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