Wednesday, December 28, 2011 Robin and Golden-crowned Sparrows

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report


Sunrise 10:02 am, sunset 3:56 pm, length of day 5 hours, 53 minutes; tomorrow will be 1 minute and 19 seconds longer.
Weather: Cold and clear, 16-18º, and for several glorious hours, sunny! The howling 20 mph north wind with gusts to 45 tried to sweep away the joy, but O, it was so great to see the sun after so many dark, gray days! Scattered snow showers and continued wind is the forecast for the next several days, with a possibility of a bit of sun.

Thanks to the clear sky, pink snowy mountains heralded the leisurely10:30 am rising of the low winter sun. I looked for the silhouette of the beautiful immature Northern Goshawk lurking in the bare cottonwoods and listened for the mobbing call of the ravens and magpies. But the sentinels were silent and I saw no raptor. As the light gained a bit of strength, I discerned two ROBINS perched in a Mt Ash tree, gobbling up the few remaining berries, looking very cold indeed.

JUNCOS twittered from their protected spruce boughs, CHICKADEES repeated their name, PINE GROSBEAKS sang musically from the tops of the trees. I spied two GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS picking up seeds scattered under a tree near a feeder, too hidden for a photo.
A bit later, I checked out the gulls, crows, and ravens along the Greenbelt. The GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS looked like white angels against the blue sky. One young HERRING GULL or hybrid blended in except for its black primary feathers. They quickly settled to the ice and hunkered down facing the wind, saving energy and conserving heat.
I headed out Lowell Point Road. Only a few GOLDENEYES and SURF SCOTERS bounced along on the waves. The sewage lagoon hosted a large flock of MALLARDS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, and a few GW GULLS. Most of the mallards napped on the ice with their beaks tucked under a wing, facing the wind like the gulls.
At the beach, the wind curled around the point just like it did when the Redwing was pinned there. Brrrr! Out of habit and without much hope, I checked the fence line by the Mt Ash trees, but nothing stirred. Over on the far west end, the two resident SONG SPARROWS hopped along the wrack line, picking up tiny morsels to fuel them for another cold day and long night. Tough birds all!
By mid afternoon the sun said farewell and blew over the western mountains. I hope to greet it again soon!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter






2011 Seward Christmas Bird Count results


61 Count Day species, 6 Count Week species, and 2,461 birds in all.

December 24, 2011 Seward CBC
Sunrise 10:02 am, sunset 3:52 pm for a total of 5 hours 50 minutes of daylight.

Weather:  18º - 20º, brisk 24 mph north-northeast wind with gusts to 24 mph, gray skies, and brief afternoon snow flurries. Sea smoke and six foot waves created challenging conditions for the boat crew trying to find birds, hold binocs steady, identify species, and count.

A small but dedicated group of twelve Field Counters, including two young birders, and the four ever-intrepid Boat Crew, birded the Seward Circle from 10 to 4 pm while another ten Feeder Counters kept vigil at their feeders. The Tonsina Trail Route was not covered this year, usually a good area for Pacific wrens, spruce grouse, dippers, chestnut-backed chickadees, and kinglets.

Many Field Counters wondered where all the birds were, finding few to no birds on their routes. The data showed that many birds depended on feeders in this cold, windy weather. Town routes were very productive thanks to several very well supplied and active feeders.

The rest of the songbirds apparently spent the day at Ava Eads' phenomenal feeder off Nash Road. She counted 22 species and 340 birds including: 14 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, 160 PINE GROSBEAKS, 30 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, 10 OREGON JUNCOS, 40 REDPOLLS, and 12 PINE SISKINS. The raptors knew all about her birds. A MERLIN and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK popped in to be counted and check for a snack. Ava noted that the siskin and redpoll numbers have been increasing daily over the past week, and this is the most American Tree Sparrows ever. The birds are ravenous, consuming 40 pounds of sunflower seeds a WEEK! Donations are most welcome!

The Boat Crew found an unusual species for Seward, a RED-THROATED LOON, which was not seen before or since. Of the 50-60 PACIFIC LOONS seen earlier this winter, only one remained.  7 COMMON LOONS were counted, but no YELLOW-BILLED LOONS, which are usually present. Only two MARBLED MURRELETS were found, a low number, and no PIGEON GUILLEMOTS.

Other species of note: the male HOODED MERGANSER, 7 SNOW BUNTINGS, 1 GRAY JAY, 3 BOREAL CHICKADEES, 13 BROWN CREEPERS, 3 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, 8 GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS, and 31 GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES.

The last bird of the day was the only GREAT BLUE HERON, spotted at 6:30 pm by streetlight at the north end of the Lagoon.

Count Week turned up six species including: AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, SHORT-EARED OWL, NORTHERN SHRIKE, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, and LAPLAND LONGSPUR.

Special thanks to Captain Mike Brittain, of Alaska Explorer Charters for once again donating the use of the Dora, fuel, maintenance, preparation, expertise, and time for the 23-mile ocean route. Thanks to Wendy for encouraging her two young boys to explore nature and contribute to citizen science. Many thanks to the folks who feed the birds and to everyone for their time, effort, and enthusiasm counting birds on a cold, windy day.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward CBC Compiler

            Final Count    Species     * Count Week

              19                        Gadwall
            149                        Mallard ­­­
                                    *American Wigeon ­­­
               1                        duck unknown species ­­­
               5                        Black Scoter ­­­
               3                        White-winged Scoter ­­­
            127                        Surf Scoter ­­­
              70                        Harlequin Duck ­­­
              12                        Long-tailed Duck ­­­
              51                        Common Goldeneye ­­­
            266                        Barrow’s Goldeneye ­­­
              53                        Bufflehead ­­­
              50                        Common Merganser ­­­
                8                        Red-breasted Merganser­­­
                1                        Hooded Merganser ­­­
                1                        Red-throated Loon ­­­
                1                        Pacific Loon ­­­
                7                        Common Loon  ­­­ ­­­
               17                        Horned Grebe ­­­
                 6                        Red-necked Grebe ­­­
                 1                        grebe unknown sp ­­­
               27                        Pelagic  Cormorant ­­­
                 1                        Great Blue Heron ­­­
               26                        Bald Eagle adult ­­­           
                      7                        Bald Eagle immature ­­­
                 1                        Sharp-shinned Hawk ­­­
                                    *Northern Goshawk ­­­
                 1                        Merlin ­­­
                 1                        Mew Gull
                2                        Herring Gull ­­­
              76                        Glaucous-winged Gull­­­
              29                        Common Murre ­­­           
                2                        Marbled Murrelet ­­­
            115                        Rock Pigeon
                                    *Short-eared Owl ­­­
                1                        Belted Kingfisher ­­­           
              11                        Downy Woodpecker ­­­           
                8                        Hairy Woodpecker ­­­ ­­
                                    *Northern Shrike ­­­
                1                        Gray Jay ­­­
              49                        Steller’s Jay             ­­­
              59                        Black-billed Magpie ­­­ ­­­
             123                        Northwestern Crow ­­­           
             105                        Common Raven ­­­
               82                        Black-capped Chickadee   ­­­ ­­­
               73                        Chestnut-backed Chickadee ­­­ ­­
                 3                        Boreal Chickadee
               44                        Red-breasted Nuthatch­­­           
               13                        Brown Creeper­­­
                 1                        Pacific Wren ­­­
                 6                        American Dipper­­­
                15                        Golden-crowned Kinglet­­­           
                10                        American Robin­­­
                  3                        Varied Thrush ­­­
                                        *Townsend’s Solitaire­­­
                  2                        Bohemian Waxwing­­­
                14                        American Tree Sparrow­­­
                  2                        Fox Sparrow ­­­
                16                        Song Sparrow ­­­
                  3                        White-crowned Sparrow
                  8                        Golden-crowned Sparrow­­­
                  2                        sparrow unknown species ­­­           
                98                        Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco ­­­
                15                        Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco­­­
                                    *Lapland Longspur
                 7                        Snow Bunting ­­­
               31                        Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch ­­­
             359                        Pine Grosbeak ­­­
             123                        Common Redpoll ­­­
               40                        Pine Siskin  
        
            Some photos from Count Week and Count Day. Click on any photo to enlarge.












         





Seward Christmas Bird Count Week Day ONE


Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

December 21, 2011 Happy Solstice!!!
Sunrise 10:01 am, sunset 3:50 pm, length of day 5 hours, 49 minutes; tomorrow will be 2 seconds LONGER!!

Weather: After a horrendous day of cold rain and sleet driven by a south wind on Tuesday, today dawned clear as if asking forgiveness for that little mishap. A bright fingernail moon hung in the pale morning sky, the last of the dazzling lunar moon.

By mid-day, however the dark clouds swept in from their lair over the Gulf of Alaska. The low sun valiantly tried to smile but was soon buried in the snow squall. At least it wasn't liquid! More snow, high winds, and temps dropping to the teens are forecast for the rest of the week.

37 species were found today. Highlights include a red interior FOX SPARROW, several TREE SPARROWS, nine GADWALL, and two LAPLAND LONGSPURS. Also spotted: LONGTAIL DUCKS, HOODED MERGANSER, three GREAT BLUE HERONS, BELTED KINGFISHER, BROWN CREEPERS, and DIPPER.

A dead MURRE washed up on Lowell Point Beach. It felt underweight. Also spotted, a quick, curious, and very, very cute weasel. Not sure if it's a least or short-tailed.

A WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN was reported yesterday by Lowell Creek waterfall.  The quick thinking driver provided camera phone photos for verification. Perhaps the rainstorm drove it to town, or it needed gravel for its crop. Tough to spot such a white bird against the snow!

The birds really appreciate well-stocked feeders to survive these long cold nights and squally days. Black oil sunflower seeds and suet blocks are the best basics. Niger seeds in special socks, peanut butter dipped in seed mix stuffed in a pine cone or hollowed out block, Mt Ash and Mayday Tree berries, and other treats are welcome gifts for our feathered friends and neighbors.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter














Monday, December 12, 2011 Eclipse and Loons

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report
Sunrise 9:52 am, sunset 3:50 pm. Length of day 5 hours, 57 minutes. Tomorrow will be 1 minute and 36 seconds shorter. 

The lunar eclipse on December 10th was stunning. Serendipitously, I awoke at 5 am and leaped out of bed, jumped into my winter coat, wind pants and snow boots, and bolted out the door. A copper penny floated in the clear sky above nearby Mt Marathon. The streetlights overpowered the stars, so I walked up Lowell Canyon leaving them all behind. What a wonder! I gazed at the alien object, silently suspended in space surrounded by sparkling stars.

With my binoculars, I could see craters and the round dimensionality of this normally flat-looking disk.  The coppery glow gradually shifted as it arced across the sky. A bright white crescent like a new fingernail moon appeared on the lower left as the earth's shadow eased away. Closer and closer it sailed towards the snowy mountain peak. As I crunched my way back down the icy road to civilization and my warm bed, the marvelous, mysterious moon slipped behind the mountain.  

December 11th dawned clear, but clouds soon rolled in. A huge storm hit Seward by early afternoon with lashing winds and cold rain. The temperature rose from 25º to 38º in a few hours.  I checked Lowell Point Beach for the Redwing but found only a small flock of JUNCOS and a very soggy PINE GROSBEAK at the fence line, eating fallen Mt Ash berries. The heavy snows knocked trees into the transmission lines at Mile 20-23 and plunged everyone south into darkness at 5:30 pm for several hours.

December 12th: The winds finally died down in the night, but the dark clouds remained.  I checked the beach for SNOW BUNTINGS but only found three who quickly flew away. A juvenile BALD EAGLE posed majestically on a stump, regarding me closely with its dark brown eyes. The boat harbor, ice free at 34º, hosted a nice flock of COMMON MERGANSERS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, COMMON and BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, 2 HORNED GREBES, 3 PACIFIC LOONS, 1 COMMON LOON, and 1 YELLOW-BILLED LOON.

As I watched 11 more horned grebes and 3 surf scoters at the harbor mouth, the yellow-billed loon paddled out of the harbor and cruised serenely right along the breakwater below me. Wow! What a beauty! I managed to snap some photos before it disappeared. Soon, however, it came flying past, winging its way to the other side of the bay, startled by something I couldn't see.

Two river otters pulled out on the ice surrounding the small remaining open area at the north end of the Lagoon and rested briefly before plunging back in. A tiny DIPPER paddled about like a duck, then hopped up on the ice to peer into the cold water from the edge.

Towards sunset around 3: 30 pm, I headed back outside for a little walk (that dog gets me out!) The heavy blanket of clouds lifted just enough to let the low sun peek through and paint the snowy range across the bay a delicate pink. I stood transfixed, enjoying the spectacular and unexpected show. What a place, Seward!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter











Friday, December 9, 2011 McKay's Bunting!


Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report
Sunrise 9:48 am, sunset 3:51 pm, length of day 6 hours, 3 minutes; tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 6 seconds shorter.


Lunar Eclipse Alert!
Jupiter leads the full moon across the sky tonight, but in the early morning hours a drama will occur: the second and last total lunar eclipse of 2011! In the US, only Alaska and Hawaii will be able to see the whole lunar eclipse from start to finish. In Seward, the partial eclipse begins at 3:45 am, the total eclipse begins at 5:05 am, the greatest eclipse will be at 5:31 am ending at 5:58 am, and the partial eclipse ends at 7:18 am. For times in other locations, go to the Lunar Eclipse Calculator at <http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/LunarEclipse.php>

Weather: O joy, another blizzard warning in effect for Saturday evening along Turnagain Arm. Driving the Seward highway will be hazardous. Today was lovely: sunny with a gentle 10 mph north wind and temps just above freezing. The recent snowfall transformed Seward into a bright winter wonderland, leaving just a little bare ground under the spruce trees for the birds to continue to forage for frozen insects and invertebrates under the brown leaves and needles.



A much more welcome blizzard surrounded me yesterday at the salt marsh. Mist rising from the open river and patches of fog shrouded everything in mystery. Off in the distance, I spied a large flock of birds flushing from one patch of beach rye grass to another. The little birds landed at the top of the grass and rode it down to the snow where the seeds could be more easily extracted. It looked like fun! To my amazement, they flew ever closer and closer, feeding frantically, then exploded into the air, back down, and up. Suddenly, I was in their midst! Over 100 SNOW BUNTINGS flashed over and around me. I could hear their soft chirps and rush of their wings. I might have caught one if I held out my hand! Off they flew and then back again! This happened three times! What a thrill!



I snapped photos, trying to capture their beautiful black and white patterns embroidered with soft brown hues. One in particular seemed much, much lighter than the others. When I sent photos to Buzz Scher, he agreed that it was a McKAY'S BUNTING. His observations noted the lack of black on the back, no black on the bend of the upper wing, very little or restricted black at the tips of the central tail feathers, pale buffy face, and notably less black in the outer primaries. Another LIFE BIRD for me! Thank you, Buzz!



The birds seemed extremely nervous and soon I saw the reason: an adult SHARP-SHINNED HAWK materialized out of nowhere and plunged into the flock. It missed and continued flying over to a perch on a stump, reconsidering options for dinner. Many thanks to Paul Fritz for helping me decipher the ID of this bird. I really appreciate the support of other birders to help me learn.



Today, I refound the large flock at a distance. Once again, they approached and fed nearby, but did not surround around me as before. As they flew high into the sky and plummeted back to earth, they resembled snowflakes blown by the wind, a mini-blizzard of feathers from the far north. On the way back, the Sharpie reappeared and landed in the spruce grove, waiting its chance for a good meal to last it through the long cold night.

Other birds of interest:
Robin C also found the buntings today, including one McKay's, and a juvenile SHRIKE.
No Redwing at Lowell Point Beach. We have checked every day since it was last seen on November 26 without success. Reports of IT turned into song sparrows, varied thrushes, and even grosbeaks, but we'll keep looking.

Birds around town include a HAIRY WOODPECKER, female, (banging on my house), 22 GRAY-CROWNED ROSY FINCHES, 10 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, a few GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS, 12 ROBINS, 2 VARIED THRUSHES, and the usual STELLER'S JAYS, CHESTNUT-BACKED and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, GROSBEAKS, NUTHATCHES, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS et al.

Ava has a cloud of grosbeaks, a growing flock of PINE SISKINS, many TREE SPARROWS, and the usual wonderful yard birds.

A tip from Duane and Sanna: to reduce the number of crows and pigeons, do not feed black oil sunflower seed. Instead use millet and Niger seed. This has worked well for them.

Check out this amazing footage of an Eurasian Eagle Owl flying to the camera holder for a food reward at  
< http://www.petapixel.com/2011/08/09/eagle-owl-attacking-camera-at-1000fps/.

Here's a link from a little different angle and shows more of the ending:<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji_x8RU4zIo>


Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter








Wednesday, December 7, 2011 the Dipper and the Whale



Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report
The Great and the Small

Sunrise 9:45 am, sunset 3:53 pm, length of day 6 hours, 8 minutes; tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 25 seconds shorter.

Today's palette is mostly monochrome with an excess assortment of grays.

Weather: 100% low clouds, south wind, temperatures in the mid to high 30s. Heavy snow showers completely obscure the surrounding mountains and most of the bay. A scruff of crusty snow covers the ground, but greenish grass patches show under sheltering spruce. It's tricky walking without ice grippers as the snow conceals a lot of ice.

The weather is channel surfing, rushing from biting winds and subzero temperatures to rain on ice like a Zamboni, then a sunny, calm, mid-20s respite complete with brilliant stars, moon, and Jupiter at night, switching to a dash of snow showers to hide the ice and challenge optics, and repeat in random order.

The beach at Lowell Point today featured wet snow plastered onto my glasses, binocs, and camera. The two resident SONG SPARROWS hopped around in their favorite corner of the beach, rummaging though the seaweed, blending in with the dark cobbles. A BALD EAGLE cruised up and perched on the lookout at the top of Pinnacle Rock. A COMMON LOON and a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER heedlessly chose to ignore it and continued fishing close by. One HORNED GREBE, one PELAGIC CORMORANT, and a few GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS bobbed on the waves, barely visible in the slanting snow.

Up by the beach houses, several DARK-EYED JUNCOS flitted among the Mt Ash trees and on the ground, their white outer tail feathers flashing. A MAGPIE stopped by to boss them around a bit. A good supply of Mt Ash berries remain on the ground, but sadly, no Redwing to gobble them up.

Back towards town by the waterfall, an eagle ripped into a freshly caught sea duck (goldeneye?) with gusto, dark feathers falling like snowflakes. One dies so another lives.

Robin C reported two PACIFIC LOONS feeding in the boat harbor.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ah! The day of respite! Sunny, calm, mid 20sº. The short trip over to Fourth of July Beach on the east side of Resurrection Bay turned back the clock. Here, the sun does not rise over the mountains until well after 11 am, more than an hour later than town. Just as we arrived, the sun lit up that corner of the bay. Transient tendrils of golden yellow mist curled up and wafted seawards, the delicate balance of air and water temperatures suddenly disrupted. Inch-thick polygons of clear ice decorated the beach, stolen from the creek by the outgoing tide and just as casually discarded.

A flash of dark feathers caught my eye. Ah! A DIPPER paddled about the outlet of the little pond. As I approached, he flew, but towards me! Unconcerned, he stood on the nearby ice, totally dry. His bare pinkish legs and feet reminded me of a teen wearing shorts in the winter. After regarding me for a second, he plunged his whole head underwater, and peered around, short tail pointing skyward. Then he dove in the water and snorkeled, paddling around with his long skinny, web-free toes, resembling a very tiny, gray duck. After that short exploration, up he flew to perch on an ice-covered rock in the outlet waterfall, and leaned over to look under the murmuring water. Then up a bit higher to a dry rock to preen and adjust his remarkable dry suit, and finally back up again to the open water of the pond by the outlet. After a brief headlong dive off the ice edge, he caught a fine stickleback, repositioned it, and down it went, headfirst. I left him, dipping on the ice, completely content in his liquid and frozen world.

By now, the pale sun warmed the air just enough to absorb the ephemeral mist. Suddenly my son called out. A small whale surfaced just offshore! The water seemed inconceivably shallow to contain a whale of any size. Twin vapor clouds shot from its paired blowholes, then hung in the air, followed quickly by a craggy dorsal fin and a tight arc of its dark back. Then nothing remained but wisps of the blow. As they faded, another great exhale and shallow dive! It traveled quickly from one side of the bright sunbeams to the other. I snapped photos as fast as I could, dodging around the smiling sun.

We drove back to town, but now the sun raced ahead and it was almost twilight at 2 pm on the west side of the bay. What a time machine! As soon as possible, I emailed photos to marine mammal expert Kate Wynne. She identified it as a humpback whale, possibly a calf or juvenile that remained in northern waters while the adults migrated to Hawaii to breed and give birth. This theory has not yet been proven, but makes sense. And there it was, definitely a small humpback. She has observed whales swimming in water less than 20' deep and less than 20' from shore. Kate wrote that humpbacks love sand lance and it may have found a good supply there. How interesting that the diminutive dipper and the great whale were both feasting on tiny fish!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter







Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter


Tuesday, November 29, 2011 No Redwing


Seward, Alaska

Overcast with increasing dark clouds from the Gulf of Alaska, temps in the mid teens, moderate winds from the north, blizzard warning still in effect for this evening.

I checked Lowell Point Beach this morning around 10:45. The tide was low; I saw only frozen seaweed at the high tide line. This probably accounted for the lack of birds scavenging at the tide line. No crows, robins, song sparrows, rusty blackbird, or even an eagle in sight. The beach felt desolate.

Up by the summer homes, a single magpie quietly flew away across the road, but nothing flitted in the bare branches of the alders or Mt Ash trees.

I waited and watched, scanning with my binocs. The rhythmic surge of the waves echoed my thoughts: "Gone, gone, gone." How I wished I could shout, "There it is!" But there was nothing. This is the third day in a row that the Redwing has not been seen. I think the waves are right.

Congratulations to all who saw this "cracking little bird" and condolences to those who tried so hard and failed.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

Monday, November 28, 2011 No Redwing


Seward, Alaska

In brief, the REDWING was not seen today. This is the second day in a row it has not been found.

Today was a perfect day to see the Redwing at Lowell Point Beach: 25º, sunny, and out of the north wind. As the sun rolled sleepily over the eastern mountains far to the south around 10 am, John Vanderpoel, the 2011 Big Year birder from Colorado, and Barrett Pierce from Texas cruised into town. Local birders, Joe, Robin, Jim, and I converged at Lowell Point to help find THE BIRD.

The beach was under surveillance from about 10:15 am to well after 2:30 pm when the sun began to wander behind the western mountains. We enjoyed more great close-up views of the single RUSTY BLACKBIRD adult working along the tide line, picking through the seaweed. Five AMERICAN ROBINS distracted us countless times, looking somewhat like THE BIRD, hopping along, feeding just like IT did. The robins are a recent addition to the beach scene as none were seen last week. Two very dark, long-tailed SONG SPARROWS stayed at the far west end of the beach, their preferred dining area. NORTHWESTERN CROWS and BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES also strolled along the tide line, snacking steadily. None of the birds seemed particularly concerned about our presence and most came very close, often too close to focus the camera.

A small group of birders split off to search other areas of Lowell Point (one GREAT BLUE HERON perched in a spruce), the rest of the beach, likely spots in town, and even across the bay in case THE BIRD had moved.

Two PACIFIC LOONS fished just off shore. Two RED-NECKED GREBES, a HORNED GREBE, a small flock of BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, a smattering of HARLEQUINS, a few COMMON MERGANSERS and a BALD EAGLE perched in a spruce provided a diversion from the hours of scrutinizing robins, counting crows, and staring at the favorite spots where THE BIRD should be.

For a dozen days straight, the Redwing provided magnetic mystery and magic to this special place. Without IT, the beach seems a bit empty. Far more empty than a couple ounces of missing feathers.

Tomorrow is another chance to find IT. The next regularly scheduled blizzard is expected late Tuesday night, bringing snow and strong winds. Maybe the nasty weather will pin the Redwing back down at the beach, or maybe it will bring in another fascinating bundle of feathers from afar.

KTUU web story: <http://www.ktuu.com/gotoak/ktuu-ultra-rare-sighting-has-birders-flocking-to-seward-20111128,0,7935362.story>

John Vanderpoel's blog: <http://www.bigyear2011.com>

Toby Burke's Refuge Notebook article: <http://peninsulaclarion.com/outdoors/2011-11-25/ultra-rare-eurasian-bird-discovered-along-seward-beachfront#.TtSCbGDOde4>

John Lofgreen's blog: <http://johnlofgreen.blogspot.com>

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter




Sunday, November 27, 2011 No Redwing


Seward, Alaska

In brief, the REDWING was not seen today. The last verified sighting was around 1 pm yesterday at Lowell Point Beach.

Poor visibility and low light due to heavy cloud cover, frequent snow showers, and temperatures warming from 18º to 34º did not help birders today. John Vanderpoel finally arrived from his far-flung 2011 Big Year adventures and a flock of Alaskan birders worked hard to help him find The Bird.

A juvenile NORTHERN SHRIKE caused a bit of a stir momentarily, but all judged it was too large to be a Brown Shrike. AMERICAN ROBINS patrolling the seaweed also caused numerous double and triple checking. A single RUSTY BLACKBIRD walked purposefully along the wrack in the narrow band between the wet snow and the waves, often coming with a few feet of appreciative birders.

Despite our best efforts, the Redwing proved elusive. Tomorrow is another day. John plans to return for one last try.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Sporadic Bird Report Reporter