Friday, July 18, 2014 One thing after another!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 5:06 am, sunset 10:59 pm, for a total length of day of 17 hours and 53 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 4 seconds shorter.

After several overcast days that promised rain without delivering and temps in the mid 50s, the clouds took a break and let that blue sky and sunshine reign instead. A soft south breeze with a high of 64ยบ was a lovely and welcome combination. Late in the afternoon, I sallied forth to see what I could see.

It turned out to be a Larid afternoon, short for gulls and terns. A dainty little gull with a black bill and matching black earrings flew overhead and landed just offshore in the brown, silty waves (lots of glacier melt going on.) A BONAPARTE'S GULL, perhaps the same one I spotted last month. I've only seen one at a time this summer; they are not common here like they are in Anchorage. When the little gull flew off, the black band on the tail and distinctive black markings on the wings flashed.

As I followed the gull's flight, I caught sight of a life and death drama being played out high over the bay. An adult BALD EAGLE and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL rapidly exchanged positions of pursuit. The eagle gained the upper hand and the gull gave flight as they raced across the sky, ever lower. At times, they were in perfect synchrony, as if choreographed. Finally, with both birds' beaks open and panting, the gull pulled away. The eagle broke off and flew to the beach where it landed in the water to cool off. ARCTIC TERNS immediately bombarded it, trying to drive it off, to no avail. Too tired.

A random glance at other Arctic Terns in the distance made me jump! The ratcheting Arctic Terns were escorting a jumbo tern with a huge red bill and black-tipped wings. I've been looking for a CASPIAN TERN all summer, and here it was!  It didn't linger over the feisty smaller terns' territory, but took leisurely loops and soon disappeared. No one messes with Arctic Terns!

As I headed back, small groups of invisible LEAST SANDPIPERS flushed out of the seaweed wrack. They blend in so well, it's hard to spot them until they move. Migration is well underway as the season races along.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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