Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Gull Island - Kachemak Bay, Alaska

Homer, Alaska is on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula and has a 4.5 mile long spit, known as Homer Spit, a narrow gravel bar which extends out into Kachemak Bay. Gull Island is about 3 miles out into Kachemak Bay beyond the end of the Homer Spit and is about 633 feet long and 93 feet high. It is a rookery for about 8,000 to 10,000 black-legged kittiwakes, which build mud nests on ledges and in clefts, 5,000 to 8,000 common murres and smaller numbers of glaucous-winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, red-faced cormorants, puffins and pigeon guillemots.  
These screen shots from Google help to place Gull Island. This screenshot is the bottom end of the Kenai Peninsula and shows Homer, the Homer Spit and Kachemak Bay.  

Gull Island does not show up here, but it is just off the bottom arm of the formation that has Halibut Cove at the top. Peterson Bay is the bay inside that bottom arm. 

This screenshot shows Peterson Bay and Gull Island is the small island toward the top left. 

The shape of Gull Island from Google Maps. 

A photo of Gull Island. The white all over the rocks is mostly birds (some guano), and most of the birds are black-legged kittiwakes. 
On Monday, July 20, 2016, we were in Homer and scheduled to fly to Katmai NP to watch grizzly bears. Our flight was canceled because of bad weather. So we drove most of the way out the Homer Spit to visit Mako's Water Taxi and asked if we could charter a trip out to Gull Island, something I'd read about in my trip planning. 20 minutes later we were on the boat and on our way with the driver of the boat for an approximate one hour excursion. We saw and followed a humpback while, my first experience seeing one, and saw it breach almost entirely out of the water. Unfortunately I did not get the breach in my photo, but I got the explosion of water when it landed. We left the whale and circled Gull Island. We saw lots of horned puffins, mostly on the water, a few tufted puffins, some sea otters, black-winged kittiwakes, common murres and cormorants. It was a blast and a great use of an hour. 

Some photos of this journey are found hereafter:
The humpback whale's tail. 

A portion of the large splash from the breaching whale. The trees in the distance are are on the other side of the bay in Kachemak State Park. 
Sea otters. 

Tufted puffin

Horned puffin

Common murre

Pigeon guillemot

Black legged kittiwakes

Glaucous-winged gull

Pelagic cormorants

I highly recommend a trip to Gull Island and the cost of our trip was quite cheap by Alaskan standards. 

1 comment:

  1. The saying "Birds of a feather flock together" was definitely manifest on Gull Island. The puffins are the exception. They seem to be loners.