We love Alaska and have cruised and flown there five or six times. We persuaded our daughter and son-in-law to take a family vacation cruise along with a land tour. They invited us and his parents to join them. It was not a "birding" trip, but rather a great family experience. Of course, I always have an eye out for birds wherever I might go.
On day 1 of our Alaska Cruise, we departed Vancouver, Canada and sailed into the night. This is the Vancouver skyline.
I really loved the photo opportunity presented by this lighthouse as a sailboat passed by.
It inspired me to render the scene as a painting (thanks to Corel PaintShop Pro):
Here is another lighthouse similarly textured:
Hundreds of Steller's Sea Lions crowded on these rocks just past the above lighthouse as we steamed into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. This was taken at about 9:30 PM as the Summer Solstice approached. The sky remained deep blue all night.
A poor shot of a Pelagic Cormorant:
Rhinoceros Auklets typically fly in single file. They are stocky short-winged alcids with heavy and often light-colored bills.
A few days later, in Seward, we would get close-up looks at them in the Alaska SeaLife Center.
Pigeon Guillemots flew away as the ship approached. From our balcony 9 stories high, we caught only passing shots.
At Alaska SeaLife Center, the birds were wild caught or raised in captivity. They wandered and flew freely in a large aviary. Here is a better look at Pigeon Guillemots.
The next day we cruised the Inside Passage, which weaves its way among the islands that lie just off the Pacific coasts of British Columbia and Alaska.
On Day #3 of our Alaskan cruise we arrived in Ketchikan early in the morning and enjoyed mostly clear skies. Our son-in-law Roly and his dad left on a deep sea fishing trip at 6:00 AM, and the rest of us boarded a coastal wildlife cruise. Unfortunately, its main targets were large furry and feathered creatures and provided only fleeting opportunities to photograph waterfowl, most of which I missed as the catamaran moved along at cruising speed. All three wildlife excursions out of our first stops should have carried a warning "We do not brake for birds!"
Here are Mary Lou and I departing on the wildlife cruise, heading out with our daughter and her mother-in-law and our two granddaughters. Our ship, "The Radiance of the Seas," is in the background.
Many eagles were roosting along the shore, exploiting the numerous schools of herring. The salmon run had not yet begun.
This sub-adult Bald Eagle retains a dark eye stripe and its tail is not completely white.. It is probably four years old.
Two Adult Bald Eagles faced each other on the shore.
We saw many immature Bald Eagles in various plumage phases. These are probably in their third year (about two years old). Their bills are beginning to turn yellow.
We drew close to a group of Harbor Seals.
They eyed us warily.
I got off three shots of this pair of alcids as they were disappearing in the wake of our boat. Their brown color and short bills suggested they were Marbled Murrelets, confirmed when viewed on the computer screen.
Several Red-legged Kittiwakes foraged along the rocky shoreline. This was my first "lifer" of the trip.
I was lucky to get a shot of these Surf Scoters while everyone else was looking for bears.
Our daughter spotted this mother Black Bear with her cub just as the captain was about to depart. To me they appeared to be just rocks until they moved. We were able to get within a few hundred yards and watched them grazing.
Mother bear munching on grass.
We saw two Sitka Deer, a "black-tailed" species related to the Mule Deer. They had long shaggy coats and appeared to be shedding fur.
Departing Ketchikan. Next stop: Icy Straits and the port city of Hoonah.
We arrived back in Florida this afternoon and I put this post together past my normal bedtime, but my OCD would not allow me skip a weekly edition!
Visit these links to view the entire series of blogs on this Alaska trip:
Cruising to Ketchikan, Alaska
Cruising to Alaska's Icy Strait and Hoonah
Visiting Juneau and Skagway
Hubbard Glacier and Seward, Alaska
Denali National Park
Riding the rails from Denali to Anchorage