Seward Alaska Sporadic Bird Report

Sunrise 6:21 am, sunset 9:32 pm; length of day 15 hours, 10 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 24 seconds longer.

Our amazing 11 day run of sunshine and blue skies ended abruptly this morning under gray skies. The thermometer cautiously inched upwards, slightly below freezing at night at 30ยบ, and up to the low 40s daytime. Not much to brag about and there's still a LOT of snow on the ground. The wind shifted back to the north after a few days of calm and then southerly, bringing a feeble burst of spitting snow this afternoon with gusts to 26 mph. It can't last!

This morning, I heard a cheery ROBIN singing a spring song! I haven't even seen a Robin for most of this year. The VARIED THRUSHES continue to sing, loud and strong, and JUNCOS trill. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, decked out in full, bright white stripes, also sang its full song for spring. The COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKIN numbers have dropped steadily these past few days from 100s to less than 50. It seems there are a greater proportion of Siskins to Redpolls. Now it's time to let the feeders run out before the emerging bears find them.

Time too, to find, wash, and fill the hummingbird feeders to take their place:
Boil 4 cups water, add 1 cup white sugar, stir, and let cool. Do not add red food coloring as it may cause tumors and is unnecessary. Clean feeder and change solution frequently to avoid black fungus. Tip: swish soapy water and a few tablespoons of BBs around in feeders with narrow openings to break up any fungus or dirt.

I received the first notice this afternoon around 1 pm: the first SANDHILL CRANES flew over Seward heading north!!! Another wave was spotted around 2:30 pm. Then around 5:30 the phone went nuts. 50 CRANES landed on the beach at Lowell Point, right in front of the cottages, and nervously tried to feed with resident BALD EAGLES stirring them up. Apparently this didn't last long and soon they took to the air again, circling over the bay, deciding where to go next.

I watched wave after wave of CACKLING GEESE and SANDHILL CRANES emerge out of the dark gray curtain hanging over Resurrection Bay. It was stupendous to hear the bugling of the cranes, such excitement!

One flock in the foreground, another behind them, and yet another skein of tiny dots in the distance, weaving its way up the bay. Though the lighting was terrible, I could see the long outstretched necks and feet; such enormous wings, flapping regally or held rigidly as they slipped air to glide down.

The flocks of geese interspersed with the waves of cranes did not honk like Canada Geese; their bills were small, their necks were short. Some were quite small with dark bellies, perhaps the B. minima. I think they were all CACKLING GEESE.

What's that? "Tew! Tew!" Six GREATER YELLOWLEGS flew past in a hurry, their surprisingly long wings working hard. How wonderful to see and hear them again!

May the weather improve for our beautiful bearers of Spring, and may they find bountiful food, and peace to rest up for the remainder of their long journey north. Welcome back!

On the way home, I found the handsome male HOODED MERGANSER swimming in the ever-widening open water of the Lagoon. I am glad to know he is still here.

Other news: 
NORTHERN GOSHAWK flew over First Avenue and into the mountains yesterday morning. In the afternoon, I heard a PACIFIC WREN scolding at Two Lakes Park.
One SWAN reported at Mile 1 Nash Road wetlands on Thursday.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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