November 4, 2012 Sunday, Moonday, Wind-day

I awoke to an intense high-pitched whine in the middle of the night. Nothing like the threat of cleaning up the rug to launch me from my warm bed! I threw open the door and let the good dog out to deal with whatever she scrounged from the beach earlier. I'm sure it was something very tasty at the time. Yuck.

After a long wait, I wondered where she went. I wandered outside in my PJs and stared up at the absolutely cloudless sky filled with sparkling stars and the serene moon. Orion filled most of the southern sky with Jupiter now a bit to his right, and his faithful Sirius the Dog Star at his heel, flashing brilliant green and red and white. What a delightful surprise, considering the forecast. What do they know? It didn't even feel cold though it was right at 32ยบ and no wind. Beautiful, peaceful, and quiet. Finally, the good dog returned, apparently cured, and we went back to dreamland.

Several hours later when it was really time to get up, I found the sky still clear. In the predawn, Jupiter shone bravely, reduced to a pinpoint of light heading behind Mt Marathon. I knew Orion was nearby and bid him farewell. Venus, another white speck of light to the southeast, heralded the rising sun. The moon, however, remained as bright as ever, sailing high across the lightening sky.

Ava called at 8 am (before sunrise) to report 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS roosting in spruce trees next to the mountainside. What a strange sight to find such a long-legged, long-necked large bird sitting in a tree! Who knows anything about these herons; where do they nest? How to they survive our long, cold winters? Where do they hide when no one sees one for such long periods of time?

Ava also reported that the juvenile CEDAR WAXWING seems to have bonded with the ROBIN and calls out for it when he leaves. The Robin, in turn, no longer chases it away. Could be another odd couple for the winter if they both decide to stay.

On the pre-dawn morning walk around the block, the first bird I saw was a VARIED THRUSH stealthily picking through the grass on the lawn. A STELLER'S JAY boldly landed nearby and it fled. I heard or saw the usual BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES, RAVENS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, and a few SONG SPARROWS. I also heard a PINE GROSBEAK singing overhead.

Sirens distracted me from birding, and I watched the Seward Volunteer Firefighters respond to a neighbor's chimney fire. Flames crackled around the chimney top and smoke poured out. It was soon under control, thank goodness, and thanks to the volunteers who rose so early on a Sunday morning to help!

Throughout the morning, I watched the moon roll towards the mountains, appear to climb the Race Trail, and then set behind Mt Marathon. By traveling north, I found her again above the snowy mountains before she set behind Mt Benson. Had I ventured out towards Exit Glacier again, I suspect I could have watched her set a third time!

The north wind returned with force after its nap, blowing all day from 14 to 28 mph with gusts to 43 mph! The waves on the bay frothed and their white caps were tossed to the wind. It was a challenge to walk at the beach, but the good dog swam and dove with gusto. I found a lovely lavender/purple jelly along with the usual brown, gold, white, clear, and mottled ones.

Out of the wind it seemed balmy by contrast, with temps in the upper 30s. I found dozens of COMMON MERGANSERS hiding behind the Uplands in the lee of the wind. Four COMMON GOLDENEYES cruised the calm waters of the boat harbor, wary of a BALD EAGLE flapping in the wind overhead. PELAGIC CORMORANTS and a few GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS fled as a tug pushed a barge laden with material dredged from the harbor past the coal ship, and out into the teeth of the wind and waves.

It was nice and calm back at home, so I worked outside on projects, listening to the birds, watching the sun race across the sky and sink too soon, behind the mountains.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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