Portage Valley and Potter Marsh
Tuesday, June 16th: I got up early today, and took a walk on some lower trails, including the Winner Creek Extension. I walked about 3 miles and gained about 365 feet. Before I left, I noticed a duck had joined the duckling in the pond. It was a Mallard. I saw more Mallards later at Potter Marsh.
At this early hour, the birds were rather more active. They mostly weren't easy to see, but were vocal. I added several birds to my triplist. On the trail between the hotel and other parts of the resort I heard a Hairy Woodpecker. When I came out to a road, I found a family of Steller's Jays. A Black-billed Magpie was in a nearby parking lot. Finally, I heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch on the way back.
I checked out after breakfast, and then took the arial tram to the ski area on Mt. Alyeska. I walked around there a bit, about 0.7 miles, visited the Roundhouse, which is the visitor's center, then took the tram back. On the way up I could see the upper part of the North Face Trail. It's probably just as well that I didn't try to hike the upper part on the first day.
I paid a last visit to the Portage Valley, where I hiked the Byron Glacier Trail. On the way out, I found an Orange-crowned Warbler and managed to see a Yellow Warbler (about time!). The glacier itself is well up the slope, but there is a snowfield not far past the end of the trail that is ok to walk on (I found this out at the visitor's center). It looks like its at the bottom of an avalanche chute, and I'm guessing that compacts it pretty well. When I got there, I walked out on the snowfield. It was about a 3 mile round trip.
My last stop (well, last 2) was at Potter Marsh. The Arctic Terns were pretty obvious, with one perching right next to the parking lot, and seeming unconcerned about people in close proximity. I noticed a couple of Moose on the far side. Nearby, I found Mallard, American Wigeon, Red-necked Grebe, and Ring-necked Duck.
I then drove to the boardwalk end. Some Green-winged Teal were there, as was a Bald Eagle. I managed to spot a calling Alder Flycatcher, and two Moose (maybe the same ones) were right there by the boardwalk. Eventually, I tore myself away from the Moose and headed for the hotel.
The hotel is only about 15 minutes from Potter Marsh. I checked in and put my luggage in the room. Then I returned the rental car to the airport and caught the shuttle back to the hotel.
The group met at 6:30. After going over the various instructions and plan for tomorrow, we went out to dinner. We got back to the hotel around 9.
I found 30 bird species today. Ten of them were new for the trip, bringing my trip total to 39 species. I also found 1 mammal species, so the mammal total is 7.
Holiday Inn Express, Anchorage