Tuesday, February 7, 2012 Mostly seabirds and a snow bunting

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 8:58 am, sunset 5:26 pm, length of day 8 hours, 28 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 13 seconds longer. Full moon tonight; watch for Venus followed by Jupiter, then the red planet Mars shining in the Zodiac.

Weather: 20º in the morning, rising to 34º by mid-afternoon, calm, sunny, and spectacular. Not a cloud in the vast blue sky. People walked around like zombies on ice cleats, dazed by the bright and warm (!) sunshine. Hard to believe the forecast of snow showers and strong winds for the rest of the week. February is fickle, beaming one day and pouting the next.

I didn't see Robin C's SHARP-SHINNED HAWK in town or his LONG-TAILED DUCK at Spring Creek Beach. I missed Jim H's YELLOW-BILLED LOON in the boat harbor, diving under the thick ice. I missed a lot of birds these past few days; I don’t know where they all went.

There are, however, still a lot of COMMON MURRES in the inner bay, in long loose rafts. I observed several small groups of 4-6 flying. Their awkward landing as they smacked down created a huge splash. I wonder why they are expending so much energy flying? The BALD EAGLES target them like floating lunchboxes. Murres in Skagway are in trouble, dying in large numbers after a storm last week. The murres may be in trouble here too.

It's quite dramatic driving along Lowell Point Road. Somehow, the brave road crew carved a path through two towering avalanches that dwarf vehicles. Be alert for more additions to nature's sculpture when we get more wet snow!

Lowell Point Beach this afternoon featured over 3 feet of softening snow on the uplands, a section of sloping ice at the high tide line, and a tiny strip of beach. Two COMMON MERGANSERS paddled away, sunshine sparkling in their wakes. Along the wrack line, I found a single SNOW BUNTING, hungrily hopping along, gleaning tiny morsels from the seaweed. It was very tolerant, and passed quite close to me. The arrival of sun-starved people and their dogs soon crowded out this  unnoticed guest and forced it to seek a quieter place to eat.

I enjoyed watching one of my favorite sea ducks, the BARROW'S GOLDENEYE along Lowell Point Road. A HORNED GREBE struggled to subdue a long, skinny fish (gunnel?), and finally succeeded.

Two BALD EAGLES stroked overhead; one turned and graciously circled to give me a spectacular view of its enormous, broad wings against the pure blue sky as I madly took photos. Then they paired up and flew off down the shimmering bay on their secret rendezvous.

As the sun reached the western mountains, ever higher and later, the eastern mountains, anchored by Mt Alice, stunned me with their snowy grandeur. Shadows stole across the town, the icy tidelands, the calm bay, and finally reached the white hem of Alice's robe. Soon, Venus proclaimed the stage was set for the night sky. Watch for the full moon flanked by Jupiter and Mars.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

1 comment:

  1. Some really great photos there. The snow banks along the road are incredible, like Cordova or Valdez. I really love the flight shots.