Date: May 8, 2013
Tonight’s Location: Homer, AK
Weather: brilliant sunshine
Temperature: start 38º
Wildlife count: Moose, Pine Squirrel, Sea Otter
Year List: 214
Birds: Gray Jay, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Tundra Swan, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Scaup, Greater Yellowlegs, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Shoveler, Black-bellied Plover
Whoohoo!!! We have water – turned on by evening. Hallelujah!
We hiked the Calvin & Coyle trail (I always want to say Calvin and Hobbes), which leads from East End Road down to Beluga Lake, about a mile through spruce forest and clearings. The moose we saw earlier in the week was in the same place, just enjoying his cud, when we got to the clearing. The trail transitioned from walking over tree roots in the wet peat soil to clambering over snow, to wading in water over half submerged boards and stepping stones made of log rounds. It was a trick to stay upright!
When we got to the viewing platform at the bottom, we had a good view of the marsh above Beluga Lake, but very few critters. On the loop back from the platform, we encountered the stepping logs, all submerged, and tangled brush all round. Just then, we heard a crashing in the brush to the side of us, but could see nothing. It was NOT a good place to make an escape, so we didn’t wait around to see what was there – we moved out as quickly as possible. Was it a moose? A bear? We have no idea, and didn’t want to wait to find out!
When we got to the last clearing, with the truck almost in sight, that resting bull moose that had been so docile chewing its cud, was now standing, not 10’ from the path! It raised its head – checked on us, and we waited till it looked away and then scooted up that path as fast as our tired legs could carry us. Yep, Alaska is an interesting place to hike!
We had a quick bite of lunch, changed clothes and went to the Visitor’s Center in our new uniforms, ready to help with the Junior Birding Lab. Wow – there were 10 stations in the lab for the 30-40 children in attendance. A LOT of work went into preparing each station, which were all prepared by different people and groups. Many of the children were local, but a good number came for the festival, and were very interested birders. We worked with a Migration Headache station, where the kids became a bird, and worked through the various hazards that migratory birds might encounter, often getting killed along the way. The biggest hazard to ANY bird, which killed most of these migrants, is CATS. House cats and feral cats kill more birds than any other single peril encountered anywhere.
John worked inside explaining the game, and I was outdoors helping the kids find the 23 different stations – a LONG loop along a trail around the Visitor’s Center. After walking that trail with lots of kids, some really interested, and some out for the chase, I was certainly ready for the evening’s desserts!
We hurried home, ate some quick leftovers, and went to the Hallo Bay Bear Camp’s Volunteer Party called, “Duck and Dessert.” A lot of our new volunteer friends were there, and we were serenaded by another volunteer playing a beautiful violin, while we shared stories and ate delectable desserts. There were door prizes, including two Hallo Bay Bear trips, but I won a t-shirt instead. A 5-6 hour guided bear tour is $675/person. It includes an air trip over to Katmai National Park and a guarantee to see bears. They have an early bird (May-early June) tour for $299 – either way, the prices are high!
We went out to check the spit afterwards – it was 8:30, but the sunlight seemed like 3:30 in the afternoon. What a beautiful sunset!