Sunday, 29 July 2018

Alaska's Kenai Fjords - glacial birding in the rain

On Monday night, I’d stayed just a few miles north of Seward overnight, ready for a full day on the Kenai Fjords on the Tuesday. I’m not usually one for planning things in advance, but I booked this boat trip a month or so back. But one thing I didn’t book was the weather, and so it actually rained pretty much continually throughout the day…

In typical American fashion, everything was laid on for you and hyped up. But it was more than a pleasant day out despite the weather. I imagine that you’d be blown away by the scenery in blue sky days, but I am still left imagining. I’d opted for the nine hour trip, which took in Northwest Glacier – reason for me doing this was that Kittlitz’s Murrelets favour the glacial waters, and shorter trips wouldn’t have given me access to this habitat. And it was a success, with two birds seen relatively well with potentially a couple of others a little bit more distant. This was just one of eight species of alcid that I saw during the day – with the highlight for me being my first Horned Puffins, some of which showed fairly decently in the gloom: -
Horned Puffin Kenai Fjords, Alaska 24th July 2018
I also saw my first Parakeet Auklets, with 15-20 seen in total including a small raft. Tufted Puffins, just like Horned, were really numerous particularly around the Chiswell Islands. Marbled Murrelets, Pigeon and Common Guillemots were present in good numbers too, while there were a few Rhinoceros Auklets around too. If the light had been better, I may have taken a few shots that were worth keeping but, you can’t have everything.

One of the things I did have today though was plenty of Humpback Whale sightings, with five individuals in total. The star performer was this one though, that breached several times in the calm waters coming into Northwest Glacier: -
Humpback Whale Kenai Fjords, Alaska 24th July 2018
There were quite a few Harbour Seals around too, while 10 or so Sea Otters in total including half a dozen dozing about in the harbour as we left first thing: -
Sea Otter Kenai Fjords, Alaska 24th July 2018
Bald Eagles too were fairly common, and included this adult bird as we headed back into the harbour. They were either on beaches or sat up in tall trees like this bird: -
Bald Eagle Kenai Fjords, Alaska 24th July 2018
And so, that was that. Given the pretty inclement weather, I felt I lucked out on the views of the glacier as that area seemed to have a climate all of its own. And while everyone else marvelled at the glacier, I came back from the tour having enjoyed a load of good birds, decent scenery even on a dull day and being given a load of excess chicken wraps (they’d made too many) which meant I didn’t need to buy dinner in the evening. A result all round.
Glaucous-winged Gull Kenai Fjords, Alaska 24th July 2018


  1. I love the photo of the sea otter that you were able to take. I think they are such cute creatures to look at... so playful! Thanks for the share, have a fantastic weekend. Keep up the posts.
    World of Animals

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