Road Trip


WC and Mrs. WC escaped the smokey confines of Interior Alaska on a trip to the east end of the Denali Highway, one of WC’s favorite places on the planet. There was some rain on Friday night and Saturday morning, but otherwise the weather was good to great. The birding and bird photography was very good. This time of the year, birding is all about the kids. Which, after all, is the reason for the whole migration business.

Spotted Sandpiper, Tangle River, Denali Highway

Spotted Sandpiper, Tangle River, Denali Highway

This Spotted Sandpiper female was trying to decide if WC and his big camera were a threat to her chicks.

A Whimbrel, a large shorebird that breeds in swampy, alpine terrain, complained loudly that WC was too near his kids.

Whimbrel, Maclaren Summit, Denali Highway

Whimbrel, Maclaren Summit, Denali Highway

Many birds were busy capturing food for their chicks.

Wilson's Warbler, Denali Highway

Wilson’s Warbler, Denali Highway

This Wilson’s Warbler was waiting for WC to go away so he could take his prize to his hatchlings.

And once in a while, through the impressive skills of Mrs. WC, you could even find a nest and catch the feeding as it happened.

Yellow Warbler feeding chicks, Tangle River, Denali Highway

Yellow Warbler feeding chicks, Tangle River, Denali Highway

Both parents were working full time to feed the five hungry chicks. WC probably could have clipped the obscuring leaves out of the way and gotten a cleaner shot, but it would have increased visibility of the nest to predators, as well as WC’s camera lens. Good birders and bird photographers don’t do that.

But mostly it was about the kids. Whether it was the incredible fecundity of Mallards.

Mallard Hen in eclipse plumage and her ten (!) ducklings

Mallard Hen in eclipse plumage and her ten (!) ducklings

Or the single kid of a Horned Lark up on the alpine tundra on a hill side above the road.

Horned Lark Chick, Denali Highway

Horned Lark Chick, Denali Highway

It’s a pretty incredible process. WC never tires of it, and never tires of photographing it. The Denali Highway is a remarkable, even astonishing place.

 

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