Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Polar Vortex NOT

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:56 am, sunset 4:12 pm for a total daylight of 6 hours and 15 minutes. Tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 58 seconds longer.

Light rain with occasional fits of snow showers, and welcome calm continues with temperatures in the mid 30s. Big, bright green buds have emerged from my disoriented elderberry bush; I found an equally confused earthworm crawling on top of the watery snow crust this morning.

More rain and snow showers in the forecast for the next few days with temperatures decreasing to the mid 20s. Meanwhile the unusual Polar Vortex blasts the Lower 48 with bitter temperatures, heaps of snow, and horrendous high winds. We are so lucky!

It's been fun finding birds for the New Year; each bird species is special! First there's the low-hanging fruit like BALD EAGLES, STELLER'S JAYS, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and BARROW'S GOLDENEYES. Check, check, check! Then, unusual species like the RED-FACED CORMORANT and TREE SPARROW. Check, check! Icing on the cake are rarities like the SWAMP SPARROW, BRAMBLING, and KILLDEER. More checks!

After a few days of easy pickings and good luck, it gets harder and more subject to serendipity. Several species on my "very possible" winter bird list remain elusive, including the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and HOODED MERGANSER. The PACIFIC LOON today was my 42nd bird, a species that was here before the Christmas Bird Count, and then disappeared. A GLAUCOUS GULL spotted shortly afterwards in the company of a dozen GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS was my 43rd species, and a first for me this winter.

Tomorrow brings more opportunities to add a few more as the 2014 scavenger hunt continues.

Many thanks to Ava for keeping that SWAMP SPARROW and all her other wonderful birds happy at her feeders. She really appreciates the black oil sunflower seed and sunflower seed chip donations to help keep her operation going. Becky at Knots-So-Fast, mile 3.5 Seward Highway, has a great sale on sunflower seeds if you'd like to support a local business and Ava at the same time. Thank you for your generosity!

If you like to keep track of your Alaska Year Birds and date discovered on paper, download the 2012 Wings Over Alaska Checklist at

Alaska Dispatch has an interesting article on Homer's Rustic Bunting and the Big Year Birder, Neil Hayward at:
< http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140102/homer-bird-puts-record-breaking-big-year-over-top>

Check out Neil's well-written blog with great photos, including Alaskan sites and birders:
Accidental Big Year 2013 by Neil Hayward
< http://accidentalbigyear2013.blogspot.com/2013_01_01_archive.html>

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter in the Rain

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