Monday, November 21, 2011 Redwing update

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:11 am, sunset 4:15 pm, length of day 7 hours, 3 minutes; tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 16 seconds shorter.

Weather: A waning crescent moon sailed the sky, a bright sideways smile, above the dark bank of clouds hovering over the Gulf of Alaska. The winter sun rose above the curtain by 11 am, instantly changing the mood, casting its sparkling light on the fresh snow. Despite the 15ยบ temperatures, it actually felt a tiny bit warm out of the buffeting 20 mph north-northwest wind with gusts over 30 mph.

The eastern Kenai Peninsula north to Girdwood is bracing for another blizzard for the next 24 hours, with temperatures 10 to 20 above, blowing snow with accumulation of 8 to 17", north to west winds from 30 to 45 mph with gusts to 65 at times, white-out conditions and dangerous travel conditions. The National Weather Service did not mention the chances of more rare birds blowing into Seward, but we're ready!

The very cooperative REDWING remained reliably in its new home at Lowell Point Beach. For long periods of time, it rummaged through the seaweed with the Northwestern Crows and occasional Magpie, hopping along looking quite small and out of place. When thirsty, it flitted to the cliffs to sip at the seeps, and then flew straight back to the fence between the summer homes. There it rested, then hopped on the snow, gobbling up red Mt Ash berries.

Only a few fans came today to admire the Redwing and take photos. The bird seems well aware of its visitors, and content to eat, rest, and preen in view. The driftwood and rocks along the property lines form a perfect boundary that satisfies the birders and the bird.

Given the nasty weather, I may not be able to check on this beautiful guest for a while. I strongly discourage any travel on the Seward Highway until this blows over.
Ed Clark researched the Redwing and based on the photos, determined that it is the Eurasian subspecies. For an interesting lesson in geography, get out the globe! He calculated that this bird weighing 80 grams (or 2.8 ounce or 16 nickels) flew, or was blown, over 3,000 miles!

According to Ed, the most likely route from the eastern Siberian coastal plain was over the Sea of Okhotsk, down the Pacific side of the Kamchatka Peninsula, over the Commander Islands, up the Aleutian Chain, along the Alaska Peninsula, across Cook Inlet, along the southern edge of the Kenai Peninsula, and finally to a short fence line with tiny Mt Ash trees next to the beach at Lowell Point.  As the Brits say, "What a cracking little bird!"

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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