Species at Williwaw Fish Viewing Site

Sockeye salmon guarding nest at Steep Creek.

Fish

Three species of salmon spawn in Portage Valley and Williwaw Creek. If you're lucky you might see the following fish:

Other resident fish include Dolly Varden char and sculpin

The Salmon's Story

Adult sockeye and chum salmon return to the Williwaw system to spawn from mid-August through October. Coho salmon may also be seen here during October, although they are less numerous than sockeye and chum salmon. Pink salmon are only occasionally seen in this system as individuals wander from other streams in the area.

Eggs laid in loose gravel will overwinter there until the following spring when they hatch and emerge as one inch long fry. Chum salmon leave the creek as fry, moving to tidewater areas at night. They spend 3 to 5 years at sea before returning to this system as adults. Sockeye salmon rear in adjacent ponds and lakes for two years before moving to sea where they mature over a period of two to three years.

Mammals

Mammals can best be viewed in the early morning or late evening in Portage Valley. These twilight hours provide the greatest chance of catching a glimpse of these forest animals. Remember, all wildlife is WILD! Never approach wild animals and use "bear sense" when traveling on the Kenai Peninsula. Click on the animal's name to learn more about this Alaskan critter.

 

Birds

Birding in Portage Valley can be a treat. Sharp-eyed visitors may spot bald eagles, a variety of song birds, waterfowl and raptors. During spring and fall, Portage Pass is an important migratory route for many species. Huge flocks of geese and cranes are commonly spotted traveling through the valley. A spell of inclement weather may force the migrating birds to rest in Portage Valley before they continue on. Keep your eyes peeled for unusual species!

family of common mergansers rest on streambank

Mergansers(Mergus spp.)

Mergansers are streamlined diving ducks that are often spotted in streams and lakes throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Commonly called "fish ducks," they have long, narrow bills with sharply serrated "teeth" along the margin. This specialized bill helps the duck grab slippery salmon fry and smolt - one of their favorite foods. Merganser families often have up to fifteen young!

 

American Dipper
 

American Dipper or Water Ouzel

The dipper is a robin-sized bird that lives along swift streams. Although it's slate-grey plumage is quite modest, dippers have a number of tricks up their sleeves! These little birds are actually able to walk and "fly" underwater! You will see them bobbing along in a fast current, and then, ZWOOP, they disappear from sight. When they return they often have a beak full of small aquatic invertebrates. Dippers are solitary birds and often nest behind waterfalls. They have a beautiful, melodic song. the dipper, or "water ouzel" was John Muir's favorite bird.

 

Adult bald eagle

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Our nation's symbol, the bald eagle is common on the Kenai Peninsula. In fact, there are more bald eagles in Alaska than in all the other states combined! With their white head and 6.5-8 foot wingspan, bald eagles are unmistakable. This majestic bird can be seen throughout the year along riverways and in forests on the peninsula. Large concentrations of eagles can be viewed in early spring during the yearly hooligan (eulachon) run.

 

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