Friday, April 6, 2012 Herring eggs!

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 7:05 am, sunset 8:55 pm, length of day 13 hours, 50 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 29 seconds longer. Full moon tonight, hence Easter is this Sunday. (First Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox.)

Weather: Mostly cloudy with scattered rain showers. Temps in the mid 30s to low 40s, keeping the snowmelt under control for the most part. Just a bit of snow fell last night to keep us on our toes. The sun peeked out now and then to remind us it's still around, then disappeared.

I haven't been to the beach for a few days due to the avalanche danger and yesterday's heavy rain. Lowell Point Road is riddled with huge potholes and slushy ruts; it looks more like linked ponds and long lakes than a road. Upon arrival, I discovered some loose Fucus (rockweed/popweed) covered in tiny clear spheres: herring eggs! That explains the gulls' recent excitement. I did get confirmation that the baitfish the bald eagles were hauling in by the fistful last week were also herring. Despite the massive snowpiles, it really must be spring!

No sign of the black oystercatcher, but human and dog activity is rapidly increasing. I did find one female LAPLAND LONGSPUR in the dead beachrye grass. A juvenile BALD EAGLE flew overhead so close it didn't fit in my camera lens! Once again, I was very grateful that I was not a herring or murre!

A RED-NECKED GREBE fished offshore; about 10 HARLEQUINS basked and preened at the edge of the beach in the brief evening sunshine as a rainbow graced the east side of the bay. BARROW'S GOLDENEYES whistled over the water on their way from here to there. A sea otter cruised headfirst, then flipped over to the more characteristic backwards paddle.

About 50 SURF SCOTERS bobbed among various gulls (MEW, KITTIWAKES, GLAUCOUS-WINGED, HERRING) by the quiet seafood processing plant, waiting for action. Other gulls bathed and preened at the mouth of Lowell Creek.

In town, the DARK-EYED JUNCOS continue to trill their spring song like little bells; I also saw a male OREGON JUNCO below the feeder. Many COMMON REDPOLLS and a few PINE SISKINS remain in loose flocks; CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, a SONG SPARROW, and a BROWN CREEPER flitted in the spruce trees. The PINE GROSBEAKS sing through the rain showers, brightening the day.

Around town, EAGLES sit on or near their nests; check out the extremely visible and active nest in the tall cottonwood across from Spenard Building Supply and behind the Apex Gym at mile 3.5 Seward Highway.

This evening, the neighborhood momma moose discovered spring greens sandwiched next to the hospital building and a snowdrift. She leisurely enjoyed mouthfuls of succulent ferns and probably carefully planted perennials. After her meal, she lay down for a time, and then slowly wandered off down the street, pausing to awkwardly drink from a snowmelt puddle in the road. Lingering dramatically under the streetlight, she deliberated where to go next. Then her enormous bulk disappeared into the shadowy night.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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