After dealing this morning with needed phone calls and other chores mostly related to planning future birding, I went on a lovely walk in the BLM property early this afternoon a couple of miles from our house. In late December I had walked this trail for the first time and among other birds had seen a Gray Jay. Because Gray Jay had so far eluded me this year, today’s walk was targeted entirely on finding a Gray Jay for my big year list.
As on yesterday’s walk, it was a winter wonderland with fluffy snow still covering all the branches. I started taking numerous pictures as I walked along as there were very few birds to watch. A little flock of Boreal Chickadees and a Black-capped Chickadee was all that I found on my over 2-mile hike. There were was not a sight or sound of any jays and not even any Common Ravens (I did see ravens later as I drove through an Anchorage neighborhood).
So, I drove home after my walk, resigned to being limited to posting snowy tree pictures and moaning about the lack of any new birds for the day. I was about 0.2 mile from our neighborhood when I noticed a perched-up bird on a tall spruce along the road. The bird looked good, but I was past it and there was traffic so I could not stop. I finally pulled over and looked back, trying to see what the bird was without success. I made a U-turn and pulled off on to the edge of the road. I drove a little bit toward the bird, took a picture through the windshield, looked at the picture, and repeated. I just could not be sure of what the bird was – I was afraid that wishful thinking was affecting my judgment. I could not get out of the car to get a better picture because of traffic, so I drove past the bird, pulled on to another side street and walked back toward the bird, taking more pictures as I approached it. Finally, I was sure -it really was a GRAY JAY!!