Our Summer Serving in Homer, Alaska travel blog

Sandhilll Cranes - rusty

Thousands of Shorebirds

Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds

In flight


Masses glitter in the sunlight

Date: May 10, 2013

Tonight’s Location: Homer, AK

Weather: am clouds, pm sun

Temperature: start 42º

High 50º

Wildlife count: 8 Moose, Seals, Sea Otters, Pine Squirrel

Year List: 217, Life List: 352

Birds: American and Eurasian Wigeon, Scaup, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Red-necked Grebe, Mallard, Tundra Swan, Green-winged Teal, Least and Western Sandpipers, Sandhill Cranes, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Fox Sparrow, Common Raven, Northwestern Crow, Bald Eagle, Common Loon, White-winged Scoter, Harlequin Ducks, Short-billed Dowitchers, Northern Pintail, Cackling Geese, Pacific Golden-Pover, Whimbrel, American Pipit, Common Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake, Pelagic Cormorant, Horned Grebe

We began the morning on Beluga Lake, where we saw our first Eurasian Wigeon, a beautiful red-headed duck. New friends had told us to bird there. We saw seven moose around the lake with only one on our side. John went back to the truck, and I turned to see two moose trotting alongside of the lake, which created a huge flurry with the swan, geese and ducks that were within the range of their hooves! Nature at its finest!

We still had a little time, so we stopped at the Lighthouse Village to see a bunch of Least Sandpipers busily eating as fast as they could find food. All of the shorebirds that stop in Kachemak Bay use this as a major food source to complete the rest of their migration, which could be as much as 1000 miles to their nesting grounds. It is a major migration stop of vital importance for these birds.

We spent a little time with Ben Lizdas, the Eagle Optics representative, to check on our scope, which is in great shape. Ben led the presentation on optics, which was excellent, some of which we may use in our programs during the summer and winter.

After a quick lunch break at the rv, we walked and birded Bishop’s Beach, which is in front of the Visitor’s Center, viewing many seabirds as the tide was coming in. Since the tide ranges over 20’ often, it is possible to get caught on a sand spit – one has to always be mindful of the approaching tide – we could easily watch it creep up on us.

We watched the program on the Snowy Plover nesting program in Mexico, presented by a young graduate student who had completed her Master’s Program with the Snowy Plover counts. It was very interesting in light of the Snowy Plover work we have done in Oregon.

We passed on working the scopes, as there were enough volunteers today, in order to participate in a Shorebird Walk with two experts, George Matz, who has led shorebird walks here for years and coordinates the Shorebird Monitoring Program and Nils Warnock, who is the Director of Audubon Alaska. It was a fascinating hike, where we viewed thousands of birds, hiking the sand-spit in Mud Bay. We learned so much from those two gentlemen. We hauled our scope and lots of folks welcomed the chance to see the birds close-up, including some delightful children.

After a bowl of chili at home, we attended the Welcome Reception for the keynote speakers, but didn’t stay very long – it was sunny and there were birds to see! We stopped at the Alaska Marine Ferry dock just in time to watch a Common Loon fishing – it caught a fish that was almost as large as it was, so there was quite a drama as it worked to get that fish eaten! At the end of the spit, we watched flock after flock of Common Murre, before we determined that we were too tired to hold up our binoculars any more – it has been a great day!

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