"More birds than you can easily believe possible."
11 Jun 08 - Ulric's Camp, Keoklevek RiverPancakes for breakfast after a solid ten hours of sleep; I almost felt rested. The tundra made an extraordinarily comfortable bed. Then a riverboat ride downstream to Old Chevak. This is the former site of Chevak. Ulric said it was relocated because the BIA couldn't find sound soils to build a school; Orth, A Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, says it was moved because of storm flooding. They agreed it happened mostly in 1950, although I think some folks lived at the old site until the 1970s. Not much is left beyond what Ulric says is the old church, now a sub-marginal USFWS cabin for mist-netting and Eider-counting volunteers. There are a few sod walls still standing, but a lot of thawing and erosion, combined with the harsh weather, has pretty much demolished everything else.
Even the fading, minimal impact of humans has had an ongoing impact on birds here: Tree Swallows nest in the eaves of the remaining building, and a lone Yellow Wagtail was around.
We lunched on the other side of the river, next to one of the countless lakes on the Delta. Just during lunch, that one random lake produced Tundra Swan, Black Scoter, Red-necked Phalarope, Emperor Goose, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Long-tailed Duck, Hoary Redpoll and Black Turnstone.
While we saw at least sixteen Spectacled Eider as we motored around, the highlight was a Sabine's Gull colony, with dozens of beautiful Sabine's flying, roosting and courting all around us.
Back at camp, a walk around a slightly different route produced Bar-tailed Godwit, Willow Ptarmigan, more Spectacled Eiders, Greater Scaup and Wilson's Snipe, as well as the usual sandpipers, plovers, gulls and jaegers. An amazing day of birding.