3 trips to Alaska

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Curtis Hart
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Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan

3 trips to Alaska

Post by Curtis Hart »

I have been to Alaska 3 times, 2 weeks in 2005, 3 months in 2006, and 2 weeks in 2008. Alaska’s mammals are big and spectacular. There are also some nice small one if you take the time to look.


Kenai Fjords National Park
I visited this park on every trip. I accessed it in two ways, a boat tour out of
Seward, or at Exit Glacier. The free campground at Exit Glacier is one of my favorite places to camp. I’ve taken at least 4 boat tours, and each one was well worth it. Black Bears, Mountain Goats, Killer Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Harbor Seals, Stellar’s Sea Lions, Sea Otters, and Humpback Whales are regularly seen on these trips.

Sea Otters. These can also be seen by driving along the bay, past Seward.
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Stellar’s Sea Lions, also occasionally seen by driving along the bay.
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Harbor Seals are often seen on the ice near calving glaciers.
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Humpback Whales are the most commonly seen Whale.
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I have also been lucky enough to see Killer Whales on 3 of the 4 trips I went on. My lifer Killer Whales were a super pod of 50+. Some were breaching.
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I believe I have seen this male on multiple trips.
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The last time I went, we saw this small pod with a baby.
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There are two Dall’s Porpoise in the photo with this Killer Whale. These were residents, so they did not bother the porpoises.
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This is Exit Glacier, the land entrance to KFNP.
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This Northern Red-backed Vole was in the road. I often saw them in the campground as well.
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The Harding Icefield Trail heads up above Exit Glacier, and is a great place to see some wildlife. Hoary Marmots are common.
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We also saw Mountain Goats.
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I have also seen Black Bears, North American Porcupine, Moose, and Shrews near Exit Glacier. I know others who have seen Brown Bears and even Wolverines.

This Brown Bear is from the Russian River.
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This Black Bear was at Skilak Lake.
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I lived on the Hope Road for the summer of 2006. It has very dense vegetation and was often overcast, so I did not get a lot of mammal pictures. I regularly saw Moose, Black Bear, Red Squirrels, Beaver, Mountain Goats, Northern Red-backed Voles, and shrews. Brown Bears were around, Belugas can be seen in Turnigain Arm, Caribou are occasionally seen, as well as Lynx and rarely Wolverine.
Black Bear cub.
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Shrews were often seen along 6 Mile Creek. ID help would be appreciated.
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Turnigain Arm
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The Bore Tide.
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Denali National Park
One of the premier mammal watching destinations in North America. It has it’s own Big 5, Moose, Caribou, Dall’s Sheep, Grizzly Bear, and Wolf, and you have a very reasonable chance of seeing them. I have also seen Arctic Ground Squirrels, Hoary Marmot, Snowshoe Hare, Canada Lynx, Muskrat, Beaver, Porcupine, Collared Pika, Red Fox, and Red Squirrels. Plenty more species are possible.

Caribou
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Moose
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Snowshoe Hare
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North American Porcupine can often be road cruised after dusk.
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Beavers are common with a short walk from the Visitor’s Center.
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Arctic Ground Squirrel
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Collared Pika
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Dall’s Sheep
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A Wolf with a stupid radio collar on it.
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My favorite sighting, a Canada Lynx.
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I have seen mammals in other places in Alaska, but these are the ones I have pictures of.


Species seen.

Brown/Grizzly Bear
Black Bear

Canada Lynx

Red Fox
Gray Wolf

American Beaver
Common Muskrat
Red Squirrel
Northern Red-backed Vole
Arctic Ground Squirrel
Hoary Marmot

Little Brown Bat

Cinereus Shrew
American Pygmy Shrew

Collared Pika
Snowshoe Hare

Moose
Caribou
Dall’s Sheep
Mountain Goat

Sea Otter

Harbor Seal
Stellar’s Sea Lion

Killer Whale
Beluga
Dall’s Porpoise
Humpback Whale

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Warren
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Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Warren »

Hi Curtis,

Thanks for the fantastic post!
Your adventures continue to amaze and inspire me.

Do you like radio collars?

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Josh Holbrook »

Awesome! I can only imagine what North America was like before being settled: had to be just as cool as Africa.

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Andy Avram
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Location: NE Ohio

Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Andy Avram »

Curtis, amazing trip. One day in the next couple of years I will head on up to Alaska. Pretty wild those Sea Lions can scale rock cliffs like that. I also really like the Lynx.

Looking at your Shrew potentials for the area, it looks like you could see Tundra, American Water, Masked, Montane and Pygmy. Masked seems to be about the only good fit for yours.

VICtort
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Location: AZ.

Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by VICtort »

Those are great photos, seeing the orcas and Dall's together is interesting...you really saw those orcas up close, did you see them feeding? Are the orcas and Dall's sharing the same source, i.e. herring?

Andy, those big heavy Stellar's can climb some, but often they get up on those rocks when the tide is high, then it retreats, and leaves them "high and dry" as they appear here.

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reptilist
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Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by reptilist »

Great post! I was hoping to see something like this here! Thanks!

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Dell Despain
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Location: Montana

Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Dell Despain »

Nice, there are some great shots in this post. The Lynx shot is the winning shot for me. Wow.
I haven't seen a Bull moose in a few years, those two in your photo look like serious attention grabbers. What'd you do climb a tree for that shot?

Word of advice: Stop posting those Pika photos or Warren will soon post them on the Mammals he has eaten thread. ;)

-Dell

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Warren
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Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Warren »

Actually never got my hands on one, and have only seen one once - in Wyoming.
Although I live in a province that is full of them, I prefer the tropics.

Just looked them up and learned a couple of facts:
  • 1. They are basically a rat-shaped rabbit
  • 2. There's 30 different kinds!

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Curtis Hart
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan

Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Curtis Hart »

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Warren - No I do not like to see radio collars on wild animals. I know it's useful and all, but they're ugly.

Andy - I was pretty sure they were masked or pygmy. I believe I saw both there during the course of the summer.

VCITort - The Killer Whales were not feeding. The porpoises appeared to be riding the Killer Whales the same way they would ride a boat wake. From what I understand and have seen Sea Lions can move around pretty well on rocks. Harbor Seals cannot, and often do get stuck pretty high up.

Dell - I was on the bus that you have to take to get further than 15 miles into Denali. That's why it appears high.

I don't think I would kill a Pika to eat it. They are getting hit kinda hard by global warming and range reductions are in their future.



Curtis

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nightdriver
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Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by nightdriver »

What.... no Musk Ox? Go to Nome. ;)

I'm really envious of that Lynx :mrgreen:

-nightdriver

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Curtis Hart
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Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan

Re: 3 trips to Alaska

Post by Curtis Hart »

nightdriver wrote:What.... no Musk Ox? Go to Nome. ;)
I may go to Nome... but I'd much rather see them in Canada where they were not reintroduced.

The Lynx was great. I was pretty happy to see it that well.


Curtis

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