Happy Hour in the Greenhouse—This is one of the best times of the year when you can drink locally crafted beer and worship seedlings simultaneously. It is this Saturday afternoon at the VanderWeele Farm in Palmer and you can find tickets at the Alaska Farmland Trust. Music, food and festivity is always the presiding name of the seasonal game at this remarkable and unique Palmer, Alaska function. Don’t miss it.
Palmer Birders Happy—There have been documented sightings of Pine Siskin, Boreal Owl, American Robin, Bohemian Cedar Waxwing, Short-eared owl, Great horned Owl, Spruce Grouse, White Winged Crossbill, plenty of woodpeckers (hairy, black backed and three toed varieties), Willow Ptarmigan, Tundra and Trumpeter Swans, Gray Jays, Boreal and Black Capped Chickadees, Snow Buntings, Hawks (Rough Legged, Red Tailed, Northern, and Sharp shinned), dozens of Golden Eagles, White Tailed Ptarmigan, Pine grosbeaks, hundreds of European starlings, our friendly Common raven, Ruffed Grouse, Mallard, Common Redpolls, and a full congress of Black billed Magpie. The sightings are increasing as birds return.
Best Bird Hotspots near Palmer—The hotspots for bird sightings may be your own back yard, however here are some authentic locations promising birds aplenty: Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge at the Cottonwood Creek Access; Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge; Gunsight Mountain at milepost 120 on the Glenn highway; Jim Lake in Jim Creek near the Butte; And the Old Matanuska Townsite is another good bird watching location. Hatcher Pass’s Gold Mint Trail never disappoints along with the Eklutna Power Plant Tailrace on the Old Glenn Highway. Independence Mine, Palmer UAF Matanuska Experiment Farm on S. Georgeson Drive, Sheep Mountain Lodge, Bodenburg Butte, and the Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area are other sites.
My personal favorite is the Palmer-Matanuska River overlook at MP 50 on the Glenn Highway. This was affectionately known as the blow hole. Be prepared for a spectacular view, a bit of vertigo and more than a few gusts at this blustery outcrop. My other favorites are the Palmer pond east of 49th State Street, open farmland south of Inner Springer Loop, the Musk Ox farm, Little Su River Bridge on Edgerton Parks Road and of course the most beautiful place in the world, our Central Landfill.
Migratory Bird Party—Up the Glenn Highway, at MP 118 is where the Annual HawkWatch Weekend will take place this year on April 21 and 22. It’s the best tailgate party of the year, if you love seeing the birds return. Migrating raptors will soar over the ridge-line, including Golden Eagle, Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Goshawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, and Merlin. You will see swans and owls and a whole host of interesting people, cooking on their hibachis. Don’t forget your binoculars and lawn chairs and sun screen.
Bears are Bumbling About—And they are hungry and grouchy. It is the time to be alert. Bears are coming out from hibernation and are looking for food. Bird feeders, compost piles, and garbage cans attract hungry bears so make these things scarce and secure. You may not see a bear in downtown Palmer, but they are very close in the neighborhoods and forests surrounding town.
Palmer Weekend—Our town is full of openings and events. The new Art Cafe in Palmer, on Blueberry, is having a soft opening on Saturday. A Palmer favorite, “Untold Stories” is on Sunday afternoon at the train depot. Mary Poppins continues at the college. There’s a Cribbage Tournament at Klondike Mike’s. There’s a Spring Roping class for you and your horse at Saddleup Arena Equestrian Park in the Butte. There’s good music and dancing downtown. There are art classes. There is hiking and biking to do. It feels like winter’s back is broken and there is so much to do now. We live in such a great place. Be careful out there.