- Its huge which isn't really represented well on maps
- The sun doesn't set which makes it hard to tell how much time has passed
This became obvious to us along the Denali Highway. There were a few target birds for our trip including one life bird for Todd. We heard that bird on our first stop but never got to see one until our last stop - some 11 hours later. Yep, we left Copper Center at 9 AM and never got to our Denali hotel until after 10 PM.
The weather didn't cooperate for our Denali highway trip which made it long AND cold AND damp. The birds up here don't seem to mind the weather as much as we do. We came across this Red-tailed Hawk along the road.
We found some really great birds in the tundra including this adorable Red-necked Phalarope. These are shorebird that we usually only see during migration when they fly far out at sea. They can swim and do so at sea and on the tundra ponds. Stunning breeding plumage on this male pales in comparison to the female.
|Arctic Ground Squirrel
Speaking of ptarmigans, we also found a few of the more common Willow Ptarmigans. They are so common that they show up in many habitats including in the willows, in the tundra, along the roads and even in the restaurant parking lot. This pair seemed to really like the parking lot. Here is the male with his version of the "mullet" - summer on top and winter on the bottom. Check out his furry feet.
|Willow Ptarmigan - male
|Willow Ptarmigan - female
The long drive was paying off already when we stopped at the place on the road where the boroughs change from Matasukna to Denali. That's the spot where another birder told us to look for one of Todd's target birds - Arctic Warbler. Now Di, Barbara and I had seen one in Singapore a few years ago but never saw one in the ABA area. This was our chance to finally get a lifer for Todd. We heard the warbler singing immediately and headed into the bushes to see if we could get a look. Todd pished and the bird obliged.
|First Look - Denali
|Connie on the Denali Highway