I had a later introduction to birding than the other writers in Blue Raven Birders. I came late to birding, relatively. I’d moved to Alaska and gone on a few wildlife watching cruises. And something clicked one day in 2004 while I was listening to a tourist rhapsodizing over identifying a crow in Seward by a call. Seriously? A crow? She’d traveled thousands of miles and was excited about a crow? A northwestern crow, different from the American crow more common in the contiguous US. And suddenly I realized I was seeing birds here that other people took once-in-a-lifetime expensive trips specifically to see.
As you might expect about starting my birding life in Alaska is that I see more unusual birds more frequently and the more common ones to everyone else are the unusual ones for me. I put western meadowlarks on my life list on a short trip to Utah in April 2012 when Jenny took me to the Bear River Refuge. I’d had Kittlitz’s murrelets and rhinoceros auklets on my list since the mid-2000s.
I’ve become a pretty faithful birder in the last few years, at least from the perspective of making an effort to do it while traveling or even hanging around home. I’m not on Jenny or Melinda’s level: they just have much better memories than I do and so many years of bird identification experience on me. But I hope you’ll enjoy some of my travels too. I try to travel around Alaska as I can and as the airfare sales or work allows me, plus I manage a few trips to other places in the US each year.
And here’s one of my favorite birds from my Alaska travels. I was in Kodiak in March for a short weekend for work a couple of years ago. Kodiak is far enough south that it thaws a little earlier than Anchorage and March is one of those boundary periods where the wintering birds might still be around and the spring migrants are starting to arrive. I was lucky enough to see a flock of wintering emperor geese there and I just think they’re gorgeous. In fact, I kind of want to go back to Kodiak again in winter just to see them.