Friday, June 10, 2011

Unexpected Highlights

[Above: Sockeye Salmon stacked like cordwood in Bear Creek, near Seward, AK. Below: Making the leap. Sockeyes swim up rivers to spawn in the shallows of lakes, the only salmon to do this. Sockeye, by the way, is the best eating of the 5 Pacific Salmon. They're also known as "Reds" for the color they achieve once they reach their spawning grounds. It's worth asking what kind of salmon you're getting at the market or restaurant; if you find wild-caught Sockeye, it's worth whatever they're charging.]

A worker at the Bear Lake Weir became about the fifth person to ask me about our targets on the tour Mark Garland and I are leading.

I should have said, "Not sure, but I'll know them when I see them."

[Barrow's Goldeneyes on Bear Lake outside of Seward, AK.]

That the birding gets interesting AFTER you've identified the bird (or fish) could not have been more true than it was yesterday, as we watched Sockeye Salmon leaping while above them a pair of American Dippers fed their recently fledged young, and Varied Thrushes fluted in the spruces.

[Boreal Chickadee near Bear Lake. We'll be heavy into Boreal country the next few days - luckily, we also found a group of Chestnut-backed Chickadees yesterday, luckily because we'll be leaving their coastal forest habitat behind.]

[This American Dipper somewhat unusually foraged in salt water, pursuing small fish in the dipper plunging-and-swimming way right below us. Its nest was hidden behind the waterfall of a glacial stream cascading into Resurrection Bay, and it foraged in the same waters a pair of Wandering Tattlers used.]

The clear highlight of highlights today came by staying interested in birds you've already seen. Splashes of whitewash on a cliff wall led my scan upward to a Common Raven nest, with apparently one timid youngster remaining. We've been swimming in ravens this trip, yet they're always worth watching.

The young bird's two siblings had fledged and stumbled about on the scree below, sending occasional small avalanches our way, their funny falsetto croaking peaking whenever Mom or Dad returned with food. The poor little guy still on the nest never did get fed while we watched, though Mom and Dad made a point of flying past on each feeding trip, encouraging their youngest child to fly.

[Dad Common Raven feeds a crab claw to the older kids, while Junior squawks up in the cliff nest like a hungry teen whose voice hasn't changed yet.]

[Oh, how we suffer!]

No comments:

Post a Comment