Guide in Alaska

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I have been in Alaska for just over a month and I am absolutely loving it.  The landscape here is breathtaking, the lodge I am working at is just stupendous, and the community of staff and fellow guides is something quite special.

My days have been packed to the brim with kayaking, canoeing, and lots of birding.

I have so much to share, and I will let my words paint a picture of one morning here.

Location: Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, Ridge Trail, opening below summit by 100m

Time: 0935

26 May 2018

Weather: Warm, clear blue skies, ~62˚F

It is mid-morning and spring has arrived on the Kenai Peninsula. The generally cloudy and precipitous skies have broken, for the moment at least. A wealth of cool, but prominent light beams from the snow covered mountains to my east. The gentle ripples of water, slowly dragged by the calm air, move towards me from the South East. I can hear small waves as they crash on the dark rocky shore.

Some Fiddleneck have begun to unfurl, displaying their crumpled and wet fronds, while their sisters still remain like a closed up fist not yet ready to shake hands with summer.

The fresh alder buds point up to the sky, and last season’s brown cones still hang on.

Some of the southern exposed salmon berry have begun to flower, their fuchsia-pink flesh a welcome breath of color amongst a sea green and brown landscape, yet to be bursting with life. And of course the birds, many of which who have flown thousands of miles to take part in this annual event, flutter all about me. The lovely little Orange-Crowned and Wilson’s Warblers hop about this fresh growth, searching for a protein breakfast of unsuspecting insects grasping for life amongst the alder and salmon Berry. They sing as they eat, fueling up and calling to listening females, enticing them to make their selection.

Around me many more bird voices make up the soundscape. A male Pine Grosbeak sits upon the smaller of the three Spruce to my south. He too sings his warblery whistle chatter for spring, facing towards the mighty sea, projecting out like a performer in an amphitheater. I hear the distant whirrrrr of the Varied Thrush, likely sitting upon his favorite moss-laden branch, occluded from the oblivious hiker’s visage. It’s cousin, the Hermit Thrush, who spends a great deal of time hopping about the moist understory, whines noisily as it passes through my earshot.

The flat, robotic trill of the Dark-eyed Junco rises into the air, while the lively Fox Sparrows compliment the cacophony of avian sounds that mark my time upon this ridge this mid spring morning.

A 1/4 mile away my camera sits, motionless, capturing all movement that may enter its frame of view. It is set to record the Eagles who nest at nearly eye level, with an excellent viewpoint. A small window in the mixed forest makes for a great location to position my tripod as I endeavor to obtain some good footage, worthy of digital exhibition.

While I sit motionless, I hear the rustle and crunch of last season’s salmonberry. I am quickly alerted and emit a small alarm call of my own, alerting the approaching fauna of my location and my knowledge of its own. It pauses briefly, and all goes quiet again. A moment later it continues to ascend the steep hillside about 15 meters from my lookout. I shift from fear to interest as I realize that the quality of the sound was not profound enough to indicate a bear. I remain quiet and motionless as the long narrow snout, and furry gray face become obscured by the trail. It looks my way and we lock eyes. It pauses momentarily as it looks me over. After a moment of mutual recognition, the Coyote departs, continuing westward on its path, likely in search of breakfast, while I continue about my business. Relaxing, and taking some much welcome time to my senses.

This is the view facing West from the top of the Ridge Trail behind the lodge.
Here is a Red Crossbill, a nomadic finch, with its unique bill easily removing seeds from this Sitka Spruce.
This is a Red-throated Loon flying in front of the snow capped mountains around the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
Thanks for tuning in, and keep your eyes out for more!

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