June 20 – Dirt & Dandelion Eaters, and More

This morning I first drove up Arctic Valley Road northeast of downtown Anchorage. Although we had a few drops of rain before I left home, on my drive up the road only the skies showed signs of rain and everything around me was sunlit and gorgeous. Along the road I saw many dandelions, as well as a few other flowers.

Birds at first were scarce, but the road was hopping with hares, as usual munching on dirt.

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I drove slowly past the usual singing warblers, thrushes and Alder Flycatchers. About two miles from the road end, I was delighted to find a bear along the edge of the road, digging in the dirt and munching on dandelions. Although I am no expert on bears, it appeared to be rather leggy, perhaps last year’s teenage youngster. After feeding for a short time ahead to my left, it crossed the road ahead of me and munched some more. Eventually I drove on. When I came back down the road, the bear was still munching.

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At the upper end of the road a Wilson’s Snipe was calling and calling from the top of a pole.

Along the road below the snipe were a couple of arctic ground squirrels appearing and disappearing from roadside holes, and also munching on vegetation. I couldn’t tell if they also ate dandelions.

I next drove to Lake Hood. I haven’t been out there recently to see my favorite loon, the oh-so-tame Red-throated Loon that has been coming to the lake for a few years at least. The loon was at one of its two apparently favorite spots. As usual it dove as I got out of my car, walked over to the edge of the water, and said “hello”. It came up to within two feet of where I stood. Eventually it started calling while a nearby seaplane was revving up, and then slowly swam away. Sometimes it seems that this loon becomes more vocal in reaction to nearby planes, but maybe that’s my imagination.

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Also at Lake Hood were three Red-necked Phalaropes, at least one Red-necked Grebe and many buzzily trilling Savannah Sparrows.

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There are so many neat things to see in the Anchorage area!






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