Before I went to Potter Marsh, I checked out the Westchester area again. The western island in the lagoon was laden with dowitchers and scattered Hudsonian Godwits as well as Mew Gull and Arctic Tern families. Along the trail were multiple Canada Goose families of different ages of goslings. A couple of non-breeding plumage Northern Shovelers as well as a couple of American Wigeons were interspersed among the many Mallards.
Also along the trail was a family of at least three fledged Black-billed Magpies begging for food and periodically being fed.
Once I got to Potter Marsh, I had a brief look around, including at the Tree Swallows, before the excitement began. I noticed a crowd of camera-carrying folk excitedly gathering to take pictures of a moose that was very close to the boardwalk in the brush and ultimately went under the boardwalk to the open marsh area.
After I passed that area of the boardwalk, I heard frantically peeping Mallard ducklings and saw two of them scurry across the water, calling the whole time. Immediately a Bald Eagle swooped down at the ducklings, and a female Mallard came at the eagle quacking madly. The eagle’s talon dragged in the water and it pulled out, not a duckling, but a dark brown something that turned out to be a piece of wood. It was sort of fish-shaped, so probably eagle error. The eagle sat on a small island next to the wood, with the Mallard mother making loud splashing runs at the eagle across the water. The ducklings made a sound and the eagle came at them again, maybe 20 feet from me and the other avid watchers on the boardwalk. The eagle missed, the mother Mallard kept attacking, and eventually the eagle departed to roost up by its nest. I learned later that before what we witnessed, the eagle had carried a different duckling to the nest to feed its two young. Usually we miss seeing the daily struggles that occur in nature whether or not we are watching. It all helps me understand why Mallards need to hatch out so many eggs.
Tomorrow the plan is to go to Delta Junction (about a 6-hour drive northeast of Anchorage) to try to find at least a couple of the birds that I am missing this year.
272 species so far