We spent the month of June 2012 visiting our daughter Beth in Anchorage, AK. One of the most popular spots in the city is University Lake, located near the campuses of University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University. The lake has an interesting hourglass shape, being divided into southwestern and northeastern portions by a narrow “neck.” Surrounding University Lake is a very pleasant, shaded trail amongst many tall trees, notwithstanding the efforts of the beavers inhabiting the lake.
Because the lake is located just a few blocks from Beth’s house, we hiked there a few times during our June visit, looking for bird species that would be new to us. Unfortunately, we didn’t see that many. Apparently, most species there in the summer are also seen in Southern Louisiana, either during the winter or year round. But I took photos of them anyway.
An island in the center of the southeastern portion of University Lake attracts birds of several species. One day I was able to photograph this Great Blue Heron on the island. Several days later we encountered some local birders who asked if we had seen the heron visiting the lake. When Donnette told them that we had and that I had photographed it, they acted as if we had accomplished something very unusual. In fact, the Great Blue Heron does not appear on the official birding list for University Lake. How ironic! Locals get excited about me photographing a bird in Alaska that I have photographed several times in our pond back home.
We see Canada Geese year round in cities of Southern Louisiana, perhaps having become somewhat domesticated. There are also in Anchorage, at least for the summer.
Families of Mallards, another species common to Southern Louisiana, are also found on the lake.
We ran across two bird species at University Lake not seen in Louisiana, and photos of them follow below. Neither of these photos are of good enough quality to show the birds in detail because the subject distances are too great for the 400-mm focal length limit of my lens. But they are unusual subjects for us, so I went for it anyhow. Sometimes you just have to settle for less.One species not seen in Louisiana is the Mew Gull. From a distance we saw what appeared to be a mating pair on the island. The male (we think) is sitting on a branch and the female(?) is apparently on a ground-level nest. Anytime another bird came near, the one on the branch started squawking angrily.
The other rare (for us) species is the Red-necked Grebe. Here is a female on her floating nest out in the middle of the lake.
Locations where the above photos were taken are shown on the map below. Hover over or click on markers to see the caption of the photo taken at that location.