Return to Anchorage
Tuesday, June 23rd: We again had a more relaxed start this morning, meeting at the lodge's breakfast buffet at 6:30. After breakfast, we packed up the vans and headed out the Denali Highway, reaching MM 120. There was a surprising amount of construction traffic on the Denali Highway. In spite of the traffic, we were still able to bird. Our first new bird on the Denali Highway was a Lincoln's Sparrow. A couple of other stops yielded previously seen birds including Boreal Chickadee. At some point we saw a couple of Muskrats in one of the ponds. Eventually we found a Solitary Sandpiper, which perched on several trees and snags. At this point we had seen pretty much everything that was likely on the near end of the Denali Highway, so we turned around and drove back to the Parks Highway. On the way, we encountered the other VENT group. They were still headed out the Denali Highway (we had encountered another birding group earlier in the day).
SUsitna Landing Road
We then headed back toward Anchorage on the Parks Highway. We stopped for lunch at Mary's McKinley View Lodge. After lunch, we took the road to Susitna Landing. We stopped at a place with a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees that seemed suitable for Three-toed Woodpecker. We played the tape a bit, and what looked like a woodpecker soon shot across the road. We thought we saw were it landed, but couldn't find it even though it drummed a couple of times. The bird had to be there. I noticed that our view of the back tree (of three) was obstructed, so I took a couple of steps to the left for a better view. The view I got was a American Three-toed Woodpecker pecking at the top of a snag. Pretty soon, everyone was looking at the bird.
After this we continued on to Anchorage. We had an hour and half break until leaving for dinner at Orso. We didn't do any extra birding tonight.
I ended the day with 26 species of bird, 3 of them new for the trip. This brought by trip total to 142 species of bird including 4 lifers. No new mammals means the mammal count stands at 14.
Holiday Inn Express, Anchorage