Alaska – 2nd June (Day 6)

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We were up at 06:30 for a complete change in the routine from the last few days spent on St Paul, the day was to be spent driving south to Seward from Anchorage a journey of 126 miles with a few stops en-route and some birding in Seward on arrival. First stop was a supermarket on the southern edge of Anchorage where we obtained supplies for the next few days, we then headed south along Seward Highway.

This is a stunning road following the Turnagain Arm, through Chugach National Forest and then cutting through the mountains via mountain lakes, meadows and flanked all the way by snow capped mountains. A brief breakfast stop at Beluga Point failed to locate any Beluga but I guess we were a little early in the summer, these are usually seen from July onwards and are best on a rising tide – apparently. We saw little here apart from some Dall’s Sheep which were pretty boring things – white goats on a hillside.

We pressed on conscious that we had a lot of ground to cover to get too Seward. A stop at Mile Marker 75 near to Portage produced two amongst the horsetail marsh plus a smart Sooty Fox Sparrow. Then a more productive stop at Turnagain Pass produced Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Sooty Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow insuperb mountain scenery.

We took the northwards turning to Hope and then followed the Palmer Creek Road south of Hope, following George West’s ‘A Birder’s Guide to Alaska’ hoping to bird in an alpine area along Resurrection Creek Valley but unfortunately the road was closed (it seemed permanently) and so we birded an area of scrub just above the treeline seeing Townsends Warbler, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, Varied Thrush, and Slate-coloured Junco. Nice but not really worth the hour or so diversion.

Trumpeter Swan – Mile Marker 75 near to Portage

Savanna Sparrow – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Savanna Sparrow – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Yellow Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Yellow Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Yellow Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Wilson’s Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Wilson’s Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Wilson’s Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Wilson’s Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Wilson’s Warbler – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Golden-crowned Sparrow – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Golden-crowned Sparrow – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Sooty Fox Sparrow – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Sooty Fox Sparrow – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Hermit Thrush – Turnagain Pass, between Anchorage and Seward

Ruby-crowned Kinglet –

Varied Thrush – Palmer Creek Road, Hope

– Palmer Creek Road, Hope

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Palmer Creek Road, Hope

Dropping into Seward we grabbed a coffee and sandwich and visited the harbour and marina where we spent some time with half a dozed very tame and ridiculously cute Sea Otter as they frolicked and groomed amongst the boats. The highly localised Northwest Crow fed along the shoreline with many Glaucous-winged Gull but despite the rarity of the crow’s it was hard to get too excited about them.

Finally, we headed out to Lowell Point and spent the evening birding the shoreline and mature spruce trees, the highlights here were Barrows Goldeneye, Marbled Murrelet, , , , , Harlequin Duck, and . We headed to our accommodation, the Harbour View Inn and ventured out into Seward for dinner eating at Chinnok seafood restaurant.

Pigeon Guillemot – Seward Marina

Pigeon Guillemot – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Sea Otter – Seward Marina

Glaucous-winged Gull (adult) – Seward Marina

Glaucous-winged Gull (sub-adult, 4th summer?) – Seward Marina

Glaucous-winged Gull (adult) – Seward Marina

Northwest Crow – Seward

Northwest Crow – Seward

Northwest Crow – Seward

Northwest Crow – Seward

Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd winter) – Seward

Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd winter) – Seward

Glaucous-winged Gull (2nd winter) – Seward

Harlequin Duck – Lowell Point, Seward

Surf Scoter – Lowell Point, Seward

Steller’s Jay – Lowell Point, Seward

Red-breasted Nuthatch – Lowell Point, Seward

Red-breasted Nuthatch – Lowell Point, Seward

 

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Simon Colenutt

Simon Colenutt

I began birdwatching at the age of nine when living on the Isle of Wight. After obtaining a copy of the Isle of Wight Bird Report from 1976 I realised that Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua and Black Tern were regularly seen at St.Catherine's Point, only five miles from my home village of Chale Green. To a nine year old these birds were near mythical and so I just had to go and try to see them. Little did I know that these birds were seasonal and after a long winter of seeing nothing I eventually started to bump into other birdwatchers as March drew to a close. It was then that Dave Hunnybun, Dave Wooldridge, Paul Castle, Peter Gandy and Audrey Wilkinson introduced me to the art of seawatching and the joys of bird migration, I have not looked back since.

Simon Colenutt

Simon Colenutt

I began birdwatching at the age of nine when living on the Isle of Wight. After obtaining a copy of the Isle of Wight Bird Report from 1976 I realised that Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua and Black Tern were regularly seen at St.Catherine's Point, only five miles from my home village of Chale Green. To a nine year old these birds were near mythical and so I just had to go and try to see them. Little did I know that these birds were seasonal and after a long winter of seeing nothing I eventually started to bump into other birdwatchers as March drew to a close. It was then that Dave Hunnybun, Dave Wooldridge, Paul Castle, Peter Gandy and Audrey Wilkinson introduced me to the art of seawatching and the joys of bird migration, I have not looked back since.

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Tim Walker

great photos Simon! Never tire of US warblers, wish we had those colour combinations in the UK.

Pam Radford

Gorgeous photos!