Thursday, October 10, 2013

BIrding Around Anchorage

I am back home and mostly recovered from the jet lag caused by the red-eye flight from Anchorage to Chicago.  Because I was on an overnight flight that did not leave until 11:20 PM on Monday I was able to spend the day birding around the Anchorage area.  My first destination was Arctic Valley Rd. which is 7 miles long and mostly gravel.  It is a reliable spot for seeing ptarmigan and grouse.  Dan, Doreene, Laura and Jay had all found spruce grouse over the past few days.

As I was driving up the mountain with the sun just rising, I came upon a willow ptarmigan, but a car behind me scared it off before I could get a photo.  Shortly after I had my first moose encounter of the day.

It had snowed in Anchorage about 2 weeks earlier and the mountain caps were still cloaked in snow.

Not finding a spruce grouse on my way up, I ended up driving back down part of the road, and then back up before seeing a spruce grouse (click on any photo to enlarge).  On my return down I found a second one.

Next I visited Carr-Gottstein Park where the week before a siberian stonechat had made a one day visit.  My stroll gave me more lovely views, but the park was all but birdless.

Next I headed down to Potter Marsh which is south of Anchorage.  I have birded here before in the summer when it is full of birds, but this time the only birds were a few mallards, American wigeons and trumpeter swans.

I then headed over to Hillside park where I was able to find some boreal chickadees, ravens and one hairy woodpecker.  Next up was Kinkaid Park.  On the way in I found my second bull moose, and while walking the park I came across a 3rd one.

My last stop was Westchester Lagoon which is right in Anchorage.  New trip birds there were bonaparte's gulls, buffleheads and one common merganser.  My day of birding in Anchorage was so different than the past 3 weeks of tromping around St. Paul island (photo below), but it provided a nice wrap up to my trip to Alaska.

I found 11 more trip birds which pushed my Alaska total to 103 for the 3+ week visit.  My next post will be about how the 2013 big year efforts are progressing.  Neil Hayward has just posted about being among the group of birders who discovered a common redstart on St. Paul 2 days ago--a first North American record if it is accepted.  Stay tuned!

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