MANY THANKS to Liza Sanden for organizing and administering the Eagle River Area Christmas Bird Count for over 20 years. Here is her report from the 2021 Count.
18 intrepid birders braved the cold and the threatened wind and actually had a pretty good day of birding (12 teams) and counted birds of 24 species (including count week birds)
Temps ranged from -15 to 0 degrees, winds 0-25 mph with clear skies.
24 species - including count week species.
Bald Eagles - 156 (including 16 immatures; this is likely an undercount but seeing immatures in the trees fringing the dump is very difficult. Note - 139 were at the Anchorage Landfill
Northern Goshawk - count week
Willow Ptarmigan - count week (lots of fresh tracks, but none seen Sunday)
Great-horned owl - 2
Rock Dove - 3
Downy Woodpecker - 19
Hairy Woodpecker - 15
Gray Jay/ Canada Jay - 10
Stellers Jay - 7
Black-billed Magpie - 102
Common Raven - 131
Black-capped Chickadee - 366
Boreal Chickadee - 45
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 30
Brown Creeper - 1
American Dipper - 4
Bohemian Waxwing - 12
Northern Shrike - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 10
Grey-crowned Rosy Finch - 22
Pine Grosbeak 170
Red Crossbill - 40 (repeat visitors, previously identified via photo and good views)
Common Redpoll - 230
Only the Black-capped Chickadee was observed by all birders. Magpies and Redpolls came in 2nd place, observed by all but 1 team.
Next year's Eagle River Area Bird Count will likely be on January 1., 2023 The Eagle River CBC is always on Sundays to get an accurate census at the Anchorage Landfill -- and has usually been first Sunday of January. Let me know if you have strong opinions on this. Next year will also be my 20th year as coordinator - and if there are folks interested in doing more outreach in up our numbers, recruit more younger, energetic birders also please let me know. I love birding, but recognize burnout on the administrative side of this. Many of our group have been doing this CBC for 20+ years.
Congratulations to Joe Hackenmueller, Ginamaria Smith, and Pete Panarese for their many years of volunteer service working on the trails, presenting programs, and sitting on the Board of Directors. This photo was taken by Colin Tyler on our volunteer appreciation/solstice ice lantern evening December 18, 2021.
Background: The Salmon Viewing Deck was built by Chugach State Park staff in the late 1980's using wooden posts, decking and railings. After assuming operations in 1996, Friends of Eagle River Nature Center maintained the deck as issues arose with the help of many volunteers and boy scouts.
During the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in November 2018, nearly half of the length of the deck suffered damage. If you walk out on the deck today, you'll find that the boardwalk is uneven, railings are split and some of the posts are jacked out of the water. Structurally, it will become unsound if not attended to.
With the support and partnership with DNR, AK State Parks, Design and Construction engineers, we are pleased to announce that FEMA funding is in hand for the design and construction of nearly half of the deck. Friends of ERNC has been raising funds for the remaining portion of the deck and as of 11/25/2021 we have almost reached our goal of raising $430,000.
We thank the following companies and individuals for their major financial support:
Local girl scout, Sierra Ellemberger, has been working for over a year planning, fundraising and implementing improvements to the Echo Bend Camping area. She has built benches, cleaned up brush with her troop members, and created a second camping area that backpackers can use complete with a food storage locker, fire ring, benches and clearing for tents. Echo Bend is located 3 miles from the Nature Center along the Historic Iditarod/Crow Pass Trail and is a popular spot for backpackers. Many thanks to Sierra for all her hard work!
JoAnn Jackson (1937-April 24, 2021) and her husband Francis Jackson spent two winters at the Nature Center as our volunteers in residence. After their retirement they spent 20 years as full time RVers, traveling from Mexico to Alaska. They volunteered as campground hosts at 13 agencies throughout 18 states. The Nature Center was fortunate to have JoAnn and Francis as our full time winter hosts - greeting visitors and helping us in so many ways. We extend our deepest condolences to Francis and their children, grandchildren and family on their loss.
Gail Ann Somerville
February 13, 1944 - May 22, 2021
We are all saddened by the news of Gail's passing this past week. Gail was a cherished long-time volunteer at the Eagle River Nature Center. When Gail walked into the Nature Center with her enormous smile and positive energy, everyone around her lit up. She made all our special events, from our annual auctions to our Historic Iditarod Days and Night with the Stars, so much fun. We always laughed that Gail could not erase her smile even when we were posing for a circa 1918 group photo that we wanted everyone to take on a serious face.
Gail spent 35 years as a teacher at Denali Elementary School and volunteered for many years for the Iditarod, the Last Frontier Motorcyle Club, and the Eagle River Nature Center. She was cherished by her family and all her students and friends. A special event will never be the same without Gail. You brought joy to so many of us. Thank you Gail.
We will have a Celebration of Gail's Life at the Nature Center later this summer.
Eagle River Rotary members Felix, Krystine, Rusty and Melody helped us clean up one of our long neglected garden beds in the parking lot on May 20, 2021. Rotary members have been helping with this for over 15 years, plus making generous donations to purchase flowers to beautify the entry and deck area. Thank you also to our summer staff member and garden guru Timothy for heading up the effort and taking this photo.
Friends of Eagle River Nature Center turns 25 in May 2021. Time to celebrate!
From May through December 2021, we'll celebrate by hosting monthly events for our community members and visitors. On September 18th we'll have a big celebration under a tent at the Nature Center with food, music and magic. Save the date! We'll keep you posted as the plans unfold.
Thank you to all our fantastic volunteers and supporters for keeping the magic happening!