I have visited quite a few Anchorage areas looking for birds the past few days. On Saturday (5/13) I went to Potter Marsh with some of the people who took the birding class that I offered earlier this year through the OLE! program. Although it got cloudy and colder as we walked the boardwalk, we still had good sightings of birds, including Tree Swallows, winnowing Wilson’s Snipe, singing Lincoln’s Sparrows, possibly nesting Arctic Terns (photo), and the usual ducks (N. Shoveler, A. Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Mallards). I did add a new year bird identified by audio, at least one Alder Flycatcher.
I then went to Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, hoping for and finding my first Savannah Sparrows of the year. In addition, I had a distant Whimbrel walking out on the mudflats, which took off calling after a while (today I had five more Whimbrels at Carr-Gottstein Park). The final new bird for Saturday was a female Northern Harrier also out over the mudflats, first sitting and then flying about showing the distinctive white rump.
I did get out to bird on Sunday at Westchester Lagoon, just seeing the usual birds.
This morning I did my second Birds ‘n’ Bogs survey at Oceanview Bluff Park, and was delighted to hear my first Swainson’s Thrush of the year, as well as the usual snipe and two displaying Greater Yellowlegs. More exciting I guess was the fact that a moose, and then a second moose, walked across the trail I was on between me and where I was parked, with no obvious solution but to wait while the moose that was very close to me just munched and munched its way along the trail, and then finally decided to move off the trail so I could get by.
After the survey, I went to Spenard Crossing where I saw a duck that had me very confused. At first I thought it was one of the numerous scaup, but its head was wrong, and then I thought female scoter. Mostly its head was under its wing as if it was hiding from being identified. I never even considered Harlequin Duck because as far as I knew they are very rare in Anchorage itself, but Aaron Bowman, whom I consulted, reminded me that it did look like a Harlequin Duck. Definitely unexpected.
I went to Westchester Lagoon and Potter Marsh, getting pictures of the dowitchers and a Least Sandpiper that was there.
Spring here often feels so frenetic. So little time to try to see the birds as they hurry past on their way north.