|An Alaska train that runs back and forth in front of the town from the huge container ships at the port to the trains going through the tunnel. The infamous apartments in the background.|
|The colour of the water in Alaska's rivers and glacier-fed harbours is unreal - a sort of turquoisey-slate|
#157: Red-necked phalarope (winter); Whittier, Alaska; August 24, 2011
recommend these cruises, and not just because the served the best, hot, fresh, aromatic, gooey chocolate chip cookies I have ever had in my life (I think in my chocolate-chip cookie induced stupor I actually said "this is the best thing that ever happened to me").
Well, I just got derailed but the first stop was a black-legged kittiwake rookery right across from Whittier. And what do I say? "OMG those weren't just gulls?!??!" Always have to remember to look closely and not assume anything! It was pretty neat that it's close enough to Whittier that some people were out there observing them up really close in sea kayaks.
|Rookery from afar. All those little white specks are kittiwakes! A bald eagle was sitting in the centre at the top, trying to choose lunch.|
Guess I'll go ahead and count those now, but I have better pics of them in Seward so I'll include a close-up then. The captain gave a great commentary, explaining how they nest and the different plumages. I was just in heaven!
#158: Black-legged kittiwake; Whittier, Alaska; August 24, 2011.
A little farther into the sound we saw a bunch of sea lions hauled out on some rocks. An amazing thing to see (and to HEAR!).
#159: Black Oystercatcher; Prince William Sounds, Alaska; August 24, 2011
Look at those bright red bills!
On this cruise we saw 26 glaciers (or so they tell me...I didn't count), lots of wildlife, birds and a salmon hatchery. It was a really positive experience despite the pretty awful weather. Awful weather (and being way too far from these tiny little birds) was what contributed to these terrible shots of these 2 birds, which is terribly annoying since I know they would both be LIFERS!!
|marbled murrelet? hmmpppph.|
|Bright red, spectacular fish!|
#160: Golden-crowned sparrow; Near Whittier, Alaska; August 25, 2011
I would have assumed savannah, but he has a totally buff breast. Sparrows are all in the details!
We actually passed by Tern Lake barely noticing it, but about 10km later we decided to turn around because we missed a geocache we really wanted to do. SO GLAD we did, because I got several lifers there!!
#161: Trumpeter Swan; Tern Lake, Alaska; August 25, 2011
#162: Red-necked grebe; Tern Lake, Alaska; August 25, 2011.
We also saw a chickie!
Well, that was just a ton of excitement for a few days, and I was warming up to Alaska quite nicely (even though it was so damn cold). Don't miss my next post covering the following day in Seward, which I spent exploring before boarding the Radiance of the Seas for the next leg of our Alaskan adventure...it will include a few bird sightings that are up there in my favourite all-time sightings of my birding career thus far!!