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Alaska 2004

Part 5:  A Day in Anchorage

Back in Anchorage, Marshall slipped in during dinner and admonished us to tick the Redheads he found in Hood Lake (Redhead is considered a vagrant here), so we did, along with the Canvasbacks and a flyover magpie. We actually got to sleep in the next morning (Anchorage was billed as a "fill-in" day in the event we were delayed at the Pribs), so I showered and "did laundry", then met the Covills and Viteks for breakfast. Afterwards we all headed out to Kincaid Park, which had a lovely loop trail through the spruce forest! Kevin warned us about possible Moose encounters, and no sooner had we started out than we had a bull in velvet, peeking at us over the bushes (I really had to look for him; had I been on my own I woulda walked right by him)! Even in a city park like this it could be dangerous; not only can Moose be unpredictable, but there was a news story about a lady who was jogging along a road near the Wal-Mart and a Grizzly came tearing down the embankment after her! Fortunately she ran into the road where an SUV laid on his horn and scared the bear away…

Trail at Kincaid Park

It was pretty quiet, but we did manage to pick up Downy Woodpecker for the trip, plus great looks at a Swainson's Thrush and my personal favorite, a very responsive Boreal Chickadee! A very worn Lincoln's Sparrow had me puzzled for awhile until Marshall explained the situation! Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets came in to the tape (the latter was so red I didn't recognize it at first) and a Merlin called but wouldn't come out. Jim "lingered" to take a bush break about that time, and in the meantime Kevin brought up the rear mentioning that he had seen another Moose; we were naturally concerned about Jim, but he shortly showed up and happily confirmed he had seen the same Moose!

   

Kevin saunters back from where he claims he just saw a Moose!  The gang seems rather nonchalant about it...

       

Left: Carol and Ruth bantering...  Right:  Searching for more goodies...

                       

Left:  Bluebells.  Canter and right:  Boreal Chickadees

Our next stop was Delong Park where it was super quiet; Kevin played the pewee tape to death, and we were about to leave when one very agitated individual came in, bringing agitated Black-capped Chickadees, Butterbutts, and Orangecrowns with him! Next we headed back over to Westchester Lagoon, only a different entrance than Marshall had taken us, picking up a couple of Steller's Jays in someone's yard (Kevin was excited as he thought that was the first time he had ever seen them in Anchorage). Here was a delightful little marsh with a boardwalk (and lots of bikers) with wigeon and several Mew Gulls. Out in the mudflats we had lots more Mews, as well as Bonies, Arctic Terns, Hudwits, dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs, and a close pair of Green-winged Teal. In the lake we enjoyed the usual Red-necked Grebes and had a Lesser Scaup in with the Greaters; Kevin got a kick out of the sign that explained how to tell whether a Moose was about to kill you or not…

       

Left:  Checking out the lake at Delong Park.  Center and right:  Western Wood Pewees

                       

Left and center:  Orange-crowned Warblers.  Right:  "Eastern Butterbutt"

 

Marsh at Westchester Park

   

Left:  American Wigeon.  Right:  Mallards hiding in the grass

   

This time we enter the lagoon through the "back door"...

                   

Left and center:  Green-winged Teal.  Right:  Mew Gull

   

We enjoy the scenery, too!

               

Left:  It's hard to imagine encountering dangerous animals in an urban park (except for the two-legged kind), but in Alaska it's commonplace!  Right:  Mating damselflies

We then headed to Elmendorf Fish Hatchery, which on the surface looked pretty bleak, but it wound up having some significant birds; Marshall did a pretty good hysterical-sounding "Judge Dune" imitation (see the climax of Roger Rabbit if the reference is lost on you) when a Starling (very rare in Alaska) showed up! Three Barrow's Goldeneyes wheeled in just as we did, and everyone got magnificent views of this stunner! But for many the best bird was a pair of Dippers hanging around the fish ladder, doing their thing!

   

The Elmendorf Fish Hatchery was surprisingly productive for birds!

        

Left and center:  Barrow's Goldeneyes (females at left).  Right:  Red-necked Grebe

Our last stop for the day was near an elementary school where Kevin had found Three-toed Woodpeckers one year, so we wandered around playing the tape, not getting much more than Myrtle Warbler, but down a trail Kevin discovered a Black Bear using a telephone pole as a back-scratching post! We all enjoyed that until we saw the cub and they both started moving towards us, so that broke the group up post haste and we all headed back towards the school rather quickly (except for Sue, who lingered long enough to see the bears amble off into the woods and assured us they were not following us, despite our periodic peeks over our shoulders)! We got a siskin for the trip there, and Marshall entertained us by juggling some softballs that had been thrown into the woods… At one point a dad had brought his little kids to the area, and the little girl (who probably wasn't any older than three) was going where she shouldn't have. The dad called her back quite gruffly, and she turned back to him but with a plaintive, tearful cry, to which Kevin grinned and said, "That's the 'I-just-got-yelled-at' vocalization!"

                   

Left:  Kevin checks out a local school for Three-toed Woodpeckers and runs into a Black Bear instead! (The fuzziness is due to the fact that once the cub came out we vamoosed...)

                   

Left and center:  Marshall lightens the mood by juggling with some abandoned softballs...  Right:  Crab Spider dining on a hapless fly

Came back to the hotel after that (after a potty stop at REI) where we did the list and had dinner at the Millennium Hotel across the street where we all stuffed ourselves (Weigh Down has gone out the window on this trip for sure…) before crashing!

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