Thursday, March 15, 2012 Rock Sandpipers

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 8:12 am, sunset 8:01 pm, length of day 11 hours, 49 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 31 seconds longer.

Weather: SNOW! Yesterday, a blinding snowstorm dumped 8 ½", last night another 11" and today another 3"!  I thought there was no place to put it, but now realize how handy it is to have a seamless transition from the ground to the rooftop (for shoveling access), and who needs to see out the windows?  The quality was first class: dazzling white, light and fluffy at first, then perfect for snow sculptures later as the temperature warmed into the 30s.

By mid afternoon, the day brightened considerably with dark snow-laden clouds stalled to the north and south. The wind remained calm and it turned into a lovely winter interlude.

Broken ice and snow, swept off the beaches by the tide, covered calm Resurrection Bay, a very unusual sight. It included considerable city snow, pushed into the bay. Seabirds seemed restricted to open patches, separated by the mini-floes.

Like many other birds recovering from the recent snowstorms, a BALD EAGLE perched on a spruce treetop, wings hanging loosely, tail spread wide, preening and drying out.

About a dozen RAVENS gathered at the tidelands, some taking snow baths, others arguing over a tidbit of something. I could not see a food source, but anything would serve to set off a skirmish and instant aerial acrobatics.

It seemed like a fairly quiet time, until I began looking through my binoculars along the far tide line. Heat waves shimmered from the ocean. I spied about 50 gulls, including MEW and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, standing together, preening. Suddenly a tight formation of shorebirds flew past, heading for the far end of the beach. I suspected ROCK SANDPIPERS, but they were much too far away. The shorebirds led my eye to a distant cloud of hundreds of milling GULLS, looking much like a feathered snowstorm.

I continued scanning and found four adult GREAT BLUE HERONS, as still as stones, taking a group nap. I was pleased to see the shorebirds rocketing back, still flying in tight synchrony, flashing light underbellies then flipping in tight turns to show the darker backs. Now they were close enough to ID as ROCK SANDPIPERS. They landed briefly, then once again shot off, heading back from whence they came, very unsettled.

Back in town, PINE GROSBEAKS whistled from the treetops, DARK-EYED JUNCOS and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES sang their courtship songs. Two adult BALD EAGLES cried excitedly overhead, trailed by a third great bird. The usual neighborhood gang of 19 BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES followed one another on a private investigation.

Life seemed to rejoice in the gentle winter afternoon as the sun rode high in the sky towards the west.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment