Thursday April 4, 2013 Snow Buntings, Pintails, and Gulls

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

Of all things! I was amazed to see two SNOW BUNTINGS flying past. With all the reports of them sighted to the north, I thought they had already migrated through.

Overlapping seasons, the more timely NORTHERN PINTAILS, one beautiful drake and three lovely hens, were expected. The 8 GADWALL and one GREEN-WINGED TEAL male are also expected, though as many Gadwall overwintered and this is not the first teal.

The main wonder continues to be the migration of the gulls. At least a thousand gulls were sprinkled across the tideland in large, mostly segregated groups. The HERRING and HERRING X GLAUCOUS-WINGED hybrids were on the move, screaming excitedly as they rose up on thermals. Just like the sandhill cranes to come, they followed the mountains to the west. First Mt Marathon, then Benson, then Resurrection Peaks. I watched quite a decision at Resurrection River valley; should they fly up the valley to Kenai, or head north along the highway corridor? After much circling and indecision, they went north, just like the cranes. It was fascinating.

The MEW GULLS decided to stay for now. One gull fished along the water's edge, then suddenly dove and speared a surprised little fish. Richard and the other aquarists at the Alaska Sealife Center think it was a small pollock or a relative, such as a saffron or tom cod.  Many empty clam shells lay on the silty sand; I wonder if the gulls are eating them too.

Another unusual animal glowed from the beach, a purple jelly. I haven't seen one of these before. It looked like an amethyst.

Spring. You just never know what will turn up next!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter 

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