Saturday, April 13, 2013 More Sea Ducks and Two Glaucous Gulls

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 6:45 am, sunset 9:12 pm; length of day 14 hours and 27 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 27 seconds longer.

Bright but feeble sunshine continued today, its warmth swept away by the strong NNW wind at 14-24 mph gusting to 37 mph at times. Temps rose from 21º to 34º but nothing seemed to melt. The wind is even stronger this evening. Tomorrow is forecast to be about the same, with clouds moving in by Monday with a chance of snow and rain showers for a few days.

I spent a little more time this afternoon observing the sea ducks napping, bathing, and relaxing in the lee of the Harbor Uplands. Most were COMMON MERGANSERS, with a few COMMON GOLDENEYES, and a pair of GADWALL. It was amusing to watch the sea ducks bathe, dipping and splashing in the same tub they swim in all day and night. After the bath, they rose up and stretched their wings, beating the air, shaking them dry. Then all the feathers had to be preened back into watertight condition. Often a surprisingly bright orange webbed foot emerged to help. Twice I saw the mergansers yawning/stretching their beaks. It was amazing how far they could open up!

Too late to catch the sun, I pulled over by Lowell Creek beach where 100s of gulls stood around, some napping, some bathing, some preening, and at least one pair practicing for mating. Those that were not thus occupied were complaining loudly as only gulls can do.

All these gulls had pink feet: GLAUCOUS-WINGED, HERRING, probably GLAUCOUS-WINGED X HERRING hybrids, two GLAUCOUS GULLS, and a possible THAYER'S. The two pale GLAUCOUS GULLS really stood out, even in the shadowy light, as they bathed and preened. The much smaller THAYER'S GULL never moved. It must have been exhausted as it kept its head tucked under its wing, dead asleep despite all the action and racket of the larger gulls.

A short distance offshore, a large raft of SURF SCOTERS paddled along in a line with a few BLACK SCOTER females mixed in. Another raft of BARROW'S GOLDENEYES swam past, heading for the fresh water of Lowell Creek to take a bath. A single PIGEON GUILLEMOT in breeding plumage meandered along the shoreline, my first of season.

As the fish deliveries increase, so will the gull and seabird action at the fish processors. Keep an eye out for more unusual species tucked into the fracas.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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