I began the day before dawn at the field at the end of Buoy Ave. in the Kenai borough where one or more Great Gray Owls have been heard periodically, including the last two evenings. This calm, crispy cold morning there was no sign of them even though I repeatedly scanned the spruce trees and field. Other than distant barking dogs, all was silent.
Laura Burke joined me for part of the vigil and we then walked the field unsuccessfully looking for Great Gray Owls. We did see a distant Northern Hawk Owl (way too tiny for what we sought) and yet another moose.
After checking out of my motel and eating a late breakfast I began my drive back to Anchorage, stopping to bird periodically along the way. On the couple of walks that I took, there were essentially no birds seen or heard. My main activity therefore was just driving, counting Trumpeter Swans along the road and taking pictures of some of them, and taking pictures of the beautiful yellow fall foliage, the colorfulness of which decreased substantially the farther north that I got.
My Trumpeter Swan count for the day was 5 in Kenai, 2 at Tern Lake, 7 at Lower Summit Lake, 17 between Turnagain Pass and the road to Portage Glacier, 19 between that road and Girdwood and 21 at Potter Marsh, for a total of 71 (if my math is correct), all in little groups of 2-7 birds. Most birds were in the water and only a few were flying. Only about 7 were the gray-brown young ones. As far as I could tell all the swans were Trumpeter and not Tundra, but some were quite a ways out and hard to see or had their heads underwater most of the time. Although the sunlight seemed to create yellow areas on some of the beaks in the photographs, none were actually seen on the birds.
I have a couple more days in Anchorage before I head to Barrow on Friday.
298 species so far