Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From North Pole to Valdez

 Did you ever see a horizontal rainbow?  This was across the trees giving them these beautiful colors. We spent four days in North Pole, Alaska, no not the magnetic one but the town east of Fairbanks.  We finally had some "summer" weather, with temps in the 80's and blue skies.  We spent some time at a lake that not only was popular with people but had great birds on it like White-winged Scoters, Red-throated Loons, Red-necked Grebes and lots of Mew gulls with babies plus families of ducks.

We visited the two Fairbanks Bird & Nature Centers and spent hours watching for a Boreal Owl to come out of it's nesting hole, only hearing it call and never seeing it.  Enjoyed church at the North Pole Worship Center.  For you Packer fans - North Pole is Daryn Colledge's home town.

We drove to Paxson and spent 12 hours on gravel roads on the Denali Highway, seeing Long-tailed Jaegers in their nesting grounds, Whimbrel, Am. Golden Plover, 2 Smith Longspurs, plus 40 other species of birds.  Headed south today through beautiful mountain passes with snow and glaciers and waterfalls on all sides.  We sure are enjoying all that God has created to the fullest.   Ty & Ida

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Russian River to Denali

Russian River Falls
We headed north on June 17th and walked the Russian River (6 miles round trip) to watch the Salmon trying to leap the falls.  Downstream were hundreds of people catching their limit of the spawning fish.   Leaving the crowds behind we spent two days of quiet rest in Hope, Alaska. Now northward, 60 miles around the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet, a silt filled, mud edged bay where the tide was rushing in like a tidal wave.  We enjoyed a walk on the boardwalk at Potter's Marsh south of Anchorage, it's interesting to see the birds nesting here that we have only seen in migration before.
For our 41st wedding anniversary we walked up Coal Mine Creek to alpine and were rewarded with a life bird - an Arctic Warbler.

On the longest day of the year we took the shuttle bus into Denali National Park, where we saw many Caribou like this one that held the bus up for a while, 7 grizzly bears - very blond in this park, moose, a red fox, Dall sheep, and lots of beautiful scenery.  Only had 1 glimpse of the gigantic mountain top of Mt. McKinley (Denali).  After 11 hours and 190 miles on bumpy gravel ride, everyone was exhausted, except us, we were still looking for more.  Today we traveled back in early and alone for as far as we were allowed to go.  We were rewarded with a Wolf coming down the road and a family of Willow Ptarmigan,  chicks looked to be just hatched.  Onto  Fairbanks now.  Ty & Ida

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kenai Fjords Tour

 We had a wonderful day (9 hours) cruising 150 miles of the Kenai Fjords National Park featuring beautiful mountains, glaciers and sea bird nesting colonies, and many sea mammals such as these Steller's Sea Lions, some ranging to 1,000 pounds. We saw Humpback, Sei and Killer Whales, (there was a whole pod of the Orca).  Sea Otter, Harbor Seals, Dall's Porpoise were seen all along the trip. It was wonderful seeing so many birds nesting on the steep cliffs including: Horned & Tufted Puffins, Marbled, Ancient & Kittlitz Murrelets, Com. & Thick-billed Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemot, Pelagic, Red-faced & Db. Cr. Cormorants, Sooty & Short-tailed Shearwaters, & Black Oystercatcher.

At the farthest end of the tour was the Northwestern Glacier, seen in action with calving below.  It was very loud with the ice crashing and echoing off the canyon walls, like a cannon going off, the ice very blue and exciting to watch,  If you ever get a chance to see this, take it!  We are in the rain forest and it is living up to it's name, lots of rain.   Ty & Ida

Friday, June 10, 2011

Alaska at Last!

 We have been very impressed with the vastness of the landscapes of mountains, trees, rivers and lakes.  The wildlife including many birds has been plentiful, seeing eagles virtually everywhere as these at Anchor Point during low tide, there were 14 on the beach.  The Glaucous-winged gulls were ready to pick up the scraps.  Homer Spit on the Kenai Peninsula was great with all the ocean birds with exotic names like: Puffins, Auklets, Murres, Shearwaters, Arctic & Aleutian Terns, 3 Scoters. Black-legged Kittiwakes plus Sea Otters & Harbor Seals.  Homer also had an excellent ocean museum with wonderful exhibits.

One of our favorite sights was this mama moose and her twins even though my picture didn't turn out as good as I hoped.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Canadian Rockies

 We have been traveling through the never-ending winter of Canada.  Everything from hail, to 5-6 inches of heavy snow and 29 degrees (that's below zero in C.)  But the mountains are beautiful and the wildlife has been plentiful. One day yielded: Coyote, wolf, caribou, elk, moose, 7 black bears, (one black sow with 2 cinnamon cubs), 18 Wood Bison, and snowshoe Hare.
We have had our adventures (trials) one flat tire, and large rock in a windshield patched with tape to be replaced when we can find time from birding.
We are now in the Yukon about to enter Alaska.  Greeting to all, God bless you.  Ty &  Ida