As the snow pack slowly fades away, the Kenai Peninsula becomes an attractive spot for birds and bird lovers. The spring birding season is just around the corner with lots of activities and species to keep an eye out for.
Ken Tarbox is one of the area’s many birding ambassadors. He says the Keen-Eye birders had to shelve their April meeting because there just won’t be much to look for.
“Usually at this time of the year we have some of the flats pretty well exposed and some ponds, of course, it’s all frozen up tight right now, so there’s really no place for the water fowl to land,” Tarbox said. “The nice thing about birds (is) they will show up, it’s just a matter of patience.”
The list of activities for people on the Peninsula and visitors to it is always changing. We may not see so many king salmon fishers or moose hunters any more, but wildlife viewing, especially birding, continues to grow in popularity, especially over the past decade.
“We have the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail that has 65 sites that’s just been developed in the last decade, and that’s bringing people here because we have a variety of animals they can see (in addition to) the 270-plus species of birds,” Tarbox said.
The really hard-core birders, the Listers, the folks who are trying to cross off as many different species of birds as they can from around the world, are also turning the Kenai to catch a glimpse of some of those rare flyers, like the small Siberian Accentor, seen in January in Seward.
“We had people flying up from Texas and from all over the country to see that bird.”
In addition to people seeking out visitors from other parts of the world, Tarbox says our resident species here offer just as much for people who run in other birding circles.
Many of them will likely be seen along the rivers and streams and lakes of the Central Peninsula during the Kenai Birding Festival next month. Tarbox says they’re going to be extra diligent watching for eagles, geese, gulls and hundreds of other species with a new program called The Big Sit. For 24 straight hours, someone will be monitoring the skies from the Kenai Boat Launch.
The Kenai Birding Festival is May 16th-19th. You can check out the website for a full run down of events over the weekend, recent sightings and more.