Friday and Saturday, September 16 & 17, 2022

Temp in the 50s, partly cloudy, wind WSW 15 mph

The flights on Friday were early. I got my rental car, checked in to the hotel and then went food shopping.

I then did a little birding. Just the usual suspects, but a couple of nice photos.

Sandhill Cranes, Audubon Bench, Anchorage, Sept 16, 2022
A sleepy Greater Yellowlegs, Audubon Bench, Anchorage, Sept 16, 2022

Saturday morning, I got up early in a race to be first up the Arctic Valley Road in hopes of finding a grouse or ptarmigan out on the road.

I got there just before “first light,” so it was still pretty dark.

As I drove past the golf course at the bottom of the road, I noticed a cop in a patrol car sitting off the roadside. I continued driving slowly up the mountain and about halfway up, I saw headlights coming up from behind me. So I pulled off to let the car go by, but instead it pulled up next to me. It was the cop (rather curious about this slow-moving car in the dark…).

He asked me what was happening and I flashed my binos (as all good birders do) and explained my mission of being first up the road looking for grouse, etc. Not only did he buy that, but he said “Okay, I will turn around instead of going to the top.”

I have had a number of birder/cop interactions over the years — most of them positive.

I am adding this one to that positive list.

I didn’t see any chickens, but I had several Varied Thrushes feeding on the road in the dark. It was so dark, this was the best my camera could do.

Varied Thrush, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2022

Nothing else of note, but I had some Common Mergansers down on Ship Creek.

Common Mergansers, Ship Creek, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2022

I went to the airport and met Aaron Lang who is leading a Wilderness Adventures tour out here this week. Two leaders and six birders.

The flight left on time, but was fighting strong headwinds all the way resulting in a late arrival. It then took an hour to get our luggage (don’t get me started!).

So it was after 4 pm before I got out to do any birding.

Unfortunately, the typhoon that passed through here Thursday and Friday did NOT leave the trees (what few there are) dripping with Asian vagrants.

So it looks like we will have to find our rarities the hard way, as usual…

I had a flock of 6 Ruddy Turnstones at Clam Lagoon and Aaron reported some Laysan Albatrosses and Short-tailed Shearwaters out in Kuluk Bay, but that was about it.

We both started putting seed out at the various feeders.

We will have a more through and leisurely pace tomorrow.