After landing in Anchorage on March 3rd, I picked up a rental car, checked into my hotel room, and then immediately headed to Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail to look for photography subjects. There were numerous ducks in the creek, along with Steller’s Jays and Magpies in the nearby trees. None were very cooperative. However, as I started down the trail I saw a young Moose, born last Spring. It was within 20 feet of the trail and slowly moving closer as it fed on willows. I took a few photos with my cell phone and continued on. Returning on the same trail, the Moose was within 10 feet but it was ignoring me. Oddly, I had walked by another Moose (the cow) on the opposite side. It was bedded down maybe 70 feet away and I had completely overlooked it. Fortunately, it stayed bedded down.
Driving south of Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm, I kept watch for Dall Sheep on the cliffs above the road. Approximately ½ dozen sheep were feeding and resting on the rock faces. Fortunately, there are multiple pull-outs. Because of winds gusting over 45 mph, I had to park the car in such a way that it would block the wind and I could crouch down on the leeward side. Even then, it was difficult getting out of the wind to hold my camera steady.
Arriving in Homer, it took several hours to get to the hotel. There was wildlife to photograph. At the small boat harbor on the spit, ducks and Sea Otters were present in the water below. I grabbed my gear and headed down to the docks. Moving slowly, I waited until the Sea Otters dove before moving closer. Eventually, I laid down on the dock to get closer to eye level with my subject. Some otters moved slowly away but one was very cooperative. It would dive underneath me, resurface nearby with food, eat it’s catch, and dive again. This happened no less than 25 times.
Bald Eagles were not the only birds feeding on fish. Glaucous-winged Gulls were quick to grab fish when the eagles were a little slow. The competition could be fierce between the gulls and from the eagles.
On the return trip to Anchorage, Potter’s Marsh beckoned me. There were a surprising number of cars in the parking lot. Grabbing my camera, I headed down the raised boardwalk system. A group of a half dozen photographers were taking pictures of a Great Gray Owl. The Owl was hunting close to the boardwalk from a perch. A Moose cow and her last-year’s calf were feeding nearby.
When traveling, it is easy to focus on the final destination and ignore everything along the way. A little research and pre-planning can turn up some interesting opportunities. Go explore.