Saturday, May 5, 2007

Birding with Bob…Mr. Armstrong

Some would do almost anything, like slog through an entire sandbar of mud to go birding with the expert…

Much to our surprise this week's bird walk was hosted by Bob Armstrong - the Robert Armstrong who compiled the Birds of Alaska Book that's the guidebook for birding in Alaska. We had a larger group this week, I sure due to the guide, and we saw a lot of birds too. The shorebirds are working their way thorough towards the north and there was a very low tide so we had to walk a long ways out through the Mendenhall wetlands to actually get to the shore. And it was wicked windy so holding onto our really light weight tripod was a challenge.

We're not too good at identifying the shorebirds - the gulls seem to have similar traits and distingquishing the immature gulls is a lot of work. The little "peeps" are really flighty and never stay still long enough for us to look at, look through the book, and look at again. With guidance from the experts we did see western, semi-palmated sandpipers, dunlin (identified on our own!), ruddy turnstone, black-bellied plovers, numerous ducks, numerous gulls, numerous sparrows, pipits and robins, northern harrier, and of course eagles, ravens, and crows.

Here Tim and Bob discuss the differences between a Western Sandpiper and a Semi-Palmated Sandpiper while looking through their scopes.

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