American Kestrel and Northern Shrike at Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage
- My wife Susan and I went to do a little tracking and birding in the woods north of
Westchester lagoon. On the little hill just north of the sewage station we found a magpie
mobbing a kestrel. We both got a nice look at the kestrel for about a minute, from about
10 meters behind. We both got very good views of the barring on the rufous back, the
grey cap and bold mustache, the falcon face and bill and got a nice comparison in size
with the magpie which of course was right there. After a minute the kestrel took off
toward the south along the tracks, with the magpie following briefly.
First time either of us has seen a kestrel in Anchorage but given the viewing distance and
the amount of time we had to watch we are positive of the sighting.
We headed back toward the lagoon and after going through the tunnel I heard a loud and
rather chaotic song which I suspected was a shrike. After hunting around for about 5
minutes we found the shrike perched in one of the big willows just north of the parking lot
by the little bog. We watched and listened for about 15 minutes--got a nice view of the
subtle scaling/ribbing on the chest--first time we'd ever had the right light and distance
for that. Most of the song was unintelligible to me but one passage of a couple of minutes
sounded like a pretty good imitation of a nuthatch, and there was a nuthatch singing in
the woods on the other side of the bog at the time.