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  • Writer's pictureBetween Beaches Alaska

Birding at Between Beaches Alaska

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Hello!


I’m Jade and myself and my partner Nathan will most likely be welcoming you on your arrival at Between Beaches Alaska this summer! We can normally be found out and about on the property chopping wood, cleaning cabins and helping our guests - usually with a pair of binoculars in hand as we are always on the look out for wildlife which also calls Between Beaches home.

Like a lot of our guests, we came here once and cannot stop coming back - we have the Between Beaches bug!

We are fortunate enough to spend our whole summer at this wonderful place enjoying all of the wildlife, water activities, scenery and tranquility that Between Beaches Alaska has to offer. We have a keen interest in the bird life in the area and although not experts - we are sharing with you what we saw during our time here last summer and what you may expect to see when you visit us.






Arriving to Between Beaches via Makos water taxi from the homer spit can be a wildlife watching extravaganza in itself, keep your eyes peeled and binoculars in hand for the 30 minute crossing across Kachemak bay as you never know what you (or your skipper!) might see - breaching humpback whales and rafts of otters snoozing are not uncommon sights in this magical place. Upon arrival at Between Beaches Alaska there is an abundance of wildlife on your cabin doorstep, with sea otters floating in rafts in the safety of Kasitsna Bay, tide pools teaming with life on minus tides and Humpback whales feeding around the Herring islands. We are also fortunate enough to be located in a bird watchers heaven with the tiniest of our feathered friends the Rufous hummingbird regularly visiting our feeder to the great American bald eagle who frequently soar up and down the spit in search of scraps to take back to their eager awaiting chicks.


The majority of our guests book a 2 night/3 day stay at Between Beaches Alaska and no matter what time of the spring/summer you visit there will always be a fantastic array of wildlife and bird life to view which brings excitement to eager bird watches trying to find their ‘lifers’ and novices without having to venture too far off the spit and surrounding waters.

The scenery around the spit in June is spectacular with the last of the snow melting on the surrounding peaks. The American bald eagles are strong in numbers at this time of year with adults and juveniles seen daily on the property, often sitting at the tops of trees calling out and roaming the shore line scavenging.


The main deck offers a great observation point for the Bald Eagles which sit in their vampire pose, like Christmas decorations in the trees around Kasitsna bay, later on in the summer the deck is also a great spot for viewing the Belted Kingfisher. A pair often fly back and forth and perch on the wires above the deck. Easily distinguishable with their stocky bodies, thick bill and mohawk.

The Between Beaches property is a great habitat for small thrushes such as the Hermit thrush which can be seen darting around the deck and in to the bushes keeping hidden from Bandit - our on site Siamese. The American tree creeper (also commonly know as brown creepers) can be spotted in the tall trees surrounding the cabins and the chestnut backed chickadee is a common visitor. A flash of yellow in the trees could be the sighting of the Townsend warbler, or the eye catching Wilson’s warbler.


Earlier on in the summer scoters can be seen (with binoculars!) flying low to the water across the sea over to Barabara point. These birds were a mystery to us to identify for a long time until September when large numbers of surf and white winged scoters came close to shore on both sides of the spit allowing us to clearly see the unmistakable bright orange beak of the surf scoter and white spots of the white winged scoter.


Jumping in to one of our complimentary single or double kayaks and exploring the calm waters of Kasitsna Bay is another fantastic way to view the local bird life and giving a better chance to see some of the local Auks. Common mures (guillemot), pigeon guillemots and Kittlitz’s murrelets can be spotted in the Bay and during June/July wildlife trips to Gull island (in-between us and Homer) can virtually guarantee you sightings of black legged kittiwakes, common murres, cormorants, glaucous-winged gulls, pigeon guillemots and potentially puffins.

We don’t typically see horned or tufted puffins in and around the spit but you may see them on fishing charters out of Homer or Seldovia but a bird just as striking with its black body and bright orange beak which can be seen (normally heard first!) on the spit is the black oystercatcher.


Walking up the trail at the end of the spit to access the berry picking (seasonal) and hiking trails brings a whole new habitat and new birds to spot! Varied thrushes and the American robin can be seen flitting back and forth and a call and a flash of blue from the Stellars jay is not uncommon. Spruce grouse with chicks in tow are often seen in the banks and verges at the side of the road and dash in to the bushes when startled.


With the fire weed at full bloom around the end of August, the eye catching purple petals will start to drop, and as all the Alaskans say - summer is over when the last of the fireweed petals fall. But this doesn’t mean summer is over - especially in the bird watching world of Between Beaches!

The majority of the Bald eagles have usually started to follow the salmon upstream ensuring lots of tasty and nutritious meals to see them through. A few of the locals still hang around scavenging scraps from the fishermen's catch fighting off crows and magpies and prowl the sand bar at low tide for an octopus or two who have been caught off guard by the large tidal ranges.

When sitting on your exclusive seating area either side of your cabin or the Beach House be sure to have your binoculars ready as you never know what will pop up! Our sunset beach (Kachemak Bay side) is full of surprises from sea otters, up-to-no-good sea lions, whales and an array of birds. Common and red throated loons (or divers for those in the UK!) can be seen - often daily floating and diving along the shore line. On high tides these diving birds get close to the cabins demonstrating their diving and catching skills and show off how big they really are! It’s likely you will hear the haunting call of the loons before you see them . Red breasted mergansers and red necked grebes are also common visitors feasting on the sea bed below and are always enjoyable to watch, with Fisherman’s, Cannery and Tidepool Cabins offering incredible views over our sunset beach, you can view this wonderful array of bird life from the comfort of your cosy cabin!


When sitting on your exclusive seating area either side of your cabin or the Beach House be sure to have your binoculars ready as you never know what will pop up! Our sunset beach (Kachemak Bay side) is full of surprises from sea otters, up-to-no-good sea lions, whales and an array of birds. Common and red throated loons (or divers for those in the UK!) can be seen - often daily floating and diving along the shore line. On high tides these diving birds get close to the cabins demonstrating their diving and catching skills and show off how big they really are! It’s likely you will hear the haunting call of the loons before you see them . Red breasted mergansers and red necked grebes are also common visitors feasting on the sea bed below and are always enjoyable to watch, with Fisherman’s, Cannery and Tidepool Cabins offering incredible views over our sunset beach, you can view this wonderful array of bird life from the comfort of your cosy cabin!

Of course all the above sightings are not guaranteed, and its likely you will see something which I haven’t mentioned, that’s the beauty of this place - you never know what will surprise you!




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