Thursday, December 20, 2012 Second Day of Count Week

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 10:00 am, sunset 3:50 pm, length of day 5 hours, 49 minutes; tomorrow will be zero minutes and 1 second shorter. As noted, these times do not account for mountains on the southeast slowing our star's ascent and those on the southwest hastening its descent.

Weather: CCW, clear, cold (19ยบ) and windy (17 to 29 mph, maximum gust 46 mph). We're hoping for a little less wind on Saturday and calmer seas so the boat crew has a chance to go out.

The species list grows for Count Week. I walked along the windswept beach for 40 minutes and found cool wind circles, frozen wave ripples, and old tracks of possible snow buntings, but no live birds. Just before I left, I checked one last time way out at low tide, almost into the blinding sun.  Hmmm. Looked like some round, squat little birds pecking away at the water's edge. The pushy wind blew me out there. I snapped photos as I got closer and closer. Then I stopped and counted. 51 ROCK SANDPIPERS! This is a great number for Seward, and well worth the trudge back into the stinging cold. Several ROCK PIGEONS scrabbled in the cobble near the beach, toughing it out in the wild.

It was easy to find the raft of SURF SCOTERS riding the waves with 3 BLACK SCOTERS by the Harbor Uplands. 3 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS popped up behind them, their rakish loose crests blown sideways. COMMON GOLDENEYES, definitely not as common as the Barrow's, paddled singly and at the edges of the Common Mergansers resting in the lee of the breakwater.

I watched a Bald Eagle adult sunning out of the wind at the south end of the outer breakwater while a large raft of Barrow's Goldeneyes worked the entrance of the boat harbor just out of sight. I didn't stay long enough to find out if this was an ambush or just an innocent spot to sit. Could have resulted in pandemonium when they met.

I refound the GLAUCOUS-WINGED X HERRING GULL hybrid along the Greenbelt. It is a large gull that looks a lot like a Glaucous-winged gull, but it has some black tipped primary feathers.

Back in town, I found a ROBIN, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, and chittering DARK-EYED JUNCOS at the horse corral, but no Rusty Blackbirds. A flock of 6 COMMON REDPOLLS landed in some alders next to the road as I drove along with the window open, and stayed long enough for me to grab my binocs for a look.  A male DOWNY WOODPECKER enjoyed a snack at a suet feeder nearby, but no other little birds stopped in.

Jim reported he and Kit found a DIPPER at the Benny Benson Park culvert across from the horse corral for yesterday's count. Today, Jim spotted a friendly SONG SPARROW in the boat harbor and 40+ BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS delivered to his house. Kit scored on a PACIFIC WREN and a VARIED THRUSH at the start of the Tonsina Trail.

There are lots more birds to find, but this is a great start for Count Week!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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