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Alaska vacation July 2004

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Old Tuesday 10th August 2004, 03:28   #1
sungrebe
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Alaska vacation July 2004

Hi, everyone. . . would like to tell you of a great birding/wildlife trip my wife and I took to the Kenai Peninsula and Pribilof Islands in Alaska 03 - 22 july 2004. Had a great time, got many lifers, and many great photos.
Our first stop was Anchorage for 2 days in the middle of an Alaskan heat wave (temps 80 degrees F); no formal bird tours, but we birded according to George West's 'Birder's Guide To Alaska'. Many good upland habitats and shore/wetland locations. Our main lifers included Mew Gull and Glaucous-Winged Gull . Also plenty of Northern Ravens, Tree and Violet-Green Swallows.
The second leg of our trip took us exploring the Kenai Peninsula in South-Central Alaska. This area has the greatest bird diversity in the state, containing all Alaskan habitats except high Arctic Tundra. Our guides were the Marlow family, who own lodges in the town of Seward and Soldotna, along the Kenai River. Seward lies on Kenai Fjords National Park, and we were treated to two pelagic birding trip abourd Ken Marlow's boat, the SHearwater. He is an expert at finding the birds of the Fjord, especially Alcids, and we weren't disappointed. Lifers were SOOTY SHEARWATER, SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER, PELAGIC and RED-FACED CORMORANT, BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, THICK-BILLED and COMMON MURRE, PIGEON GUILLEMOT, MARBLED and KITTLITZ's MURRELET, PARAKEET and RHINOCEROS AUKLET, HORNED and TUFTED PUFFIN.
Leanne Marlow, the owner of the SEWARD HOUSE Bed and BREAKFAST took us on some land birding trips, where we picked up AMERICAN DIPPER, VARIED THRUSH, NORTHWESTERN CROW, BOREAL and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, Golden-CROWNED SPARROW plus bird that weren't lifers but pleasures to see, such as good looks at COMMON LOON, HARLEQUIN DUCK, THREE-TOED WOODPECKER, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, STELLER's and GRAY JAY,TOWNSEND'S WARBLER, and various sparrows.
We then went to the other side of the Kenai Peninsula, to MARLOW'S on the KENAI, the lodge owned by Neil and Leanne's parents, KEN and JUDY MARLOW. The Marlows were all absolute joys to be around, like birding with old friends who happened to be experts in all things Alaska. We took float trips down the Kwnai River, went horseback riding in the Mountains, canoeing from lake to lake, and learing about the birds, wildlife, and culture of this fascinating area. Our lifers here included PACIFIC LOON, SPRUCE GROUSE, BLACK TURNSTONE, and SURFBIRD.
We sadly left the Marlow's after ten day of birding the Kenai. We would recommend their services without hesitation. They can be reached at
www.marlowsonthekenai.com or e-mail marlow'[email protected]
Lastly, but certainly not least, we arranged a four day trip to Pt Paul Island, Pribilofs. The tour was arranged through St Paul Island Tours, apparently the sole agent for travel to the island. An example of maritime tundra, St Paul is a beautiful, wild, desolate rock in the Bering Sea; breathtaking ocean views, cool, wind-swept vistas, average temp 40s F, striking rookeries with thousands of endangered Northern Fur Seals, and fantastic photo-ops of one of a kind seabird cliffs with thousands of Puffins, Murres, Auklets, and Kittiwakes (including the rare RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKE).
The lodgings were spare, but homey; the staff at the KING EIDER HOTEL made sure we were all comfortable and cared for.
The tour leaders are all accomplished birders, very willing to share and teach the finer points of identification of northern birds, including the possibility of the Asian rarity. Lifers from St Paul were KING EIDER, MONGOLIAN PLOVER, WANDERING and GREY-TAILED TATTLER, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, ROCK SANDPIPER, SLATY-BACKED GULL, RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, CRESTED AUKLET, LEAST AUKLET, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, McKAY'S BUNTING, HOARY REDPOLL, and GREY-CROWNED ROSY FINCH.
After 19 days, we left for home with many happy memories, some great birds, and wonderful photos. All of these tour operators were top-notch, and for an introduction to the birds of Alaska, this trip fit the bill.
TOtal Birds = 125
Lifers = 45

Good birding, BIll Fiero
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Old Tuesday 10th August 2004, 08:18   #2
Grousemore
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Thanks very much for posting your excellent report,Bill.
You've certainly whetted my appetite for a trip to Alaska.
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Old Tuesday 10th August 2004, 14:01   #3
Dave B Smith
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Bill,
Yes, an excellent report and what a good birding trip! My wife and I went to Alaska about 7 years ago and really enjoyed it. However at the time we were not "full-fledged" birders and were only looking for our Puffins and Whales. After reading your report, I'm convinced we need to go back. Thanks,
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