Bird Trip 5/27/2014

After a couple days of strong SW winds we were able to do tours again. We have had a change in the weather. Finally some rain. This is good as there are still forest fires burning to the north. Highlights were Aleutian Terns and a Red Phalarope. Red Phalaropes are rare on Kachemak Bay. The last ones that I’ve seen was a small flock in 2008. It pretty much ignored the boat and we were able to get very close to it.

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We also saw some Brant.

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Then there was the ever changing light at Gull Island.

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Wind Finally Calmed Down

We were able to do the bird trip today that I had originally scheduled for Sunday. The wind decided it would blow hard from the north for three days. We rarely have wind from the north. Usually it is northeast, southeast or southwest. We also had smoke from a forest fire to the north near Tustamina Lake. So far the fire has stayed away from people or houses.

Here is a Marbled Murrelet.

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Lots of Common Murres.

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And a Steller Sea Lion.

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Kachemak Bay Birders Trip

Just about perfect weather for a bird trip. We did especially well with shorebirds but also had good looks at Aleutians Terns.

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A Horned Puffin at Gull Island was a couple weeks earlier than normal. Here is a list of birds seen on the trip:
COMMON LOON
PELAGIC CORMORANT
HARLEQUIN DUCK
AMERICAN WIGEON
LONG-TAILED DUCK
MALLARD
BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER
SURF SCOTER
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER
GREATER SCAUP
ARCTIC TERN
ALEUTIAN TERN
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL
MEW GULL
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE
MARBLED MURRELET
COMMON MURRE
PIGEON GUILLEMOT
HORNED PUFFIN
TUFTED PUFFIN
WANDERING TATTLER
SURFBIRD
ROCK SANDPIPER
LEAST SANDPIPER
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER
RED KNOT
BALD EAGLE
NORTHWESTERN CROW
SONG SPARROW

After the bird trip a quick trip to Bear Cove. Some building materials.

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Moving in for the Summer

It is not just the birds that migrate during the spring. People are moving in to their summer homes in Bear Cove, Halibut Cove, Peterson Bay, Sadie Cove, Tutka Bay and other places in the bay. Here is a typical load.

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Lots of plants!

I did another bird trip this morning and the only thing of note were two Wandering Tattlers on 60′ Rock and three more on the rocks at the entrance to the boat harbor. I’ll do another list for tomorrow’s trip.

More School Trips

When my father taught 5th grade at Paul Banks Elementary he would take his class over to Glacier Spit and camp for a couple nights. That was 40 years ago. It is nice to see that is still happening although some just go for the day. With the help of another boat we took 29 over this morning and picked them up this afternoon. A good portion of the beach came on board as well.

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Then there was the putting on of life jackets. Alaska state law requires children 12 or less to wear a life jacket on board a boat.

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Finally it is time to head back. Half of them fell asleep and the other half had more energy than they should have after a six mile hike.

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These were sitting on the jetty on the way into the boat harbor. Two Surfbirds and a Rock Sandpiper.

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Sunday May 11 Shorebird Trip

I decided to go on the west side of the spit today since there was no wind in the morning. As it turned out that situation didn’t last long. The wind began to blow and fog moved in about a third of the way into the trip.

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It was ok though. 60′ Rock had some nice sea otters with pups

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We proceeded around the island and managed nice looks at Harlequin Ducks, Pigeon Guillemots and a pair of Black Oyster Catchers.

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There are many different ways to take photos these days.

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Gull Island was very active. The Murres were circling around and landing on the Island, only to be chased off by eagles. On the way back into the harbor 600 to 700 shorebirds were on the jetty. They were mostly Surfbirds with a few Black Turnstones and a couple of Rock Sandpipers. Other than the wind and fog not a bad day to be on the water. Here is the list for the day:

Common Loon
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Surfbird
Black Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper
Black Oyster Catcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Marbled Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin

Saturday May 10 Shorebird Trip

Another nice day on the water. Again we headed East of the spit. Passed the cormorant buoy.

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Then eventually on to Gull Island

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And these.

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And way too many of these.

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Record high temperatures for the day were set as we almost reached 70 degrees. 68 was the official high. Here is the list for today:

Common Loon
Pacific Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Harlequin Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Surfbird
Black Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Arctic Tern
Marbled Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin

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Friday May 9 Shorebird Trip

This morning we went up the bay on the east side of the spit. There were fairly large ground swells and I thought it would be in our best interests to avoid getting seasick. There were many Surfbirds on the jetty but also a few Black Turnstones and even better at least four Rock Sandpipers. Then on toward Mud Bay and a Yellow-billed Loon. The first one seen this year. There were more scoters and Long-tailed Ducks in Mud Bay and also at Glacier Spit our next stop. The Arctic Tern colony at Glacier Spit had a few birds showing up. There were way too many eagles on Gull Island keeping most of the birds airborne but the 300 or so Surfbirds didn’t seem to be bothered by the eagles. Not a bad day to be on the water.

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20140509-184137.jpgHere is the list for the day:

Common Loon
Yellow-billed Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Pelagic Cormorant
Double Crested Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Surfbird
Black Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull
Arctic Tern
Marbled Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin

Thursday May 8 Shorebird trip

Lots of Red-necked Phalaropes seen all over the bay and many Surfbirds on the Jetty with a few Black Turnstones mixed in. We did not see many species but weather was good. Here is a list of birds seen:

Common Loon
Red-necked Grebe
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Surfbird
Black Turnstone
Black Oyster Catcher
Red-necked Phalaropes
Black-legged Kittiwake
Mew Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Marbled Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin

On a later water taxi trip I was able to add these to the list from the jetty at the harbor entrance:

Rock Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short billed Dowitcher

Also later at Lands End. Is this a shorebird?

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Pre Shorebird Trip

It is the day before the Shorebird Festival. I did my usual pre shorebird trip and shorebird monitoring with three others along to help count shorebirds and see what there was to see. The trip was notable mostly for what we didn’t see but there were about 500 shorebirds on the jetty heading out of the harbor. They were mostly Surfbirds but there were a few Black Turnstones as well. The only other place shorebirds were spotted were a few Surfbirds on Gull Island and two Black Oyster Catchers on Cohen Island. Oh, and 3000 to 4000 Red-necked Phalaropes.

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Here are a couple of Black Oyster Catchers.

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Since there was nothing to add to the bird lists of the last few days we will wait and do a daily list for each Shorebird Festival trip. Stay tuned…