Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Jelly-bellied" Sapsucker

We have just returned from two weeks of travel with our daughter's family and her husband's parents, a troop of eight. Mary Lou and I  flew first to Illinois to join the others, then flew to Seattle, rode in two vans to Vancouver, British Columbia, and boarded a seven-day cruise up the inside passage to Seward, Alaska. During  stops in Ketchikan, Icy Straits/Hoonah and Juneau we joined coastal wildlife and whale-watching excursions. From the dock in Skagway we took a scenic train ride 64 miles to the summit of White Pass, at over 2800 feet elevation. After debarking in Seward we participated in a tour that took us north to Alyeska, Talkeetna and Denali National Park. 

Although they were nature oriented, the wildlife excursions searched for large mammals and eagles. They did not 'brake for birds," and many photo opportunities were lost. Now I am working from my iPhone and my post must be brief, but I will relate one of  the birding highlights.

On Day #4 of our Alaskan cruise we visited the Icy Straits and the port city of Hoonah. Our shore excursion started with a whale-watching cruise in a speedy catamaran to Point Adolphus. This was followed by a visit to an interior forest on Chichagof Island to look for bears. More about this later, but as soon as we started walking a boardwalk through the wet forest this bird appeared. It was very cooperative, suddenly landing on a small tree only about 20 feet off the trail. It is my life bird #582. 

Red-breasted Sapsucker - Hoonah 2-20140616

I had time to snap only three photos of this Red-breasted Sapsucker before it flew off.

Red-breasted Sapsucker - Hoonah 3-20140616

The Red-breasted Sapsucker was one of my "nemesis birds," the only species that Mary Lou had on her life list and I had never seen. She saw it in 2000 when I was trailing behind a group of Elderhostel participants in California, letting them look through my scope at a roosting hawk. By the time I made it to the front of the line the "Jelly-belly" was gone. 

Red-breasted Sapsucker - Hoonah 20140616

The day we returned to our Illinois home, we were asked to help find sponsors for members of a student exchange group from Spain. They were scheduled to arrive imminently but several unexpectedly had difficulty in finding lodging. Our daughter and we each agreed to house one of them. We have been very busy showing them the sights and participating in their activities. As to be expected, dealing with a group of over a dozen teenagers and their various crises requires a great deal of our time and attention, but we are thoroughly enjoying their presence in our lives. 

This may help explain my lack of computer face time and inability to clear the backog of correspondence that accumulated while we were off line during the Alaska cruise and tours. It may be a couple of weeks before we will be able to return to our normal schedule.

22 comments:

  1. You must have had a great trip. Love that bird. Great catch!

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  2. the sapsucker is a beauty! congrats! your travels sound wonderful. and now you've got an unexpected but welcomed house guest!

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  3. Beautiful superb Red-breasted Sapsucker, well done Kenneth.

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  4. You go out and enjoy your time with your 'exchange' students...that is what is important right now. They will remember you always for your generosity and kindness!!! To open your home for them is something that will always be part of your own memoirs also. Good for you.

    Now, the bird....extraordinary. I've not even heard of them. It's beautiful.

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  5. OMG; how breathtaking it must be to see these rare scene; I wish I could p;) Thank you very much for great photos♡♡♡ 
    Sending you Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Congrats on the new life bird! Sounds like you've had a great trip.

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  6. How exciting to get to see the red-breasted sapsucker when it was one you really wanted to see. Sorry the trip was skipping over a lot of birds,, but you got a great shot of this one! What a neat trip. Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures!

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  7. Congratulations on this sighting. The photos are beautiful.

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  8. Great photos of the sapsucker!

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  9. Wow wow wow. Amazing shots. What a trip!! That's a dream vacation for sure.

    Enjoy your time with the exchange students. :)

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  10. Great looking bird - I really like woodpeckers, but we have none in Australia.

    Alaska is rapidly moving up my "must visit" list - shame its about 1/2 a world away from home!

    Sorry for slow reply - hectic weeks!

    Cheers - Stewart M

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  11. Three excellent shots Ken and congrats on the lifer (at long last).

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  12. wow it is truly beautiful - wonderful to see that you finally got to see your bird nemesis and also get some amazing photos! well done.

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  13. This is an amazing post and it must have been fantastic to see this bird and get these great shots. Congrats on lifer.

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  14. Awesome shots of the Sapsucker, a gorgeous bird!

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  15. a super looking bird Kenneth; great shots!

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  16. You may not have had a whole lot of time, but you sure got great shots.

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  17. Beautiful bird. Too bad those excursions weren't more bird friendly . We took a boat from Homer to Seldovia and there was a bird expert on board (mostly water and shore birds though of course).

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  18. @Sallie-- When we visited Homer on our RV trip a couple of years ago we also took the wildlife cruise to Seldovia via Bird Rock and the surrounding coast. It was excellent, and the interpreter was extremely helpful. These tours arranged by the cruise line are really designed for a general audience. If we did not have such a large and varied family group we would have arranged the wildlife trips independently as we did in Homer. Watching the others enjoy the discovery added to our enjoyment, and we did pick up a couple of new species!

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