Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alaska: Gulf of Alaska (Take Two) and the Hubbard Glacier, June 25, 2012

Because today was a cruising day and we wouldn’t reach the Hubbard Glacier until late afternoon, Avie and I ate a late breakfast in main dining room. Then we went up on deck to do some pelagic birding.

We began up on the Main Deck (second story) at the stern. When we weren’t seeing much we moved up to Lido Deck. Finally we climbed up to the Sports Deck where there was some protection from the wind and misty rain.


Among the birds we saw were Shearwaters, a few Black-legged Albatross, and some of the Swallow-like Storm Petrels. We might also have had a few Laysan Albatross, but they were in the distance and moving away from us.

The weather deteriorated, so we took a break for lunch.

After lunch we decided to try the Main Deck again. The birding was sparse. Then we began to see land on the port side of the ship, as we entered Yakutat Bay. The birding quickly picked up.


As we got closer to the Hubbard Glacier, we moved past Yakutat Bay into Deception Bay. We began to see Black-legged Kittiwakes, Glaucous-winged Gulls, large flocks of Harlequin Ducks in their handsome summer plumage, and another large flock of Surf Scoters.


We also got a few Mallards in the small rivers entering the Bay from the mountains on the starboard side.

Then the glacier came into view and we were captivated by its size and grandeur. Even from a distance, it was enormous. The ice was similar in pattern to sedimentary stone, with its layers.

P1000901 P1000916 P1000917 P1000929

The Hubbard is still advancing, sometimes as much as 100 feet in a day. As a result, it’s very active and calved quite frequently during our time there. We realized how far from it we really were because the sound of the calving, like thunder, was delayed about two seconds.

As we pulled away from the glacier, we passed an island called Egg Island, with nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes (though nowhere in the numbers we had seen previously).

No new birds, today. But certainly some impressive numbers for a couple of species of Duck we had only seen in the far distance before this.

The list:

Common Loon
Black-footed Albatross
Northern Fulmar
Sooty Shearwater
Leach’s Storm-Petrel
Cormorant sp.
Harlequin Duck
Surf Scoter
Bald Eagle
Black Oystercatcher
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Pigeon Guillemot
Tufted Puffin


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