Monday, November 29, 2010

June 13 - Denali (Savage River) to Eagle River NC in Anchorage

June 13th: Since it was departure day, the group was splitting up. Bill was off to go on the Wilderness Adventures “Gray Capped Chickadee trip”. Joan was off to Fairbanks to continue touring Alaska on her own. Jim, Karyn and Alan apparently were planning to do a bird walk at Denali State Park. Although we didn’t know about this until after they left.

Bob, Paula, Donna, Mary, Pat, Sally, Paul and I departed at 7:00 to try to get the Arctic Warbler at Savage River trail in Denali. We walked to the bridge, about a mile thru pretty scenery and found singing Wilson’s Warblers, Tree Sparrows, White Crowned Sparrow, but no Arctic Warbler. Although there have been reported sightings in Nome, no one has reported it anywhere else, so it appears it is still too early for this bird in this area. Nome is also getting the Yellow Billed Loon, and Eiders we needed, but weren’t there when we were, so it seems we should have gone to Nome last.

As we were driving out of the park, we saw a Gyrfalcon flying over a ridge and a moose on the hillside and the other car was ahead of us so they missed it, but they had a Lynx cross in front of their car.

Our next stop was the Denali Park Highway outside Denali where many Blackpolls were singing. This was our last possible spot for Arctic. Then we continued our 5 hour drive towards Anchorage with a scheduled stop at the Eagle River Nature Center. Being a Sunday, there were lots of families there and lots of dogs, so we tried to take the path less travelled.

Beautiful scenery, snow capped mountains, wetlands with wildflowers and a wooded section. We were hoping for Three Toed Woodpecker or Spruce Grouse, but no luck. We did a 3 mile hike, but did see a Greater Yellowlegs perched on top of a dead spruce calling in the middle of the boggy area. This was the second time on this trip we saw a Yellowlegs perched like this. The first time was at Wonder Lake.

Our last stop prior to heading to the airport was at Westchester Lagoon. Out on this tiny island about 200 feet in front of us, we saw a small flock of Hudsonian Godwits, 2 Short Billed Dowitchers, an Arctic Tern with a Chick, a Mew Gull with a chick, Cackling Geese, nesting Red Necked Grebes, Greater Scaups, American Widgeon, and further out in the lake, a Redhead and a Bald Eagle flew over.

Since Donna and Mary from Somerville, were on a 10:00 PM flight and the rest of us were on an 11:15 flight we decided to head to the airport about 7:30 to grab dinner at Chilis. We said our goodbyes to Sally who was staying in Alaska to tour for another few weeks. Her husband was flying in from Australia to join her. While at Chili’s, Dave appeared. Turns out he was on our flight too. He had split off from the group to go to Barrow, while we went to Denali. He actually did Barrow on his own. He said they were having a very late winter there and the water was still frozen on the ocean. He did get the target birds he wanted: the loons, eiders and Ruff, but said it was very cold.

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