Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This is Strictly for the Birds

Unalaska Island is very famous for its wildflowers, as you already know. It is also an extremely popular site for bird watchers. Many birds here are specially adapted to the harsh weather and are not seen south of here.

Others are migratory, but may look and behave much differently here in their breeding grounds than in the lower 48. Their plumage may be different, their songs may change for courtship, and they may even change habitat. (My favorite example is the sandpipers that nest in Alaska's mountains, far from seashores and marshes--who'd have thought!) Some come in from Asia and return there, so are seen here as migratory, but not ever seen in the lower 48.

Of course in Unalaska, one always thinks of and is aware of eagles--whether one wants to be or not! Bald eagles spend the first three years of their lives as adolescents which camouflage colors. Some look pretty scruffy, but some are really handsome.

Currently there is an Ornithologist from Germany visiting here specifically to study the eagles. He has been coming every year for 10 years, he said, and he uses the church parking lot to make his observations and take pictures, since it is right on the edge of Iliuliuk Lake, and beyond the very small lake are peaks perfect for eagles to perch on.

My favorite bird to listen to is the horned lark. It's melodic sound is even louder than a meadow lark, and much more musically varied. It is a smaller bird, and primarily perches in willow shrubs and such, but is a great musician! (Remember, you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them.)

George's favorite bird is the oyster catcher. It is stunning, and he often sees it on the shore rocks between the house and the landfill.

There are many, many species of ducks, and it is fun to see some of the ones we don't normally see at home. Identifying them, however, is an entirely different story! While we were left a bird reference book by the pastor, we aren't very proficient at using it.

When George was out fishing, he was fortunate enough to see a whole bunch of Puffins. They are very difficult to photograph from a bouncing fishing boat. We are hoping to see more of them when we journey to Iceland later this summer with our grandson.

We have many more pictures of birds in our cameras, but taking pictures of birds is much different than taking pictures of flowers! Flowers stand still, except for the wind, which is pretty constant. It is still less disruptive than the dramatic fluttering and flying of birds. Perhaps I should concentrate on taking pictures of rocks! They'd stand still for me at least.

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