Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fabulous Alaska beckons: May 12-15, 2016


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When conjuring up the ultimate spring birding getaway, you might want to turn your imagination loose on this idea: Homer, Alaska in mid-May. Picture this: a quaint town nestled in rolling hills, on a sparkling bay lined with spectacular glaciers and mountains. Located on the southern edge of the Kenai Peninsula, Homer, besides being stunningly beautiful, is uniquely situated as a favorite stopover for over two hundred species of migrating shorebirds. Seems like a birder's paradise, don't you think? And the fabulous Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival awaits your visit during peak migration! There. Decision made.

Alaska is legendary for its rugged scenery, pristine waterways, and abundant wildlife. But it's also known for its friendly, down-home feel. The little town of Homer and the folks at the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival exemplify this. It's a community festival. For 24 years now, the hard-working, dedicated festival volunteers continue to extend a warm welcome and keep attendees busy (and happy!) by offering educational activities, guided walks, and boat trips, speakers, artists, and a friendly competition or two, to boot. Check the entire schedule of events here.

Learn about bird and nature photography, shorebird and seabird ID, geology of the area, smart phone digiscoping, and try field drawing or birding by ear. You can bird by fat bike, kayak, or by stand-up paddleboard; take part in the festival's 5K run, or just stake out a spot with your binocular on one of the many viewing platforms along the Homer Spit.  Meet and talk with terrific local guides, and invited guests, Kevin Karlson, Dale Rosselet, and Sharon "Birdchick" Stiteler, whose evening keynotes you won't want to miss! Visit the beautiful Alaska Islands & Oceans Visitors Center, where you can see and bid on bird art for the Bird Art Auction fundraiser--you can also bid online.
Oystercatchers by 2016 Festival Artist, Ram Papish

The variety of things to do at the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival is impressive, and there are activities specifically designed for families, children, and junior birders, too. Some events are free! Registration is required, since some trips and workshops have a limited capacity, so register today. No matter what you choose to do, hey--you're in Alaska. Everything is an adventure.

Eagle Optics will once again be there, so if you come, please stop in the vendor area, say hello to Ben, and have him show you the latest in spotting scopestripods, and binoculars.

Do come to Homer.  You'll be charmed by the little city on Kachemak Bay. You'll marvel at the sights and sounds of shorebirds moving over mountains and across water to their Arctic nesting grounds. You'll make new friends, and you'll go home a better birder. And forever after, you'll have Alaska in your heart.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

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