January 26, 2013 Birders converge on Siberian Accentor and Bramblings

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 9:24 am, sunset 4:56 pm, length of day 7 hours, 32 minutes; tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 47 seconds longer. Full moon this evening!

Weather: Brutal! Almost. Clear, cold, and windy. The fierce north wind pummeled any exposed skin and whisked away body warmth. It raged from 20 to 29 mph with gusts up to 46, enough to shake you off your feet! The temp steadily dropped over the night to about 12º by 9 am, then rose ever so slightly to about 15º by 3 pm.

The strong wind is forecast to continue through Sunday afternoon with a high of 12º and a windchill as low as minus 18º. Dress WARM and break out the hand warmers and hot drinks!

Birders from Fairbanks, Anchorage, Kodiak, Soldotna, Homer, and Seward (and probably other towns) converged on Seward this morning. The SIBERIAN ACCENTOR was seen by a single early birder (Brad) before dawn in the alley between First and Second in the 400 Block. Despite the dozens of birders, numbering upwards of 40, it proved elusive for hours. Just before noon, Kit  discovered the Accentor feeding in the moss on the steep mountainside north of the hospital with JUNCOS, PINE SISKINS, and of all birds, a bright male BRAMBLING. He phoned Joe who was posted at the bottom of Suicide Hill, and Joe did a sweep of all the birders along the alley. Within 2 minutes the crowd had converged at the mountainside site.

An adult BALD EAGLE perched majestically high in a spruce tree nearby, but today the directions were, "The SIBERIAN ACCENTOR is to the right of the BRAMBLING, now it's above it, moving left behind the double tree…" What a great indicator bird, that bright Brambling! The Accentor was well camouflaged in the shadows of the brush and rocks, and moved stealthily among the fallen branches. Yet many birders scored a new Life Bird, and some tallied two Lifers in the same view. Many thanks to all the birders who patiently and enthusiastically helped others find that bird.

Note: The Lagoon is completely frozen now, but the male HOODED MERGANSER was spotted in Clear Creek, just north of the Exit Glacier Road turnoff. Park in the south side of the Pit Bar away from the building, and check upstream, then walk carefully across the highway and check downstream.

I didn't get any photos of THAT BRRRRD today, but I did enjoy watching three BALD EAGLES down by the Bay just before everything plunged into the shadows at 2:30. The perched Eagle looked as windblown as I felt, but once aloft and hunting in the company of two other eagles, they were magnificent.

I would be interested in compiling a snapshot of the birds seen in the Seward area this weekend. I'm especially interested in trying to determine the number and gender of Bramblings here. There may be five or more! Please email me your bird list at c_griz@yahoo.com, and note your name, home town, the species, number, location, and time if possible. If you saw a Brambling, please also note if it was bright or pale. Also if you had any interesting adventures on your trip here, that would be fun to hear about.

If you come tomorrow, note that it is forecast to be as windy and even colder. Birding is not for wimps!!

Safe Travels Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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