Having cashed in my mileage points from two credit cards, I had flights to Anchorage and Adak arranged, but I had to go a day earlier than planned to use the points. I arrived in Anchorage on May 19, with plans made to meet up with two other trip participants, Clarice Clark and Big Year birder, Yve Morrell, within 24 hours. In the meantime, I had some birding to do!
I hopped into my rental car and headed to the nearest best birding hotspot, Westchester Lagoon, for my first Alaska birding records. On my arrival, the skies opened up and the rain pelted down, but it didn't dampen my spirits. Here, in a heavily developed residential area, Arctic Terns were noisily flying around, Sandhill Cranes foraged along the shoreline and Red-necked Grebes courted and nested.
|Arctic Tern over Westchester Lagoon|
Red-necked Grebes courting and copulating. Don't blink.
|Mew Gull on nest|
The Anchorage core is fairly walkable in terms of accessing good birding locations, and even the neighbourhoods turned up some photo-ops. I've had trouble getting decent photos of magpies, but this Black-billed Magpie was quite cooperative.
Yve arrived on a late-night flight, but Big Year birding scoffs at clocks, so we were up and on our way to Dave's place a few hours later. Dave took us to the Glen Alps trailhead in the Chugach State Park, where he felt certain we could find the ptarmigan. The scenery was amazing. Dave pointed out mountain sheep on one of the hills. From our distance, they were specks, but there were a lot of them!
|Yve Morrell and Dave Sonneborn on a quest for a Willow Ptarmigan|
|Distant moose and calf|
The next morning, a visit to Potter's Marsh (again in the rain) turned up a few new birds for the trip list, including Tree Swallows, but nothing too exceptional. That was probably a good thing, as we had to get to the airport for our trip to Adak to meet up with the rest of our Attu adventure group!
|Tree Swallow taking a shower at Potter's Marsh|