January 2 – Beyond Big Year Dreams…

I drove down the street and turned the corner into the parking lot of a small shopping center where there was a bank and some sort of hardware store. As I pulled to a parking spot, I heard it – the loud unmistakable chirps of House Sparrows. I couldn’t believe it! There were at least five of them, coming in and out of a big parking lot outdoor light fixture high on a pole. I groaned – why couldn’t I have come here two days ago, during my big year? It would have given me another species! And then I woke up!

I really did just have this dream last night. It was so real and such bad timing. For those of you not blessed to be Alaskans and not knowledgeable about House Sparrows here, these birds used to be found in a couple of areas in Alaska but are now no longer to be found. They definitely are not on my Alaska list, except in my dreams. It is so strange how a bird that is so common and mostly unloved elsewhere in the US can remain a goal for me in Alaska.

Due to much recent fog, the tree branches remain beautifully covered in white rime ice. Birds were quite active in the yard today, especially the Steller’s Jays at the peanuts. I also added Red-breasted Nuthatch to my year list.

When I went out side to load up the car to take newspapers to be recycled, I was surprised to see a young moose munching at our neighbor’s hedge, probably 30 feet away from me. I glanced about nervously because when we have moose in our neighborhood, there usually are two of them, a mother and her calf. Only one today.

After my errands, I managed to get out and bird today in spite of my dream (see above) and in spite of the cold weather (just above zero F). I decided to go to Spenard Crossing with the goal of adding American Dipper to my 2017 list, and maybe Pacific Wren. I found both of them, and as was the case in late 2016, only got photos of the dipper. I got another video too, this time of the dipper repeatedly slipping into the water and hopping out with a mouthful, over and over, having quite a feast.

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Although it is difficult to slow down to the casual non-big-year birding lifestyle, it is rather nice to just go birding and not to have to worry about the bottom line number of bird species.




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