Sunday, September 13, 2015 Spencer Glacier/ Lake raft trip

South of Portage, Alaska

On the second to last day of the Alaska Railroad passenger service and Chugach Adventures’ Spencer Glacier raft trips, a friend and I became tourists. After driving the 80 miles to Portage, we took a short detour down Portage Valley and found a beautiful, bright VARIED THRUSH and then a SPRUCE GROUSE hen in one of the campgrounds. What an intricate pattern embroidered on her feathers!

Hated to leave, but had to catch the train at Portage, so back we went. On the way to Spencer Glacier, I spotted a NORTHERN HARRIER floating over the wetlands adjacent to the tracks. Unidentified ducks flew off in the far distance, otherwise it was fairly quiet. All the nesting ARCTIC TERNS have migrated, and the MEW GULLS moved on.

After a short train ride, we disembarked at Spencer Glacier. The guide told me that while this is not a major flyway, SANDHILL CRANES flew overhead yesterday. I did not expect to find a lot of birds this time of year, but I think it would be very interesting birding in the successional willow-alder-cottonwood-spruce forest and up into the alpine from May through August.

The rafting trip past icebergs, growlers, and bergy bits to Spencer Glacier 1 ½ miles away was fabulous. We lingered in front of the blue ice face of the mile wide glacier, a safe distance away, then landed on the right side for a short walk on the edge of the glacier. Except for the water dripping off the ice into puddles and the breeze, it was very quiet. Our guide told us that at night, when it is especially calm and quiet, campers hear pops, groans, and growls as the glacier moves ever forward.

All too soon, it was time to leave. Our friendly, informative, and very strong guide rowed us back across the lake to the beach. As the train was already waiting, we shucked our life jackets, thanked the guide, hustled back in the van and loaded up. The scenery rolled past the windows, gold and green cottonwoods and wetlands with maroon and red mountainsides above, white fingers of glacial ice in the valleys. Spectacular!

We got back to Portage shortly after 5, loaded back into the car, and drove home. Three adult TRUMPETER SWANS swam in the wetlands at the base of Turnagain Arm and two more were spotted in Tern Lake.

What a great way to enjoy a beautiful Alaskan fall day!

For more information check out Chugach Adventures at <> and the Alaska Railroad at <>

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

No comments:

Post a Comment