For example, at the beginning of my trek I had both Magnificent Frigatebird and Swallow-tailed Kites fly right over my car. The former (a female bird) sailed elegantly overhead as I crossed the harbor, while 6 of the latter wheeled after insects over the airport parking lot in Fort Myers.
The following AM I'd awake in Alaska, a magical place with special memories. In the seven years I lived here, I met my loving wife and celebrated the birth of my son! I've spent as much of my adult life here as anywhere, so I still feel a sense of home in Alaska when I visit. Of course the nostalgia faded quickly as my attention inevitably shifted to the birds. From the hotel parking lot, I'd first view Mew Gulls and Violet-green Swallows overhead, Yellow-rumped warblers sang their looped songs from tree tops and Siskins "jheeered" nearby.
Before long, I found myself on a predictable routine of visiting favorite birding spots as I drove out of town. Lake Hood offered a great assortment of waterfowl and courting Red-necked and Horned Grebes. Spenard Crossing (or "Eastchester lagoon" as it was often called nearly a decade ago), offered an interesting leucistic (light-colored) Canada/Cackling Goose along with the more typical waterfowl and gull species. Black-billed Magpies were a refreshing sight, but along with these were one obvious change over the past decade... European Starlings were actually common now! Believe it or not, there was a time in the not too distant past where this was a hotline bird in the area! Chugach State Park offered moose and Gray Jays on a quick drive by, while roadside stops at Potter Marsh provided views of the first Sandhill Cranes, & Red-necked Phalaropes, along with even more waterfowl and Arctic Terns displaying and copulating.
female Harlequin Duck at roadside, Ninilchik, Alaska. Digiscoped 9 May 2007
I could watch the amusing little Harlequin Ducks' stream bound antics for hours, but on this day I'd have to settle for just a few quick images taken from the car as I continued my trek south. The female birds are wonderful to look at but unfortunately pale by comparison to the gaudy-plumaged males.