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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 08:38am on 03/06/2009 under ,
Back to the Alaska trip....

I tried to find the non-touristy places wherever we visited. There was a quiet woodsy trail by a stream in Ketchikan:

The touristy stuff was unavoidable, as were the tourists, since there were often four ships in port at the same time.

I overheard a passenger on our ship at lunchtime complaining to a staff person about all the ships arriving at the same time, dumping thousands of tourists on the town, "so you can't move through the crowds in the shops, and you get disgusted and leave." Well, I thought, you could always go for a stroll in a park.

The Ignorant Tourists appeared a few times in my presence. One of them called the ravens in Juneau "those big crows." A tourist in Ketchikan ("the salmon capital of the world") asked his girlfriend to pose for a photo "by that big shark sculpture" (yes, it was a salmon, very accurately sculpted and painted). But overall it wasn't too horrible. Whenever I was out on the promenade deck with my bins, people often asked if I'd seen whales, and when I said no, but I'd seen lots of interesting birds, several of them stopped to chat about what birds were out there and seemed genuinely interested.

Here is one of those "big crows" in Juneau -- it was odd that we saw only a few ravens in Ketchikan and Skagway, but there were hundreds in Juneau:

Every time I turned around, I saw (or heard) ravens, with flocks in trees, or strolling through the city parks, or perching on buildings. They were amazing. And very vocal!
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 01:08pm on 01/06/2009 under
We interrupt our scheduled Tour of SE Alaska for a brief visit to the Montlake Fill, where baby birds have been spotted, including this one:

This is a Pied-billed Grebe with a chick riding on the back. Nothing in Alaska was as adorable as this!
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 10:06am on 29/05/2009 under ,
Close-up views of the Western Screech Owl at the Ketchikan bird rehabiliation center:

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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 08:16am on 29/05/2009 under ,
While in Ketchikan, I ran across some folks from a bird rehabilitation center who had this Western Screech Owl (as well as a Bald Eagle) for visitors to learn about (and to take photos of!):

This bird was TEENSY, probably all of 8 inches tall. Some people to whom I've shown this photo initially thought it was a wood carving until they looked closer.

Even closer photos are coming next.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 11:03am on 28/05/2009 under ,
This is a Hermit Thrush:

They are normally quite shy and difficult to see, hiding under the brush. But in Ketchikan I found a shrub-covered hillside with open areas between the shrubs, and I was able to view it from above. There were Yellow Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, and at least two Hermit Thrushes foraging there, and I got to watch them for at least an hour. A rare and lovely experience.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 10:46am on 13/05/2009 under
We have a migratory sparrow zipping around the Fill (and many other places hereabouts) called the Savannah Sparrow. They like to flit about the meadows and they make a funny little buzzy trilling call.

This particular bird serenaded the area for quite some time before hopping off to the shrub next door for an insect repast. Very active little guys and enjoyable to watch.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 09:28am on 11/05/2009 under
Here's what I got to see on Mother's Day:

Finest kind.
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posted by [personal profile] alexfandra at 09:04am on 07/05/2009 under
Saturday May 9th is International Migratory Bird Day - don't forget to celebrate!

Our local patch is on the Pacific Flyway migration route (Alaska to Patagonia or thereabouts). Millions of birds fly this route every year. Some like to stop over for a little rest, giving us wonderful, if brief, glimpses of birds we might never see otherwise. Why do birds migrate? Well, mostly for food sources and breeding instincts -- here's a nice short explanatory site:
The Mystery of Migration.

Meanwhile, other birds don't go the whole Flyway route. Cinnamon Teal, for example, winter in Mexico or Central America, and head up north in Spring/Summer to breed, including in our neck'o'the woods. Here's one at the Montlake Fill:

I just learned that a group of Cinnamon Teal is known collectively as "a seasoning of teal." I am amused.

Happy Almost Weekend!


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