My birding today started out in a typical winter fashion, Common Ravens, 18 of them as I drove south from Anchorage to Girdwood (about 30 miles), and no other birds. Just south of Girdwood, I turned around when visibility decreased dramatically due to a mixed snow-rain shower.
As I drove over Glacier Creek, which is just south of Girdwood, I thought I saw some ducks below, so I pulled over and walked back to see what they were. Before I had a chance to find them, a blue flash flew over the creek and landed across from me, a male Belted Kingfisher. Although I had seen them earlier this year far south of Anchorage, beginning in Kodiak on January 1, as far as I know they are very uncommon in the winter this far north. It definitely perked me up to see an unexpected bird!
The ducks turned out to be Common Merganser females, another of which I saw at Potter Marsh when I got back to Anchorage, also definitely more interesting than the normal winter Mallards.
I also saw four Bald Eagles on the trip, two perched together along the highway between Anchorage and Girdwood, and two at Potter Marsh. One of the latter was sitting on last year’s nest and the other was nearby. There was also a flock of Bohemian Waxwings that flew overhead at Potter Marsh.
It would be nice to imagine that the kingfisher is an advance spring migrant, but we have probably 2 1/2 to 3 months or more before we can look forward to seeing many migrants. Until then, I’ll take a slight change of pace anytime I can.