Saturday, May 13, 2017

Diary Update #3 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ 2017

⛅  Saturday 13th May 2017 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ  ~ An amazing fact is that there are at least 320 magnitude 4 to 5 earthquakes in Alaska each year! Why do I mention these statistics? Simply because we were wide awake at 1am this morning, woken by what I can now confirm to be a 4.1 magnitude earthquake, another surreal moment in our Alaskan adventure!

Portage Lake ~ Still almost completely frozen!
After breakfast Dee and I decided on a visit to Portage, around 15 miles from our hotel and as coincidence would have it another earthquake story is part of it's history. Almost 100 residents lived in Portage until the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. This massive earthquake caused the shoreline to drop between six and 12 feet, allowing high tides to flood the town and surrounding area with salt water. All that remains of the original village are a few structures sinking into the nearby mud flats and scattered stands of dead trees. It also boasts 3 glaciers, one of the reasons for our visit.

Varied Thrush ~ Shame about the branch!!
After the lake we made several stops to investigate a number of trails and smaller unfrozen lakes which produced some excellent results. Dee managed the above image of a Varied Thrush and below a Hermit Thrush, both quite elusive species but found by call and our doggid determination πŸ‘€

Hermit Thrush ~ A real floor forager! 
On one particular lake we came across a half dozen Harlequin Ducks, also recording Barrow's Goldeneye and Lesser Yellowlegs. It was interesting to watch a steady stream of Herring Gulls passing through the valley at height, seemingly following the river's path and these were occasionally vocal, alerting us to at least two Bald Eagles, which occasionally harassed them! Also of note Fox Sparrow, Steller's Jay, Northwestern Crow and Raven.

Arctic Tern ~ Amazing what you can find on the tracks!
A few more stops on route back to the hotel produced a surprise while parked up next to the railroad track (photo above). Back at Girdwood a stroll around the local trails and an area of flats known as Moose Meadow produced our first Black Bear, ably spotted by Dee. Unfortunately he got spooked by a light aircraft landing at the local airport and shot off before we had a chance to obtain a photo. What could perhaps have been the same individual was spotted by Dee again in the hotel grounds while we were having dinner this evening!

Harlequin Duck ~ Sadly the photo doesn't do him justice!

Another Dee photo ~ This time Steller's Jay