August 22 – Gulf of Alaska Trip – Juneau Portion

Eight of us birded the Juneau area today, going to Brotherhood Bridge and the Mendenhall Wetlands dike trail in the morning.

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Birds seen and photographed included Song and Fox Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers at the first site and Long-billed Dowitchers, Brown Creeper and Bald Eagle at the second. The full list will eventually appear on eBird.

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In the afternoon we went to Eagle Beach where in addition to the birds photographed (Thayer’s and California Gulls) there were Glaucous-winged, Glaucous (1), Mew and Bonaparte’s Gulls, as well as distant Surf Scoters and Common Mergansers.

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Along the road in the Auke Bay area we had a little family group of Red-breasted Sapsuckers .

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We added Vaux’s Swift (not photographed) to the trip list out past the Community Garden, and in the “dredge pond area” we saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher as well as two Western Wood-Pewees (not photographed).

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For the next two days we will be mostly on the ferry and I will not be able to work on my blog posts, but I hope that I will be able to update things on Friday the 26th. It is possible that I will be able to update my year list on my web site (lynnbarber.com) using my phone at some time before that, and if so, I will do so.

290 species so far

August 21 -Juneau Birding

Lena and I birded the Mendenhall wetlands this morning, checked into our new hotel and after lunch birded with Aaron Lang (Wilderness Birding Adventures owner) and Dave Porter, trip participant with us.

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Birds seen today include a few Northwestern Crows, a Mew Gull, Lincoln’s Sparrows and both kinglets at the wetlands.

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In the afternoon we went to the Montana Creek area, Eagle Beach and trails near the “dredge ponds”. Photographed were scenery, a reclining Wilson’s Warbler (I think), an assortment of gulls at Eagle Beach,  my first AK porcupine, and a female-plumaged Hooded Merganser.

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Tomorrow more Juneau birding with the group – I am looking forward to it!

290 species so far

August 20 – Great Day in Ketchikan

290! The goal in going to Ketchikan today was to get Ring-billed Gull on my year list, and the wonderful news is that RING-BILLED GULL is now on my year list.

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Lena and I arrived in Ketchikan about 8:45, were picked up by Steve Heinl, and by a little after 9:00 we were seeing three of them amid the multitudes of Glaucous-winged (bottom gull photo), Herring, Mew and California Gulls. Although none of the Ring-billed Gulls were adults with actual ringed bills, their size (larger than Mew and smaller than the others) helped a lot.

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When the excitement abated a bit, we birded first south of the town and then north, covering the waterfront so to speak. Other birds seen (in order of photos below) included Belted Kingfisher, Least Sandpiper, Common Loon (came very near the fishermen), and Common Yellowthroat. Birds not photographed included Red and White-winged Crossbills, Yellow and Orange-crowned Warblers, Lincoln’s and Song Sparrows, Bald Eagles, Barn Swallows, Common Ravens, Warbling Vireo, and Common Merganser.

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We ended the birding at Jerry Koerner’s beautiful yard. The trees were alive with Pine Siskins, and there were Rufous Hummingbirds (difficult to see one in the flower photo below) and an Anna’s Hummingbird, Eurasian Collared-Doves and Chestnut-backed Chickadees.

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Tomorrow we join the other participants for Juneau birding at the beginning of the Wilderness Birding Adventures’ Gulf of Alaska trip.

290 species so far

August 19 – Juneau

The original plan was to come to Juneau a couple of days before the Wilderness Birding Adventures Gulf of Alaska trip, which starts on Sunday. So this morning, my friend Lena and I flew to Juneau from Anchorage after a very short night of sleep because her late flight into Anchorage had gotten there after midnight.

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Although we did not have a lot of energy, we did walk most of the Mendenhall Wetlands dike trail, looking for little birds (sparrows and warblers) and shorebirds.

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A very vocal Common Raven welcomed us at the beginning of the spruce portion of the trail.

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Out where the wetlands were flooded were many Green-winged Teal, fewer Mallards and a handful of Northern Shovelers. There were not too many shorebirds – just a few peeps that took off never to reappear and five Greater Yellowlegs. We did see one of the latter bite off more that it could chew.

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We had quick glimpses of an Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a handsome female Common Yellowthroat.

Sparrows were much more numerous and many of them were scruffy splotchy confusingly-plumaged youngsters. Sometimes we just had to guess at their identity or just give up. Sparrows seen included Savannah, Song, Lincoln’s and a White-crowned (not photographed).

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After an afternoon rest we went to the Brotherhood Bridge trail where we got more beautiful views of the Mendenhall Glacier. We added Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller’s Jay and Wilson’s Warbler to our day list.

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Tomorrow we head out to Ketchikan for the day. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s account of what I hope will be a birdy day.

289 species so far

 

August 18 – Sparrows, Hawk and More in Anchorage

I needed to be sure my new (replacement) boots felt okay for all my upcoming travels so I chose a wet grassy place to bird today, Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area. They were fine, so my packing decisions were done.

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On my walk in the woods and in the grass and brushy area were a few Orange-crowned Warblers but no other warbler species today.

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Other non-sparrow birds seen and photographed included a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and fly-over Sandhill Cranes and Mallards.

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While I was peering into bushes to try to find the source of little chipping sounds, a raptor arrived, apparently also interested in the little chipping sounds. It landed very close to me so I could just see its head through a nearby bush, and sat there silently peering around. I gradually inched sideways so I could see more of the raptor, taking pictures continuously. Although it was large, leading me to initially think it was a Northern Harrier, I’m now thinking it was a large (female) juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Cooper’s Hawks are not supposed to occur in Alaska). I did notice that its tail was not rounded but rather squared off. It flew off low to the ground between bushes and I could not see it leave. Comments are welcome.

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Sparrows seen by me, and probably by the raptor, included numerous Lincoln’s Sparrows, at least two Fox Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows (juvenile and preening bird in photos below). Some of the juvenile birds looked like possible Golden-crowned Sparrows and for awhile I entertained thoughts of even rarer sparrows, but probably they were White-crowned (last picture below showing a sort of golden area near its bill). Again, comments welcome.

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289 species so far

August 17 – Just Backyard

Too many errands, meetings and deadlines to deal with today so my only birding was a bit of staring out into the backyard and quickly snapping a few photos. In addition to the birds photographed – White-crowned Sparrow immature, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco and American Robin immature, there were also four Steller’s Jays eating from the peanut jug and from my hand whenever I went outside, and Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees.

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I am mostly packed. I head off with my birding friend Lena for Juneau on Friday, Ketchikan on Saturday and the Wilderness Birding Adventures Juneau to Whittier Gulf of Alaska trip on Sunday. Maybe a new bird or two?

289 species so far

August 16 – Anchorage, and Planning Ahead

I birded this morning with Mary Ann and Bob Bjornsen who are on a multi-month driving trip from Colorado through Canada to Alaska and back.

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We went to Potter Marsh first where we were entertained by a young Bald Eagle stuffing itself on dead or dying salmon. There were also a couple of noisy Belted Kingfishers and the usual cluster of Greater Yellowlegs and Mallards.

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We then went briefly to Westchester Lagoon and the nearby trail where there was another Bald Eagle, another two Belted Kingfishers, two fly-by Sandhill Cranes and the usual ducks and Canada Geese.

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At home my leisure activities have mainly been feeding “my” Steller’s Jays and trying to figure out what to take on my upcoming trips to Juneau/Ketchikan/Gulf of Alaska pelagic, St. Lawrence Island (Gambell) and then St. Paul Island. The guest room, soon to be cleaned for a guest, is the current site of disarray and planning. The jays come to my hand (and water and feed) on the back porch. I will post more pictures of them on Facebook and on eBird.

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289 species so far

August 15 – More Anchorage Sampling

I spent some time today just enjoying the sunny and quite birdy day. Our yard was busy with birds including at least seven Black-billed Magpies at the feeders and fence and birdbath. One of the young magpies sat on the porch, probably wondering why the Steller’s Jays spent so much time there.

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I checked out Cuddy Park where Canada Geese and Mallards are still regularly congregating even though the city is making great efforts to discourage people’s feeding the birds. I was surprised to see an unspotted Spotted Sandpiper working its way across the grass amid the Mallards.

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At Spenard Crossing a Red-breasted Nuthatch surprised me by coming within two feet of me at it investigated nearby branches for insects. As with our yard, Black-billed Magpies were common and splashing in the water on the warm day, and a Belted Kingfisher was periodically diving into the water from various vantage points. There was yet another Solitary Sandpiper for my year-observations. Most of the fireweeds were completely done blooming and were covered with fuzz.

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My final birding stop was Westchester Lagoon and the nearby trail. In addition to the many scaup and mallards, near the trail there were a few American Wigeons and one of the many Red-necked Grebes. Far out on the mudflats were about 55 loafing Bonaparte’s Gulls, two wagging-tailed Spotted Sandpipers, dowitchers, a few Hudsonian Godwits and the previously reported and very difficult to see American Golden-Plover.

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289 species so far

PS. Please note that yesterday’s blog post has been corrected with respect to the raptor being chased by a Merlin.

August 14 – Anchorage Again (Corrected)

This afternoon I went to Potter Marsh and to the Old Seward Highway behind Potter Marsh.

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As is usual on the weekend, the boardwalk was full of people but the birds as usual ignored all of us. Ducks at the marsh were Mallards, a single Northern Shoveler, a few Green-winged Teal and a couple of American Wigeons (not photographed).

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Shorebirds that I saw were limited to Short-billed Dowitchers (about 5), Greater Yellowlegs (about 7) and a single Lesser Yellowlegs way out in the marsh.

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A single Belted Kingfisher put in a brief appearance but mostly was just heard in the distance.

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There were at least two Bald Eagles seen from the boardwalk at the marsh, and when I went behind the marsh on the old highway the same juveniles and a Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk were found (previously incorrectly identified as a Bald Eagle). A Merlin was clearly agitated by the hawk’s’ presence and spent much effort chasing it around above my head.

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289 species so far

August 13 – Anchorage Miscellany

I birded at a few different Anchorage spots today in between rain showers. First I went to the woodland portion of Spenard Crossing, thinking fondly of the finches that were there nearly two years ago. Not today of course. This morning there were only the usuals, including Mallards, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, fly-over American Robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

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At a brief stop at Westchester Lagoon I saw a small mixed flock of dowitchers and yellowlegs, a Bonaparte’s Gull and distant ducks, mainly scaup.

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This afternoon I walked the trail at Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, again with the usual suspects, including Sandhill Cranes out on the mudflats and grassy areas, many Black-capped Chickadees, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, four Steller’s Jays one of which landed out in the shrubbery, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers, and a Lincoln’s Sparrow.

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I also made a brief stop at Cuddy Park, thinking of the Palm Warbler that was there early last winter, but not today. Today there was an unseen chipping warbler, plus a Black-capped Chickadee, a Black-billed Magpie, a Mew Gull, about 30 Mallards and a Canada Goose.

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289 species so far