Starting to get busy

I have just arrived home after spending over 12 hours on the water. Not every day is like that but some are…

The last week we had bird trips every day. Highlights included a Sabine’s Gull. Usually when you see a small black headed gull in Kachemak Bay you assume it is a Bonaparte’s. I see Sabine’s Gulls every year, usually single birds but sometimes small flocks of up to 30. This one was unusual since it occurred here in mid June. Most of the ones I have seen in past years are in late July and early August.

We have also had big tides the last week with lots of debris in the water. Aleutian Terns will perch on just about anything that floats.

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Sometimes you see more than one.

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We had good looks at them on every trip last week.

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Some had a little extra help.

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You don’t often see a flock of loons.

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It was also a good week for sea mammals other than sea otters (there always lots of sea otters). Here are four Steller Sea Lions at Gull Island.

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And the highlight for the week. Killer Whales!!!

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It was uncertain as to how many there were. The estimate was between eight and twelve. They can be hard to count.

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It was a good week to be on the water. Winds one day were predicted to be 30 knots. Here’s what it actually looked like. No wind at all.

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There were not as many Murrelets and Kittlitz’s Murrelets were spotted only once. The Yellow-billed Loon also has disappeared for the time being. Here is the list for the last five bird trips.

Common Loon
Pacific Loon
Barrows Golden-eye
Harlequin Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Double Crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
Black Oyster Catcher
Herring Gull
Glaucous Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Sabine’s Gull
Aleutian Tern
Arctic Tern
Rhinoceros Auklet
Marbled Murrelet
Kittlitz’s Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin
Horned Puffin

Sunshine Today

After having an incredibly warm April and May we are back to our normal weather for this time of year with temperatures reaching the mid 50’s if we are lucky and dropping down to about 40 at night. Yesterday we had rain on and off. Mostly on in the late afternoon and early morning. We are starting to be a bit busier with water taxi trips. Among other things yesterday and today were 30 people over to a lodge across the bay for a wedding. Also a trip to Halibut Cove with a load of summer supplies.

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Today a trip to Bear Cove including a Hawaiian outrigger canoe. You can see the canoe and load of stuff in front of the boat.

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It is almost as long as the boat.

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Yesterday we did a bird trip. The highlight was a Yellow-billed Loon and a close look at an Aleutian Tern sitting on a small stick and threatening to sink it. Gull Island yielded great looks at Tufted Puffins and a flyby of a Horned Puffin. We also spotted a juvenile Rhinoceros Auklet flying with Common Murres on our way back to the spit.

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On today’s bird trip we also spotted a Yellow-billed Loon and Aleutian Terns. In addition we had good looks at two Kittlitz’s Murrelets and four Horned Puffins at Gull Island.

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Here is a list for the last two days.

Common Loon
Yellow-billed Loon
Pacific Loon
Barrows Golden-eye
Harlequin Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Double Crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
Herring Gull
Glaucous Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Aleutian Tern
Arctic Tern
Rhinoceros Auklet
Marbled Murrelet
Kittlitz’s Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin
Horned Puffin

Bird trip 6/6/14

A pretty good trip today. The Aleutian Terns did not get as close to the boat today as they did yesterday but there were a few foraging. Also had a couple of fleeting glimpses of Kittlitz’s Murrelets. The highlight was two Yellow-billed Loons, one juvenile and one in breeding plumage. I was able to get a good enough shot of the juvenile to tell what it was but needed a longer telephoto for the other one.

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Gull Island was busy. Lots of Murres and Kittiwakes. We didn’t see a Horned Puffin today but there have been a few showing up in the past few days.

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Bird trips June 1, 3 and 5

June 1 trip

The wind finally died down but it was raining. The couple that made the original reservations were not interested in going in the rain. That was okay since I don’t enjoy complaining. Five others were happy to do the trip. As in most cases when someone drops out because of the weather we usually have a good trip despite the rain. We had close looks at Aleutian Terns and decent looks at Parasitic Jeagers. There is a pair that nests near Eagle Lake at the head of the bay. One or both of them are seen through out the summer periodically. Here is a photo of one of them. I think I need a better camera!

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As we were heading across to another part of the bay we ran across a single Brant intent on eating seaweed. We got very close to it. Usually they fly away if you get within 100 yards.

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We were also very fortunate to see two Kittlitz’s Murrelets. They are often difficult to find this time of the year. The best chance is the last week of June through the middle of August. Unfortunately the Arctic Terns nesting on the beach at Glacier Spit were nowhere to be seen and there were two Bald Eagles there.

Heading into the harbor we saw the state ferry Kennicott at the dock. That means that the other state ferry Tustemina is doing its bi-monthly trip to Dutch Harbor. Someday I hope to do that trip. Maybe when I retire!

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June 3

We had a group of 10 today, all part of a tour group. Perhaps the weather was too nice. Other than some good looks at Aleutian terns there were mainly the usual ones we see.

June 5

Only two today but despite the fact that the wind started early we got good looks at Aleutian Terns and watched them hunt for fish. They don’t forage the same as Arctic Terns. Their flight is a little more gull like, they are darker grey than the Arctic Terns and they don’t plunge dive for fish. They just dip down and catch fish on the waters surface.

No shorebirds were seen on the last three trips. They are off to the Arctic nesting. We will see some of them back through here in late June through mid August.

Here is the list from the last three days:

Common Loon
Yellow-billed Loon
Pacific Loon
Fork-tailed Storm Petrel
Brant
Greater Scaup
Barrows Golden-eye
Harlequin Duck
White-winged Scoter
Surf Scoter
Double Crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Bald Eagle
Northwestern Crow
Black Oystercatcher
Parasitic Jeager
Herring Gull
Glaucous Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Aleutian Tern
Arctic Tern
Marbled Murrelet
Kittlitz’s Murrelet
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin
Horned Puffin

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

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