Alaskan Adventure – Day 1 – Anchorage

I arrived at Anchorage at 10:30 PM last night.  Jim Vanderpoel greeted me at the airport and we immediately drove to Westchester Lagoon.  Things were rather quiet, but  I added two new year-birds, Arctic Tern and Hudsonian Godwit.  We finally got around to getting some shuteye about 12:30 AM.  This morning we picked up Todd Deininger to do some birding in the Anchorage area.  He’s a friend from Longmont, CO and will be journeying to Gambell with us.  Westchester Lagoon, Potters Marsh and the Chugach State Parko additional year-birds but a Short-tailed Weasel livened up the action a little.

However, who really livened up the action was the guy we ran into at Potter’s Marsh.  Believe it or not it was Sandy Komito!  He who holds the ABA “Big Year” record of 745 species!  He who will soon be famous as one of the stars in the movie “The Big Year” due out in September!  He who Owen Wilson will play in the movie.  Can you believe that?  What are the odds of me meeting the “Big Year” champion in Anchorage?

Jim, John and Sandy at Potters Marsh (Photo by Todd Deininger)

The Wings Group met for the maiden get together tonight at dinner.  It seems like a good group, 9 participants plus two leaders, Jon Dunn and Rich Hoyer.

The Wings Group

After introductions and a good dinner, the group drove to Eagle River to view a Northern Saw-whet Owl in a nest box.

Saw-Whet Owl at Eagle River (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

Bingo! I’m now short just three owls for the year list. It was a lifer for several people in the group including Jim.  Way to go Jimmy!!

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM we fly to Gambell.  Things will definitely heat up even if it’s freezing outside. Stay tuned.

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5 Responses to Alaskan Adventure – Day 1 – Anchorage

  1. David White says:

    Nice, running into Sandy-Did he give any sign he’s doing a big year? Great owl photo!

  2. LindaVanderpoel says:

    what’s with the hat John??? Red Sox??? IF I had any extra room I’d bring you a Rockies hat for the rest of the trip??? BUT they aren’t so hot right now either. . . . .

  3. LindaVanderpoel says:

    P.S. As if you’d have ANY idea about the Rockies or the Cubs!! Certainly no time for baseball in a Big Year!!!

  4. Mike Hendrickson says:


    Thought I let you know that Sandy Komito just called me today and we are going to do some birding in NE MN this Sunday. Sandy is not doing a Big Year and the trip is totally focused on photography. Seems like he is going to try to photograph as many birds as he can with his camera and lens. I’ll let you know what birds we see.


  5. David Moran says:

    Sandy just gave a talk last night to our Audubon St Lucie Florida Chapter, on his multiple big years…I came to find out. Fascinating stories including names like yourself!

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