The savory smell of salmon gravy over biscuits only served to heighten my anticipation of the day to come. A delicious breakfast at The Raven’s Haven B & B (they cater to birders) would proceed the final event of our Alaska adventure – a boat trip to Kenai Fjords National Park and the Chiswell Islands in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
I had three important target birds to get-Red-faced Cormorant, Kittlitz’s Murrelet and Ancient Murrelet and hoped to snag some new mammals as well.
We met Jim Barkley of Alaska Saltwater Tours at 7:45 AM We had chosen a small tour boat for increased flexibility over what I had in 1996 on one of the large boats with 80+ people. I couldn’t afford to miss the target birds but still wanted whales, glaciers and sea lions.
Red-faced Cormorants were the first target bird to fall. Actually we only saw two others after these three. Tom was excited to see so many of both puffin species.
Kittlitz’s Murrelets are most often seen feeding in the cold waters at the base of a glacier. The traditional spot to find them is Northwest Glacier, but Jim Barkley felt we’d have a better chance to see them in the Aialik Glacier. We searched through at least 30 Marbled Murrelets without any luck, but then got a call from the other boat that they were viewing a pair of Kittlitz’s. The paler, speckled head pattern was immediately visible and the white outer tail feathers were visible when they flew.
One of the cool surprises along the way was this Black bear that tom spotted.
Ancient Murrelets were anything but certain for this trip. Paul Lehman advised me to concentrate on this bird as it could be tough without a special trip to say Washington in November. He suggested going out a little farther from the islands and keep a sharp eye out.
NOTE: THERE ARE MANY MORE PICTURES I INTEND TO ADD TO THIS POST AS WELL AS SOME ADDITIONAL TEXT