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10338Juneau and the Gulf of Alaska

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  • Aaron Lang
    Aug 25, 2014
      Apologies for the tardy report. I and eleven others rode the ferry from Juneau to Whittier (August 19-21) with Wilderness Birding Adventures which included a day and a half birding in Juneau before the crossing. This is the third consecutive year we've made this trip in the third week of August. On the evening of August 19th we entered Cross Sound and rounded Cape Spencer, spending a few hours of daylight in the Gulf of Alaska. This first evening we had great views of no fewer than 10 BULLER'S SHEARWATERS and several dozen FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS. On the 20th we spent most of the day in the Gulf of Alaska, hoping for rare seabirds. Despite the encouraging results from the first evening we didn't see any Buller's, Pink-footed, or rarer shearwaters. This was in contrast from our first two years (Manx in 2012, Flesh-footed in 2013 and Buller's and Pink-footed in 2012 and 2013) and from Joe's July report. Overall, I felt that the numbers of Sooty Shearwaters was significantly lower than the last two years as well.

      We did have large numbers of BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS, including three flocks of over 20 each. We estimated at least 140 Albatross on the 20th. FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS were seen in small but steady numbers throughout the trip. Notable Non-tubenoses included, CASSIN'S and RHINOCEROUS AUKLET, ANCIENT MURRELET, RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE and a seagoing flock of 9 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS. Mammal highlights were 3 Sperm Whales only about 150 yards from the ship, and a Northern Fur Seal just north of Juneau.

      In Yakutat the EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE flock continues to grow and near the ferry dock there were at least 10 at one feeder. There could have been more. Despite some rain, heavy at times, birding in Juneau was good. It's always great to see some SE AK species that are rare or not present in the rest of AK. The rain kept our species list lower than the last two years, but we did tally: VAUX'S SWIFT, RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, PACIFIC SLOPE FLYCATCHER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (4), CEDAR WAXWING, CALIFORNIA GULL (2), and EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE. Without a doubt the highlight of the Juneau outing was a RED-EYED VIREO in a large mixed flock along the Brotherhood Bridge trail on August 19th. This bird was almost certainly the same bird that nested in the area earlier in the summer and was last reported to Ebird in late July.

      Good Birding,

      Aaron Lang