After meeting for orientation and introductions at the Lands End Hotel, which is situated literally at the land’s end, on the very end of the Homer Spit in Homer Alaska, our boat captain, Gabe, along with his adorable first mate Bristol (his yellow lab puppy), picked us up right off the shore on our first morning of photographing our national animal.
After an eventful first morning, we made our way to Seldovia, our base camp for the week. A warm welcome from Angela at the Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel meant fresh halibut sandwiches and delicious cookies and brownies for lunch. We initially thought it was just her way of welcoming us to Seldovia, but little did we know, the food would just keep coming; every bite fantastic! Seldovia Alaska is the sort of place where time seems to have stood still for the past few decades, while locals just keep living their lives the only way they know how. Limited internet and cell phone access, no roads in or out, and a small community of people who make their living by fishing or hosting tourists are what makes this town special. This sort of slower pace of living is exactly why we wanted to spend the four days of our Bald Eagles of Alaska tour in such a place, and Angela was wonderful at ensuring we were well fed and taken care of. We can’t say enough good things about her cooking. No matter how hungry you come to Seldovia, a stop at the Boardwalk Hotel and Grill will be sure to satisfy even the biggest appetites!
Over the course of the next two days, we would spend morning and afternoon chasing bald eagles in various perches, beaches and cliff areas to allow for varying backdrops as we photographed a flurry of activity. Eagles coming in from all sides, right alongside the boat, performing a wide variety of aerial maneuvers.
We were able to photograph juveniles competing for a bite to eat, and large dominant females coming in to let everyone know who was in charge.
While our Bald Eagles of Alaska tour primarily focuses on photographing eagles, there was no shortage of other wildlife as well. We had excellent sightings of sea otters, coyotes, and even a mountain goat! On our third morning, Captain Gabe told us he had heard a rumor of a group of sea lions that had hauled out onto a nearby island, something that doesn’t occur very often this early in the season. We made the 45-minute boat ride out to Flat Island where, sure enough, nearly 50 sea lions were on the beach, barking, fighting, and napping in the cool Alaskan morning. We turned off the engines and approached them cautiously, trying to avoid spooking them off their beach. While a few curious onlookers alerted the others, the vast majority paid us no attention at all, allowing us to photograph a unique species that hadn’t been on the itinerary.
The following morning, Gabe told us there was a chance there were seals in the other direction, so we headed off for Yukon Island, where again we got lucky and approached very quietly to get a glimpse of a group of adorable harbor seals napping on the beach.
No one was complaining about the extracurricular animal sightings before continuing on our search for more eagles.
Our final morning of the trip concluded in the spectacular Halibut Cove, as we sat on the beach and watched as dozens of Eagles swooped in and ate fish until they were nearly too full to move. The beautiful weather allowed for fantastic photographic opportunities of birds up close, perched in the golden glowing morning light.
Our guests were ecstatic to come away from such a beautiful, quiet and serene place with thousands of images to sort through. The eagles were sure happy to see us too and did not disappoint.
After four days of photographing and watching eagles, sea otters, sea lions and seals all enjoying the beautiful weather uncommon for late March in Alaska, we finally headed back to the Homer Spit to say our goodbyes and head home, with fond memories of such a beautiful, simple, and serene place, already planning our next trip back to the last frontier.