June 11 – June 30 2016

We have been seeing more Humpback whales than we normally see in June. This shot of a breaching whale was taken when we were still about a half mile away. It had breached about 20 times already. When we finally got close enough for a better shot it stopped. P6280207.jpg

What!? A Murre with ears? These next few shots were taken on or near Gull IslandP6280205.jpg

Puffins!P6280196.jpg

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This nice shot of a pair of Pigeon Guillemot was taken by Becca, the new crew member this summer. Hopefully she will get a chance to take a few more.

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Shorebirds are starting to migrate south. Here is a Black Turnstone. You can see why they are hard to spot.P6200020.jpg

This Black Oystercatcher is one of the pair that nests on Cohen Island. It walks with a bit of a limp. One of its leg joints appears a little swollen.P6200046.jpg

We usually see more Barrow’s Goldeneye in the spring but there are still a few around.P6210054.jpg

We spent some time watching seals at Aurora Lagoon.P6250088.jpg

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A sea otter and her pup snoozing at Cohen Island.P6270127.jpg

There were no new birds to be added to the list. Unfortunately it is the absence of ones we normally see that is noteworthy. We also saw a pod of Killer Whales. This photo was taken last year but was quite likely from the same pod.Killer Whale.jpg

June 1 – June 10 2016

We were able to see all three Cormorants in Kachemak Bay this last week. Unfortunately a rare occurrence anymore. Here is a Pelagic Cormorant, the most common in Kachemak Bay and nests on Gull Island.P5290014.jpgThis next one, a Double Crested Coromorant, is not as common and nests inland. But we do see them from time to time.P5310075.jpgCan you find the Red-faced Cormorant in this next photo. It is a Juvenile and has a pale bill. Unfortunately they no longer nest on Gull Island so seeing one is a rare occurrence.P6030097.jpgBelted Kingfishers have been seen often on Cohen Island this spring.P6010084.jpgIt is not often this spring that we see Common Murres attempting to land on Gull Island with all the Bald Eagles in the area.P6090288.jpgAleutian Terns were found perched on the debris washed off the beaches by the high tides this last week.P6080160.jpgI won’t do a bird list for the week but Red-faced Cormorant can be added to the list. There are not as many Humpback Whales around as there were this spring but we did manage to see two a couple miles west of the spit.

March, April and May 2016

Here are a few photos starting from March with a Red-necked Grebe in the Homer HarborP3080015.jpgThere was also a flock of about 40 Steller’s Eider just west of the spitP3080081.jpgOk, this isn’t exactly a bird found in Kachemak Bay. We took a short trip to Kauai mid MarchP3170341.jpg Shorebirds start to show up in April. After the Rock Sandpipers that winter here head west we often see others that are passing throughP4210200.jpgThis flock of about 25 Common Eiders were seen only once in early AprilP4140135.jpgBlack Scoter were still around in March and April. They disappear in the summerP4140153.jpgHarlequin Ducks are seen year roundP5010277.jpgThis Wandering Tattler was using just one leg at a timeP5010366.jpgDespite large numbers of Common Murres dying this last year there were still nearly 5000 that showed up at Gull IslandP5020423.jpgBlack Turnstones and Surfbirds often hang out togetherP5030509.jpgWe saw small numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes compared to previous yearsP5070631.jpgRuddy Turnstone! Not many pass through Kachemak BayP5070662.jpgThese eventually turned aroundP5090674.jpgSo we could tell what they wereP5090680.jpgLong-tailed Duck. Another bird found in Kachemak Bay just in the winterP5130724.jpgMost of the Yellow-billed Loons we see look like this. We did see one in breeding plumage. Unfortunately I did not get a decent photoP5130733.jpgAs the name implies, these are fairly commonP5180122.jpgOften when migrating we will see small flocks of Pacific Loons. Sometimes as many as 20P5210217.jpgIt is pretty easy to tell that this is a Marbled MurreletP5210242.jpgBut what is this? Anyone want to take a guess?P5260012.jpgAnother look at it from the other sideP5260002.jpgA few Humpback whales were seen in April and May. P5180140.jpgThe End!P5120718.jpgHere is a list of birds for March, April and May seen from the Torega:

Common Loon
Yellow-billed Loon
Pacific Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Horned Grebe
Sooty Shearwater
Short-tailed Shearwater
Greater Scaup
Barrow’s Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Black Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Greater White-fronted goose
Trumpeter Swan
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Brant
Surfbird
Black Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone
Wandering Tattler
Rock Sandpiper
Black Oyster Catcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Mew Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull
Arctic Tern
Aleutian Tern
Marbled Murrelet
Kittlitz’s Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Horned Puffin
Tufted Puffin
Belted Kingfisher
Rough-legged Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Northwestern Crow
Raven

July and August

It has been an interesting summer. There has been higher than normal mortality of seabirds. Here is a link to an article about the situation: 

http://homernews.com/homer-news/local-news/2015-08-27/seabird-deaths-warm-oceans-algal-blooms-puzzle-scientists

Kittiwakes and Murres didn’t nest this year on Gull Island although the deep water docks next to the harbor did produce some fledging Kittiwake chicks. Water temperatures in the gulf and Kachemak Bay are higher than normal and there have been large numbers of shearwaters in the bay. Also Humpback Whales. 

   
 
Here is what was found on or near Gull Island this summer starting with a white Common Murre

  
Pigeon Guillemot

   
Black Oystercatcher

 
Horned Puffin (they have been nesting in this rock crevice for at least 20 years)

   
Tufted Puffin

 
Sea Otter

   
Steller Sea Lion

 
Here are birds that were found in Kachemak Bay

Shearwaters and a Northern Fulmar 

   
   
Kittlitz’s Murrelet

   
Last but not least. Well, actually they are the smallest. Red-necked Phalaropes

 
There are changes ahead. Let’s hope we can keep lots of fish in the sea.

  

May and June

It has been awhile since the last post. Since I didn’t post anything for August and September 2014 I would like to add a couple of birds from that time period. The following excellent photo of a Long-billed Murrelet is posted with permission from Jay Gilliam. It was seen near the end of August.

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We also saw a Cassin’s Auklet in mid September. They are rare in Kachemak Bay but are common elsewhere in Alaskan waters.

Our winter was one of the warmest on record. Any snow that fell would soon turn to ice then melt away. The snowblower was not used.

Here are some photos from the 2015 Shorebird Festival.

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Here is a list of birds seen from the Torega during the Shorebird Festival:

Common Loon
Yellow-billed Loon
Pacific Loon
Red-throated Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Sooty Shearwater
Fork-tailed Storm Petrel
Barrow’s Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Black Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Brant
Surfbird
Black Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper
Black Oyster Catcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Arctic Tern
Aleutian Tern
Marbled Murrelet
Kittlitz’s Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin

We did see an unusual boat

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And some colorful ones

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Another unusual bird for Kachemak Bay, the Thick-billed Murre was spotted in mid June near Glacier Spit. Also in the last two days two were seen at Gull Island in with thousands of Common Murres.

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Steller Sea Lions have been showing up at Gull Island

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Bird trips aren’t all we do. Here is the harbor before sunrise on a water taxi trip

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And then another one just before sunset

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And then one more right after sunrise

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You have to keep in mind that this is Alaska and the sun rises about 4:30 am and sets around 11 pm. Fortunately I don’t do many early or late trips.

I won’t make any promises but I will try and update this more often and post any unusual sighting.

July/August

It has been awhile since my last post. July and August tend to get busy so not much else happens than working, eating and sleeping. Things are slowing down now though so there is a little more time for things like this. July, for the most part was sunny and warm (for Homer) with just a few days of rain. August so far has been rainy with a few days of sun.

One day I had some help while doing engine maintenance. He didn’t pay any attention till I got out my iPhone out to take a photo.

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Sea otters often drape kelp over themselves to keep from drifting away when they sleep.

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There are also some humpback whales in the bay. Some dive deep.

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While others find fish on the surface. Often surprising the birds that are eating the same thing.

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Gull Island was busy. Here is a photo of both Horned and Tufted Puffins, Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes.

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Another Gull Island Photo.

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And one more of a headless Pigeon Guillemot. And one with a head for comparison.

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The Aleutian Terns left the bay earlier than normal. July 23 was the last day that I saw them. Here are some with Arctic Terns.

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It seems Arctic Terns can be rather aggressive. When this one came in to land the Kittiwakes all moved to the other end of the log.

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There were a lot of water taxi trips in July and August. Here is a typical load.

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Most days in July you could actually see the sun. This was about 10 pm coming back to the harbor after a long day.

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Most days in August you could not see the sun. If you did it looked like this.

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July 4 Weekend

You have to get up early to catch the sunrise in July in Alaska. It is about 5:30 am.

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Here is another one taken at 6 am. Nice light in the harbor.

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Among the many loads taken were a number of trips with kids.

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Regatta!

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There were not many bird trips last week. The highlight was three Caspian Terns at Glacier Spit. Also some of these.

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And on the Island.

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No trip to Gull Island is complete without Puffins. Here is a Horned Puffin (and one of those).

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And a Tufted Puffin.

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When I say I am the only yellow boat in the harbor, I really mean that I am the only yellow boat in the harbor.

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