I have been to Alaska on business trips a number of times and have always managed to scrape together some time to add on a birding excursion or two. The last time I was there, I had an unexpected bonus. I had booked a 1/2 day boat trip around the bay (this would be my first time back on the water after the disastrous trip in California). It was in June and still bitterly cold out, or at least I thought so. There were 15 of us huddled together inside the tiny cabin peering out through the wide windows. There was talk in town about an immature Yellow-billed Loon being found, but then it had disappeared. Apparently they were around, but not common. I asked the captain of our boat if there was any chance that we would see it. He didn’t sound hopeful. Oh, well. We all shrugged. He offered the possibility of an Aleutian Tern. We all happily abandoned the Loon for the Tern.
Coming back into the harbor after a terrific day of seeing amazing birds, we were all chatting about what we had seen where; when the oddest, palest loon I have ever seen was suddenly next to the boat. It popped up, then disappeared and reappeared a little ways away. We all rushed to the back of the boat. The captain swung the boat around in a wide arc and just when we had given up; the loon popped up right beside the boat. Sweet! Talk about icing on the Cake! Have you been to Alaska yet?
To see other birds check out Bird Photography Weekly.
Filed under Photos, Travel
All Hail the King! Well, I guess it’s more of a Prince at this point.
Once in a while the birding gods smile on me. Late last night I saw that a juvenile King Eider had been spotted Sunday afternoon at the pier in Piermont, NY. It was not verified and reported on the ListServ until yesterday. Since I am on vacation, I decided to see if it was still hanging around today. Unfortunately it was also pouring rain today, so I wasn’t sure if it was worth the trip. But the pier is not that far, so off I drove windshield wipers slapping.
When I arrived, the parking lot by the ball field was empty, not a good sign. But I drove out onto the pier anyway just to see for myself. There were rafts of Ruddy Ducks and large flotillas of Buffleheads. I saw a Song Sparrow, 3 Chipping Sparrows and a Mockingbird. There were loads of Ring-billed Gulls. But No Eider. Or anything that looked like an Eider. Or even anything big and brown.
Disappointed, I stood alone at the end of the pier in the pouring rain glassing the open water. I saw a Great Cormorant wing past. Watching it; I saw a large brown duck pop up in my field of view. And low and behold, voila, one juvenile King Eider. It was still there. But there were no other birders. Yes, it was teeming, but I have often birded in the rain. True, the pictures are not great, but I do have some.
With the holiday coming up, I image the pier will be packed with birders in the next several days. It was nice to have quality time with the King.
To see what this guy will grow up to look like, visit Picusblog he has a shot of an adult taken in Massachusetts.