May 9: Anchor Point

Observations by Michelle Michaud:

Anchor Beach Point Beach is one of my all-time favorite birding locations on the Kenai Peninsula.  During shorebird migration I’ve witnessed up to 16 different species during one visit.  Timing is everything.  The best time to see shorebirds is following high tide (generally around 13 feet – check the exposed rocks).  

The Anchor Point beach from the Boat Launch Parking Lot to the mouth of the Anchor River (approximately 3.0 miles round trip), is also great birding during outbound migration, from late June into the fall.  The best time to see large numbers of shorebirds, particularly Black Turnstones and Surfbirds is in early July.  I’ve seen upwards of several hundred in a mixed flock.  

You can also occasionally encounter a rare sighting, such as a Red Knot, Bristle-thighed Curlew, or a Buff-breasted Sandpiper – all birds I’ve observed along the beach. 

Today I ventured as far as the first fishing hole.  There is a parking area here and it is a popular spot to fish during the summer, especially when the silvers are running.  There were a fair number of Western Sandpipers flitting to and froe.  They would land for several seconds and then take off again.  The slivery wave of shorebirds was hard to miss.  Several flocks looked to be at close to 100 in size. 

I was getting ready to move on when I spotted a small flock of peeps landing on the nearby sandbar in the river.  With those peeps was a single Short-billed Dowitcher.  When the peeps flushed, the dowitcher remained giving opportunity for great looks.

Short-billed Dowitcher

Turning towards the ocean, there was large flock of Greater White-fronted Geese feeding and resting in the grass. 

White-fronted Geese

When the geese were flushed by a Bald Eagle, several Pacific Golden Plover were flushed as well.  While the geese landed along the gravel road near the river, the plover landed back in the grass, making them readily visible with their golden cap, white striped neck and flanks, and black bellies.  

Other shorebirds observed included a Semi-palmated Sandpiper, a Semi-palmated plover, a Black-bellied Plover, and two Greater Yellowlegs.  At one point, the shorebirds were flushed by a marauding Merlin looking for a quick meal.  Never a dull moment during migration.

Michelle Michaud is an avid birder who enjoys traveling the world in search of birds. In Homer, she participates in citizen science projects, including the Kachemak Bay Birder’s Shorebird Monitoring, Alaska Grebe and Loon Monitoring Project, and COASST.