Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Common Murre spectacle

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 9:30 am, sunset 4:49 pm, length of day 7 hours, 19 minutes; tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 37 seconds longer. The days really are noticeably longer.

Weather: The sun burst over a dark gray cloudbank this morning, spreading smiley faces and little hearts over the sparkling snowy landscape. By noon the blanket crept up and smothered the light, instantly changing the scenery to a monotone of grays and whites. Temps up to 21ยบ but the brisk 18 mph north wind with gusts to 28 mph says brrrrr! If this extensive cloud cover chances to pull away, watch for a spectacular aurora show tonight from the recent massive solar storm.

Today I saw hundreds and hundreds of seabirds from the Uplands at the Seward boat harbor mouth. It was jaw-dropping! Initially, the blue-gray sea looked fairly empty, except for choppy waves and surf scoters. But the more I looked, the more I saw, first with the binocs and then with the scope. Most of the birds were COMMON MURRES, swimming in a long and wide band. They seemed active, alert, and healthy, bobbing in the waves. There were so many hundreds, it was impossible to count.

Mixed in with all the action I found HORNED GREBES, more COMMON LOONS, BARROW'S and COMMON GOLDENEYES, MARBLED MURRELETS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, COMMON MERGANSERS, PELAGIC CORMORANTS, and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS. A tight group of around 8 Steller sea lions (really hard to count!) boiled to the surface, flippers flashing, splashing and creating quite a commotion. Just as quickly, they all submerged and remained underwater for long periods of time.

What is everything eating?!

Surprisingly, there were no bald eagles anywhere in sight. I would have thought several would be perched on the dolphins, picking out the next meal.

In a separate closer raft a COMMON LOON led at least 10 sleek PACIFIC LOONS and several RED-NECKED GREBES. SURF SCOTERS formed several other exclusive rafts. HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and more COMMON MERGANSERS hugged the shoreline.

For comic relief, at least 50 GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS crowded together on a large ice raft like clowns in a phone booth, some sitting, most standing in a few inches of ice water, preening nonchalantly as they drifted backwards from the mouth of the boat harbor out to sea. Another group of about 7 Steller sea lions surged past, snorting and splashing, but the gulls didn't even flinch. Surf scoters flew up and relocated when the sea lions got too close.

If anyone knows what is attracting this mass of seabirds and sea lions, I'd be very interested.

My attention was diverted when a SONG SPARROW flew up to inspect the interior of my car and both the rear view mirrors. I assume it passed, as the inspector soon flew off, apparently satisfied.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment