Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alaska Holiday - Day 7, St Paul Island

Thursday saw another prompt start, and after dealing with our headaches (36 hours without our usual large amounts of coffee and tea had left us both with severe headaches - it took Sean pointing it out for us to realise we were suffering from caffeine withdrawal!), we circled round various spots covered during the previous day, though this time with four specific target birds. We wanted better views of adult Red-faced Cormorants, and to see Horned Puffin, Ancient Murrelet and Red-necked Phalarope.

On the way past the lake between the hotel and the small town on the island, another Wandering Tattler:

We did get to see Ancient Murrelet, though at a reasonable distance. The Red-faced Cormorant proved easier:

Another 'Beach Master' had shown up:

The green is the nutrient-rich area typically covered by seals during the breeding season.

After lunch we travelled as a group to the North of the island, this is where the sea ice is most plentiful:

We enjoyed good views of Rock Sandpiper:

I was delighted we got to see Red-necked Phalarope, having been hoping to see any kind of Phalarope for over two years now:

In the same area we also saw Eurasian Teal:

In America this is considered part of the same species as the Green-winged Teal, whereas in the UK it is counted as distinct. 80% of the Teals on the Pribilofs are the Eurasian type. Finally a couple of pictures I like, first Harlequin Ducks, in this one can see all of the plumage detail in the drakes:

And a decent flight shot of Black-legged Kittiwake, always tricky, especially with a monopod in heavy wind and grey cloudy skies:

Helen was delighted when we took off for Anchorage, mostly as we were heading to warmer climes. We both enjoyed our visit, thoroughly appreciated and respected the guides and would recommend a visit to others. I would note the experience we had with the hotel and food, though, and make sure everything is locked down before you travel. Whilst we are unlikely to go back to St Paul I am now motivated to include St Lawrence Island, specifically Gambell, in a future Alaska trip, which we both agree we do want to do at some point.

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