Monday, May 31, 2010

Alaska Holiday - Day 13, Seward

Another early start - by now we'd decided to start to adjust back to the UK time zone (fat chance - I've woken up at 4am then 2am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the first two days we've been home!), so skipped breakfast and headed up the road towards Exit Glacier.

We watched a Bald Eagle having a go at a gull, missing then settling in a tree, so pulled into the adjacent turn-out and took a picture:

This is the view down-river from said turn out:

Further along the road, before entering the glacier area proper, we stopped at another turn-out by a bridge. The glacier is on the far right hand side of the picture:

Down in the glacial river valley below a Spotted Sandpiper was fluffed up, I presume in display:

We headed into the car park. The trees around us were alive with activity and song, though it was hard to actually spot the birds so we headed up the trail towards the glacier, passing mounds of fresh moose poo - it turns out a moose felt it safer to be around humans with her calf than in wilder (bear) lands.
From the trail we enjoyed spotting Wilson's Warbler:

Yellow Warblers:

Orange-crowned Warblers:

and Common Redpoll:

We passed a number of date signs as we approached the car park then along the trail. It took me a while to figure out these were markers of the extent of the glacier at different points in time. Shockingly, by the looks of it, there's only a few years left before it disappears completely...

From the Exit Glacier car park we headed back to the highway, spotting on the way this Coyote:

It found what I suspect was some roadkill so hung around:

Whatever it had found must have been frozen though as it had a hard time eating it!

We headed for the other side of the bay from Seward. A small river alongside the road contained a pair of Common Mergansers, called Goosanders in the UK:

While watching these birds an Eagle flew over the crest of the mountain and caught a thermal, between me and the sun so hard to capture, but I think it's a year-old Golden Eagle:

We explored the end of the road, the park and some wetlands, seeing various ducks and passerines we'd already encountered so headed for the unmade road south of Seward to what looked like the most promising birding location in the area. We stopped before going on to the road, looking out over the water.
Locally they only get Pigeon Guillemots but judging by the shape of the white patch on this bird I suspect it could be a Black Guillemot:

Also visible close to shore, a couple of sea lions:

We drove to the park (Lowell Point) at the end of the unmade road, paid our fees then started up the trail. Almost immediately we were in the middle of a small group of Chestnut-backed Chickadees:

We watched this bird in particular and it appeared to go into another bird's nest, chase it out then proceed to remove the nestlings and nest material and drop them from a height, returning repeatedly to finish the job. Most unusual...

Another spot along the trail, our first sighting of a female Varied Thrush:

This is the view from the furthest point we reached, about a mile and a half out:

We headed back along the trail and then down to the beach for lunch. It was a lovely isolated spot and a very pleasant place to relax for a while.

Heading back to the car I was intrigued at how rusty/burnt orange the pine cones on this tree looked, maybe it was to do with the clear blue light of the day:

We'd pretty much exhausted the accessible local birding locations but checked a few more out before heading back to the hotel to pack. We wouldn't have time the following day, as I'd booked a boat trip.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

I enjoyed our brief chat aboard the "ORCA VOYAGER" in Seward, Ak where we had quite an experience of a lifetime with all the wildlife and the cavening of the glacier that you captured so well. I was able to capture most as we spoke about before I ran out of memory. I was glad to see you had this posted already. It was great talking to you and your wife. I did see a rather nice looking bird just outside of Seward and would like to send you the picures of I've taken and possibly get an identification if you don't mind.

Let me know where I can send them and I will. My email is

12:22 am  

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