KACHEMAK BAY BIRDERS

*UPCOMING TRIPS/Events

March 16th: Sea Duck Survey–George Matz
This is the 4th Annual Sea Duck Survey.  Contact George for more information: geomatz41@gmail.com or 907-235-9344. (Alternate/bad weather date = March 17th. “Plan C” = March 30th.)
 
Mid-April to End of MAY–Shorebird Monitoring–George Matz (more information soon)
 
May 8-12 Shorebird Festival! Registration starts March 22nd, https://kachemakshorebird.org/ 
 
All Kachemak Bay Birding trips are cosponsored by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. All trips are free and everyone is welcome to attend. Masks encouraged and all trips will comply with FWS covid-safe practices.
 

*MEETINGS/PRESENTATIONS

Meetings at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (formerly:Islands and Ocean Visitor Center), begin at 5:30 pm (unless otherwise indicated).

 

February 26th Meeting and Jim Herbert: Seabird Identification

Jim Herbert will review identification of sea ducks and other marine birds in preparation for our Annual Sea Duck Survey to be held on March 16th. For new birders or others not involved with the Survey, this information would be an excellent introduction/review of the birds around the Bay at this time of year.

April 1st Meeting and Aaron Lang: Shorebird Identification (Note change of date!)

April 29th Meeting and Shorebird Festival Film Fundraiser:Purple Haze

May 8-12th Shorebird Festival! 

May 20th Meeting

 

All Kachemak Bay Birders’ Meetings, activities and birding trips are cosponsored by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. All events are free and everyone is welcome to attend. Masks encouraged and all trips will comply with FWS covid-safe practices.

Link to previous Presentation

December 4th Presentation by Aaron Lang: “Birding in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” was recorded and the link is on the Friends of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges website:

https://alaskarefugefriends.org/category/events/special-events/

 
 
*TRIP REPORTS

Trip Report: Spit 2-17-24 (Kristine Sowl)

There were 9 people at the start with I think two that popped in later for a short while. We changed it up and started at Land’s End because there were long-tailed ducks that had been hanging out there. The weather was pretty good for the most part, partly cloudy until the end when the clouds moved in and we got some light rain. We were out for 3 hours.  Besides Lands End, we visited the south and north ends of the boat harbor, then Freight dock road out to harbor entrance, the Fishing Hole, and a brief stop at Mariner Park and the base of the spit (to count the mallards). The rock sandpipers were in a big flock in Mud Bay. I don’t think we had any particular bird highlights. We did see a seal grab a flatfish out of the water. Just a congenial group and a nice morning of birding.

Species that were seen:

Mallard 110

Greater Scaup 20

Surf Scoter 15

White-winged Scoter 5

Black Scoter 40

Long-tailed Duck 28

Bufflehead 7

Common Goldeneye 23

Common/Barrow’s Goldeneye 2 (First year males. Having difficulty being sure of id–photos posted on eBird)

Red-breasted Merganser 18

Horned Grebe 2

Red-necked Grebe 2

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 30

Rock Sandpiper 1000 (est.)

Pigeon Guillemot 1

Short-billed Gull 15

Glaucous-winged Gull 3

Red-throated Loon 1

Common Loon 2

Pelagic Cormorant 8

Bald Eagle 14

American Crow 60

Common Raven 1

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch 12

Song Sparrow 2

It Was A Great Day To Bird!  Thanks to Kristine for leading the group.

October 7th Owling on the Ohlson Mountain Rd.
Fifteen hardy birders met at 8:00 pm, Saturday, October 7, at mile .9
Ohlson Mountain Road. It was a mostly clear, relatively warm night at 40
degrees and neither wind nor rain intervened. We played the calls of
Northern Saw-whet, Great Horned and Boreal Owls. After about 20 minutes
we got a fairly close response from a Northern Saw-whet, which all of us
heard. A bit later a few of us heard two more simultaneous calls of
likely Saw-whets.

After about 45 minutes we all moved about two miles to the terminal end
of East Skyline Drive, where there is a bus turnaround. We played the
same calls there and added a few bars of Great Gray Owl calls. We
listened here for about 30 minutes to no avail. However it was a
pleasant, quiet night punctuated by shooting stars, and a chance for
some of us to get caught up.

And a great night to “Owl”!
 
Seldovia (9-9-23)–from Cindy Mom and Deborah Gitlitz
Three Homerites and four Washington State residents rode the Seldovia Bay Ferry from Homer over to Seldovia on the morning of September 9th, from 11:00-11:45 AM. While aboard on the ride across Kachemak Bay, they observed MURRELETS, GULLS, LOONS, PHALAROPES, MURRES, KITTIWAKES, and a rainbow.

Once arrived in Seldovia, they met up with leader Cindy Mom and her friend Deborah from Portland, OR, who had (just moments before!) seen a PEREGRINE FALCON while waiting in the harbor. Unfortunately, it was out of sight headed northeast before the group had a chance to see it. Together, we birded the harbor and Main Street for about 30 minutes, where we saw:
2 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES
1 SHORT-BILLED GULL
50 GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS
1 AMERICAN CROW
1 COMMON RAVEN
1 SONG SPARROW
Plus, closeup views of a sea otter eating a crunchy crab.
 
We caught a cab out to the RV Park, where we met up with Seldovian Heidi Geagel, had a lunch break and were surrounded by the chittering calls of at least 25 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS. Also in the deep spruce forest on the top of the bluff, we observed:
6 CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES
2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS
1 VARIED THRUSH
1 COMMON RAVEN (plus 4 more later at the beach)
 
The top of the cliffs provided an excellent vantage point over the ocean, and we saw a nice representation of the first of the autumn/winter seabirds:
16 HARLEQUIN DUCKS
5 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS
1 HORNED GREBE
1 RED-NECKED GREBE
5 COMMON LOONS
3 PELAGIC CORMORANTS
 
Half of the group split off at this point and caught a cab back to town, while the other half hiked the Otterbahn Trail. Along the trail they observed:
12 MALLARDS
3 CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES
1 PACIFIC WREN
1 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET
3 RED CROSSBILLS
5 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS
2 PINE SISKINS
 
We did have to dodge a few raindrops, but the weather was surprisingly agreeable with sunshine and calm winds. Thanks to everyone who came over to the Seldovia side of the bay! Hope you can come back again soon.
 
Trip report by Cindy Mom, with help from Carol Harding and Deborah Gitlitz.
 
 
Anchor River (8-12-23)–from Michelle Michaud
Photo: Michelle Michaud

Despite the threat of wind and rain, we actually had a very pleasant trip – light wind, and several spotty rain showers lasting less than a minute or so.  Five birders, including a young woman from Georgia, spotted 30 different species for the trip.  She was happy because a lot of the birds were life birds for her.  

 
There was a large number of Horned Puffins (30+) feeding with a number of gulls.  Nice to see them on the water, rather than flying. We got great looks with spotting scopes. Fun too to watch them coming in for a landing with their orange/red legs splayed out.  
 
Always nice to see shorebirds on their way south – seven different species.  We got really nice looks at Rock Sandpipers, Sanderlings, and Pacific Golden-Plover.  
 
  • Mallard
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Red-necked Grebe
  • Pacific Golden-Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Sanderling 
  • Rock Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Western Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Common Murre
  • Pigeon Guillemot
  • Marbled Murrelet
  • Ancient Murrelet
  • Horned Puffin 
  • Black-legged Kittiwake 
  • Short-billed Gull 
  • Herring Gull
  • Glaucous-winged Gull 
  • Arctic Tern
  • Pacific Loon
  • 2 Common Loon
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Bald Eagle
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • 5American Crow 
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
 
All in all, it was a GREAT DAY TO BIRD …
 
Anchor River (7-8-23)–from Michelle Michaud
The forecast was for cloudy skies and winds in excess of ten miles per hour, with gusts to 18 mph. The morning started out cloudy, but then the sun came out.  Winds, what winds?  It was a very pleasant morning.  And there were no boats being launched (they got the same wind report so cancelled their services) and few people and dogs on the beach.  Eight people, including Jim and I, showed up to bird the Anchor River and the beach.  Two of the participants were birders from Grand Rapids Michigan.  We were glad they could join us.
 
And birds – 30 different species.  What did you miss … well here’s the list.  
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Common Merganser
Whimbrel – at least 67
Black Turnstone – well over 100
Surfbird – at least 50
Least Sandpiper – only two for sure, but possibly 4 total
Greater Yellowlegs
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Ancient Murrelet – and close to shore for good looks
murrelet sp. – mostly likely Marbled Murrelets, but only saw these birds in flight
Horned Puffin
Short-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull 
Herring x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid)
Red-throated Loon – at least one pair
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Bald Eagle
Belted Kingfisher – nice views at it hovered over the river, and then again when it landed on stumps
Black-billed Magpie – heard
American Crow – the young were very vocal about wanting to be fed
Bank Swallow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler – heard by several of us at the start of the trip
 
Remember, July and August are great months to check out the outbound migration of shorebirds at the Anchor River beach.  It’s best to go when the tides are outgoing and around 9 feet – exposing the rocks where the birds love to feed.  
 
I want to thank all those who came out to bird this morning, and a special thanks to my co-leader Jim Herbert.  
 
Fireweed Meadows Golf Course in Anchor Point (6-24-23)
Saturday morning Kachemak Bay Birder early birds enjoyed wonderful new territory for a birding trip.  Rich Kleinleder led a walk around the Anchor Point Fireweed Meadows Golf Course for a dozen birders, including some visitors from out of state.
 
In spite of some fog, about 15 species were heard or seen. RING-NECKED DUCKS were seen on a little pond as well as nesting COMMON GOLDENEYE.  A couple folks got to watch fledgling BOREAL CHICKADEES being fed by their parents.  A huge thank you to Rich for leading this trip and helping us out with the songs and behaviors, etc. Rich has been doing Breeding Bird Surveys in this area for 30 years.
 
The following species were seen or heard: RING-NECKED DUCK, COMMON GOLDENEYE, ALDER FLYCATCHER, AMERICAN CROW, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, BOREAL CHICKADEE, HERMIT THRUSH, AMERICAN ROBIN, DARK-EYED JUNCO, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, FOX SPARROW, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, TOWNSEND’S WARBLER.  (If anyone has other species on their list, please let me know.)
 
It was enjoyable to see the wildflowers in bloom also!  And I will mention the rooster chickens crowing and some squirrels and hares in the area; the golfers came just at the end.
 
As our motto always promises, It Was A Great Day To Bird!!
photo by Eleanor Sarren
photo by Eleanor Sarren
photo by Dave Swarthout
 
 
Birding Trip on the Bay Crest Trail: 5-20-23
Kristine Sowl, trip leader reported that they “had a very pleasant morning birding. Weather was good, winds calm, trail was very muddy…We had excellent views of orange-crowned and yellow-rumped warblers, Lincoln’s sparrows, and spruce grouse. We glimpsed one large mystery bird that none of us were able to pin down what it was. But may have been a harrier or a large owl.” There were 9 participants.
 
The following species were seen or heard: SPRUCE GROUSE, WILSON’S SNIPE, BALD EAGLE, BLACKBILLED MAGPIE, AMERICAN CROW, COMMON RAVEN, BOREAL CHICKADEE, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, HERMIT THRUSH, AMERICAN ROBIN, VARIED THRUSH, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, FOX SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, LINCOLN’S SPARROW, SAVANNAH SPARROW, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, WILSON’S WARBLER, Woodpecker sp. drumming.
 
A big thanks to Kristine for leading this trip.  Photos of birders thanks to Jim Herbert; photos of birds thanks to Kristine.
 
It Was A Great Day To Bird!!
Bay Crest Trip
Bay Crest Trip