Birders worked hard for many of their sightings in this year’s Talkeetna-Trapper Creek Birdathon, held over the weekend. Though the weather was pleasant, and lack of snow made for easier bush-whacking, migrating birds of many species were scarce. This year’s group list total was 68 species, ten less than last year.
The twenty-four hour event, in its twenty-seventh year, is an informal individual competition, as well as a group effort, to find all the resident and migrating bird species within the count circle.
Several birders with longer lists of species reported making many stops at favorite birding habitats, watching their lists grow ever so slowly. They lamented the absence of large flocks of waterfowl, and the scarcity of birds of prey and shorebirds. Several species which are often found in greater abundance were represented by only a few individual birds, even though there were over forty people trying to find them.
There were no new species added this year. Notable sightings were a black-backed woodpecker, Pacific Loons, a Bohemian waxwing, and female hooded mergansers.
Notably absent were Canada geese, seen every other year since 1994, though there was a mysterious dark goose (lacking white cheek patches) flying above the sewage lagoon. Birders also watched otters, a fox, some moose, and spawning grayling.
Winners of the “green birding” category were Doug Smith and Ellen Wolf, who biked and walked. With totals of 45 species, Jim Trump and the team of Jeff Robinson and Deborah Brocke shared the “crowns” adorned with stuffed toy birds.