Thursday, 13 September 2007

Alaskan adventures

Now I know what you are thinking - what has Alaska got to do with bushcraft on Exmoor? Actually, nothing at all really except for the fact that I did some tracking whilst I was out there.

It was one of those mad trips because my sister decided to get married on Kodiak Island which is off the coast of Alaska. I flew out on the Friday and had to overnight in Anchorage, then fly to Kodiak on Saturday, wedding on Sunday, fly back to Anchorage on Monday and then leave for home on Tuesday morning. I think I travelled something like 16000 miles in 5 days! Needless to say I'm a bit tired.

The wedding was to be performed by the harbourmaster, of all people, on his boat. So, part of the deal was a boat trip to one of the smaller islands, a walk around for an hour or so, back to the boat for the ceremony, dinner, then a leisurely cruise back to base.

Our first visit was to see some of the local sealions, who were all terribly stressed (NOT!).

These guys make some very interesting noises and smells. If you get downwind of them then you know it! Very fishy. They also like to do a lot of snorting which carries a surprisingly long way over open water.

There were plenty of seabirds such as 2 species of Puffin, cormorants, kittiwakes, shearwaters, murrelets and quite a few Bald Eagles. Very good to see those in such numbers and also with youngsters.

We also saw a Sea Otter going about his business. I wasn't close enough to get a decent picture of the beastie but I did find feeding sign on the island.

These were the remains of various shellfish eg crabs, mussels etc. Unfortunately, as this was literally on the edge of a rocky beach, there were no easy spoor to see. There were a large number of compression shapes in the pebbles which could well have been otter but I'm certain some of them were deer - which are well known to roam that beach.

There were other sign of deer such as compression shapes in the soft moss that carpetted the island as well as some evidence of feeding. We headed back to the boat for the wedding ceremony and on our cruise back we were shadowed by a humpback whale! Absolutely fantastic. I don't suppose that many people can say they had a whale as a guest (without being rude to someone of course).

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