Alaska Day 7 – Rest

Day 7 of this trip, some participants left for the airport. Others stayed behind to embark on the 3 day bear trip that starts tomorrow. I’m going on the bear trip, so I hung around the lodge today and did laundry.

My disk that holds all my pictures broke today. Who knows why? I had to purchase another drive. I have most of my pictures on my laptop as a second backup, but it filled up the other day. I don’t have my pictures from yesterday anymore. I’m sad, but I’m putting what I have on my new drive and will adjust accordingly for the rest of the trip.

Our tour guide, Lisa Langell, loaned me a Canon 5D Mark IV to take some pictures today. I’m amazed at the difference in quality between that camera and my Canon 80D. The pictures posted here are from the Canon 5D Mark IV. Some of these photos are cropped significantly but still look good and sharp.

Stellar’s Jay

Alaska Day 6 – Kenai River

Two Mallard females having a dispute on the Kenai River in Alaska.

We road up and down the Kenai River and embarked from our lodge. We saw Mergansers, ducklings, gulls, Trumpeter Swans, a loon and more. It’s beautiful here!!

Two female Mallards.
Female Mallard and her chicks.
Our boat going up the Kenai River.
Red-necked Grebe.
Red-necked Grebe
Bonaparte’s Gull
Common Merganser and her chicks.
Marlow’s Lodge on the Kenai. Our home for this trip. Beautiful!
Vegetation along the Kenai River.
Merganser that has a broken top bill.
Common Loon
Common Loon

Alaska Day 5 – Bears

Cockkpit of the De Havilland airplane that took us to a lake to watch the bears.

We flew out in float planes to a lake across the Cook Inlet where we got off the plane and got onto a boat. From the boat, we went to a small falls where the salmon must traverse to spawn. The bears, eagles, and gulls hang around the falls in attempt to get a salmon.

Our group flew in two separate planes. The other half of our group is in this plane.
View from the lake.
Our first bear was this little one.
Our second bear hung around for awhile and ate as much as he could.

The flight out gave us an opportunity to see the beautiful Alaskan landscape. When we arrived, we went to the falls and saw a young bear immediately. After the young bear left, we saw another bear. We watched it for awhile. After it left, our guide threw out his line and caught a Sockeye Salmon and prepared it for lunch. How can I eat salmon again outside Alaska? The guide prepared the salmon with lemon, spices, and onions. Yum!!

This gull is poking its bill through the gill of the fish to get something to eat. The gull got the eyes first.
This gull got a Stickleback fish.
The bear sometimes stuck its head in the water.
The gull photo bombed this picture.
The bear coming out of the water looking for another fish.
The Brown Bear swimming in the water.
A Brown Bear with a piece of salmon.
A sockeye salmon we had for lunch. This is the before picture.
A Sockeye Salmon after picture.

On the way back we flew over a glacier.

We flew over this glacier.

Alaska Day 4 – Whales

Orca (Orcinus orca)

We drove to Seward and went out on a boat that held 20+ people and there were 8 of us plus the captain and first mate. We went from Seward to the Chiswell Islands in Kenai Fjords National Park. It was about 32.5 miles one way. We spent 8-9 hours on the boat.

Glacier

The weather was beautiful. The seas were calm. The scenery was spectacular and the wildlife was amazing. We saw lots of Orcas and a couple Humpback Whales. There were sea otters and sea lions and a variety of birds.

Orca

The captain and first mate were women which I thought was very cool. They did a great job finding the wildlife for us. (Alaskan Sea Adventures)

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) Tail.

We stopped on the way back to do some bird watching and watch salmon jump some falls.

The view from the back of the boat.
A wounded Stellar Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus). This guy was wounded a year ago and is thriving in spite of his wound.
Stellar Sea Lions.
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) feeding young.

Alaska Day 3 Afternoon – Moose and Eagles

Bald Eagle landing.

We drove about an hour from the lodge to a beach where Bald Eagles congregate. On the way, we saw a moose in a lake. Pretty cool!

Moose in a lake munching on vegetation.

It was a nice experience to see many Bald Eagles in one place. The local commercial fishermen deposit their fish scraps on the shore and the eagles and gulls take advantage of it. We saw about 5 Bald Eagles we thought were sick. A local guide told us that someone from Alaska Fish and Game told him the eagles can eat too much and they basically can’t move. Our tour guide was told the same thing from another source. I guess it’s like some Americans after Thanksgiving dinner that lay on the couch and digest until they have the energy to move on. It was scary to see but nice to know that all should be well.

Goofiest looking Bald Eagle I have seen along with some gulls.
Bald Eagle with fish scrap.
Juvenile Bald Eagle grabbing a piece of fish scrap from a mature Bald Eagle.
Immature Bald Eagle after having successfully grabbed a fish scrap from a mature Bald Eagle.

We saw more moose on the return to the lodge. It was late in the evening and they were out and about. We were fortunate to see several calves. My goodness, baby moose are cute!!

Moose mother and her calf.
Male moose.

Alaska Day 3 Morning – Skilak Lake

Our transportation on Skilak Lake.

This amazing trip stays amazing every day. We toured Skilak Lake on a boat. There were very few people there, so it seemed we had the whole lake to ourselves. The water was calm and aqua colored because of the glacial silt coming from the glacier at the head of the lake. The lake is ringed by mountains. It was peaceful.

Skilak Lake
Skilak Lake

When we stopped the motor to take in a view, watch some wildlife, or explore the shore, all you heard were bird sounds. There was no other background noise. I think every one of us could have floated on the lake all day.

We explored this shore at Skilak Lake.

We saw Bald Eagles, Herring Gulls building nests, a Spotted Sandpiper, and Harlequin Ducks. The Harlequin Ducks were a special treat. They are stunning birds.

Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionics)

As the boat cruised through the water, I particularly enjoyed watching the wake. The color of the water was mesmerizing to watch as the wake created small waves.

Wave from the boat wake on Skilak Lake.

Our group split in two for this trip and I was in the first group. The second group saw a Black Bear!

Vegetation growing on the rocks at Skilak Lake.
Herring Gull (Larus argenatus) flying over Skilak Lake.
Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) sitting on rocks at Skilak Lake.

Alaska Day 1 – Arctic Terns

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.

We started the morning in Anchorage and stopped at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge to see Artic Terns and other birds. The terns are nesting and bringing food back and forth to their young. They are graceful fliers and a joy to watch. Our guides, Lisa and Alex, gave us tips on how to photograph these beautiful birds that fly much too fast when you are trying to take a picture. It was a wonderful place to stop for a few hours and check out the birds and get some practice with photographing them standing still. We’ll be spending a lot of time on boats this week.

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea).
After feeding their chicks, the Artic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) would dip their bills in the water.
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.

On our way down Seward Highway on route to the Kenai Peninsula, we stopped at some pull-offs to enjoy the view and take pictures of this amazing scenery.

The Alaska railroad on the tracks by the Seward Highway in Alaska.

We had lunch at Portgage Glacier but had to eat in the car because it was raining. We didn’t get a view of the Glacier because of the clouds.

We stopped at this waterfall along the way to practice taking pictures of waterfalls. I took lots and lots of shots from different angles at different shutter speeds to get different looks.

We arrived at our lodges in Sterling, Alaska which overlooks the Kenai River. It is a wonderful home base for the next several days.

The long days are disorienting. The sun sets not far from where it rises. Even in the few hours of darkness, there is still some light. This is not the time to see stars!! It’s hard to figure out what time of day it is. We have a great opportunity to photograph many hours each day in amazing light.

A Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) on the Kenai River outside our lodge.