Homer Spit
Homer Spit
After getting off the plane back to Anchorage from Nome, we picked up our rental car, and followed Ken and Judy, owners of Marlows on the Kenai,  to their home near Soldatna, on the Kenai Peninsula. We settled into our cabin, and the next day I remembered I still had a report due, so the day was spent on the front deck of the cabin, right beside the river, with my laptop. It was hard to concentrate, with Tree and Violet-green swallows hawking around, White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle's) Warblers in the bushes, and Common Loons, Mallards, Mergansers, Red-necked Grebes, and American Widgeon floating by in the River, watched over by Bald Eagles, Arctic Terns, Mew Gulls and Magpies.

The next day, we set out for Homer.  for a map of the spit. The title photo at the top of this page was also taken on the Homer Spit, a great place to troll for shorebirds, sea ducks, murres and murrelets, kittiwakes and a variety of gulls. Great food and shopping, too!

The next day, we took a drift boat trip with Ken and two other guests staying at the Marlows. Starting out at the Swan Sanctuary just after dawn, the day looked threatening, but after a few spits of rain, it cleared up remarkably. The day's list included: Common, Pacific and Red-necked Loons, Trumpeter Swans, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Hairy
Soldatna Morning
Woodpecker, Common and Red-breasted Merganser, Mallards, American Wigeon, Scaup, Northern Shovelers, Common and Barrow's Goldeneye, Green-winged Teal, Canvasbacks, Bank and Tree Swallows, Belted Kingfisher, Solitary Sandpiper, Arctic Terns, Robins, and Pelagic Cormorants. Not to mention Beavers and Moose. But the bird of the day has to be a male Brandt's Cormorant in full breeding plumage, with the long wispy head feathers streaming behind it in the breeze.
Salmon Cemetary
Docking for a pit stop
Your table awaits! Lunch on the Kenai River

Mergansers (and a widgeon) on the River
The Happy Guests
The Happy Guests
Church in Old Town Kenai
After having a wonderful meal with Ken and Judy (venison steaks with rose-hip ketsup and fresh halibut), we relaxed on our deck, enjoying more of the river. The next day, we set off for the town of Kenai, to check out the canning factories.  for a map of old town Kenai with the best birding sites indicated. And, if gulls are your thing, you can't go wrong here, with thousands of them everywhere. Look closely, and like us, you might spot a Parasitic Jaeger. We also saw Sandhill Cranes, Bald and Golden Eagles, Brandt mixed in with thousands of Canada Geese, as well as Townsend's Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds, and some Northwestern Crows. All this, and a herd of Caribou too!

Kenai Docks and Canneries
The next day, we were off to Seward, to deliver some stuff to the Leanne Marlow daughter, who was busily building a new Bed and Breakfast. Their son, Neil, was there as well, and was thinking about opening his own pelagic birding company in Seward. After birding the area for a while, we visited the Sealife Centre in Seward for up close and personal looks at puffins, murres, and kittiwakes. We returned to Seward the next day as well, to take a pelagic trip to the Kenai Fjiords - a trip not to be missed!
Sealife Centre
Tufted Puffin - Photo copyright Tina MacDonald
Tufted Puffin
Pigeon Guillemot - Photo copyright Tina MacDonald
Pigeon Guillemot
Red-legged Kittiwake - Photo copyright Tina MacDonald
Red-legged Kittiwake

Sea Lion
The pelagic trip, as usual was wonderful! But this time, we had to deliver a new park warden to the fjiords, where he would spend his summer in isolation counting birds and mammals. Our day list included Bald Eagles, Black-legged and Red-legged Kittiwakes, Common and Thick-billed Murres, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Double- crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemot, Buller's Shearwater, Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, and a variety of gulls. As well, we saw Humpback Whales, Orcas, Mountain Goats and Stellar's Sea Lions!
Park Ranger leaving the tour boat at the glacier

Bird Islands
Bird Cliffs
Nesting Kittiwakes
Stellar's Sea Lion Rookery
We returned to Ken and Judy's after a long, but delightful day. We were cold and damp, but exhilerated at the same time. The trip would have been much improved if they could have figured out how to get us home immediately after we visited the bird cliffs, since there was little to see after that point, but we were two long, bumpy hours from Seward. 

Finally, on June 6, 2001, we had to return to Anchorage airport to return to Edmonton. We were sorry to leave but the real world awaited us. We'll be back some day - Alaska calls!

Ken and Keelie
Midnight at Marlow's - taken from our front deck
Marlows on the Kenai
Back to Nome
Back to Potter's Marsh