July 2-3 – Part 2, Dutch Harbor trip

After the ferry arrived in Dutch Harbor, six of the travelers, including Aaron Bowman our guide, took a taxi to the very new boat harbor for our  boat trip on the Miss Alyssa, a 43-foot charter vessel, captained by Captain Jimmer McDonald who fed and guided us very well.

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Our trip lasted from about noon to 9 pm on Saturday, July 2nd. Because of the timing of tides, the normal route was changed and we headed first to a deepwater bank (Chelan Bank, I believe). For what seemed like hours we were in heavy fog with no visibility, but gradually we emerged and could see a few birds, including Pigeon Guillemots, Kittlitz’s Murrelets, and both puffins. The captain put down an oil slick and started tossing out lumps of meat, which gradually and then dramatically attracted thousands of birds, primarily Northern Fulmars. There were also thousands of Short-tailed Shearwaters, mostly resting on the water.

 

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The excitement began when instead of a few distant albatrosses, we had one and then two Laysan Albatrosses on the water near the boat. And then, the real excitement: an immature pink-beaked SHORT-TAILED ALBATROSS appeared and landed behind the boat, followed immediately by a black-beaked Black-footed Albatross! We could and did see (and photograph) all three at once.

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Eventually we were able to pull ourselves away from the feeding frenzy and amazing albatross spectacle and drive on to the Baby Island area for the main bird goal of the whole Dutch Harbor trip, Whiskered Auklets (seen only in the far distance from the ferry earlier). And they were there in great multitude, usually in tight-knit rafts of birds on the water that exploded in flight as we approached. Often they were too distant for photos, but not always. There were also many Ancient Murrelets on the water, as well as Cassin’s and Crested Auklets and other usual seabirds.

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With great satisfaction we returned to Dutch Harbor and crawled into real beds for the first time in nearly a week.

The next day (July 3), we explored Dutch Harbor and Unalaska with our guide, Suzi Golodoff. It was also an enjoyable day with many great scenes, beautiful wildflowers and birds (Savannah Sparrow and Red-breasted Mergansers in photos).

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My next adventure will be a trip to Barrow (beginning July 5).

283 species by the end of July 3; another bird added after the trip makes the current total 284 (as of July 4)

 

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