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vagabonds3 "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain

Dutch Harbor

USA | Friday, 19 July 2019 | Views [25]

Coastline, Unalaska

Coastline, Unalaska

AS THE PUFFIN SHUFFLES, IT’S ABOUT 700 MILES from Kodiak to Unalaska and Dutch Harbor, a fishing port best known from the TV show, Deadliest Catch.  Wizard, Northwestern and the other crab fishing boats weren’t in when the Maasdam docked but their crab traps were stacked neatly along the piers, along with thousands of refrigerated shipping containers. 


    Dutch Harbor

We had agreed to meet Tim and two others on the pier at 8:30.  Tim had arranged to rent a SUV for the day and we offered to share the cost if he’d take us along.  We noticed Doug and Joan when they waved as Tim descended the gang plank and correctly assumed they would make up the rest of our party.  Newbie birders, they live in Longmont CO while Tim is a pelagic bird guide from Portland OR, Puget Sound’s answer to Deb Shearwater.  Tim mentioned that he has birded with our friend, Noah, since Noah was a kid.  Small world, no?

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  Horned Puffin                                    Tufted Puffin

Tim had a list of birding hotspots and Doug had his GPS but they couldn’t quite agree on priorities.  Doug and Joan were more interested in mammals and Tim had birds in mind, specifically the whiskered auklet.  Connie and I were pretty much along for the ride and were OK either way.  As it turned out there just aren’t many options in Dutch Harbor and we pretty much covered them all.


    From the Summit

We had no complaints with the weather — sunny but chilly with a bit of wind.  Connie had done her birding homework but neither of us was prepared for the spectacular beauty of Unalaska.  Even Doug and Joan, who had been to Dutch Harbor twice before were thrilled with the scenery — sweeping vistas, Ireland-green hills, rocky shorelines, vertical cliff faces, crescent bays, crashing surf.  And birds, of course.


    Eagle and Lupine

All-in-all we saw 23 species of birds, including maybe 100 bald eagles — they’re like pigeons around here — horned puffins, harlequin ducks, various “peeps” and some pippits, sparrows and long-spurs.  The big surprise for us was the rock sandpiper, a new species for Connie.  

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   Sea Otter                                      Humpback Whale

Doug was happy with the dozen sea otters, Stellars sea lions, harbor seals and even an Arctic fox.  The topping on his sundae were the tail-slapping humpback whales on our next-to-last stop, but Joan had dropped out by then.  Tim, too, seemed happy.  The driving didn’t stress him out too much — I think he just went into guide mode — and while he didn’t get to see his whiskered auklet, he seemed satisfied with the number and variety of birds we encountered.  If he can put up with us again we hope to partner with him for the cranes in Kushiro, Japan.



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John and Connie, Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

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