August 12 – Sockeye Burn and Palmer

Although it rained before, sometimes during and after birding today, we managed to sneak in most of our birding in the non-rainy times. Barbara Carlson, visiting from San Diego, and I first went to the Sockeye Burn north of Willow with woodpeckers as our goal.

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The drive there took about two hours with few birds seen along the way, but as soon as we got on Sockeye Drive we heard a Western Wood-Pewee, apparently a late lingerer. Although we saw it well, including its dark breast-pattern, my only photos are of its back.

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After hearing and seeing Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Lincoln’s Sparrows, a Downy Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadees and Gray Jays, we saw our first goal bird, a female American Three-toed Woodpecker.

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We then wandered more of the road area in the burned-out spruce forest, finding a Swainson’s and a Varied Thrush, an Alder Flycatcher, a Black-capped Chickadee, a Hairy Woodpecker, a Spruce Grouse along the road, and finally our second goal bird, a Black-backed Woodpecker.

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Mission accomplished there, we went to our second destination, Jim Lake along the Old Glenn Highway in Palmer. A Pied-billed Grebe, a rarity in Alaska, had been seen there a week or so ago. I had not gone earlier to see the Palmer bird because I saw one in Ketchikan this winter. I am glad I went for this one too because it was closer and could be seen better. Also at the lake were about 18 Red-necked Grebes, a Belted Kingfisher and various goldeneye ducks (not photographed).

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I’ve got about a week left before my intensive fall birding schedule begins, and probably won’t see anything new for the year before then. But if I don’t go out birding I surely will not see anything new, so I’ll be trying.

289 species so far

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