Jack and I are participants in the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Project. This project began in Homer Alaska in 2009 and has been going strong since then. When I first began the project, I monitored the Boat Basin area. My route took me on an enjoyable walk with other monitors along the boat basin and Bay – so nice to be out searching for shorebirds and other birds. The highlight of the walk was always the Wandering Tattlers we would spot along the eastern shore of the boat harbor. One time we spotted 11 Wandering Tattlers. If that first one hadn’t moved, we might have missed them, they blend in so well with the rocks. Shorebird have great feather patterns making them experts at camouflaging themselves.
In 2013, the Anchor Point Beach was added to the list of sites monitored. That being one of my favorite beaches I immediately jumped at the opportunity to monitor this beach. I monitored the Anchor River beach in 2013, but missed the 2014 season by being on our “Big Adventure”. Now that we are back, I have resumed my monitoring activities of this beach for the 2015 season. Monitoring occurs on a five-day interval starting 16 April and ending 26 May.
On 16 April, I was joined by Michael C. and Ken J. Braving the ever present wind at the Anchor River, we walked from the parking lot to the river mouth and back. On the return trip we spotted a single Greater Yellowlegs foraging along the banks of the Anchor River. Otherwise we were treated to the usual suspects – crows, gulls, eagles, and waterfowl. We did see a live sea otter on the beach. Hopefully the otter was just “resting” and returned to the water.
On 21 April, our monitoring efforts began at 6:45 pm. We had warm weather (for April) and little wind (always unusual for Anchor Point) – beautiful weather. Recent high tides had overwashed much of the road used to access the river via the beach. The walking was easily.
We first went to the wetland area on the eastern side of the parking lot. Shorebirds have been spotted here in past years. Always need to look. What we found was Northern Pintails. These are such beautiful ducks – they look like a painting, so smooth.
Next we left the parking lot and headed up the beach. Since the tide was still high, we decided to walk first along the river, but occasionally checking the beach. We didn’t get too far when Michael spotted a Greater Yellowleg on the banks of the Anchor River. Shortly thereafter I walked to the beach and raised my binocs to scan the beach, especially the wrack line where many shorebirds like to roost. I spotted a pair of Black-bellied Plover doing just that. When I took my binocs away, I easily lost the birds amongst the wrack line and the rocky beach. I told Michael and Ken about the birds, then tried to get them on the birds. Michael saw movement and found two Black-bellied Plover, but they turned out to be a different pair from the ones I spotted. We were now up to four Black-bellied Plovers.
Continuing on it was only a short ways later that I brought up my binocs to scan along the river bank and was rewarded with three Greater Yellowlegs and two smaller birds, that turned out to be Dunlin. The birds had already started to get their “black” bellies.
We continued up the beach and along the river in search of more shorebirds. On the beach, and amongst a flock of Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls, I spotted the four plovers we had originally seen (they had been flushed by a dog) as well as several others. With Michael’s trusty scope he noted a total of eight Black-bellied Plover and another bird. We believe the bird to be a Pectoral Sandpiper, however it is way early for this migrant to appear in the area. I will let you know the final outcome of the decision as to what bird we actually did see.
For our second outing of shorebird monitoring we counted 8 Greater Yellowlegs, 9 Black-bellied Plover, 2 Dunlin, and 1 Mystery Bird (Pectoral Sandpiper or Rock Sandpiper) at the Anchor Point beach. We later learned that at the other monitoring sites in Homer (Mud Bay, Mid Spit, Boat Harbor, Lighthouse, and Beluga Slough), only one Greater Yellowleg and one Lesser Yellowleg was spotted at Mud Bay and 5 Greater Yellowlegs at Beluga SLough. We felt fortunate to have had as many shorebirds as we did at the Anchor Point Beach so early in the monitoring season. Maybe now you know why I love this beach so much.
Our next monitoring session is scheduled for Sunday, April 26th. I hope we are once again fortunate to see some great shorebirds migrating through the area on their way north to breed.
ITS A GREAT DAY TO BIRD