We recently had friends visiting from Colorado and decided to take them to Seldovia, Alaska for the day via the Rainbow Tours. Seldovia is on the southside of Kachemak Bay, accessible only by boat or small airplane, and boasts a population of 272 hearty souls (in 2014).
The day was overcast with light wind. I like the ocean, but the ocean doesn’t like me. I have a tendency to get sea sick so I was worried about how “rough” the ride might be. Seas were forecast to be 2-4 feet, but luckily seas were about 2 feet for the most part – I wore my seasick patch for good measure just to be sure. As ordered, once we landed in Seldovia, the sun was able to break free of the clouds for short periods of time.
All Rainbow Tours first go by Gull Island. This is an island near Halibut Cove boasting an impressive number of nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common Murres. Unfortunately the eagles have found the island to be a treasure too. This year there seemed to be fewer nesting kittiwakes. The eagles flush the birds off their nests continually, making it difficult for the birds to incubate the eggs. Flushing the birds also makes them vulnerable to attack by eagles and allows both eagles and Ravens an opportunity to steal eggs or chicks – should the eggs hatch.
Also on the island are nesting Tufted Puffins. I was surprised at the number of Tufted Puffins we saw – about 12. Now this may seem like a small number, but on all previous trips I’ve taken (and they have been few), I generally only see about 3-4 Tufted Puffins. Our captain spotted a lone Horned Puffin, which gave me a new bird for the year. I call first sightings FOYs or First of Years. Many people call them FOS or First of Season, but I want to know “what season”? Also observed were Pelagic Cormorants and Surfbirds. Surprisingly I didn’t see any Bald Eagles, although Jack saw one juvenile eagle.
After a short tour around Gull Island, we headed towards Seldovia. A pod of 10+ Humpback whales had been spotted earlier in the day so we went in search of whales near a large protruding rock called Sixty-foot Rock. And we were rewarded with a few whales breaching the water.
We traversed through Eldridge Passage observing a variety of wildlife, including a Black Oystercatcher roosting on the beach. These shorebirds nest on the beach in several areas within Kachemak Bay. I was surprised at how many campers there were along the beaches. Lots of people visiting Homer/Kachemak Bay this 4th of July weekend.
We finally made it to Seldovia, and immediately disembarked from the boat and headed to the Boardwalk Hotel for lunch. I had a delicious rockfish sandwich – yum, yum. When we’ve gone to Seldovia in the past we’ve always brought our lunch and walked the Otterbahn Trail. By stopping to eat lunch you don’t have a whole lot of time left to walk the trail, or explore the area including the town.
After lunch, we stopped at the Seldovia visitor center, and then walked the historic boardwalk, which takes all of about 15 minutes. By then we only had 20 minutes before we needed to board the boat for our return trip to Homer.
On the way back, we did stop for about 30 minutes as the pod of Humpback Whales were coming up for air and flashing their tails. Fun to listen to all the oohs and ahhs of the passengers. We got back to the Homer Boat Harbor about 6:00 pm and headed home.
Overall, the trip was a good one and it was “A GREAT DAY TO BIRD”.