Sunday, June 22, 2014 Summer Sandpipers and Angry Eagles

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 4:32 am, sunset 11:27 pm for a total day length of 18 hours and 55 minutes. Tomorrow will be 21 seconds shorter!

Although the forecast has been for rain the past week, after the big rainstorm on Monday, it has only rained overnight or just for parts of the day, leaving much of the day unexpectedly sunny and bright. Everything is green and blooming, including tree-size lilacs and honeysuckle bushes in town. The hummingbirds have many choices with all these flowers plus wildflowers and annuals in hanging baskets. The very pleasant temps linger in the fifties to low sixties.

A walk along the tide flats proved surprisingly productive today. Two GREATER YELLOWLEGS poked and prodded along the tideline. One struck an enviable yoga pose as it preened; a master at ease. A SPOTTED SANDPIPER flew up, calling, then settled down to feed, teetering dramatically like a tightrope walker on the flat, stable mudFLAT.
I wonder why so many shorebirds do that?

Three small bits scampered ahead along a streamlet. I looked closer and discovered about 13 WESTERN SANDPIPERS, 1 LEAST SANDPIPER, and 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, all adults in breeding plumage. These birds could represent failed nests, not sure. I believe it is too early for the juveniles to be present; at least I haven't seen any yet.

While I was engrossed in watching these tiny peeps, I heard a screeching racket and looked up to see a BALD EAGLE flying straight towards me, carrying a fish carcass. I clicked madly, trying to track the fast-flying, angry bird. Suddenly, another pair of talons appeared in my telephoto lens; another Bald Eagle grabbed onto the prize and ripped some of it off. No wonder the eagle was furious!

The fantastic scene was too close to fit in my lens as they flew right overhead. The marauder peeled off with the stolen goods while the first eagle headed for home with the remains of the remains. ARCTIC TERNS and MEW GULLS peppered the eagle with insults and threats all the way through their territory. I can imagine the exasperated eagle complaining to the eaglets and spouse, "What a day!" as it tossed dinner into the nest and collapsed on the couch.

The second summer BONAPARTE'S GULL fished for sticklebacks and other tidbits in a very shallow stream. To date, I've only seen one among all the other gulls.

I heard an ALDER FLYCATCHER calling from, yes, alders, and heard the winnowing of a WILSON'S SNIPE. SAVANNAH, SONG, and LINCOLN SPARROWS' songs rang out.  ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, YELLOW WARBLERS, VARIED THRUSH, HERMIT THRUSH, and ROBINS sang from the willows and cottonwoods. A pretty fine summer afternoon!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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