Monday, April 16, 2012 two shorebirds and a Bonaparte's gull

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 6:35 am, sunset 9:20 pm, length of day 14 hours, 45 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 26 seconds longer.

Weather: Temps in the mid to upper 40s, overcast with sprinkles, and flat calm; a quiet day painted in several shades of gray. Imperceptibly, the snow is stealing away, revealing more and more bedraggled ground. Crocuses (gasp!) bravely poke their bright green spears through the cold ground, extending a sprig of spring with the expectation of beautiful flowers.

The noon walk produced several wonderful surprises today. TWO male NORTHERN HARRIERS patrolled the meadows along Resurrection River, silently wafting low over the flattened grasses, searching for voles.

A GREAT BLUE HERON flew over the wetlands and past the bare alders, with what looked like dead grass trailing from its large feet and outstretched long legs, just like the eagle yesterday. Given that no one has ever found the heron's traditional and visible huge platform nest of sticks, yet Seward has them here year round with juveniles in the summer and fall, I think they must nest in secret underground burrows, maybe former rabbit tunnels. Just a hunch.

Along the tide line, a female BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER picked and poked through the mud, all alone. What a thrill to see a plover at long last! Thanks to Buzz for verifying her ID. The best field mark I found is the black belly extends to the legs, then is white to the tail tips.

Farther down the beach, a diminutive (13 ½") and classy BONAPARTE'S GULL showed off its flashy red legs as it walked along the rocks. Then it flew off, gracefully and lightly like a tern. Overhead, the GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS chuckled a low, "heh, heh, heh" and the noisy MEW GULLS cried like squeeze toys.

"Ridley-ridley-ridley!" the cry of a GREATER YELLOWLEGS rang out. I did not find that bird, but on the way back, I found a female along the shoreline, quietly standing at the edge of the outgoing tide.

The EURASIAN WIGEON, MALLARDS, PINTAILS, and GADWALL remain here in small numbers.

I thought I heard a goose honking overhead, but saw none and heard nothing further. It won't be long before we really do hear their excited honks and see their long lines stroking across the sky.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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