Saturday, December 1, 2012 Brambling Pair!

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

Another clear, cold day, with a strong north wind. The fat moon set behind Mt Marathon around 9 am as bright Venus faded to a tiny pinpoint of light.

I met Aaron B, Laura, and David at the Lowell Point Beach parking lot at 11 am. Everyone was hopeful to see the BRAMBLING. For David, it would be his 200th Alaska bird.

A moment after everyone piled out of the cars and got organized for several hours of birding, Aaron quietly noted, "There's a few birds…" He followed their flight across the road through his binocs. "Looks like two Bramblings with a few Pine Siskins." Everyone snapped to attention. Yes! At the top of the spruce tree! We hustled over to confirm the fleeting glimpse as Peregrine Joe joined us.

The two BRAMBLINGS perched one above the other, prying tiny spruce seeds from the generous selection of cones. PINE SISKINS, much smaller, joined them. WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS sang lustily from other treetops. After a short time, the Bramblings flew; one chose an alder that was even closer and began snicking the "fleur de lis"-shaped seeds from the alder catkins.

Close, in the sun, fairly unobstructed, and stationary for more than a millisecond. Click, click, click! I was very pleased! And so was David!

We walked around the Point having birded less than 10 minutes. The BALD EAGLE pair was again sitting in their spruce, still content. They must be very efficient hunters to rest so much. Laura counted 17 MAGPIES. We saw the usual species, and then Aaron's group decided to bird in town before the sun shot over the mountains.

I took the good dog and her Point friend to the beach where 4 BUFFLEHEADS fed quite close to shore. They quickly moved off but not too far. Such tiny divers! It was fun to think of them hatching in a tree cavity then jumping to the ground shortly afterwards. Quite a sudden start to life! One looked slightly larger and may be the mom with her 3 surviving ducklings.

Two River Otters swam over, quite curious about the dogs. They rose up for a better view, then splashed down, their long broad tails following like a separate animal.  Every time the otters got too close, the buffleheads erupted from the water and flew a safe distance away. I wonder if the otters ever try to catch ducks? Or if you are that small, caution is the best action.

Thank you, Aaron, for your excellent spotting!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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