Friday, 18 March 2011

Nobody's Fault But Mine - Led Zeppelin

Leucistic Herring Gull?

There's a question mark against yesterday's White-winged Gull at Charmouth Beach as someone has suggested it might be as stated above. Looks like I've made a 'cock up' (but N'sFBM) so have changed the captions on all of my postings and made the appropriate apologies. Anyway, I'll make best efforts not to let this happen again.

So swiftly on, and what a blessing that at long last we've had a day of continuous rain it felt like the homework would never get done! Great progress has been made in this direction, with the ironing completed before 08:00 after which I settled down to booking the next trip away after Scotland and sorting the logistics. Another trans-Atlantic adventure for June and July, much of which will be over familiar territory as I always promised myself that one day I would return to the

Alaska Highway. I also decided before the turn of the year that 2011 would be a chance to further a few ambitions and complete some travel ideals. The main thrust of this trip will hopefully be to find 2 of the 3 outstanding Gull species I have yet to see in the world (notwithstanding the above, I may be able to correctly identify these) and to visit the final 3 US States not yet seen. The Gulls are Yellow-footed and Red-legged Kittiwake each at the far extremities of this venture, the first being in Baja California, Mexico while the other will take me to the Pribilof Islands in the Bearing Sea.

Thus far the 4 day Pribilof trip is booked and finalised as is the return flight (Heathrow - Los Angeles LAX and flying back from Anchorage, Alaska to LHR) and the coach from Weymouth to the airport return. Next I need to book a 30 day Greyhound Coach Discovery Pass, which will take me through the 2 unvisited States, Utah and Idaho and as far north as Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon. Unfortunately there is no coach service to the first of the States, Hawaii, but I'll think about the logistics of that when I get to LAX,

My start point, as before, will be El Segundo Beach which will present more Gull identification problems as hybridisation between the species is rife. Anyway, it'll give me something to do! From there as afore mentioned it is hoped to make it to Hawaii, anywhere will do, followed by a run down to Baja. The 2 remaining of the Lower 48 will be next before cutting back west to pay my respects to Jimi Hendrix in

Seattle, Washington skyline

where there might be a Western Tanager en-route?

will be by-passed this time as will a number of other excellent little stop-offs such as Newport, Oregon, where this

Northern Flicker was seen, and Merced in the same State.

Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia is an absolute 'must' as it holds just about all the American ducks at one time or another, not to mention close up views of Bald Eagle.

The start of the Alaska Highway proper is Dawson Creek, known as Mile Zero, then it's a long way to go through the

to Toad River where we stayed in the little hut left of picture. The tap water was like neat sulphur, but the small lake at the back produced no fewer than 21 species of Wildfowl during a 3 days stay.

This is also the highest point on the Alaska Highway, a few miles south of Toad River, which was clear of snow when we arrived but a 'white out' before we left.

Here I am hoping to meet the Leake family again, so will have to make some contact before then. Heather left and Colin with family and friends - what a place!

Others I will be most anxious to see again will be back-woodsman David Cartier and his Japanese wife Toshia who drove us, via

the 300 miles to

just inside Alaska, effectively the end Highway, from there it's a mere 200 miles to Anchorage, the largest city in the State but not the State Capital. There should be time to visit a couple of reserves before flying to

St George in the Pribilof's and then on to St Paul Island.

Returning a few days later, the intent is to take the train once again to Fairbanks cutting through some of the most fantastic scenery in the world, plus a 'must do' visit to

Creamer's Field Dairy. No longer anything to do with milk, the aptly named farmer gave the whole place over to the nation on his retirement, to be kept as a 'wild-life refuge' and 'bird ringing station'. The speciality here are the

Sandhill Cranes which often occur in the 'hundreds'.

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