Sunday, September 22, 2013 Horned Grebes return to Rez Bay

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 7:43 am, sunset 7:56 pm, for a total of 12 hours and 12 minutes. Today is the Fall Equinox, but the day and night are not quite equal yet. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 26 seconds shorter, so maybe Seward could celebrate Fall Equinox on Tuesday or so…

The strong NNW wind continues, rising from 20 to 25 mph today to 40 mph predicted for tonight. Friday morning I awoke to find a cottonwood treetop had fallen on my garage roof, piercing it in three places with its stout branches. Yikes! The bay is a froth of surging whitecaps, the sky a solid gray. A peek when the clouds lift momentarily reveals termination dust extending far down the mountainsides. Temps are dropping from the mid 40s in the day to freezing at night.

The grass is still green and probably growing, even as the wind throws leaves, ready or not, all over it. I looked for the Western Tanagers this afternoon in the wind and cold spitting rain without success. But "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

ROBINS and VARIED THRUSHES hopped along the lawn, listening and looking for invertebrates as if it were summer. Perhaps they should take a look at the snow on the mountains and hitch a lift with the wind while they can!

I birded Lowell Point beach to get out of the wind. Three little heads bobbed up and down in the angry waves; the first of fall HORNED GREBES have arrived, still molting into winter plumage. Another one dove close to shore. A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT flew heavily into the teeth of the wind. I'm surprised they are still here. KITTIWAKES and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS gathered in a feeding frenzy by the seafood processing plant on Lowell Point Road. Other than that, it was hard to see much in the turbulent sea.

I heard an update on the amazing Mile 15 TRUMPETER SWAN family. A few days after their trek along the Seward Highway, they were seen 1 ½ miles south in a much smaller pond. It is likely the four cygnets walked the whole way with the protective parents, who perhaps scouted out the route in advance. I sure hope they get strong enough to fly soon!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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