Monday, May 19, 2014 Pectoral Sandpipers and a Humpback Whale

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 5:09 am, sunset 10:40 pm for a total day length of 17 hours and 31 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 26 seconds longer.

Day after day of sunshine continues, interrupted only by occasional but serious evening fog. Despite the drought, town is green, green, green. The Red Elderberries burst overnight into white lilac-like blooms, as the willows, alders, and cottonwoods reached their peak and faded. The magenta male cones of the spruce trees opened wide, casting their wind-blown golden pollen on the waiting female cones, and generously coated everything else.

After days of relatively light winds, today's brisk 15-26 mph north wind reached gusts of 38 mph. The temperature dropped into the low 60s, but it felt much cooler. We were spoiled by the mid to high 70ยบ temperatures over the weekend that sent people to the beach in rarely seen swimming suits to splash about and soak up some Vitamin D. What a spring!

Today I layered on the fleece and a heavy jacket to venture out into the wind at the head of the bay. The main shorebird migration seems to be over, but I found one WHIMBREL, about 7 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS feeding and bathing, a few SEMI-PALMATED PLOVERS, 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and a highlight: 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS mostly hidden in the green and brown sedges.

An immature and adult BALD EAGLE stirred up the various ducks: MALLARDS, PINTAILS, SHOVELERS, AMERICAN WIGEON, and GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Overhead, ARCTIC TERNS swarmed like bees, maybe over 100 noisy, beautiful, bundles of pizzazz.

A bit later, driving along the waterfront, I spied a spout! I quickly found a place to pull over and watched a HUMPBACK WHALE right in the inner bay, cruising along and diving among the white-capped rolling waves. Closer to shore, a colorful PELAGIC CORMORANT with fancy white flank patches and a touch of red on its glossy greenish head swam past. Ten DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, ranging in age from adults with blowing eyebrow plumes to brownish second-year birds, perched on the pilings facing into the wind. Behind them, a proverbial blizzard of mostly BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES plunged and lunged after fish scraps from the seafood processing plant's outfall pipe. I heard a WANDERING TATTLER'S soft call, but could not find it among the intertidal rocks.

Hang on to your hat!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

PS I am way behind, but will try to catch up with my posts as I can!

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