Monday, October 6, 2014 Steller's Eider refound in new finery

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 8:15 am, sunset 7:14 pm for a total day length of 10 hours and 58 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 26 seconds shorter.

Another rare thunderstorm rolled and growled in the bay for an extended period on Saturday between snatches of sunshine and bouts of heavy rain. When the clouds lifted, nature's lacy white handiwork glistened from every mountain, including Mt Marathon above town. The daytime temperature dips ever downward into the upper 30s to low 40s, but it seems cooler with the brisk north wind. Overnight, under clear starry skies, it's freezing to the mid 20s. It's farewell to summer, maybe even to fall, and hello to studded snow tires.

The STELLER'S EIDER immature male is still in Seward and getting more handsome by the day! I refound him at Fourth of July Beach this afternoon, initially with a flock of colorful HARLEQUIN DUCKS. When the flock flew, the Eider's bright white wings flashed, alerting me to a non-harlie. Fortunately, they did not go far, and soon resumed diving. Nearby, several GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS snacked on the abundant jellies (jellyfish) that floated near the surface.

The Eider, once a rather plain brown sea duck, now has a brilliant blue speculum bordered by snow-white feathers. In the shadows, the speculum loses its luster and looks black. The young male's head and body remains brown, and characteristically flat-topped. If this special species winters in Seward, it will be very interesting to note the changes as he continues his many molts to maturity.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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