March 23, 2007
Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report
Sunrise 7:50 am, sunset 8:19 pm, length of day 12 hours, 29 minutes;
tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 29 seconds longer.
Weather: 25º with brisk north to west winds 15 to 30 mph with stronger
gusts, 100% gray overcast, trying to snow. More of the same forecast
for the weekend.
Winter and spring are duking it out, both trying to go out and come in
like a lion. The persistent snow cover, measuring over 14 feet out of
town, and 2 to 3 feet in town, keeps the feeders busy. Large numbers
of PINE GROSBEAKS, PINE SISKINS, and COMMON REDPOLLS continue to drain
black oil sunflower seeds from feeders, especially those out of town.
Ava called in over 200 songbirds yesterday at her 30' porch feeder,
mostly grosbeaks, scattered only when the MERLIN or SHARP-SHINNED HAWK
drops by for a meal. A few VARIED THRUSHes and ROBINs have survived
the winter so far and pop up in town periodically to verify the news.
Also on March 22, at Spring Creek Beach at mile 5, Nash Road, 26
SNOW-BUNTINGS flashed black and white in a flock, gleaning beach rye
seeds from the snow, even as the wetland pond ice is breaking up in
large, geometric slabs. 5 other black and white flashers, the
BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, scavenged nearby, probably a family.
The year round resident DIPPER hopped off the ice into the chilly
water to grab a bug or two, and then sang about it, heedless of the
weather. The resident BALD EAGLE pair sat on the nest as if to try it
out, and then both left to hunt from other perches. Other eagle pairs
have been reported sitting on or near their nests too, although it is
too early for eggs.
Over in the bay, several pairs of HARLEQUIN DUCKS preened on the rocks
and abandoned boat hull or swam in a loose flock mixed with BARROW'S
GOLDENEYES and 6 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Farther out, were small
rafts of BLACK SURF SCOTERS numbering about 50 in all, also a few
HORNED GREBES still in their winter plumage, and PELAGIC CORMORANTS.
One sure sign of spring, despite the wintery weather, is the arrival
of the BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES and larger numbers of GLAUCOUS-WINGED
and MEW gulls first seen on March16. The herring are on a spawning
mission, drawing these birds into the bay. Over 30 Steller sea lions
are also in the bay feeding on the herring and are easily seen from
Lowell Point Road and along the Greenbelt. Over 20 Dall's porpoise
were seen in the inner bay, sending up their flashy rooster tail
sprays on March 3rd, also probably following the herring.
Look for the GADWALLS feeding in the lee of the south side of the new
harbor uplands; 8 were counted on March 19th. This is still a good
spot to find COMMON MERGANSERS, and both GOLDENEYE species.
Peregrine Joe reported a female HOODED MERGANSER on March 16th at the
pond at Mile 3 by the Stash and Store sign. Apparently she did not linger.
On March 20th, both Long Bill and Scissor Bill, the NORTHWESTERN
CROWS, were seen feeding at the Safeway parking lot, even as USGS
researchers were in town looking for them. Both birds seemed healthy,
despite their deformed bills.
Unusual NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL behavior noted on March 3rd in town: the
owl perched on the flood lights of a home near the bird feeder and was
seen snatching a redpoll for lunch in the daytime. There have been a
few other reports of city saw-whets staking out bird feeders in town
during these very cold spells. I wonder if their normal prey of voles
and shrews are scarce and they are forced to eat birds and thus be
active in the daytime?
Think Spring and Happy Birding!
Sporadic Bird Report reporter