January 27, 2013 Siberian Accentor and Brambling still here

Seward, Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 9:22 am, sunset 4:59 pm, length of day 7 hours, 37 minutes; tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 50 seconds longer. Full moon tonight, actually a 99% full moon, close enough.

Weather: Brrrrrrr! Clear, cold, and windy continued all last night and today. The fierce north wind blew through windproof gear and tugged violently at scarves and hats at a steady 16 mph, gusting from 31 to 44 mph. It was no fun to be in its way. The temp dropped even lower last night to about 7ยบ by 9 am, and kept going down all day. It may reach minus 2 tonight. Snug in our warm homes, I pity the poor birds toughing out yet another bitter and long winter night. Keep those suet and sunseed feeders full!

Visiting birders who stayed overnight were joined by a few more brave souls today from Eagle River and Anchorage. Just after 10 am, the early birders were rewarded first with the bright BRAMBLING feeding in the bare grass at the new "Ground Zero" in the mid 400 block of First Ave. Then the SIBERIAN ACCENTOR materialized on the ground under a nearby clump of spruce and alder trees fronting First Ave.  The lighting was dim in the shadows, but its distinctive facemask was discernible even at 100 feet. After six minutes, it flew off. I didn't refind it and do not know if anyone else had success. 

An increasing number of GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES were spotted flying today, up to about 20, with three on the new "Ground Zero" roof, and the bright BRAMBLING returned around 4 pm to feed where it began its day. The HOODED MERGANSER was spotted on the east side (downstream) of the highway near the Pit Bar as the Lagoon is now frozen.

Cod is being processed over at the Polar Seafoods plant at the end of Nash Road. The ground-up unwanted fish parts attracted a host of MEW and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, and seabirds including the usual SURF SCOTERS, BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, and COMMON MERGANSERS. I'm sure there were others but the roiling waves and spray made it very difficult to see or count. About a dozen HARLEQUIN DUCKS bobbed close to shore by Spring Creek Beach.

Three adult BALD EAGLES perched in a cottonwood, two side by side, one a bit farther away. As I watched them, I found two beautiful but wind-blown first year juveniles. They looked healthy and well fed despite the cold and wind. A bit later, the adults soared over the boat basin, back and forth. I saw one adult plunge at a Steller Sea lion that dove with a great splash at the last second. It must have had something good to eat. There were at least seven sea lions in a tight group, mostly swimming around placidly, but occasionally plunging and spinning wildly as if chasing a fish close to the surface. It was wonderful to see these wild and free sea mammals.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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