Mar. 17 – Anchorage – Ducky in Winter

In winter there are only a few places in Anchorage where the water usually stays open and the ducks are always there. I visited most of them today on the off chance that something new had arrived. I didn’t find anything new but it still was fun birding.

Before I saw many ducks I stopped by Potter Marsh, watched the two Bald Eagles flying around and sitting on the nest, and then saw a Northern Shrike perched up right next to the highway. Northern Shrikes seem to be particularly common this winter and I see at least one nearly every day. Having lived in a few places where they were nonexistent (North Carolina) or very rare (Texas), I much appreciate seeing them so often in Alaska.

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The main two ducky places in Anchorage that I know of, about which I have been posting regularly, are Cuddy Pond and Spenard Crossing. The tiny spans of open water at Cuddy Pond were crowded with Mallards (over a hundred; I didn’t count) as was the sidewalk overlooking the little pond. If you look closely at the picture of the pond, you can see the one non-Mallard, a close-up of which is also below.

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At Spenard Crossing there were fewer Mallards but at least three diving Common Goldeneyes.

My final stop was Westchester Lagoon, which I had not yet visited this year. The reason for not visiting before is that it totally freezes over in winter. The reason for visiting today was to check if maybe there was some open water. Hope springs eternal. There was no open water that I could see and no birds. All that I could see was a vast expanse of ice surrounding a small grassy area out in the middle. During migration that grassy area is an active island where some migrating shorebirds can be seen and in the summer it is covered with gulls and terns and ducks.

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I will keep checking. Meanwhile, tomorrow at 5:00 pm begins Anchorage Audubon’s “Big Anchorage Birding Day”, a 24- hour team competition to celebrate the beginning of spring (at least on the calendar). I will try to post before then, but once it starts, I won’t post until it is over. I don’t want to risk letting the other teams know how well (or how poorly) our team is doing.

123 species so far

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