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5 - 19 June 1995

by Tom Bailey

Following is a trip report of tour with a small nature center in Bergen County, NJ.  Also with me was Al Driscoll.  The trip ran from June 5 - 19.  Surprisingly, we had excellent weather for most of the trip.  The only weather problems we encountered were foggy conditions on the Pribilof Islands and at Nome, and one day of rain (turning to snow) on the mainland.

Places visited included: Pribilof Islands (St.  Paul), Kotzebue, Nome, Anchorage area (including Potter's Marsh, Chugach SP, Elmemdorf AFB), the Denali Highway, and the Seward area.

June 5

In mid-morning, we joined up with a few early arriving partici- pants for some birding around Anchorage.  We first visited Elmendorf AFB where Al (being a retired Lt.  Colonel) flashed his badge at the guard at the main entrance and we received a stiff salute and a "thank you sir".  Quite a convenience when you want to bird a military installation!  We went right to an area where BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were being reported.  Within a short time, we located a pair of birds, one of which was carrying food.  This area was quite birdy, with many other species around including: nesting RED-NECKED GREBES, BONAPARTE'S GULL, ARCTIC TERN, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, ALDER FLYCATCHER, BLACK-CAPPED & BOREAL CHICKADEES, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, AM.  ROBIN, ORANGE-CROWNED & YELLOW-RUMPED (MYRTLE) WARBLERS, N.  WATERTHRUSH, SAVANNAH, LINCOLN'S, & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, DARK-EYED (SC) JUNCO, RUSTY BLACKBIRD, and COM.  REDPOLL.  We also got our first "taste" of Alaska's State Bird - the MOSQUITO.  On our way out, we were treated to jet fighters landing and AWACS planes doing "touch & goes".

We next stopped at the float plane lake next to the airport.  RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were seen, as well as RED-NECKED GREBE, CANADA GOOSE, GREATER & LESSER SCAUP, SURF SCOTER, COM.  & BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, & MEW GULL.  The birds seem unaffected by all the noise as the float planes land and take off contin- uously.  A short drive over to a park along the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet produced more waterfowl including GREEN-WINGED TEAL, N.  PINTAIL, N.  SHOVELER, and a small flock of HUDSONIAN GODWITS.  After lunch, we stopped at Potter's Marsh.  GADWALL and CANVASBACK were found here, as well as RED-NECKED & HORNED GREBES, ARCTIC TERN, MEW GULL, and more RED-NECKED PHALAROPES.  Across the highway at a small parking area along Turnagain Arm, we found a small flock of previously reported SURFBIRDS in beautifull alternate plumage.  With them were 2 SHORT- BILLED DOWITCHERS and a WANDERING TATTLER.

After dinner, we joined up with the rest of the recently arrived participants for a BOREAL OWL tour run by Wilderness Birding Adventures.  They take you out to occupied nest boxes where you observe an owl observing you from the entrance hole of the box.  Not only did we see a BOREAL OWL, but were taken a short way down the road for a look at a SAW-WHET OWL.  Part of the fee paid for the tour is plowed back into the nest box program.


With all of the participants now together, we decided to head back to Elmendorff AFB before our early afternoon flight to the Pribilof Islands.  Most folks needed BOHEMIAN WAXWING for a lifer, and it didn't take long to get excellent views of at least 3 birds posing from the top of a Spruce tree.  Many of the same birds seen the day before were seen again, as well as COM.  SNIPE, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, and FOX SPARROW.  Our first RED FOX of the trip was seen also.When we arrived at the airport after lunch, we immediately realized that our flight to the Pribilofs was being delayed.  No activity in the cockpit and no luggage loading are always good clues.  We were shortly informed that because of foggy conditions, the departure time was being moved back to 2:30.  Many folksraided the snack bar, while others took naps.  As 2:30 approached, another announcement was made of continuing foggy conditions at St.  Paul, with 3:30 being our new departure time.  If we couldn't take off at 3:30, there would be no flights until the next day.  Definitely not what folks (especially leaders) want to hear.  Luckily conditions improved on St.  Paul, and we were in the air shortly after 3:30 on Reeve Aleution Airlines.

After the flight (which goes over some spectacular scenery on the way out) and dinner, we decided to go after a GRAY-TAILED TATTLER which was being reported from Salt Lagoon.  Everyone shortly had great views of the tattler, as well as ROCK SANDPIPERS and a LONG-TAILED JAEGER which flew over us.  A quick visit to a close seabird cliff gave everyone their first looks at THICK-BILLED MURRE, PARAKEET, LEAST, & CRESTED AUKLETS, and TUFTED & HORNED PUFFINS, as well as a cliff-dwelling WINTER WREN.  The Pribilof race of the GRAY-CROWNED ROSY FINCH was observed at several locations, as well as LAPLAND LONGSPURS.  It was now around 9:30 or so, and most folks were bushed, so we decided to rest up for the next day.  We soon discovered that the locals seem to enjoy riding their ATV's AFTER 11pm, creating more noise then the AWACS planes doing "touch & goes" back at Elmendorff AFB.


Today we visited Ridge Wall which is a spectacular cliff with many nesting seabirds.  We got more (and better) looks at the seabirds seen the previous night, and also saw RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, N.  FULMARS, COM.  MURRES, & RED-FACED CORMORANT.  WE also drove up to a penninsula on the NE side of the island where a King Eider was being reported.  We failed to see it but did have a fly-by YELLOW-BILLED LOON.  Stops on the way back produced a "EURASION" WHIMBREL, more ROCK SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, and a nesting pair of EURASION SKYLARKS.  A SHORT-EARED OWL was seen at the skylark location.  Back at the hotel, a COM.  BLACK-HEADED GULL was observed at Town Marsh.  Many GLAUCOUS GULLS were also seen today.  Disappointing was the lack of vagrants.


With a half-day left before our flight out, we decided to once again visit Ridge Wall.  In addition, we also visited a FUR SEAL rookery, and a small cliff right next to town that had all of the Auklets, both Puffins, and a nesting pair of GRAY-CROWNED ROSY FINCHES.  PACIFIC LOONS were also seen flying by here, as well as a few N.  FULMARS.  ARCTIC FOXES sat right next to us here looking for handouts.  They were very conspicuous in town the whole time we were in St.  Paul.  No "new" birds were seen today.  We arrived back at Anchorage in the late afternoon.  Most folks relaxed or took a snooze, while others enjoyed the nesting VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS right outside our hotel.

JUNE 9 -

Our plane left very early this morning for our flight to Nome.  But upon approaching the airport we knew we might have a tough time landing for Nome was completely obscured by fog.  The pilots made one attempt at landing, but decided it would be wiser to head to their next scheduled stop - Kotzebue.  After discussions with the Alaskan Airlines reps.  in Kotzebue, the next flight out with space on it that was going to stop at Nome would be at 5pm.  So it looked like we would be spending a day in Kotzebue.  This turned out to be OK though.  We immediately got a taxi (a dusty van) and went out to a nearby lake where we treated to views of a nesting pair of ARCTIC LOONS - our only ones of the whole trip.  Other birds around the lake included PARASITIC JAEGER, OLDSQUAW, ARCTIC TERN, COMMON RAVEN, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, & WILSON'S WARBLER.  On our way back into town, we asked the driver to stop so we could get good looks at a YELLOW WAGTAIL.

After lunch, we explored some of the ponds and grassy areas around the airport.  N.  PINTAIL, AM.  WIGEON, CANVASBACK, GREATER & LESSER SCAUP, & OLDSQUAW were some of the waterfowl species seen.  SEMIPALMATED PLOVER & nesting SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER were also seen, as well as a displaying YELLOW WAGTAIL.  Very tame were a pair of HOARY REDPOLLS feeding in the short grass 10 feet in front of us.A half-hour of watching for sea-birds produced HARLEQUIN DUCK, BLACK SCOTER, and a large flock of unidentifidable swans (probably TUNDRA), MEW GULL, & PARASITIC JAEGER.  A pair of COMMON REDPOLLS fed in a bush nearby.  We then got a lift in the back of a pick-up from some maintenance workers, and headed back over near the lake where we had the ARCTIC LOONS earlier.  This was a great birding area, with alot of waterfowl seen, BLACK TURNSTONE, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, COM.  SNIPE, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, PARASITIC & LONG-TAILED JAEGERS, GLAUCOUS GULL, SHORT-EARED OWL, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, AM.  ROBIN, YELLOW WAGTAIL, YELLOW WARBLER, N.  WATERTHRUSH, WILSON'S WARBLER, AM.  TREE SPARROW, SAVANNAH, FOX, & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, and both REDPOLLS.  We failed to find N.  WHEATEAR which can be found around this particular spot.  We then trudged back into town and got seats in the small airport awaiting our flight to Nome.


Our flight on Alaskan Airlines out of Kotzebue to Nome went smoothly, and we were soon checking into our "motel" which we would be in for the next 4 nights - the "Stampede Apartments".  This was a brand new building (completed in May '95) several blocks from the old Stampede Apartments.  It was excellent.  A "double" included two seperate bedrooms, refrigerator, microwave, stove, coffee maker, washer & dryer, bar, TV, phone, and a beautiful view of a next door neighbors backyard which reminded me of a scrap metal yard back in NJ.  The only problems we had were no towels and no toilet paper.  After a phone call to the management we soon had towels but no TP.  After another phone call resulted in no TP, I sent Al out on his first mission - toilet paper procurement.  He soon returned with an eight pack which cost around $9 or so.  After a late dinner at Fat Freddie's, we all hit the sack.


After an early breakfast, we drove over to the pier where a pair of WHITE WAGTAILS was nesting.  They were located after about a half-hour of searching, and were very co-operative after being found.  PACIFIC LOONS were feeding just off of the pier allowing nice looks.  Two PARASITIC JAEGERS zipped past also.  Next stop was the mouth of the Nome River.  On our way over, we stopped to look at an old gold dredge.  Next to it we found a PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER, and a short ways down the road, a pair of AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER.  The river mouth was excellent, with lots of birds seen.  Highlights were a SLATY-BACKED GULL, a small flock of BAR-TAILED GODWITS, a few HUDSONIAN GODWITS, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, all 3 JAEGERS, and 2 SABINE'S GULLS.

Our next stop was Safety Lagoon, which was voted the most favorite birding spot of the tour by the participants.  The area around the bridge was alive with birds.  Highlights here included RED-THROATED and PACIFIC LOONS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, COM.  EIDER, SANDHILL CRANE, BLACK TURNSTONE, SABINE'S GULLS, ALEUTIAN TERNS, and YELLOW WAGTAIL.  There were many shorebirds on the flats next to the bridge, and Safety Lagoon itself was filled with LOONS, BRANT, and other waterfowl.  We would visit here again in a few days.

After lunch back in town, our next destination was Anvil Mountain for N.  WHEATEARS and a remote shot at RED-THROATED PIPIT.  WHEATEARS were found after about an hour of searching, but the only pipits we could dig up were AMERICAN PIPITS.  GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS were also seen here, our first of the tour, as well as a MERLIN.  By this time, one of the participants wasn't feeling well, so we had to drop her back off at the apartments on our way to the Kougarok Road.  Our plan was to drive a short way out the Kougarok to a spot where ARCTIC WARBLERS had been reported.  We were success- ful in finding a singing bird, as well as WILSON'S and YELLOW WARBLERS, NO.  WATERTHRUSH, GRAY-GHEEKED THRUSH, YELLOW WAGTAIL, and AM.  TREE SPARROW.


We are awakened at 5:00am this morning by the participant who wasn't feeling well the day before - she now was VERY ill.  Al volunteered to take her to the hospital where after 3 hours of tests she was admitted.  The nurse told us she had the "Nome Scrud", and would be here the rest of the day.  Our target for the day was BRISTLE-THIGHED CURLEW near Coffee Dome, way out on the Kougarok Road.  Beautiful sunny skies but windy would be our weather for the hike up the "hill".  After about an hour hike, we were on the top of the ridge, and within 10 minutes of searching one of the participants said he thought he had a BC Curlew.  We set up scopes, and sure enough, not one but a pair of BRISTLE-THIGHED CURLEWS were walking along slowly while apparently feeding.  We watched them for a few minutes before they got up and flew over the ridge not to be seen again.  After hearing the stories of folks spending hours looking for BC Curlews at this spot, we felt very lucky to have found them in such a short time.  After the difficult walk back down to the van, we searchednearby for BLUETHROATS without any luck.  In fact, there wasn't much passerine activity, probably because it was now very windy.  We stopped in a more secluded area on the way back.  At this spot we saw TREE & BANK SWALLOWS, WILSON'S & YELLOW WARBLERS, Am.  TREE, FOX, SAVANNAH, GOLDEN-CROWNED & WHITE-CROWNED  SPARROWS, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, & HOARY REDPOLL.  Further back towards town, we stopped at the location where folks were seeing GYRFALCONS.  Al found a bird in flight which eventually landed on a cliff top giving us excellent views.  Other birders arrived, and soon many folks were looking at the GYRFALCON.  We also saw CARIBOU today, our first of the tour.


Plans for today were to head out the Kougarok Road again looking for BLUETHROAT & PTARMIGANS.  Our ill participant was still feeling bad and would have to remain in the hospital again today.  We located an area that "looked" good for BLUETHROATS, and did indeed find a nice singing male that was very co-operative.  Also here, we finally had our first WILLOW PTARMIGAN of the tour.  Other birds seen here included WANDERING TATTLER, HARLEQUIN DUCK, ARCTIC WARBLER, CLIFF SWALLOW, and GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW.  Further down the road was a pair of N.  WHEATEARS, AM.  GOLDEN-PLOVER, NORTHERN HARRIER, COM.  RAVEN, and LAPLAND LONGSPUR.  After lunch in town, we headed back out to Safety Lagoon where a RUFOUS-NECKED STINT had been seen earlier.  After checking the area where the stint had been seen, and coming up empty, we decided to bird from the bridge again since we enjoyed this location so much.  The RUFOUS-NECKED STINT had apparently relocated to this location, and we enjoyed excellent views of it.  Many shorebirds were still here including RUDDY & BLACK TURNSTONES side by side for comparison.  The same species seen the previous day were still here, with a noticeable increase in the numbers of SABINE'S GULLS seen.  Also, we had much better looks at some ALEUTIAN TERNS which were loafing on a sand bar close to us.  We failed to find an EMPEROR GOOSE which we would learn later had been seen in a large flock of BRANT in Safety Lagoon.  After tearing ourselves away from this great spot, we stopped back at the Nome River mouth one last time.  BAR-TAILED GODWITS were still here, and also our first BONAPARTE'S GULLS in Nome.  A pair of PARASITIC JAEGERS attacked a feeding flock of ARCTIC TERNS here, putting on a nice show for everyone.


We have an early morning flight back to Anchorage today.  Our ill participant is well enough to be discharged from the hospital this morning but decides to fly home from Anchorage rather than continue with the tour.  Our flight takes us first back to Kotzebue, then to Anchorage, so we can now tell family back home we were above the Arctic Circle twice!  We arrive back in Anchorage about noon, where I then spend the next hour and a half haggling over the vehicle rental which they are trying to charge us double the rate that we were "guaranteed".  The arrival of a manager, and a fax from our travel agent back home, finally settled things and we get the original lower rate :') Today is basically a driving day to our next motel in Tal- keetna, with a possible stop at Hatcher Pass for WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN.  We decide Hatcher Pass is worth a shot, so detour there on our way north.  A stop at a bridge produces a nesting pair of AMERICAN DIPPERS.  We get excellent views of the parents feeding large young still in the nest.  As we drive further up in elevation we soon find out the pass is closed, so we continue on to Talkeetna off Highway 3, the Parks Highway.  A quick stop at an interesting looking rest area just outside of Talkeetna produces BALD EAGLE, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, ARCTIC TERN, HAIRY WOODPECKER, ALDER FLYCATCHER, BLACK-CAPPED & BOREAL CHICKADEE, SWAINSON'S & VARIED THRUSH, and BLACKPOLL WARBLER.


Some participants wake up early this morning for some pre- breakfast birding around our motel in Talkeetna.  They are not disappointed as many species are seen including HAIRY WOODPECKER, ALDER FLYCATCHER, TREE & VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, BOREAL CHICKADEE, SWAINSON'S & VARIED THRUSH, AM.  ROBIN, YELLOW-RUMPED & BLACKPOLL WARBLERS, N.  WATERTHRUSH, FOX & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, DARK-EYED JUNCO, and COM.  REDPOLLS & PINE SISKINS at the feeder outside the motel.  After a latish breakfast, we start our drive towards Denali NP.  Before getting back on the Parks Highway, we stop at a lake hoping for Trumpeter Swan.  No swans are seen, but COM.  LOONS are as well as a DOWNY WOODPECKER drumming and calling - our only one for the trip.  As we drive along the Parks Highway, many BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES & COM.  RAVENS are seen.  A small pond on the west side of the highway not far from the town of Cantwell produces a pair of TRUMPETER SWANS.  The birds seem use to car traffic as this pond is right next to the road.  All the participants get excellent looks as the birds calmly feed by "tipping".

After checking into our hotel in McKinley Village and getting lunch, we head to the visitor center at Denali NP.  Our plan is to walk the Horseshoe Lake Trailfor Three-toed Woodpecker.  While we are in the visitor center, we learn that the trail was closed yesterday due to a Grizzly Bear kill (a Moose calf) along the trail, but is now open.  Our fears ease a bit as we start down the trail when we see a ranger who tells us he's been patrolling the trail all morning without seeing any sign of the bear.  At the bottom of the trail near the lake, we find a THREE-TOED WOODPECKER feeding quietly, and everyone gets excellent looks.  A short distance away, a small group of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS fly in and land on a spruce tree, while VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS feed over the lake.  A drive into the park produces a pair of GOLDEN EAGLES but not much else.


Our target bird for the day is SMITH'S LONGSPUR.  We visit several areas along the Denali Highway where longspurs have been seen recently, but only get fleeting glimpses of a pair of birds.  Knowing that these areas are visited by many other birders, we play no tapes and keep our tundra trudging to a minimum.  At one location, we watch a mama Moose and her calf trot straight for us.  They pass by us fairly close, allowing good looks.  Other birds seen while longspur hunting include CLIFF SWALLOW, GRAY JAY, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, COM.  RAVEN, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, WILSON'S WARBLER, AM.  TREE, SAVANNAH, FOX, & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, COM.  REDPOLL, and a LEAST SANDPIPER and it's nest.

On our way back to the hotel, we stop to look at some ponds along the road, and see birds such as PACIFIC LOON, HORNED GREBE, TRUMPETER SWAN, GREEN-WINGED TEAL,MALLARD, N.  PINTAIL, N.  SHOVELER, LESSER SCAUP, & OLDSQUAW.  Shorebirds seen include AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, COM.  SNIPE, & RED-NECKED PHALAROPE.  At the Seattle Creek crossing, we find a N.  HAWK OWL perched right next to the road.  A little bit further, we get a good look at a MERLIN perched at the top of a spruce tree.


Today we have a very long drive, as we plan to drive the Denali Highway it's whole length, making just a few stops, and then down to our hotel in Palmer.  We awake to a pouring rain, and are glad that today is a "drive" day.After an early breakfast, we start down the Denali Highway, and soon the rain slows to a drizzle.We make one last try for SMITH'S LONGSPUR at a location not checked previously, but fail to find any.  Many of the ponds and lakes along the road have loons and waterfowl on them, and we have a hard time keeping ourselves to our planned schedule.  The scenery along the Denali Highway was some of the best I've ever seen which made the long drive very enjoyable.

Our target bird along the Denali Highway today is ROCK PTARMIGAN.  By the time we reach McLaren Pass, our search area, the rain has turned to snow which begins to lay on the ground in "patches" - perfect for ptarmigan hunting.  Yea right!  Just our luck.  A small hint of pessimism set in amongst the par- ticipants.  We decided to check the top of a small ridge about 150 yards from the parking area.  On the way to the ridge, HORNED LARKS were seen, as well as AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER and WHIMBREL.  After "thoroughly" checking the ridge and finding no ptarmigan, we decide to try another more distant area.  As others start to walk away, I decide to make one last quick sweep of the area - just in case.  I didn't walk more than 10 steps before discovering a superbly camoflaged female ROCK PTARMIGAN with 7 chicks.  A whistle brought everyone back for looks.  With our target bird for the day out of the way, we continued on to Paxson for lunch.  After lunch, we stopped just south of Paxson for an up close look at the Alaskan Pipeline.  Al gladly filled us in on the history of the making of the pipeline, and answered all our questions like "How much oil flows through it?" and "Have you ever seen a Hawk Owl perched on one of the braces?" (Yes) A N.  (RED-SHAFTED) FLICKER and several HARLAN'S race of RED-TAILED HAWK are seen on our long drive to Palmer.  In Palmer, Al gets real excited when he finds a small flock of STARLINGS across the street from the motel, which he says is a real good bird to add to your Alaska list, and forces us all to look at them.  Talk about ruining your day!


Today we visited Chugach SP in the morning, where we found SHARP- SHINNED HAWK, SPRUCE GROUSE, OLIVE-SIDED & ALDER FLYCATCHERS, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, BOREAL CHICKADEE, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, ORANGE-CROWNED, WILSON'S, & TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS, RUSTY BLACKBIRD, and GOLDEN -CROWNED SPARROW.  After leaving here, we stopped at Potter's Marsh for up-close looks at nesting RED-NECKED GREBES, MEW GULLS, and ARCTIC TERNS.  A stop along Turnagain Arm produces a soaring GOLDEN EAGLE and several DALL SHEEP.  Lunch at the Tidewater Cafe in Portage adds RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD & BARN SWALLOW to our trip lists, while several BALD EAGLES are seen across the road.  A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD is found here which Al assures us is another good bird for our Alaska state lists.

We reach Seward in the late afternoon.  After checking into the hotel, we have an hour or so for some pre-dinner birding.  A visit to the waterfront gets us our first looks at MARBLED MURRELETS feeding in fairly close.  A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT flys by, and the boat harbor is full of GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS & MEW GULLS, as well as some BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES.  A drive along some side streets produces NORTHWESTERN CROW, STELLAR'S JAY, VARIED & HERMIT THRUSH, FOX SPARROW, and PINE SISKIN.


Today we have signed up for on an 8 hour boat tour that will take us out to the Chiswell Islands and through Kenai Fjords NP.  This trip was excellent and I highly recommend it.  Birds seen included PACIFIC LOON, FORK- TAILED STORM-PETREL, DOUBLE-CRESTED, PELAGIC, & RED-FACED CORMORANTS, HARLE- QUIN DUCK, COM.  & RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, BALD EAGLE, BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, COM.  & THICK-BILLED MURRES, PIGEON GUILLEMOT, MARBLED, KITTLITZ'S, & ANCIENT MURRELETS, PARAKEET AUKLET, TUFTED & HORNED PUFFINS, and BALD EAGLE.  The numbers of birds were truly staggering, especially TUFTED PUFFINS and BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES.  Mammals seen included HUMPBACK & KILLER WHALES, and MOUNTAIN GOATS.  They also take you to see a glacier up close which is really neat.  We signed up with Kenai Fjords Tours, (907)276-6249, who I thought did an excellent job and were very professional.  The scenery is also spectacular!  Tonight we have a big feast as this is our last dinner together.  After dinner, we stagger back to the motel.


We only have time in the morning today, as some folks are leaving on afternoon flights fron Anchorage.  We decided to try a few areas outside of Seward for BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL.  Several spots were checked, but we couldn't find either species.  PINE GROSBEAKS were seen at one location though.  Other species seen this morning included SOLITARY SANDPIPER, BALD EAGLE, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COM.  SNIPE, OLIVE-SIDED & ALDER FLYCATCHER, CLIFF SWALLOW, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, NORTHWESTERN CROW, BOREAL CHICKADEE, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, GOLDEN-CROWNED & RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, HERMIT & VARIED THRUSH, TOWNSEND'S WARBLER, LINCOLN'S SPARROW, and PINE SISKIN.

We ended the tour with a total of 169 species of birds and 18 species of mammals.  Top three birding locations by group vote were

1.  Safety Lagoon - Nome

2.  Kenai Fjords boat tour

 3.  Ridge Wall at St.  Paul Island - Pribilofs.

There wasn't much agreement amongst the group on their "favorite" or "top" bird, although several folks picked Hawk Owl.  Al picked the Starlings!  In any case, we had a great time.

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