April 22, 2012 New arrivals daily!

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 6:18 am, sunset 9:35 pm, length of day15 hours, 17 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 23 seconds longer.

Weather: Breakup continues slowly and without flooding; snow piles are visibly lower and more drab grass emerges every day. Thin ice on puddles in the morning is evidence of below freezing temperatures at night. Daytime temps hover in the low 40s, still a bit chilly. Sprinkles and showers alternate with sunshine and blue sky. Folks itchy for spring-cleaning rake and sweep gravel and spruce cones from exposed parts of soggy lawns and driveways and pick up long-hidden trash.

It's time to clean the hummingbird feeders and make that first batch of sugar water by adding 1 cup white granulated sugar to 4 parts boiling water. No red food coloring is necessary, and it may cause tumors. It's also time (if you didn't do it in the fall) to scrape last year's nests out of the swallow boxes. While the box is open, rub bar soap on the ceiling to discourage wasp nests. Remove any decorative perches that only allow magpies, jays, and other predators easy access to the babies. Swallows don't need perches. They love white feathers, if you really want to make them happy.

It's also time to consider removing the suet and bird seed and cleaning up the scraps that might tempt emerging hungry bears. You know your neighborhood best. A fed bear is a dead bear. It's not worth keeping the feeders up much longer. 

Tuesday, April 19
FOS RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, the tiny bird with the powerful voice, belted out his song. More ROBINS popped up around town, singing sweetly. Two SNIPE spotted at salt marsh, one heard winnowing, also a flyby of three LAPLAND LONGSPURS. Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterflies, the first butterflies to emerge as overwintering adults, fluttered about whenever the sun warmed them up.

Six colossal BALD EAGLES, four juveniles of various ages with two adults, leaped and grabbed, tussled and argued over a much desired (but unidentified) meal at Lowell Point beach.

Wednesday, April 20
The yard RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET returned to his traditional spot in my Sitka willow, and sang. I wonder how many years he's been doing this? Too cool! Three STELLER'S JAYS seemed to be checking out the former nest site on my house, but no nest building has begun. One must be the real estate bird for the lucky couple.

At the saltmarsh meadows, a female NORTHERN HARRIER arrived, so brown in contrast to the bright, light male, with a similar conspicuous white rump.

Saturday, April 21
Two FOX SPARROWS appeared in the yard, the darker version that hopefully will nest here. It was amusing to watch them jump-scratch the soil under the spruce trees, a little fancy footwork to reveal insects.

Finally found a DIPPER, snoozing on the ice at the Lagoon. 

A pair of beautiful FOS RING-NECKED DUCKS arrived at the wetland pond by the airport; their usual stop-over spot at Roundhouse Pond is still mostly frozen. Refound the female HARRIER, and a MERLIN.

Two BLACK OSYTERCATCHERS poked through the seaweed-covered rocks at the small intertidal zone at Fourth of July Beach, exposed only at low tide. It's amazing how this rather large black shorebird can be so camouflaged despite its long red bill, pinkish legs, and yellow eyes.

Over at Spring Creek beach between the parking lot and the boat basin was a startling discovery. Low tide exposed sparkling spheres of herring eggs festooned on the rocks and seaweed in this rich little habitat. Hundreds of screaming GLAUCOUS-WINGED and MEW GULLS stood at the shallows like combat fishermen or dove in raucous mobs just off shore. An estimated 80 to 100 HARLEQUINS, at least 200 SURF SCOTERS, and dozens of BARROW'S GOLDENEYES also actively dove and dined. Mingled with the seabirds were a few dabblers: a dozen MALLARDS, 5 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and 3 NORTHERN PINTAILS, all looking very much out of place, paddling their way through the fray and the much larger gulls.

A very tired-looking first winter THAYER'S GULL rested quietly on the rocks, oblivious to the racket. After a while, it yawned hugely, then turned around as if to watch the spectacle. For a brief interval, it flew and landed on the water, but soon hopped back on the rocks. It was such an unusual color, soft tans and browns with light pinkish legs, dark bill, and dark eyes. It really stood out among the zillions of other birds.

Sunday, April 22 Happy Earth Day!
The sunshine this morning found me once again at Spring Creek Beach at low tide. Same spectacle and cacophony as last night. A FOS DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT joined the crowd, its white crests just starting to grow. What eerily beautiful greenish eyes set off by that golden face!

Around 10:30 am, 42 CANADA GEESE flew over town, heading south along the mountains, then regrouped, reconsidered, and headed north. They were unusually quiet except for just a few birds honking softly, ("I told you so, I told you so!")

Though I only got a quick look, it sure looked like a HARLAN'S HAWK hauling grass for its nest and heading towards the trees along the Resurrection River to build a nest. Pretty exciting!

What does Spring mean to you? For me, Spring is not just one colossal event like hundreds of cranes flying overhead, but a weaving of many wonderful sights, sounds, and events, taking their rightful place in the overall design as their time arrives. May Spring's tapestry remain complete, whole and strong!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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