Sunday, November 28, 2010

June 11th - Denali - Shuttle to Wonder Lake

June 11th: The 6:45 AM shuttle to Wonder Lake (83 miles)? was a bit late departing. The bus driver was very good at spotting wildlife and she knew her birds which was great, but she certainly didn’t stop talking which was making us sleepy after too little sleep again. Our first important bird sighting was a Gyrfalcon perched on Marmot Rock. Bob, Paula, Mary and Donna were on our bus so we were the lucky ones as the rest of the group was on a later bus which didn’t get to see one. Our luck continued as we had a brief glimpse of a Wolf walking across a ridge before disappearing over the other side, then a distant view of 2 Grizzlys low in the valley. A little further along we were extremely lucky to witness a Grizzly nursing 2cubs. We also had brief glimpses of a moose and lots of distant Dall sheep up on some mountainsides.

When we reached Wonder Lake we only had about 30 minutes to walk around before the return trip back and it was a bit drizzly. I did get great looks at a brilliant red Common Redpoll. Back on the bus Paul spotted a closer Wolf in a lower field. We watched it as it walked closer to us and even pounced on some prey for a few minutes. Our best look at a Wolf!

We got off the bus at mile marker 38 to search for the Arctic Warbler again. We walked for a few hours before 3 of our group got on the next shuttle. Since it was full, Paul, Bob and myself continued our walk for another hour getting some great looks at Boreal Chickadee and Gray Jay as well as White Crowned Sparrow and Yellow Rumped Warbler. We also heard an unidentified bird singing that had a high pitch note, then went into song. We thought it may have been a White Winged Crossbill, but after listening to the song it doesn’t sound familiar.

After an hour the next bus came, with only 1 available seat, so we sent Bob along. As we continued the walk, we were shocked to see one of our target animals for the trip, a Lynx crossed the road in front of the bus as it was departing. Unfortunately I didn’t get a look at the face, just the body, but Bob said the bus driver was the only one to see it. Victorious, we continued our walk for another hour before finally getting seats on a bus. We ended up walking 7 miles, which in reality I loved since we have not gotten hardly any exercise this entire trip. Just prior to this we had great looks at 2 juv Gray Jays with one parent. At first, very hard to ID. The final sighting for the day was when a Porcupine waddled across the road in front of the bus. Then off to dinner at 9 PM – pizza at the hotel and here it is 11:30 PM again.

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