img_6093 (Large)My first meeting with a ptarmigan occurred during a hike in brush near Scidmore Glacier. Suddenly we were charged by a growling Alaskan animal, the Rock Ptarmigan. Apparently we had come too close to two tiny ptarmigan chicks hiding in the grass. The parents tried their best to distract us from the chicks. They made a low, growling sound as they circled us for several minutes. The birds in Glacier Bay definitely let you know when you’re not welcome!

img_5435Then there was the Oystercatcher I approached on a steep beach. Instead of turning around and running the other way, it quickly advanced toward my ankles, emitting its signature “peep-peep” sound. I backed off, and it quickly plunked itself down on its nest about 20 feet away.
During 13 days of kayaking we didn’t just watch the birds here, we interacted with them. They constantly approached us, amused us and become a great memory from our trip. These bold, badass birds did not fear humans. They merely saw us as part of the environment with which they interacted daily, and when they didn’t like what we were doing they let us know.

img_6164A funny encounter took place when Brian was cruising along in his kayak and watching some Kittiwake chicks waddling along the beach. He was taking photos with a telephoto lens and was pretty far from the chicks but the Kittiwake parents were not pleased. One of them began dive bombing Brian in his kayak and attempting to poop on him. I got to watch all this from about 50 feet away. I’m so glad they all missed him! Brian got his photo and quickly moved along as the Kittiwake parents continued to scold us from the beach.

img_6300 (Large)We nicknamed one rocky beach “Angry Bird Beach” near Johns Hopkins Inlet because when we landed to quickly boil water and warm up, the Kittiwakes began dive bombing us immediately. We huddled under a tarp in the pouring rain as they cried out to us, the invaders of their exclusive spot. I’ll bet they were happy when we finally left!

We saw many Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles. Our most memorable encounter was kayaking under two eagles flying about 40 feet above us fighting over a fish. We typically spotted a couple eagles each day. They tended to be shy and elusive.

img_6280 (Large)We really enjoyed the Loons, with their high pitched calls and interesting habit of ducking under the water to hunt or hide from approaching kayaks. Actually, many different species of birds surfaced quickly for a look at our kayaks, then quickly dove back under the water to safety. Once while kayaking in turbid, silty water near a glacier, one of these diving birds bumped into the side of my kayak! I would guess that the water was too turbid for the bird to know my kayak was there. The birds we met in Glacier Bay were definitely amusing and memorable.

Category: Sea Kayaking
Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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