Monday, December 9, 2013 Shorebirds!

Seward, Alaska

Thanks to a hot tip from Deb K, I refound the shorebirds she spotted yesterday at the tidelands.

I counted 28, mostly ROCK SANDPIPERS, but also at least 3 DUNLINS, and a SANDERLING in the loose flock, feeding at the edge of the tide. It was fun to hear them chittering as they poked about in the sandy silt, pulling out marine worms and other delicacies.

Here are some of my observations as seen from a distance:

DUNLIN: long droopy black bill, black legs, "blank" or unpatterned face, and light belly.

SANDERLING: much lighter overall, black tipped primaries, short stout black bill, black legs, patterning on face. The juvenile is darker on top, and is what I believe I saw today.

ROCK SANDPIPER: slightly larger and chunkier, yellowish legs, black bill, some with yellow at base, patterning on bib extends farther than others, darker on back.

Deb also reported 50-60 SNOW BUNTINGS and a DIPPER, but I was unable to relocate them today.

Robin C and Kit spotted a female HOODED MERGANSER yesterday. This is the earliest record of a female in Seward that I have. My first record of a female Hooded Merganser in Seward is March 2006, and then one in May 2009. The male and female were seen together today by Tasha. I bet the arrival of this lovely female is very disappointing to several female Goldeneyes!

Also for the record, Deb reported that the Kenai Fjords National Park staff found a dead SNOWY OWL on the outwash plain in front of Exit Glacier in May 2012. It appeared to have died of natural causes and no signs of  "fowl" play.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward, Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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