Bird Watching In Alaska
Alaska is a birders paradise with literally hundreds of species of shore birds, sea birds, & predator birds, with hundreds of rookeries along the coast line, with spectacular scenery amid large snow capped and glaciated volcanic peaks. Our birding trips take place in a very remote unpopulated area on the west coast of Cook Inlet that has not changed since (Captain Cook sailed these waters in the 1,700’s) across from the Kenai Peninsula departing near Homer Alaska. We will travel by boat 40 miles across the Inlet to Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, in Lake Clark National Park.
Once we arrive your Alaska wildlife tour will cruise along the coastline with waterfalls, fascinating rock formations & small coastal islands that are some of the largest bird rookeries in the world. Here both seabirds, shore birds nest & raise their young. On average we see 30-40 species per day. Birds such as Horned, & Tufted Puffins, Greater Scaup, Harlequin ducks, surf scoter, Long tailed duck, eiders, goldeneyes, kittywakes, loons, red neck & horned grebe, fulmar’s, commorant’s bald eagles, peregrine falcons, Black oyster catchers, Harriers, wondering tattlers, whimbrel’s, murre’s Pomarine Jaeger & many more.
Not only will you see zillions of birds, we will see harbor seals, sea otters, dal proposes, maybe a whale, and the King of the Alaska forest the giant Alaskan Coastal Brown Bears digging clams, or fishing for salmon, and sometimes we see black bears too. Most of our trips take place in Chinitna Bay, Silver Salmon creek, Chisik Island, & Tuxedni Bay.
On a sunny day you can see 5 active snow capped Volcanos, we will be at the base of 10,000 foot Mount Illiamna & Mount Redoubt with Mount Augustine, Douglas & spur also visible.
The best time for these migrating shore birds is May but June, July & August offer great birding for the sea birds, eagles, falcons & the bears are here all summer too May thru August. While most of the bird viewing will be done from the boat, we often get out of the boat and walk the remote beaches for beach combing for floatsam and sea shells. The Bear viewing also mostly takes place from shore but it is common to see them from the boat also.
Our boat the Game Fisher is a 30 foot custom built aluminum specially designed for Cook Inlet, has comfortable seating for up to 6 guests, & a cabin to keep you dry and warm. Captain Mel Erickson has over 30 years experience navigating these waters, & is very knowledgeable about all the Alaskan wildlife you will see. So come join us on a trip of a lifetime with the best Alaska wildlife viewing trips, Alaska has to offer.
These trips are only accessible by boat or bush plane, very remote & far from any civilization.
The cost of the bird viewing trips are $1,800 for the day, & are private tours for your group only, with a maximum of 6 people. If you want to also do the bear Viewing portion of the trip where we get off the boat, & go on shore into Lake Clark National Park, add an additional $200.
Summer birding in Chinitna Bay Lake Clark National Park
A rocky island outcropping at the mouth of Chinitna Bay is an excellent area to observe nesting Tufted Puffins- large numbers utilize burrowing areas just above the rock faces and Horned Puffins (in smaller numbers) utilize the rocky slopes. There are several pairs of Black Oystercatchers that nest, hopefully we will observe their chicks this summer. It is a great area to observe Pelagic and Double crested Cormorants side by side. And numerous pairs of Pigeon Guillemot are common.
Surfbirds and Black Turnstones are seen feeding at lower tides. Up atop the rock faces are Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcon hoping for a meal. Several gull species nest on the islands as well. Loons and Grebes are sighted in Chinitna Bay, as well as all three species of Scoter and numerous waterfowl. In addition to the birds there is a large colony of Harbor Seals, they are constantly spotted checking us out on the Gamefisher and there is a haulout area on the beach. Approaching and leaving the bay we frequently observe Dall Porpoise.
The crossing of Cook Inlet also gives good birding opportunities and we frequently encounter Humpback whales in the early part of summer. Both Arctic and Aleutian Terns are observed in middle portions of the inlet. Flocks of Northern Fulmars are common and Jaegers (long-tailed, pomarine and parasitic) may be spotted in these flocks. We always watch for migrating Phalaropes and Fork tailed Storm Petrels are frequently seen in summer. So not only amazing scenery and bears but excellent birding as well. It is really a trip of a lifetime.
Species That Can Be Seen
Bird Trip Testimonial:
Birding in Chinitna Bay for the Katchemak Bay Shorebird festival today was impressive on the Gamefisher. Normally bear viewing and fishing but now an added dimension bird viewing for the shorebird festival. Migration is underway in a big way from the back deck of the boat migrating birds were spotted thru out the trip with a few very impressive sightings including a group of 3 Long tailed Jaegers, Whimbrels, and later in the trip wandering Tattlers. We got an impressive outburst of concern from the Black Oystercatchers (4 spotted – 2 pair) while getting up close to observe them and also a lot of activity from a flyover by Northern Harrier. Great views of pelagic cormorants and double crested cormorants. Bald Eagles especially on the rocky outcroppings at the mouth of the bay with Horned and Tufted Puffins arriving for the nesting season. All three species of scoter’s were seen. Total species of birds for the day were 34 and would have been more pretty ugly weather out there today. Also observed a Humpback Whale and lots of Harbor Seals.