Thursday, March 29, 2012 Tour: Ring the Bay

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Weather: Remarkable calm continued. Temps in the upper 30s. Heavy gray skies in the morning dissipated by midday to fabulous warm sun, then gradually returned to cloudy skies by evening. Snow melted like crazy, ran down the streets and replenished the whale-sized lakes. Of note, gas is up to $4.69/gallon.

As temperatures rise, accessibility to Fourth of July Beach and Spring Creek Beach on the east side of the bay is increasingly more difficult due to deep slush and intimidating puddles. I could not reach Fourth of July Beach, but I was able to scan the large rafts of seabirds just offshore from the boat basin. Among the 100+ SURF SCOTERS were 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, a sprinkling of COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, BARROW'S and COMMON GOLDENEYES, HARLEQUINS, PELAGIC CORMORANTS, and surprisingly few GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS.

The Spring Creek Beach parking area was not plowed, but I parked just off the road and post-holed in. As I approached, an adult BALD EAGLE flew low across the snow-covered wetlands with grass trailing from its mighty talons, heading straight for its huge nest.

Along the beach, I found a beautiful bronze-colored "mermaid's purse", the amazing egg case of a Skate. I hope the little one emerged, unfolded its wings, and fledged safely into its mysterious underwater world. Beach flies erupted from the melting margin of the beach snow, freshly thawed and ready to go. A Steller Sea lion cruised by, exhaling noisily, only pausing briefly to check us out. Scanning to the head of the bay, I found a mother lode of gulls sitting along the beach by the mouth of Resurrection Bay like a white snow drift, waiting for herring or euchalon?

I did not find the Hooded Merganser south of the Harbor Uplands this evening but was pleased to find 3 BLACK SCOTERS, all males. Also small numbers of SURF SCOTERS and BARROW'S GOLDENEYES. Two COMMON LOONS paddled serenely along the shoreline, diving frequently.

Over 50 NORTHWESTERN CROWS gathered in the bare cottonwood trees. Some took advantage of the road puddles to enjoy a cold bath before bedtime. A small group flew over to quietly but intently watch me as I enjoyed my picnic supper. The crows are pairing up; some groomed each other as they waited for snacks. None came, and as the shadows lengthened they lost interest and flew off.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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