Mat-Su Valley birding events see below.
For statewide and Anchorage area birding events see the Anchorage Audubon website.
Sunday, December 16 — Christmas Bird Count… more info here
Sunday, June 3 — Hatcher Pass Gold Mint Trail Birding Walk — led by Robin Turk — rain or shine!
Meet at the Little Su Bridge and leave at 7 am to drive up to the Gold Mint Trail Parking lot. It is 1.5 miles to a beaver pond where we will turn around. While the trail is fairly short the walk usually takes 3-4 hours while we stop for birds along the way.
We’ll be meeting at the Hatcher Pass entrance parking area (see .jpeg below) just after you cross the Little Su River bridge at the entrance to Hatcher Pass. We’ll meet at 7:00 AM Sunday morning and then drive up to the Gold Mint Trail parking lot about 7:15 AM. Some of you may wish to car pool up since there is a $5.00 parking fee at the Gold Mint Trail parking lot. Note: There are restroom facilities at that parking lot.
If you’ve never been to Hatcher Pass, here are the directions:
From Palmer: Take the Glenn Highway north out of Palmer until you reach Palmer-Fishhook Road. Turn left onto Palmer-Fishhook Road and take Palmer-Fishhook Road all the way north to Hatcher Pass.
From Wasilla: From the Parks Highway, turn north onto Main Street which changes to Wasilla-Fishhook Road after you pass the Bogard Road intersection. Stay on Wasilla-Fishhook Road north out of Wasilla and follow it all the way until it intersects with Palmer-Fishhook Road. Turn left onto Palmer-Fishhook and follow it into Hatcher Pass.
From Willow: It’s possible that Hatcher Pass Road (Fishhook-Willow) may be open over the top of Hatcher Pass, but unless you know for sure, it would be safer to drive down to Wasilla and take Wasilla-Fishhook Road.
Bring your binoculars, field guide/app, and a spotting scope (if you have one). You might also want to bring some emergency mosquito dope in case we’re attacked.
Most years, we hike north up the Gold Mint Trail for about a mile and a half to the beaver pond (with Harlequin Ducks) that’s next to the trail. We usually break there (some people bring lunch). If you want to hike further, there is good single track trail up to about mile 5.
Big Day Count – Saturday May 19th to Sunday May 20th.
Results: 105 species reported for the club. Winning team was once again Dan Crowson with 84 species.
The 2018 Mat-Su Birders Big Day Count (BDC) is scheduled for this coming weekend, Saturday, May 19th and Sunday, May 20th. The Count starts at 5 PM Saturday afternoon and runs through 5 PM Sunday afternoon.
The Mat-Su Birders’ Big Day Count is a friendly, low-pressure, springtime club event to see who can record the most species of birds in a 24 hour period. Numbers of birds of each species are not important in this competition, just the number of bird species that you’ve seen. The birds that you count must be alive, wild, and unrestrained.
Starting at 5 PM Saturday, May 20th, you can count bird species that you see anywhere in the Mat-Su Borough, and any that you see while you are inside the Mat-Su Borough. A good example of bird species that you can count when you are inside the Mat-Su Borough, but the birds are not, is at Reflections Lake. As you walk around the trail around that lake, where the trail runs along that lake’s south coast/border, if you look to the south, you can see waterfowl on the Knik River. At that location, the Knik River is in the Anchorage Municipality. However, if you’re on the trail around Reflections Lake, inside the Mat-Su Borough, you can count any bird species that you see on the Knik River, even though they are outside of the Mat-Su Borough.
One area that has raised questions in the past is much of the land between Eureka on the Glenn Highway and the Lake Louise area. If you plan to go to Lake Louise to count species, a few miles after you pass the Eureka Roadhouse enroute to Lake Louise, you will leave the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and enter the Valdez-Cordova Census Area. You continue on until you reach Lake Louise Road, which heads north to Lake Louise. Once on that road, you will almost be at Lake Louise before you reenter the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Any species that you see while you’re in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area cannot be counted.
Historically, the highest overall species’ total for our BDC was in 1993 when competitors saw a total of 104 species. So far, the highest team count was in 2017 with Dan Crowson’s 85 species. However, even if you aren’t able to chase birds all over the Mat-Su Borough, we’d still like to hear what species you see in your yard or neighborhood!
One of the best ways to record the species that you see is to use a copy of the “BIRDS OF SOUTH/CENTRAL MATANUSKA-SUSITNA BOROUGH, ALASKA” to record what you see. If you don’t have a copy of that checklist, you can download one from our Mat-Su Birders website at <http://matsubirders.org>. There are two Mat-Su lists. One prints on 8 X 14 inch paper, and one that prints on letter size 8 1/2 x 11 paper is missing the cover and legend.
One other thing to keep in mind; if you see any species that would be considered a rarity in the Mat-Su, if at all possible, try and get a photograph to substantiate your observation.
Popular local starting points are the Palmer Hay Flats at the Hayfield Road access point, Goose Bay State Game Refuge at the end of Knik-Goose Bay Road, Reflections Lake (off of the Glenn Hwy) at the Palmer Hay Flats, the Eklutna Tailrace opposite the Eklutna Power Plant on the Old Glenn Hwy., Hatcher Pass, and the Old Matanuska townsite. If you plan to bird Jim and Mud Lakes at the end of Maud Road, it’s best to do it early in the AM, but there may be people camping at Jim Lake. Also, if you plan to bird Mud Lake, you should have a permit from Eklutna, Inc. to use the Mud Lake parking area, either for parking or birding. You can find out how to obtain a permit by going to the Mat-Su Birders’ website and look for the “Birding in Mat-Su” feature on the home page or just follow this to the “MUD-JIM-SWAN LAKES AREA” and read the first paragraph in that article.
The potluck/wrapup meeting after this year’s competition will be at Tom and Susie’s home. See email for directions and contact info.
We will provide BBQ chicken and pork, please bring sides or desert, and your favorite beverage. Or your favorite vegie main or whatever else, we’ll have a grill going and kitchen.. We have a small porch and back yard if the bugs aren’t bad and weather good it will be a nice place to sit and watch yet more birds. Bring a lawn or folding chair if you have one.
If you are not attending the pot-luck you can report your species totals to the firstname.lastname@example.org email.
Plan to join us for the Mat-Su Birders’ 4th Annual Goose Bay State Game Refuge Birding Walk on Saturday, May 5, 2018.
Our Walk will be led again by Dan Crowson, who has been accumulating bird records from several trips to Goose Bay SGR, including the first Mat-Su records for Wilson’s Phalarope.
Please look at this MAP. We’ll meet at the airport parking area at the end of Knik-Goose Bay Road at 9:00 AM. At 9:15 AM, we’ll all drive around Cameo Drive (the original beginning of Burma Road) to where we’ll park and start birding at the best entrance to the Refuge.
Dan says to dress for the weather, and plan on using knee or hip boots, as there will probably be some spots where the water might be above the top of hiking boots. If you have a good hiking stick, that may be helpful. Also bring your binoculars, scope, field guide book/app, and be ready for some good birding.
As you can see from the MAP, we will meet all the way down at the end of Knik-Goose Bay Road (about 19-20 miles from Wasilla), so allow time for the drive to the meeting place by the Goose Bay Airstrip.
Look forward to seeing some interesting birds!
Sunday, May 6 — Eklutna Tailrace & Reflections Lake
Starting at 8:00 AM at the Eklutna Tailrace parking lot, across from the Eklutna Power Plant, we’ll check out the birds along the Tailrace and in the several ponds on the north side of the Tailrace.
After the Eklutna Tailrace Birding Walk, we’ll head over to Reflections Lake for a birding walk around the lake, including taking advantage of what the new observation tower can show us.
Dan Crowson will be leading both walks, so bring your binocs, bird guide, spotting scope, etc., and dress for the weather.
Below are two maps; the first showing the overall relationship of Reflections Lake, alongside the new Glenn Hwy., and the Eklutna Tailrace area along the Old Glenn Hwy., and the second map showing the layout at the Eklutna Tailrace and where to park.
Hoping for a great birding Sunday!