Aboard the Lady Alderbrook with Black Hills Audubon
On November 12, 41 birders braved the wet, cold, and chop on Hood Canal aboard the Lady Alderbrook. The weather predictions the night before were grim, but the Alderbrook Resort’s dock managers assured me that all would be fine. Our trip was indeed fine, yet in fact—to use leader Bill Tweit’s words—we had “light rain at the beginning, low overcast, and winds gusting 10-30 miles per hour. Water was smooth at times, quite choppy at others. Waters were rough in the Great Bend area.”
Fortunately, the rain stopped pretty soon after we started. Fortunately, the Lady Alderbrook has a warm interior lounge with windows, to which we repaired when we needed to warm up, as the breeze on deck was brisk and wintry. Although the weather and chop inhibited the birds’ activity and our birding, our expert birder leaders Bill Tweit and Whittier Johnson documented 26 species of birds over the course of our Hood Canal cruise. These were Mallard, American Widgeon, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Pacific Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Mew Gull, California Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Western × Glaucous-winged Gull, Belted Kingfisher, Common Raven, American Crow, and Rock Pigeon.
The numbers of some of these species especially impressed me. For instance, about 150 Common Mergansers stretched in a long raft close to shore at one point, facing into the wind. Ordinarily, one sees a pair or a few pairs together on more inland waters.
I’d like to thank Norma Borden, who suggested this trip, and thanks to all participants whose good cheer and interest in learning about waterbirds enlivened our experience. Thanks to Bill and Whittier, whose knowledge and ability to articulately share their knowledge enhanced our cruise. Several participants suggested we try the cruise again in the spring, during migration. One idea would be to cruise half the day and the other half of the day to bird at Mark and Beth Biser’s house—I’m told they have a very birdy property. Look for announcements about this possible trip in The Echo or online at Black Hills Audubon Society. (from Jan/Feb 2017 Echo newsletter, by Bonnie Wood)