December 11, 2006

Winter birding in Alaska is anything but boring.

The last couple of days have been refreshingly rain-free. So Sonja and I have tried to take full advantage of it by spending as much time outside with the dogs as possible. I've also become rather obsessed with trying to photograph birds through my binoculars. I don't think Sonja enjoys this obsession of mine nearly as much as I do, however. The looks I've been getting after spending ten minutes trying to get the perfect picture of a Harlequin Duck (something I still haven't quite managed to do) make me think she's going to try hiding the camera before our next walk.

Anyway, here are some of my better photographs from the last three days of birding Seward's coastline. I'm posting a bunch of them, so I'll try not to be too verbose.

Most of the birds out in the bay tend to congregate in large "rafts" like this one. They also usually have more than one species present. Here we've got Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, a Glaucous-winged Gull and a Pelagic Cormorant.

Lately we've seen huge mobs of Northwestern Crows around, too. In fact, they're probably the most numerous birds in Seward right now. And, in case you didn't know, next time you see a flock of these birds you can refer to it as a "murder" of crows. But don't confuse them with any quivers of cobras you encounter.

Here's one of my not-quite-perfect pictures of a Harlequin Duck. They are hands-down the most beautiful duck we have here.

And a rather drab-looking loon of some sort. Probably a Common Loon, but possible a Pacific Loon. I suck at IDing winter loons, anyway, so these are just guesses.

I've recently begun to spot some winter-plumage Common Murres hanging out with the mergansers, too.

The mergansers are a popular bunch. They tend to attract all sorts of other species, including the odd-looking Surf Scoters you see near the top of this photo.

I did manage to get a better quality shot of one of the Gray-crowned Rosy-finches, too.

But birds aren't the only things you get to watch along the beaches around Seward. This otter stuck it's head nearly two feet out of the water when Harvey started barking at it. And this afternoon I got to see what happens when three huge Steller's Sea Lions pop up in the middle of a flock of over one hundred mergansers.

These three actually ignored all the birds. It looked like they had just caught some halibut or something.

And I couldn't pass up posting this picture of Harvey.


chris said...

Scrolling through 20 pictures of birds...anything but boring?

chris said...

And I dont like having to comment with my google account. DAMN YOU FOR BEING DIFFERENT!

Steve said...

since when did Harvey turn in to the green eyed monster from the black lagoon?

P. Ollig said...

That's his "holy crap this water is cold but I know there's a rock down there with my name on it" look.