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Post Info TOPIC: Alaska

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Just back from a 14 night non birding holiday in North America, primarily Alaska. We first had a one night stay in Vancouver before embarking the NCL vessel, Norwegian Sea for 7 nights, calling at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, then making our way back to Vancouver. The ship then sailed down the Pacific Coast to San Diego, visiting Astoria, in Oregon, en route.

The initial Vancouver stop allowed a short visit to the city's Stanley Park which has an impressive bird list. Unfortunately, it was raining and quiet. Walking to the park via English Bay didn't turn up much other than Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorant and the ever present Glaucous-winged Gull. It was too early for the post breeding dispersal of a variety of ducks, so there was very little either in the Bay or on Lost Lagoon within the Park. Song Sparrow, American Robin, Steller's Jay and Chestnut-backed Chickadee were seen together with Belted Kingfisher and a Great Blue Heron to get the holiday list underway.

The sail up to Skagway was stunning with a backdrop of wooded islands and a mountainous hinterland. This is south east Alaska and the panhandle part of the State. There would be no bird activity at times, then there would be a purple patch when a variety of loons and scoters would be seen together with the odd skua and petrel. Between Vancouver Island and Queen Charlotte Island, Sooty Shearwater were everywhere and a minimum of 2500 were seen. At the beginning of day two, a pod of 4 Killer Whale was noted with around 50 Dall's Porpoises nearby. Another single Orca would be seen a few days later in Glacier Bay together with 30 Sea Otter. Around a dozen Humpback Whale were noted in several locations. A great sight was a flock of approx 1500 Surf Scoter in Skagway Harbour. At each stop in port in Alaska we did an excursion to try and 'up' the bird list but it was very quiet and not too much was seen 'on land.' Very few auks seen, can only assume they were much further out to sea, post breeding.

We had some great birding on the second half of the trip, especially on the approaches to Astoria, in Oregon and also off the California coast with the highlights being Black-footed Albatross, Black-vented & Buller's Shearwater and Red Phalarope. A final two nights stay in San Diego gave the opportunity for some more birding 'on land' and to be fair it was quite good.

Trip list as follows :-

Canada Goose
Surf Scoter (1500 min)
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Red breasted Merganser
Western Grebe
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Anna's Hummingbird
American Coot
Black Oystercatcher
Red Phalarope (9)
South Polar Skua (2)
Parasitic Jaeger
Common Murre
Black-legged Kittiwake
Bonaparte's Gull (20)
Heermann's Gull (400)
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Common Tern
Red throated Loon (2)
Pacific Loon (4)
Common Loon (1)
Black-footed Albatross (2)
Buller's Shearwater (6)
Sooty Shearwater (2750 min)
Black-vented Shearwater (30)
Fork-tailed Storm Petrel (2)
Leach's Storm Petrel
Brandt's Cormorant (2)
Double-crested Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle (13)
Red-shouldered Hawk (1)
Red-tailed Hawk (1)
Barred Owl (1)
Belted Kingfisher
American Kestrel
Steller's Jay
American Crow
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
Barn Swallow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
House Sparrow
House Finch
Yellow Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Song Sparrow
Brewer's Blackbird
Common Grackle

Killer Whale (5)
Fin Whale
Humpback Wake
Dall's Porpoise
Harbour Seal
Steller's Sealion
Sea Otter
Black Bear (2) (On an excursion at Juneau and I missed both!)

Photos showing Adult and Juv Glaucous-winged Gull, Surf Scoter, Double-crested & Pelagic Cormorant, Barred Owl.

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