Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Anchorage to Seward

Having been in Alaska for a few days now it becomes apparent that most prices have been hiked, on average, about 30% taking this beautiful State from an economical tourist destination to an expensive holiday. Arriving late afternoon, I headed straight for the Days Inn which had been an economical stay in 2007, but now at 168 'bucks' (£105 per night) a consideration for seeking elsewhere. However, I had a most restful night and on my way to the local 'diner' spotted this

this historic mural on one of the city walls.

Within, for $10 there is a buffet style breakfast where considering you can eat as much as you like with endless coffee, is a bargain. Additionally, I was invited to join these 2 lovely 'Iniepiag Eskimo' ladies for some stimulating conversation, I feel sure the feeling was mutual. With breakfast done it was time to arrange a trip to Seward but being the holiday (4th of July and all that) there was little open. Through the hotel I made contact with Manny an exceptionally jolly and chatty Puerto Rican who in a oner solved my problem. Unfortunately there was a slight mix up in the description of the run south, but he quickly solved this by dropping me at the sea shore for 3 hours 'birding'. First on the agenda was

Northwestern Crow, endemic to the coastal regions of northern Yukon and Alaska which doesn't even warrant a picture in the Field Guide.

What it says there is, closely resembles America Crow; very difficult to distinguish in the field. Slightly smaller and call more hoarse and lower than above, best clue is range where all but Common Raven (as far as black Corvies are concerned) do not occur, and is thought by some authorities to be a sub-species of American Crow.

Magpie of the hudsonia sub-species are abundant in the city, with this adult on the railway track feeding

4 juveniles, most of which were keeping out of my way. A couple of hours after 'high water' there were still a few birds pushed up close to the footpath including Arctic Terns, Sandhill Crane, Glaucous-winged Gull but best of all dozens of

Bonaparte's Gulls which although distant were a joy to behold.

As well as the Summer Plumage Adults, there were a few sub-adult birds.

Even further in the distance, and not worth raising the camera for, were hundreds of Waders feeding the tide line. With the aid of a local birders telescope (only the second birder to be encountered this trip) that were seen to be Hudsonian Godwit and Short-billed Dowitcher, but it was low tide and my bus left in one hour so no chance to see them pushed a little closer. I return from Seward in 4 days when there will be time to revisit, and by my calculation it should be close to high water!

Arriving at the local park, it was like the proverbial No 68 bus with yet more nesting Red-necked Grebes, that on a cursory count had produced 23 Grebelets.

Mostly concealed from view was this rather pleasing bronze statue of a Small Girl, maybe looking for a lost halfpenny but well worth a photo!

While there have been plenty enough Mew Gulls on this trip, this is the first photograph-able sub-adult, and I still

wonder at seeing a Gull 'up a tree' - what about you? At 14-30, Manny having picked me up from the foreshore, we left for Seward, were en-route we were dogged by serious holiday traffic delays. Still when you don't have a deadline to meet, who's counting?

Eventually arriving Seward at 18-00, the general opinion was I wouldn't find a room, again due to the holiday, but the lady in the bus depot had different ideas. She worked hard to get me lodgings, and although the price was high, beggars cannot be choosers, can they. There was an apartment available, a little more than my requirements, but worth it to have a place to stay. The lady owner settled me in, then took me on a tour of the town before dropping me 2 miles along the fjord to suss out the birds.

Views up and down the Kenai Fjord.

John Gifford and I were only discussing, via e-mail, the value of finding the unexpected on an image during editing, such as a Damselfly on a recent photograph on this Blog which I had completely overlooked.

Today's Bald Eagle was studied at length when it flew over but no sign was seen of the Fish that it is carrying.

William Henry Seward, Sr. (May 16, 1801 – October 10, 1872) was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. An outspoken opponent of the spread of slavery in the years leading up to the American Civil War, he was a dominant figure in the Republican Party in its formative years, and was widely regarded as the leading contender for the party's presidential nomination in 1860 – yet his very outspokenness may have cost him the nomination. Despite his loss, he became a loyal member of Lincoln's wartime cabinet, and played a role in preventing foreign intervention early in the war.[1] On the night of Lincoln's assassination, he survived an attempt on his life in the conspirators' effort to decapitate the Union government. As Johnson's Secretary of State, he engineered the purchase of Alaska from Russia in an act that was ridiculed at the time as "Seward's Folly", but which somehow exemplified his character. His contemporary Carl Schurz described Seward as "one of those spirits who sometimes will go ahead of public opinion instead of
tamely following its footprints".

Don't know about you but I would have said the sale of Alaska was in more recent years?

Finally, I am very proud to publish these images of my youngest daughter Lisa York receiving her Australian Citizenship

Lisa with certificate and Australian flag.

The York Family, Bernard with baby Alexander, the Official and Lisa with Frederick.

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