May 5, 2012 More migratory birds and a few winter favorites

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

A succession of sea to sky gray curtains marched slowly up the bay from the Gulf of Alaska, delivering scattered showers and BIRDS. Wave after wave of geese, some in orderly "Vs", others stretched out almost straight, stroked high in the sky heading north. A flock of about 60 SNOW GEESE was reported early in the morning; 4 flocks, each with over 100 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED mixed with CANADA GEESE hugged the western mountains around 10 am, changing from speck birds to geese and then back to speck birds and gone.

The front seemed to favor Whimbrel migration as well; over 80 WHIMBRELS were reported, a new record for Seward. Smaller flocks of SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, AMERICAN PIPITS, and LAPLAND LONGSPURS gathered over the salt marsh at the head of the bay.

The two Trumpeter Swans I reported yesterday became TUNDRA SWANS upon closer inspection, showing a straight line of the bill between the eyes. A larger TRUMPETER SWAN nearby provided a great size comparison, as well as showing the distinctive "U" or "V" shape of the bill. A pair of RING-NECKED DUCKS joined the many PINTAILS, AMERICAN WIGEON, MALLARDS, GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, COMMON MERGANSERS, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and a pair of SHOVELERS.

Spring Creek beach on the east side of the bay sheltered 4 WHIMBRELS, well camouflaged on the beach rocks.

Ava's tremendous bird magnet yard off Salmon Creek Road was hopping with PINE GROSBEAKS, gorgeous VARIED THRUSHES ate sunflower seeds off a remnant snow drift, giant HAIRY WOODPECKERS flew to the suet feeders and tree trunks, diminutive DOWNY WOODPECKERS,  a few CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES,  a PINE SISKIN, a singing SONG SPARROW, and FOS YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER sang merrily despite the chilly spring day.

Just south of the Uplands, the YELLOW-BILLED LOON juvenile continued to preen vigorously, putting on quite a show. A flock of SURF SCOTERS, 2 RED-NECKED GREBES in breeding plumage, a pair of BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, a small raft of HARLEQUIN DUCKS, a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, and a PELAGIC CORMORANT in breeding plumage swam just offshore.

The WANDERING TATTLER rested on the rocks by the Scheffler Creek bridge waiting patiently for the tide to retreat and the grocery store to reopen.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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