Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Days seven, eight, and nine of Alaska trip - bears and some year birds

On the end of day six (the amazing pelagic day) my mom and I went out to the Homer Spit, a spit of land in Homer because Karl, the pelagic birding guy said that Fork-tailed Storm Petrels sometimes can be seen from the spit.  I had already tried once but wanted to try again.  But my mom and I spent time there and no luck on storm petrels but we did see some neat birds like a Tufted Puffin and some Sea Otters and Seals but no year birds.  After that, while driving back along the spit I spotted some shorebirds and after searching - jackpot - year bird, Whimbrel!

On Friday, day seven we did an amazing thing - we flew out with Emerald Air Service to Katmai National Preserve to watch the Alaskan Brown Bear.  We did and it was totally, totally astonishingly amazing to watch them eat salmon, walk on the tundra, etc.  Wow!  On that trip I saw a Snow Bunting, a year bird.

Yesterday I spent time with friends, etc. but no year birds.

Today I birded the area and had good success.  I started out walking this property, Seaside Farm and found some nice birds but nothing new for the year.  Than my dad and I went out to the spit to take another chance for Fork-tailed Storm Petrel and other birds.  We looked around for the petrels and I was scanning and my dad said to me "I really want to find you that petrel!".  Right as he said that I said "there it is".  He said "what's there?".  "The fork-tailed petrel" I said.  I began watching it closely just to be sure it was.  My thoughts were "smallish bird, somewhat bigger than a swallow, light gray overall, very swallow-like, low flight, yup!".  Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, an awesome life bird.  I said to my dad "while the tide is good, let's go try to pick up Western Sandpiper along the other part of the spit".  We came across a group of shorebirds and I saw yellowlegs and different things but I was avoiding everything that I knew.  I was after a life bird - Western Sandpiper.  I had just looked in my Peterson guide at Western Sandpiper so I knew exactly what to look for.  There - a sandpiper caught my eye that seemed to say "Western!".  I looked ever so closely.  Could it be?  After spending time watching, while making sure it couldn't be anything else I said under my breath "yup..western" and than once I was one hundred percent sure I said it to my dad in full voice "yup - WESTERN - life bird!".  Two awesome life birds this morning.

Tomorrow I head back north and leave the pacific and Kachemak Bay and head back up to Anchorage and then it's on to Denali!

Alaska has been fantastic for birds so far - the trip is not even half done and I wanted 20-30 year birds the whole trip - and I'm already at 25 or 27 making my year count somewhere just below 350.  Amazing!

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