Archive for May 27th, 2010
WC is not, by nature, a religious person, but he did receive the blessings of St. Lazaria last weekend, for which he is deeply grateful. St. Lazaria Wilderness Area, of course, is a unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, about 20 miles from Sitka, Alaska, and one of the truly amazing natural spectacles in the world.
St. Lazaria, a small basalt island poking out of the Gulf of Alaska, is home to an astonishing number of breeding birds, including
- 250,000 breeding pairs of Fork-tailed Storm-petrels and Leach’s Storm-petrels.
- 4-5,000 Common and Thick-billed Murres.
- 1,500-2,000 breeding pairs of Tufted Puffins.
- 1,000 breeding pairs of Rhinoceros Auklets.
And there are Pigeon Guillemots, Ancient Murrelets and Cassin’s Auklets, as well as Glaucous-winged, Herring and Mew Gulls. For a birder, it’s a religious experience. For a bird photographer, it’s a significant challenge. The light is often bad, the Gulf of Alaska is notoriously lumpy and the birds are generally small. But it’s still immense fun. WC was on a mid-sized catamaran, and it’s certain some of his colleagues are still laughing at WC’s efforts to hold steady a heavy telephoto lens in choppy water. But here are some of the results:
Common Murre Colony
If WC had his way, he’d spend a week around St. Lazaria, in decent weather, photographing the birds that rest and breed there. It should be on any birder’s short list of destinations.