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Photos: Bird viewing at Anchorage's Potter Marsh

A Mallard duck at Potter Marsh on Friday, May 4, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
An Arctic Tern at Potter Marsh on Friday, May 4, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
American wigeons at Potter Marsh on Friday, May 4, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Canada Geese at Potter Marsh on Tuesday, May 2, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A mew gull at Potter Marsh on Tuesday, May 2, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Red-necked Grebes at Potter Marsh on Tuesday, May 2, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A northern harrier at Potter Marsh on Tuesday, May 2, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Mew Gulls at Potter Marsh on Tuesday, May 2, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Canada Geese at Potter Marsh on Tuesday, May 2, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Just 15 miles from downtown Anchorage, Potter Marsh is a popular destination for birders and other wildlife viewers. A wooden boardwalk winds 1,550 feet from the parking area through the marsh and across watery openings and sedges, perfect for an array of birds -- particularly during the spring and fall migrations.

From late April through September, Canada geese, northern pintails, canvasback ducks, red-necked phalaropes, horned and red-necked grebes, and northern harriers use this wetland. Eagle nests may be in the cottonwoods near the base of the bluff. When they soar overhead, eagles are scanning open areas for prey.

From May to August, gulls, Arctic terns, shorebirds such as yellowlegs, and occasionally trumpeter swans show up. Muskrats may move through open areas, too.

About halfway along the boardwalk, Rabbit Creek flows underneath and provides a good spot to see spawning salmon from early June until late August. Many spawning fish are already turning red.

With its nearly panoramic view of Turnagain arm, Potter Marsh, buffered by spruce, cottonwoods and alders, is one of the most accessible and scenic wildlife viewing areas in Anchorage.

The Potter Marsh entrance is just past the Rabbit Creek exit and across from the Rabbit Creek Rifle Range entrance. A small highway pullout at the southern end of the marsh also allows for viewing and photography.