Saturday – March 20, 2016
The First Day of Spring was Celebrated!
We Came, We Saw, We Birded!
The Big Anchorage Birding Day Results
Another Audubon Cutthroat Competition Entered into the Annals of History!!
What A Day!
…and that’s what we’d expect for a Big Anchorage Day. Six teams squared off to find the most bird species in Anchorage during 24 hours on the First Day of Spring. And only in Anchorage would this gargantuan effort be accompanied by an all-time record snowfall with near white-out conditions. It was birding drama at it’s finest.
Two teams started Friday at 5:00pm in Girdwood where it was spitting light snow. The birding was tough and slow—even the regular Girdwood birds, such as the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, were absent or extremely difficult. The teams’ efforts continued after dark with no success at owling.
Another team took the opposite approach and started in Anchorage on Friday evening to moderate success. They hit the road before 6:00 am on Saturday and headed to Girdwood in near blizzard conditions, and again, birding was brutal.
Saturday in Anchorage was also merciless, and the results showed it very clearly. Last year, two teams tied with 37 species found. This year, the winning team of Thede Tobish, Nils Warnock, and W. Keys found only 31. All credit was given to Thede and Nils when Keys said, “They found everything. All I did was hand them scones and try to keep the car out of 20-car pile-ups.”
At the final Tally, it was revealed that 9 species were seen that were NOT seen last year: Canada Goose, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Eurasian Collared Dove, Northern Hawk Owl, Short-eared Owl, Sharp-shinned hawk, Northern Shrike, and Hoary Redpoll.
In addition, FIFTEEN species were seen last year and were not seen this year: Green-winged Teal, Willow Ptarmigan, Herring Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Boreal Owl, 3-Toed Woodpecker, Merlin, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Purple Finch, Cassins’ Finch, White-winged Crossbill, and Pine Siskin.
Ten species were seen by only one team, and possibly the two best finds of the day were found by the team which logged the lowest total number of species. Daria and Arlene spotted both the Eurasian Collared Dove and a WOLVERINE near Potter Marsh! Whoa!
Once again, the ruling principle of the day was, “You have to be in the right place at the right time.” This was drilled in by The Finely Feathered Fairbankians. Their team and the winning team were together on the Point Woronzof Road looking successfully at the Northern Hawk Owl and looking expectantly for the reported Short-eared Owl. The cars were side-by-side and the winning team headed down the road at the exact moment that the Fairbanksians spotted the Short-eared flying down the runway a short distance away. Later in the day, The Fairbanksians said, “It was totally great that we were both right there when the Short-eared flew right by us.” And the Winning Team replied, “Huh? What do you mean?”
THAT’S birding at it’s finest.