Monday, May 9, 2011

Homer and the Barren Islands

Homer held the 2011 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival this past weekend in Alaska. I frantically scrambled to find a ride down and on Friday evening I jumped in a car with a stranger and we were Homer bound. We spent Friday night at his friends house in Kenai. Some birding was done along the flats and we saw Hudsonian Godwits, Pacific Golden Plovers, Cackling Geese. On the way down I also saw my lifer Northwestern Crow. It was not as epic as I had imagined.

We left at the butt-crack of dawn on Saturday and got to Homer around 6am. I signed up for the all-day boat trip out to the Barren Islands and we left at 7am. Surfbirds crowded the rocks on the way out of the harbor.
Glaucous-winged Gulls were common, and less hybridized than the ones along the west coast.
Seabirds nest in huge numbers at the Barren Islands. The cliff faces were filthy with Black-legged Kittiwakes.
There were also hundreds, probably thousands of Tufted Puffins. Of course, I couldn't get the awesome shot I was after, but these quick edits will do.
You couldn't throw a dead cat overboard without hitting a Common Murre. Here is a young one.
And, saving the best for last, the Red-faced Cormorant was pretty badass.
Red-faced and Pelagic Cormorants
Back on the Homer Spit, a Bar-tailed Godwit was found. We also saw Eurasian Wigeon, thousands of Western Sandpipers, Whimbrel, among other things. I had heard Aleutian Terns were seen flying over earlier in the day, but I didn't see them. Bald Eagles littered the area.

Sacrificing sleep for birds, Sunday morning we hit the Spit bright and early. We basked in the awesomeness of Aleutian Terns.
Terrible shot of an Aleutian Tern.
Other birds seen throughout include Common, Yellow-billed, Red-throated and Pacific Loons, Common Eider, Marbled Murrelet, Marbled Godwit, Pigeon Guillemot, Thick-billed Murre, White-winged Crossbill, and all 3 Scoters. All in all, a great trip. Notable misses include Kittlitz's Murrelet and Fork-tailed Storm Petrel. I won't have time after my field job to do any Alaskan birding, so looks like I'll have to wait for a while before seeing those. I'll post soon with more pictures from the trip. I'm exhausted.

No comments:

Post a Comment