Sunday, November 25, 2012 Harrier and Brambling

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

Another beautiful clear day! Optimistic that maybe it wouldn't be windy at the head of the bay, I returned to look for the snow buntings, hoping for better light. Wrong! While it wasn't quite as blustery as before, it was brisk. The good dog chose the stick-du-jour and blithely jumped in after it. After a lot of shaking off and snow-toweling, she trotted off with it and looked back to tell me once was enough.

I walked Frosty back to the car, and as I turned to pick up her stick, a NORTHERN HARRIER suddenly popped up and flew past! I watched the graceful flier swoop low over the waving grasses, angle up into the wind, then tuck one wing to stoop abruptly down and loop back. How I hope she (or possibly a juvenile) finds many fat, tasty voles to fuel her through the long night!

That little expedition was exciting but too short, so I headed for Lowell Point. Several PELAGIC CORMORANTS dotted the bay, spread far apart. In contrast, over 200 BAROW'S GOLDENEYES paddled in a long line like scoters, heading into the shallow waters by the Point. I pulled over as they bunched up and swam closer. Their golden eyes glowed in the sun and in that light, the handsome males' black heads turned a glossy purple. A few HARLEQUIN DUCKS trailed behind.

I found 5 female/juvenile BUFFLEHEADS and the lone first winter HARLEQUIN male at Lowell Point Beach while the good dog warmed up enough to swim again.  Then I joined Doug and Debi from Eagle River and Robin C. The rest of the short afternoon was mostly a study of JUNCOS when they could be found, and of alders and spruce cones when they disappeared.

The WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW sang its cheerful winter song, the FOX SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, and GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS all popped up. Streaky PINE SISKINS probed the spruce cones. Colorful male WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES ignited hope whenever they appeared, followed by disappointment. After several hours, it seemed this would not be an epic Life Bird day for D&D.

As the sun sank behind the mountain around 2:30 pm, the light faded and the temperature instantly dropped. Dave pointed excitedly at a bird in an alder. YES! He found it! It was bright, orange and white and black, patterned, and very unique. Robin refound it as it flew to the top of a nearby spruce and ate the tiny seeds. The light was abysmal and he was far away, but we did get some documentary photos.

Congratulations to Doug and Debi!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment