Monday, April 27, 2015

Sandhill cranes, and a moose -- April 26, 2015

We went hunting for sandhill cranes today. The Alaska Dispatch News had an article about them the other day, saying that they'd been seen in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. That's the stretch of land from Point Woronzof to Potter Creek, 16 miles. Potter Marsh is the southern end of the refuge, and it's not very wide, but still -- finding where a few sandhill cranes might be hanging out took a good half hour of intensive Internet research. Campbell Creek Estuary is a municipal park located in southwest Anchorage that was supposed to be a hot spot for them.

The crane-viewing blind at Campbell Estuary. The cranes we saw were at the Eco-Tone viewing platform at the foot of the bluff.

So here it is -- the pair we saw mostly had their heads down in the grass feeding (this seems to be a trait of many of the birds we've seen recently -- swans, ducks, you name it -- they're too busy eating to pose for the camera). This one finally got its head up and I pushed the button at the right time. But it was far away, and very much the color of the winter grasses. They'll be easier to see later in the season, when the grass is green and they are not. We heard them -- a series of hollows calls. Jim found an app on his phone that called back to them. After a bit, they got bored and went back to dinner.

In the same stretch of grassy flats at the bottom of a hill, we saw this moose, took a few photos, and then climbed back up the hill to the Meadow Loop Trail, and continued on it back toward the car.

After a bit, Jim wondered where the moose was, and looked to his left and found it just on the other side of the fence along the trail. We decided to backtrack, and take the long way around to the car.

Not too bad -- a moose and two cranes, so we headed to Potter Marsh to see the swans. Except, they'd gone, leaving some gulls, and a few ducks (mallards and scaups) and Canada geese, and not many of those.

Disappointing to not see the cranes better, but, it was warm (60-ish), not much wind, peaceful, and we got to explore two parts of Anchorage that we hadn't seen much of before. This is Fire Island with the wind turbines, from a different angle (from Campbell Estuary) than we usually see it.

Signs of spring today --

A boat headed south on the Seward Highway for the beginning of the season.

Something green taking root on a decaying tree trunk.

Fishing at Jewel Lake -- I don't know what is on the shore -- an overturned sail boat?

Playing Frisbee-something on the Park Strip -- which means that the ground has dried out enough to not squish under every step.

Bergenia blooming -- one of the earliest flowers.

Gulls and geese at Westchester Lagoon, sorting out who gets the last of the crumbs that someone was feeding them.

A cat enjoying the late afternoon breezes at an open door.

A flock of geese circling over Westchester Lagoon.

The Alaska Range, faintly outlined behind the lagoon.

Evening sky at Westchester Lagoon.


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