October 5, 2014 Tern Lake Trumpeter Swan Cygnets, Spawning Red Salmon, and Dippers

Tern Lake, 38 miles north of Seward, Alaska

On my way home, I took a break at Tern Lake. The weather had not improved, indeed it was trying harder to snow/sleet and that north wind was chilling. I forgot all about it as I approached the little boardwalk at the Tern Lake picnic area on the west side of the lake. Hundreds of Sockeye or Red Salmon, now maroon and green, packed against the banks of Dave's Creek, almost motionless in the still water. Others swished and swirled in the current closer to the bridge, actively spawning. If I remained quite still, several pairs ventured closer, almost under the boardwalk. When I moved, they darted away. What a sight!

I heard the cheery announcement of a DIPPER as one zipped past and landed on a rock near the bridge. What a busy little gray bird! It bobbed and darted, stuck its head under the cold rushing water, popped back, picked and poked along the slippery rocks, flipped a yellow cottonwood leaf off its rock into the current, and chattered and clattered. Though the yellow bill was fading, it marked this one as a youngster.

Much to my delight, two more Dippers buzzed in and the trio took over the bridge, first perching on the railing then peering at the stream from the walkway just like tiny tourists. Then they all dashed to the stream, briefly investigated the rocks and flashed away downstream. As Dippers tend to be solitary, I suspect this was a family group out enjoying another fine day, singing to the stream and the sleet, happy to be in this fabulous home.

Back on Highway 9, I immediately pulled over to watch 5 adult TRUMPETER SWANS and 7 CYGNETS. What a collection of grey feathers, long necks, and pink bills packed together! It was such a treat to see so many cygnets; there weren't any at Potter's Marsh, and few along the highway ponds. They fed on the underwater vegetation industriously, stretching deep underwater, and surfacing only to get another breath before submerging again. Two adults guarded these precious cygnets; could it be they raised all seven? Regardless, this flock seemed content to be together, ready to care for each other on their long journey south, far from the impending snow and ice. Bon voyage!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment