Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I have been to many birding festivals. Some of them are large, well established affairs; while others are small or new or both. They are all so different. The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer Alaska is in its 15th year. It is well organized with field events, workshops, boat tours and fun-filled (can I say zany?) evening doings. There are lots of people yet it is small enough that I keep running into the same folks over and over again. It is sorta like having friends in town.
One of the joys of birding in a new location is knowing that many of the birds will be new. For some of them, it is simply a matter of going to where they are and bingo—like the Red-faced Cormorant. Others, I have searched high and low for, to no avail—like those irruptive Crossbills. But when there is a surprise, it is an unexpected bonus. The surprise for me was an immature Yellow-billed Loon. They are around, but not common. There had been talk about one being found, but then it disappeared. No one at seen it recently. I asked the captain on our boat trip if there was any chance that it was still around. He didn’t sound hopeful. Oh, well. We all shrugged. He offered the possibility of an Aleutian Tern. We all happily abandoned the loon for the tern.
Coming back into the harbor after seeing Tufted Puffins, Red-faced Cormorants, thousands of Common Murres and one Aleutian Tern; what should appear next to the boat, but the oddest, palest loon I have ever seen. It just popped up beside the boat and then disappeared. Surprise!
Gosh, I love surprises. You just never know.