|Posted by Matt on August 21, 2015 at 7:15 AM|
As summer winds down, and young birders begin to head back to school, now's a great time to reminisce on the summer birding adventures we all had during the summer. But the conclusion of summer also means that the activities of the Carolina Young Birders Club are picking up- simply check out our Events and Field Trips page: http://www.carolinayoungbirdersclub.org/events-field-trips. With a couple trips to Orangeburg for shorebirds, and then heading up to the Blue Ridge for raptors and warblers, enjoy the yearly autumn migration spectacle with the Carolina Young Birders Club! The Carolina Bird Club is also hosting one of their seasonal meetings this September in Hickory. We hope you can join us.
Oh yes, back to what I was saying. This past June I was fortunate enough to finally travel to Alaska for a birding tour after saving my money for a year. America's largest state is wild and unpopulated, with millions and millions of acres to accomodate for the yearly blossoming of birdlife every summer. A premier birding destination, Alaska combines boreal, tundra, and oceanic species along with Siberian strays and localized Bering specialties. Flying into Anchorage, and hitting some of the urban hotspots in Alaska's largest city, the next day we took the long (all distances in Alaska are big!) and very scenic drive down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer, a seaside town well known for it's status as hub of the Halibut fishing industry.
ÂLocated on Katchemak Bay, Homer is framed by the gorgeous Kenai Mountains, draped in glaciers and rising 4,000 from the Pacific. The next day, we motored into the calm waters of Katchemak Bay looking for seabirds, with the prime target being that declining Alaskan specialty, the Kittlitz's Murrelet. Common Murres were tame, as we picked through their flocks searching for one of their Thick-billed brethren (to no avail).
Heading north back up the Kenai, we decided to stop in a boreal forest habitat where we nabbed Varied Thrush, Townsend's Warbler, Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak, and (especially exciting for me, it having been my nemesis bird-) Boreal Chickadee.
ÂThe next couple days included the drive north to Fairbanks, and then back south again to Healy, near Denali National Park. On our last full day in "civilized" Alaska (the part in which you can reach the rest of America by road), we began in Denali, with special views of Golden Eagle, Harlequin Duck, and Willow Ptarmigan at Savage River. The Willow completed my ptarmigan "slam".
ÂThus began the long drive back to Anchorage, for our flight the next day left to Nome.
Nome is located on the western edge of the Seward Peninsula, only about 170 miles from Russia. The flight from Anchorage took about two hours. The Nome area is home to a multitude of tundra birds who arrive for a few weeks every summer to feast on the explosion of insects and raise young. Long-tailed Jaegers, finely dressed in breeding garb, were abundant, as were Red-throated Loons.
Later, we travelled the 70 mile gravel highway to the Inupiat community of Teller, home to about 250 natives who still lead a subsistence lifestyle. In the lagoon at the town itself, we were treated to an unexpected surprise: a male Spectacled Eider.
Our last two days in Nome, as we wrapped up our grand tour of Alaska, were filled with other lifers as well, including Arctic Warbler, Gyrfalcon, Bristle-thighed Curlew, American and Pacific- Golden Plovers, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Shrike, and Wandering Tattler.
Overall, I felt incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to bird such a beautiful state with an awesome avifauna to boot!
Hope everyone had a great summer. Can't wait to see you around on some of our CYBC events and field trips this coming year!
Categories: Trip Reports