Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Third Time Lucky

Before I get around to the main subject of this post I'll include a few photos of the season; like this Bald Eagle hanging out at Spenard Crossing.
The eagle did not want to be photographed, at least not so close to the ground.
Greenwings are getting pretty hard to find. A few juveniles have not left for warmer climes yet.
What is this? A preening Common Redpoll. They are probably the most abundant bird species around here although they are somewhat nomadic. The Birch seed crop seems to dictate where they tend to go. I have not been seeing so very many around town lately.
I have only seen one small spider this year, although I photographed this individual last Fall.
BOO! This spider gives me an idea for a Halloween themed post next time. I hope you like creepy crawlies; I do.
Normally Anchorage is blanketed by snow at this time in October. In fact we got our first snowfall in mid September but it melted quickly. We have been experiencing record warm overnight lows although it still feels cold. The common wisdom says that warm arctic Winters translate to bitterly cold Winters farther South.
The Mallard is not the important thing in this photo. What is that behind it?
These photos were taken at Cuddy Park. If you read the last post, then you have a pretty good idea what species of gull this might be. The dark primaries and upper tail are clues to help identify this second year bird.
My Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia calls this gull an, "East Asian endemic, restricted to coastal Koryakia, Kamchatka, Sea of Okhotsk, Shantar Is, Sakhalin, and Hokkaido and N Honshu." I had to check with a local bird expert, Aaron Bowman, who grew up in Japan and really knows East Asian birds, before I could be sure that this was the Slaty-backed Gull.
Last Wednesday I made my third visit to Cuddy Park in search of it. This Slaty-backed Gull is my fourteenth new bird of the year and more importantly my 200th Alaska bird. I no longer have to hang my head in shame when in the presence of fellow Alaska birders, although most serious AK birders have well over 200 Alaska birds.
 I have the excuse of being a poor artist without the resources to travel around this expensive state. Most of the top Alaska birders work for the government whose job requires them to travel to remote villages, or they are biologists of some kind and get free travel to the bush, care of the US taxpayer.
This bird is sure to make my top ten list of new birds for the year. Look for that post in early January.

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