July 2, 2008

Denali Highway Revisited

After our wonderful four days at the National Park, we decided to return to the Denali Highway to explore, bird, hike, paddle & fish this wonderous 135 miles of tundra, lakes & mountains.

Opting to bypass Brushkana River CG this time and enjoy some new location for the first night we pushed on. Boy oh boy! What a great decision... we found this single camping space down a 4WD road located on a premier example of Alaska's pristine wilderness lakes.
Arriving early in the afternoon, we really hit a hot spot on the birding. The lake above was accompanied by some smaller feeder lakes to it's east, all coupled with creeks. Across the "highway" was another entire string of similar lakes, loaded with swans, ducks, shorebirds and loons. Those tundra swans that seemed so hard to find a few days ago were dotted across each lake.
Although we didn't see any Artic Loons, Commons were nesting in the lake to the south.
And along with them, a playful group of five young otters. It was interesting to see the male loon's protective reaction to the frisky critter's approach. One would think that a single bird would be easily twarted by five otters, but not the case, as the loon persisted violent thrashing, pecking & attacking, eventually driving the threat away!
It seemed strange to see shorebirds that are so common in Louisiana way up here in Alaska!

The numerous ducks on the water looked quite familiar, along with the typical Alaska sign (those signs in Louisiana seem to be made out of the same "holy" material).... But a little further down the road we enjoy the crossing of the glass smooth lake by a lone waterfowl, heading home for the night....
The next morning we are off to Tangle Lakes, another fifty-some miles east on the Highway. As we pass though another stream laden area, we're greeted by another of Alaska's common residents, moma moose and have new calf.
Out in the distance is that continuous reminder of how beautiful this place is, along with just how far north we are.