Thursday, May 28, 2009

Alaska Day 2: Glacier Bay National Park

The first real stop on the cruise was Glacier Bay National Park. While we didn't actually get off of the ship, we did cruise around the park from 10am to 7pm. It was a fantastic day of sightseeing with most of my time spent on deck looking for birds and other animals. As we cruised into the park, bird life picked up quickly. Soon after entering, I found my first Pacific and Red-throated Loons of the trip. It didn't take long and I got my first lifer within the park, Marbled Murrelet.

Unfortunately, we were not able to cruise by any of the seabird nesting colonies so I missed both Puffins for the trip. I guess I just need an excuse to go back soon!

As we pulled up to Johns Hopkins Glacier, I saw my first two Black Oystercatchers landing on a rocky beach in front of the glacier. This is a very beautiful glacier and it is truly amazing how large it actually is. Well at least I thought it was big until we got to Margerie Glacier later on. It was very interesting to examine the different shapes of the ice within the glacier.

Our last stop for the day was the Margerie Glacier. This glacier is 21 miles long, 250 feet tall, and the most likely glacier at which to observe calving. Calving is the breaking off of ice from the glacier. This results in huge splashes and waves at the ice falls from the top of the glacier. While not everyone that visits gets to see calving, we were treated to quite the show. We saw at least 5 huge chunks of ice fall into the water. It is really something that everyone should experience.

As we sailed back through Glacier Bay, I kept looking for more birds and marine mammals. It was fun to watch large groups of gulls fly by the ship. We got to closely observe Mew, Glaucous-winged, and Thayer's Gulls as well as many Black-legged Kittiwakes.

This is a remarkable park that everyone should visit at least once in their life.

Taken shortly after entering Glacier Bay NP.
All of these mountains are part of the Fairweather and Alsek Ranges.

Another shot of the awesome scenery in the park!

Up close shot of the snow covered mountains.

This is the glacier that we saw first. I can't remember its name
but it was the smallest of the glaciers we saw that day.

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Closeup of Johns Hopkins Glacier

Margerie Glacier

7 comments:

Kathiesbirds said...

Love the subtle blues and grays in all these shots. An amazing trip indeed!

Dorothy said...

Awesome, indeed!

Light and Voices said...

Wonderful shots of Alaska!
Joyce

melandri said...

awesome,,,but sad coz of global warming all of that wonderful photo someday will never exist...

Arija said...

What a wonderful experience you had. Glaciers are so majestic and to have Mt.Rainier show itself was a real bonus.

Babooshka said...

These are just outstanding.

Larry D said...

Wonderful photos! Happy skywatch Friday! What a place!