Our companions Don & Ashok had spotted a nesting Horned Grebe pair the previous day and suggested it as a trial run of our wading gear. When we got to the location, we found only the female grebe -- and an extra foot of water where she had been building her nest. No nest. No male. We didn't go wading, since the water was now much higher than our boots.
Seen at several places, but our best photographic opportunity came on a small lake in a city park near the airport, with gorgeous green water. The grebe pair made heart shaped necks, called repeatedly, and made multiple passes in front of the dock where the photographers belly-flopped to get their best eye-level shots.
Single surf scoter flew in to Westchester Lagoon around 3 pm and associated with the scaup on the far side of the pond from our parking lot vantage point.
Two individual seen at Westchester Lagoon - apparently they have a nest site in the park. Magpies did not seem very pleased with their neighbors.
Our first new bird in Alaska - 20+ hudsonian godwits working the tidal flats around 3 pm near Westchester Lagoon. Birds were 100-200 yards distant and slightly backlit, but thanks to the season and our borrowed spotting scope, their light faces and red flanks and bellies were easily picked out.
Arctic Tern nest on a bar island in Westchester Lagoon had two chicks - the only tern chicks we observed all day. During a parental absence, a Black-billed Magpie nabbed one of the chicks and tried to fly away, but dropped the chick from about 8 feet - which is a large multiple of that little chick's height. We were worried about its survival, but it seemed to still be moving around during our visit the next day.
Our local expert, Doug Lloyd, took us out to an overlook onto Cook Inlet near the Anchorage airport, looking for warblers. We got really excited about swallows with dark bands across the chest - bank swallows are not very common in California. We followed them from the plateau that houses the airport, down the hill to the base of some sandstone cliffs where they seemed to congregate, flying over repeatedly. The photographers probably would have stayed here all day. We also learned here that the tides for the day were "not that large" - only 29 feet. The biggest tides in Cook Inlet are over 40 feet!
Our first potential life bird of the trip didn't count on Saturday - Mary saw two dive into a bush while the three photographers were intent on a pair of red-necked grebes. Luckily these are "common" and turned up the next day.