Saturday, April 14, 2012 Spring takes her sweet time

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 6:41 am, sunset 9:15 pm, length of day 14 hours, 34 minutes; tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 26 seconds longer.

Weather: Despite the recent week of bright sunshine, temperatures remained in the low 30s to mid 40s with frequent freezing cycles at night. Dead defeated grass patches slowly emerged like newly exposed land at the toe of retreating glaciers. The snow/ice pack is still firm enough to walk on, and is at least three feet deep on the flats, and up to 6-7 feet high where it was piled this winter. There's even more snow out of town. High but solid clouds today and clam. Snow and rain is in the forecast for next week. Hopefully these low temperatures and gradual snowmelt will reduce flooding.

Spring seems as slow as breakup this year and so far without any drama. Migratory birds are arriving but in very small numbers. Just as well, as the ponds and lakes are still frozen. Willows bloom, waiting for bees and other insects, and warblers. Seasonal visitors tromp around town in new Xtra-tuffs, settling into the rhythm of the town and the approaching summer.

Monday April 9th
VARIED THRUSHES started singing in the 'hood. I saw two Milbert Tortoiseshell butterflies, recently emerged from their winter hibernation as adults, fluttering with remarkable purpose and direction despite the breeze. Wolf spiders, also recently emerged, cruised slowly over the snow, trying to hide under ice crystals when threatened by a photographer. Watch your step!

Tuesday, April 10th
A SONG SPARROW graced my car hood for a minute, its wings drooping. Otherwise it looked healthy.

Wednesday, April 11
A momma moose and her yearling crossed the highway just north of Sealion Drive after a brief pause to ignore traffic. The momma's long hooves need trimming. I wonder if she is pregnant with twins due in May?

Robin C reported a pair of FOS EUROPEAN WIGEONS and one FOS LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 2 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 18 NORTHERN PINTAILS, and 30-40 MALLARDS. These birds are weary and wary, best seen with a scope. Looking through my binocs at ducks at least a half-mile way, I could see they were already watching me, heads up and alert, ready to fly away.

Thursday, April 12
An elated adult BALD EAGLE with a large flounder clutched in its yellow talons, cried victoriously all the way from the tideflats to dine in the privacy of a spruce.

A dozen LAPLAND LONGSPURS shot away, chittering, through the dead beach rye grass. Robin C reported the first GLAUCOUS GULL of the year by the Waterfront. We usually see at least one or two in the winter here.

The male HOODED MERGANSER, attended by a female BARROW'S GOLDENEYE and frustrated male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, swam in the narrow lead of open water between the boardwalk and the remaining ice on the Lagoon. Three COMMON MERGANSERS snoozed on the snow.

Two shaggy mounds of loose fur on the south end of the Lagoon are the only visible sign of a winter tragedy when a momma and yearling moose fell through the unstable ice and drowned.

Friday, April 13
Two BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS rested at low tide at Lowell Point among the multitude of gulls. The SURF SCOTERS remain rafted up in front of the seafood processing plant on Lowell Point Road. A small flock of BARROW'S GOLDENYES took baths at the outlet of Lowell Creek.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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