If you’ve noticed people prowling around town with big long spotting scopes staring out into Mud Bay, no, they are not treasure hunters searching for the lost legs of the George Ferris oil rig. Also, they are not Russian spies sent here by Putin to count Air National Guard touch-and-go’s. Nope, those would be birders.
Holy Bar-tailed Godwit, Betsteroids! This weekend marks the arrival not only of thousands of shorebirds, but the people from near and far who like to watch those magnificent critters. You may not totally grok the concept, but here’s how it works:
• Birds come from thousands of miles away to feast on little creatures sloshing around in the mud;
• People come to watch said birds, because:
• They’re pretty darn cool, and also
• Have you ever tried flying nonstop from New Zealand to Alaska?
Yeah. That’s Sourdough Four Star Bragging Rights. I mean, those birds are tough. Birders like to look at the birds because they can be maddingly tricky to identify, especially in a sideways wind at oh-dark-thirty, with rain. If you think birding is an effete sport, you try telling the difference between a lesser and a greater yellowlegs while squinting through a foggy scope.
But just as cool as the annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, which started yesterday and goes through Sunday, is what defacto this weekend has become. In times past we didn’t really kick in the tourist season until the Memorial Day weekend, but now we start with the Shorebird Fest. That means your favorite Spit shops and restaurants open this weekend, and you can get a jump on them before the tourist hordes clog up the good tables.
And oh my, there is so much cool stuff to do the Betster doesn’t even know where to start. Check out the events at kachemakshorebird.org or pick up a schedule at shorebird HQ, the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. On top of that, try out these Best Bets:
BEST YO MAMA BET: Oh right — it’s Mother’s Day weekend. And what better way to celebrate Mom with The MotherBird Fair running 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Homer High School. There are more than 40 Alaska vendors, a free kids crafting table, live music and good food.
BEST STITCH BY STITCH: Speaking of Mom, the annual Kachemak Bay Quilters Show has been a longstanding Mother’s Day weekend tradition. See the marvelous fiber art of local quilters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Homer Elks Lodge. Don’t forget to vote on your favorite quilts.
BEST RUN RUN RUN BET: Another sure sign of spring is the sight of people pounding pavement as they stretch their winter cramped legs. This weekend runners have the choice of two fun runs to start off the season. At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, join Homer area Parent-Teacher groups and Girls on the Run fro the second annual Homer 5K Color Celebration Run going from Paul Banks Elementary School to West Homer Elementary School.
Then at 10 a.m. Sunday, it’s the Shorebird Fest Migration Run. Follow the shorebirds along the Homer Spit in the 5k run that starts at Pier One Theater and finishes at the base of the Spit. Registration opens at 9 a.m.
BEST GO THE DISTANCE BET: The Salmonfest Music Series presents yet another awesome musical group with Distance Defined playing with Silhouettes at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Alice’s Champagne Palace. Distance Defined was a hit as the first metal band to ever take the stage at Salmonfest 2018. In January, the Salmonfest Music Series hosted its first metal night and it was such a huge success they decided to do it again. Join DD in celebrating its new EP, Hollow Hearts. DD will be joined by special guests Silhouettes Band. Admission is a $5 cover.
BEST DRAW, KID BET: Hey, kids, want to learn how to draw those cool birds? Artist Kim McNett — a former Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival featured artist — offers a class from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday at Captain’s Toy Chest. Admission is $5 per child, but space is limited. Sign up at 435-0900.
BEST ONE POTATO BET: If you get chilly while out birding, warm up with the Shorebird Baked Potato and Chili Fundraiser from 5-7 p.m. Saturday at the Homer United Methodist Church.