Saturday, April 12, 2014 Spring is Trickling In

Saturday, April 12, 2014 Spring is trickling in
Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 6:48 am, sunset 9:09 pm for a total day length of 14 hours and 20 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 28 seconds longer.

Spring and Winter are fiddling with the thermostat. Spring inches it up to the mid 40s; suddenly ice is melting in rivulets down the street and mud makes its first appearance. Milbert Tortoiseshell butterflies emerge from their hiding places and flit about looking for a mate. Crocuses fling open their lovely petals, enticing a bumbling over-wintered bumblebee to dine. Then, bang! Winter dials it down to the mid-20s and throws in 3" of snow for good measure. Back and forth, they tussle. Yet the birds are on their way, slipping in, arriving in little spurts, assuring us that Spring will indeed, win the thermostat war. Eventually.

Shortly after the first day of Spring, on March 21, I watched a pair of RAVENS carry a load of moss and grass as a lining for their hidden nest. Eggs are next! A single GRAY-CROWNED ROSY FINCH shared the fallen seeds and suet under a feeder on Second Ave with a beautiful red male PINE GROSBEAK.

March 22: FOS GREATER SCAUP dove by the boat harbor entrance. The usual winter BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, COMMON MERGANERS, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and a barrage of noisy gulls hung out nearby.

A lot of Euphasids, a type of krill, washed up in lines at the high tide on area beaches recently. They resemble little shrimp and when fresh, are very tasty. Bring crackers! The gulls and crows feasted on them at the Greenbelt beach. I wonder why this rich resource is not instantly gobbled up at the other beaches?

March 25: PIGEON GUILLEMOT in breeding plumage, just one.

March 28: HERRING GULL migration continues with loud, joyous gull cries.

March 29: A pair of wary TRUMPETER SWANS stopped over briefly.

April 1: GREATER SCAUP still by boat harbor entrance. A few FOS NORTHERN PINTAILS, AMERICAN WIGEON, and GADWALL joined a large flock of over-wintering MALLARDS at the tidelands. Also refound 6 DUNLINS that have been here all winter.

April 2: Several Longnose Skate egg cases, called "mermaid's purses" washed up on the beaches. I opened up one purse and found an exquisite sea-green lining, but the treasure, the single baby skate, had hatched and flown off to seek adventures in the mysterious sea.

April 6: Robin C reported FOS 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS. Otherwise, except for the  boisterous gulls, it's been very quiet.

April 7: A cheerful AMERICAN ROBIN sang sweetly in the morning. FOS bumblebee. FOS 3 BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS fed in the intertidal zone at mid tide at Lowell Point.

April 8: 3" new snow! No more cheerio Robin!

April 9: Report of a 1000 white birds flying high past the moon around 6:30 pm; maybe gulls?

April 10: SAW-WHET OWL calling from Little Bear Mountain around 10:30 pm. I haven't heard him in such a long time. While it made me very happy, I hope he will soon have a mate and a family. Saturn now sails across the sky following Jupiter. Orion is fading until next November. I will miss the stars!

April 11: Salmon fry swimming in Tonsina Creek.  7 TRUMPETER SWANS reported at the head of the bay.  A single female LAPLAND LONGSPUR scurried around the bedraggled beach ryegrass by the Greenbelt bike path, looking for fallen seeds. Robin C reported a single SNOW BUNTING in the same area.

April 12: FOS GREEN-WINGED TEAL pair joined dozens of NORTHERN PINTAILS, and 100 MALLARDS. HERRING GULLS, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, MEW GULLS, KITTIWAKES created a gull snow squall when an eagle flew through. Another eagle snatched a fish and hauled it back to the trees, accompanied by another screeching eagle. Feast time!

Winter birds still dominate, but Spring is on her way!

Interesting websites:
Longnose Skate (they do have wings)

True Facts about the Owl (with some odd asides)

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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