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8701Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Swans, Cranes, Cormorants, Fox Sparrows

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  • c_griz
    May 1, 2013
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      Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

      Sunrise 5:56 am, sunset 9:55 pm. Length of day15 hours and 58 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 14 seconds longer.

      It didn't seem like the last day of April with big piles of crusty snow and ice still here, their welcome long since expired. The leaden clouds tried to further extend Winter, but only managed some feeble snowflakes and a lot of bluster. The south wind at 3 to 10 mph with gusts to 16 mph was not at all warm, and temperatures ranged in the high 30s to low 40s.

      The morning started more Spring-like, with a cheery ROBIN and lusty VARIED THRUSH singing from nearby treetops. Two FOX SPARROWS jump-scratched under the spruce trees, and a few remaining PINE SISKINS chattered from the boughs. No REDPOLLS were seen or heard, vanished with the wind.

      At the Scheffler Creek area south of the Harbor Uplands, a dozen newly arrived DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS squeezed together on an exposed rock at low tide while others preened and posed on the old dock pilings. Their flowing eyebrow feathers are quite impressive.

      Nearby, bright HARLEQUIN DUCKS, a few BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, the first year male BLACK SCOTER, and a single male SURF SCOTER dove for mussels. A pair of MALLARDS, NORTHWESTERN CROWS, and several MEW and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS worked the shoreline. Four or more pairs of MARBLED MURRLETS dove together offshore. A single male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER swam past. At least four ARCTIC TERNS zipped between the shore and the buoys, where a crowd of gulls feasted at the seafood processor birdfeeder. It was a very active spot with a lot of variety.

      The Lagoon is mostly ice-free. COMMON MERGANSERS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, MALLARDS, and BUFFLEHEAD paddled around or snoozed on shore. No sign of the Hooded Merganser.

      By noon, the squalls began marching up the bay, spitting snow first on the east side, then the west, and finally down the middle. Six beautiful SWANS emerged from one of the snow clouds, winging their way steadily north.

      The south wind brought more flocks of SANDHILL CRANES, flying in expansive, flowing lines across the sky. I watched a wave of at least 100 cranes at 6:18 pm and another larger flock at 6:40 pm, both heading high overhead and up the Resurrection River valley, possibly bound for Kenai.
      What a thrilling sight!

      Every day brings more SANDHILL CRANES, TRUMPETER SWANS, GEESE, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, BUFFLEHEAD, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, MALLARDS, ARCTIC TERNS, and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. So far the only shorebird species I have found are GREATER YELLOWLEGS.

      Other bird notes:
      April 27: PACIFIC WREN singing along Tonsina Trail, 3 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS at Tonsina Beach
      April 28: 24 SANDHILL CRANES and 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at salt marsh, 1 TRUMPETER SWAN at mile 1 Nash Road wetlands.
      April 29: 6 LAPLAND LONGSPURS at the beach tidelands

      Happy Birding!
      Carol Griswold
      Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

      for photos, please visit <http://sporadicbird.blogspot.com/>
      http://sporadicbird.blogspot.com/