Thursday, June 22, 2017 Brown Creepers

Thursday, June 22, 2017 Brown Creepers
Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 4:32 am, sunset 11:26 pm for a total day light of 18 hours and 54 minutes. Tomorrow will be 26 seconds shorter, an inconspicuous start to the inevitable slide to Winter Solstice. Temps remain in the low to mid 50s under cloudy skies with occasional sprinkles. Wild Geraniums burst into bloom, adding to the Lilac’s purple scheme.

I checked on the resident TRUMPETER SWAN family at Nash Road today. They were gathered on the original nesting site, taking a midday siesta. I counted white puffs, 1-2-3, all accounted for and looking good.

Fourth of July Beach hosted 1 male SURF SCOTER rafting with 10 females just off-shore. This seems odd as they should be nesting now in a fresh water lake somewhere north of here. Maybe they are non-breeders that have no need to fly to the breeding grounds. Also seen, 5 HARLEQUIN DUCKS and two Steller Sea Lions.

When I returned home and got out of the car, I heard high “seeeeeeeee” sounds and immediately searched my spruce tree trunks for tiny brown camouflaged birds. Sure enough, there was a young BROWN CREEPER, still sporting a yellow lower bill, hopping around the trunk seeking invertebrates and insects.

A parent occasionally hopped down to feed it, whereupon the fledgling fluffed up and quivered in anticipation of some real food. The “seeeeeeee” sounds were difficult to actually pin down, as these guys are ventriloquists, but I think there may have been at least one more fledgling hidden in another tree. It sure was fun to watch them clean up my trees!

A bonus bird, a striking male TOWNSEND’S WARBLER, popped by. They usually nest nearby but I have not yet seen the babies. Another bonus was a male YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER flashing past the bird bath. I should just set up my lawn chair in my yard and have a Little Sit; I’m sure I’d find a lot more going on here if I just waited.

Catchup notes:
June 6 and June 16: Two CASPIAN TERNS spotted at the head of the bay. This species is expanding from SE, with reports from Homer and Anchorage.

June 6: my First of Year for Seward LONG-TAILED DUCK, a drake at Fourth of July Beach with HARLEQUINS.

June 18: Six TRUMPETER SWANS far out on the tide flats at Afognak Beach. They were too far to discern adults from year old cygnets. The resident Swan family was still at Nash Road. Who are these visitors, where did they come from, and why are they here???
I have been unable to refind them to ask.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter
















Monday, June 19, 2017 Ladybug

Seward, Alaska

While checking out a small pile of 1x4s, probably destined for a beach fire, I discovered a striking red ladybug with four black spots. She/he wanted nothing to do with me and scurried off as fast as her six little legs could carry her. By manipulating the wood, I was able to get a couple photos.

Thanks to Google, I learned that this species is native to North America with populations in western Canada, western U.S. and into Mexico. The article did not mention Alaska. It feeds primarily on aphids (yay!)

http://bugguide.net/node/view/1043595

I imagine birds do not eat it, thanks to the warning red coloration. I don’t remember ever seeing a ladybug in Seward, so this was really interesting.


Carol


Monday afternoon, June 19, 2017 Herring Gulls

Seward, Alaska

While beach fishers caught and cleaned reds and silvers, gulls squabbled over the guts or possibilities thereof. I recognized the default GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, but some bleached out birds had me wondering. I sent photos to gull expert Steve Heinl who identified  them both as HERRING GULLS.

Here are his comments:

The bleached-out bird is a first cycle bird, one that has not completed its first primary molt, usually around a year old. The brown plumage that gulls attain in the first year tends to be much more prone to bleaching than later plumages. While paler than normal, the dark brown outer primaries, secondaries, and tail still contrast markedly with the rest of the plumage.

The older Herring Gull is not as severely bleached.

Note: a first cycle GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL would show more uniform coloration, particularly on the wings.

Thanks, Steve!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter







Monday, June 19, 2017 Three-toed Woodpeckers

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 4:32 am, sunset 11:26 pm for a total day light of 18 hours and 54 minutes. Tomorrow will be 0 minutes and 8 seconds longer as we approach the Summer Solstice on June 20. The low today was 41 at 5 am, and the high peaked out at 60, about half that of Arizona. Whew!

The clouds rolled in today after many sunny days, with a bit of rain in the forecast to keep everything green. Flowers are in bloom from the magenta Nagoonberries inches off the ground to the white “cauliflower” clusters covering the Mt Ash. Fragrant lilacs and roses are starting to bloom, adding whiffs of perfume to the air.

I was fortunate today to follow a hot tip and my ears to the nesting cavity of an AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER. To protect this family at this precarious time, I will not be able to broadcast the location, but I’d like to share the story and photos.

Upon arrival at the scene, I could hear the loud, rapid staccato, non-stop begging of a very insistent baby. It reminded me of the circular breathing of a skilled didgeridoo player. While searching for the source, the sound was more faint when I was behind the nest hole, and stronger when I was in front. Finally, I narrowed it down to one or two trees and honed in. Any predator, whether winged or furred, could be on this nesting cavity in a trice.

I only saw one baby, an adorable male with a perky yellow patch on his forehead. As the female lays 3 to 6 eggs, it’s possible there were more; maybe he was standing on his complaining siblings. If so, I hope they take turns at the fast food delivery window!

A parent flashed through the nearby branches and then Mom was there with food, so exciting! She looked fairly frazzled as would any parent of such a needy baby. She easily gripped the side of the tree with her strong toes and supportive tail as she jammed her long bill down the wide-open hatch. After a short break to look around, it seemed she regurgitated more food and stuffed that down too. The baby’s head just about filled the diameter of the cavity; he’s probably almost ready to fledge.

I didn’t hang around long enough to see if Dad was also helping to feed the family. According to the Audubon.org field guide, he helps incubate the eggs during that 12-14 day period and then helps feed the babies. The young leave the nest 22-26 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for another 4-8 weeks. With that lengthy time of hard work, no wonder there’s only one brood per year!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter










Saturday, June 17, 2017 Update on Redstart report

Seward, Alaska

I was reassured by several birders that not all unconfirmed eBird reports are accurate, that the Yellow Warbler, which is common here, sounds a lot like the Redstart, and that while anything is possible with birds, it is unlikely that there were several Redstarts at Exit Glacier. Pat Pourchot noted that there are very few records in Southcentral Alaska with the last reliable report about 10 years ago.

So, I’ll keep looking, but not expecting too much.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

Update: Gary Rasmussen reported that a Redstart was seen and photographed by several Anchorage birders at Beech Street, Anchorage on and around August 25, 2014. Thanks, Gary. Time for another one, I say!