Monday, October 21, 2013 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and locals

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 8:53 am, sunset 6:29 pm for a total daylight of 9 hours and 36 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 21 seconds shorter.

Resurrection Bay was calm once again; the beaches loaded with bull kelp and quantities of other seaweed from the recent storms. Mild temps continue in the mid 40s, but snow is creeping down the surrounding mountains.

Ahhh, the rain. It hammers on the roofs, dimples the puddles and sea, and raises every rivulet to river status. We are so paying for our sunny July! Yet even in this seemingly endless rain, there were short, much-appreciated breaks.

At noon today, the pewter gray clouds split open, and the sun miraculously broke free, blindingly bright. What a treat to feel its warmth on my back as I faced expectantly north, waiting for the rays to race ahead to touch the retreating rain clouds. Would the rain wait for the sun? Where would the rainbow start and end? 

I waited patiently and then suddenly a spruce grove turned red, orange, yellow, green, and blue as the perfect arch rose upwards, faintly connecting across the top, and back down to another lovely rainbow base on the other side. Such are the joys of rain and sunbeams; ephemeral, shimmering, and stunning.

Robin C relocated the YELLOW-BREASTED SAPSUCKER at the crack of dawn this morning. (Note, that was about 9 am.) I also found it at 2 pm at the same site, now well labeled "Private Property, No Trespassing." As long as the sap continues to ooze out of his sap holes, he might stay. But for a bird so far off course so late in the year, who knows! He probably doesn't have any idea either.

After ensuring that the rare bird was still here, I walked down Pinnacle View Road to see if I could find any other sap projects or other birds. As the sun continued to beam warmly, the local birds really perked up, as pleased as I.

But what did they do? Why, take a bath in the nearest cold rain puddle! Four VARIED THRUSHES, as bright as pumpkins, 2 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, and a KENAI SONG SPARROW waded into the large puddle in the road. Some just seemed to like to sit and soak, others dipped their bills underwater and then threw water all over and shook and splashed. It seemed that a few even enjoyed looking at their reflections. After the bath, the thrushes flew off to dine on Mt Ash berries, and the other birds dispersed to preen.

I headed to the beach, now at high tide. A small group of 5 COMMON MERGANSERS paddled close to shore with 4 HORNED GREBES. A tight raft of about 40-50 BARROW'S GOLDENEYES dove around Pinnacle Rock. From far out in the bay, a long line of about 40 COMMON MERGANSERS swam steadily closer, the most I have seen this fall.

BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES squabbled over some treat, and several PELAGIC CORMORANTS watched calmly then dove. A single female HARLEQUIN DUCK paddled past; more Harleys gathered near Lowell Point Road farther to the north. A sea otter lazed along on its back; a harbor seal poked its head up to look around. It was a very peaceful and lovely scene.

The rain continues and more rain is in the forecast, but it is bearable when the sun smiles just for a short while, bringing magical rainbows and bathing beauties.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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