December 17 – Anchorage Christmas Bird Count

At 9:30 am, before dawn, I started birding my section of the Anchorage Christmas Bird Count, along the Chester Creek Trail and nearby neighborhoods southeast of downtown. I walked more than I have walked in previous CBCs, about 5 miles or more, along the trail and back to my car. I also drove most of the neighborhood roads in my assigned area. I was happy to find 15 species, which is good for a small neighborhood area in Anchorage in the winter.

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It was a beautiful day from before sunrise to sunset, but it began with mixed rain and snow with temperatures just above freezing. So for my first walk, I wore my heavy-duty rain coat over my parka, rain pants and boots. The trail had about 3-5 inches of fluffy snow on it, with many ski and bike tracks.

Birds that I saw include Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, Bald Eagle, American Dipper, Rock Pigeon, both Black-capped (not photographed) and Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings on the move constantly and not photographed, Pine Grosbeak, American Robin and Common Merganser. The latter is not on the CBC checklist for the area, so I was especially pleased to see two of them, even though I had to photograph the one that I photographed in the fog.

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In the afternoon there were areas of patchy fog, some so dense I could not drive for awhile. When I finished at 3:00, the sun was setting and there were patchy streaks of fog.

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The whole Anchorage count circle had 36 species, highlights of which were new for the count, Song Sparrow and American Kestrel. Birds seen in the count in other areas that I did not see include Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Spruce Grouse, Great Horned Owl, Hairy and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Gray Jay, Brown Creeper, Pacific Wren (2nd year on the count), Golden-crowned Kinglet, Northern Shrike, European Starling (1084, an all-time high), Dark-eyed Junco, White-winged Crossbill, Common Redpoll and Pine Siskin.

A few pictures from the CBC count-down dinner follow, as well as a couple of graphs of bird numbers seen on the Anchorage CBC through the years (graphs show humongous starling number increase, varied but increasing Bohemian Waxwing numbers, Pacific Wren at 1 per year for just the last 2 years, and American Dippers at all-time high this year, respectively). The dinner featured various chili dishes provided by the Anchorage Audubon board plus corn bread, salad, and dessert provided by members.

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307 species so far

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