Wednesday, November 16, 2011 RARE Bird Report: Redwing!

Sporadic Bird Report from Seward, Alaska

Another overcast, cold, windy winter day with temps around 12- 16º, north-northwest winds to 29 to 35 mph with gusts to 56 mph.

The short: There's a REDWING at Lowell Point Beach! This is a new Alaska State record!

The long: Today I tried to escape the bitter blast and headed to Lowell Point Beach. On the way, I gaped at the ominously flapping green ridge cap on the Episcopal Church. I gasped when I saw that the entire steep south roof had been ripped away, blown past a busy apartment complex and homes, then thrown in a heap at the bottom of the hill a block away. Those giant metal pieces could have killed someone!

Watchful for other dangerous debris sailing on the wind, and wary of potential rockslides, I negotiated the 2 ½ mile icy and narrow road to Lowell Point. The wind howled, the whitecaps steamed and frothed, but in a small section on the west side of the beach, it was tolerable.

Though my eyes were tearing up, I checked the wrack line for any signs of a bird besides the mew gull and Northwestern crows. The flapping scraps of seaweed fluttered like birds, and suddenly one turned into a bird! I checked it out through my binoculars and forgot about the cold and wind.

The good dog (the reason for the outing) was puzzled when we  abruptly whizzed back to the car and she had to load up. I grabbed my camera and blew back. Ah. The bird was still there, looking cold, picking through the seaweed, hopping along. I wondered if something was wrong with its feet as it seemed to be hobbling a bit. Perhaps it was the occasional dunking in the swash, or just the cold. I sat down on the cold sandy beach and fired off several images and then it flew up and away, swirling in the wind, farther east. I looked for it for about 15 minutes in vain.

Back at the car, I quickly searched my Sibley Guide and just as quickly remembered it contained no such rarities. I tried to use my emergency-use-only cell phone but not surprisingly, the batteries were dead. Calm on the inside but totally excited inside, I dashed  back down the icy road into town to show the photos to my local bird expert Peregrine Joe. I tracked him down at work and showed him a few photos on the camera. He didn't have a bird book either and took a "stab" at it as a Dusky Thrush.  Abandoning everything, he dashed out to find it while I attended to a most unfortunately timed short meeting. Shortly afterwards, he and Robin C refound the bird between two summer houses near the beach.

Once home from the meeting, I quickly uploaded the photos and posted on Almost instantly, Buzz Scher responded that it was not a Dusky Thrush but an even rarer bird, a REDWING! Ah! Had I only taken a moment in my haste to post to verify the ID in my National Geographic Field Guide. It has a perfect image of the Redwing.

This bird was spotted on Tuesday in the same sheltered west end of the beach by Jim Herbert but due to poor views, misidentified as a juvenile American Robin. I hope that it will hang around so others can have the pleasure of seeing it. Please respect its urgent need to feed and observe the rules of etiquette so others can enjoy it too.

Keep your eyes peeled for more treasures delivered by this crazy wind!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment