Date: May 15, 2013
Tonight’s Location: Homer, AK
Weather: partly cloudy
Temperature: start 36º
Wildlife count: Moose, Sea Otters
Year List: 223; Life List: 357
Birds: Lapland Longspur, Cackling Geese, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Dowitchers, Mallard, Northwestern Crows, Common Ravens, Bald Eagles, Song Sparrow, Scaup, Common Loon, Northern Pintail, Dunlins, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers
Before our orientation began this morning, we took a walk to our beach in front of the campground, and then Beluga Slough. When we got out to the beach, I saw something hop over a log; we walked up quietly and saw another lifer - a Lapland Longspur. It is a beautiful bird. (stock photo, because we did not have the camera.)
This was our first day of orientation, and it was wonderful. We learned about this huge refuge – Alaska Maritime Refuge, which includes 2500 islands, with 40 million seabirds. Part of our time was working through the Junior Biologist book, so we would be able to help the children when they come – we only had ½ hour, and neither couple was able to complete the book in that time. Whew!
There was a fascinating talk about the active volcanoes, which is the entire chain of Aleutian Islands, one of which erupted in 2008. The two biologists who were working on the island were rescued just in the nick of time – literally with only minutes to spare! It was followed by a discussion of the huge World War II presence on those islands. There were some ferocious battles fought there with thousands of men stationed on the islands. Today, several islands are littered with leaking oil and gas drums, unexploded ordinance, and rusting planes, machine guns and all manner of military debris. Several of the islands have been designated in the newly created Valor in the Pacific National Monument.
We prepared our Fumi Salad for the potluck and then check our favorite birding sites – there were still thousands of shorebirds in the bay. When we got to Marianne’s house, lots of people were arriving. The staff and volunteers were invited – and everyone was celebrating the biologists that are preparing to leave for the summer on the Tiĝlax, the refuge research ship, as well as meeting the new volunteers – us! We met LOTS of people at the party as well as during the day at the refuge office. The party, however, was outstanding. We started with grilled White Winter King Salmon – the very best of the best! There was a roaster full of halibut, moose roast, caribou BBQ, Alaskan King Crab and then all of the goodies one can imagine. It was a feast, and we both ate way too much – but what a way to go! Even though the temps were in the 40’s and there were a few sprinkles, most everyone sat outdoors on the deck and talked and ate. Only in Alaska!