Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day eleven of Alaska trip - Welcome to Denali, I would say!

Wow - what an amazing day today has been.  Grizzly Bear and cub, 2 Moose and what amazing birds...

We planned to hike a 5 mile loop called the Byers Lake Loop Trail in Denali State Park and we did the first part of the trail (the sign said a mile but it didn't seem like a mile, it seemed like 1.5 to 2 miles!) but then there was a bridge that was WAY too dicey to cross.  The hike was well worth it though even though we couldn't do the loop as on the way to the bridge we came across a pair of Willow Ptarmigan on the trail and got to have amazing encounter with them, following them down the trail.  Life bird!  We drove another approx. 50 miles on the way to our hotel near Denali National Park and we stopped to look for bears and I found a mother grizzly with a cub.  Just down the road from there my dad and I spotted a bird struggling along side of the road and my first thought just as we drove by was "maybe Saw-whet Owl".  I thought that only because it's the only smallish northern owl I am familiar with.  We pulled over and walked back.  It was a bitter/sweet thing because what we found was a Northern Hawk-Owl (a life bird for me) but unfortunately it had been hit and was unable to fly.  Fortunately only the wing appeared to be hurt and the bird was in overall good condition.  We thought about what to do but my dad and I saw that the only way the bird would have a chance it living is if we took it and tried to find a raptor rehabber.  We threw a pillow case over top of it and put it in my lap and we headed north with it.  Fortunately just a few miles up the road was Centwall, a small town where maybe a wildlife rehabber was.  We asked around but no luck except for a vet which wasn't there and in all odds would not take an owl.  30 miles up the road was the town of Denali and the entrance to the national park.  Perhaps there'd be a rehabber there.  We asked around and we came close several times but the only rehabber we could find out about was way back down in Anchorage, 4 hours away and a place we were not able to get to.  We were ready to let it go back into the wild and let it die and let nature take it's course.  But there was one more outdoor store to try.  Maybe there'd be a rehabber contact there.  BINGO!  The worker there was ever so helpful and there was a bird expert giving a bird talk in Cantwell that could take the bird.  Thrilled, rapped in our pillowcase we left the Northern Hawk-Owl with Darrin, the guy at the outdoor store and the bird expert's friend was going to come pick it up and it would be fed and cared for for a short while by her and by week's end would be taken to the bird rehab center in Anchorage.  YEAH!!!!!!!  YEAH!!!!!!!!

Happy that our owl was in good hands, we drove 20 more miles to our cabin where we are now.  Guess what?  While birding around the cabin I saw some warblers in a tree and got terrific looks at ARCTIC WARBLERS (2)! One of my most wanted Denali life birds.

What a way to be welcomed to Denali...


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