Wednesday, October 29, 2014 Steller’s Eider and company

Seward, Alaska

The young male STELLER’S EIDER is all dolled up in quite a spectacular outfit that now more closely resembles the pictures in the bird books: white head, black eye patch, black chin, greenish head patches, and peachy body. The head is not quite all white, and the wings lack the artistic black brush marks of the full male breeding plumage, but he’s getting close.

The past several days, the standout eider has been spotted with his adopted companions, the slightly smaller HARLEQUIN DUCKS, at Spring Creek Beach at Mile 5 Nash Road, north of the boat basin, and at Fourth of July Beach. Fourth of July Beach is accessed at Mile 5 Nash Road by driving around the Seward Marine Industrial Center boat yard and drydock. Turn left on Jellison Avenue, right on Delphin Street, then another right at the T; continue straight all the way to the small parking lot at the beach. Bring a scope and move slowly as they are very sensitive to disturbance.

Also spotted today at the beach, two brown sea ducks with white face patches: a single female SURF SCOTER with a female HARLEQUIN DUCK. Small numbers of MEW GULLS and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS scrambled after surface fish; 7 HORNED GREBES dove nearby on the same school. COMMON MERGANSERS really know how to scurry after those little fish, planing along in a frenzy of wings, feet, and splashing before plunging underwater to snap them up.

BARROW’S GOLDENEYE numbers are on the upswing. During a recent very high tide, a beautiful flock of 50 paddled right along the water’s edge, almost to the beach ryegrass, where normally one would walk. They were very wary, so the only way to enjoy the sight was to peek from behind the grasses.

On October 23rd, I flushed a single female LAPLAND LONGSPUR feeding on fallen beach ryegrass seeds.

Watch for Steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, BALD EAGLES, and the rattling BELTED KINGFISHER that whizzes through very now and then.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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