n
108 Pine Siskin a,d
 

Photos Henry Detwiler