Monday, November 3, 2014 Cape May Warbler still here!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 8:26 am, sunset 4:55 pm for a total day length of 8 hours and 26 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 8 seconds shorter.

The CAPE MAY WARBLER survived a night of freezing rain that coated the streets and ground with ice until it melted by mid-day. He looked very healthy as he flitted quickly from twig to twig, gleaning spiders, other invertebrates, and insects hiding in the bark and lichens. About the size of an alder leaf, he resembled one tumbling through the branches with unseen updrafts landing him in new territories to explore.

Several local birders and four Anchorage birders got good looks at this rarity this morning. He seems to like the alders and willows lining Dairy Hill Lane between the Lagoon and horse corral, but also disappeared at times and then returned.

While waiting for him to return, check out the THAYER’S GULL(S) feasting on salmon eggs and sushi with HERRING GULLS, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, and RAVENS. The Thayer’s is smaller, has a more slender bill, a dark tail and dark primary tips, patterned back, rounded head with a dark eye, and pink legs. It’s quite a challenge to figure out the different gulls. Don’t forget to check for that warbler now and then!

SONG SPARROWS sang with gusto. A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW peeked behind some low alder branches. Two GREAT BLUE HERONS flew over the Lagoon, watched by a BALD EAGLE perched in a spruce. A DIPPER sang to the stream and the silver salmon splashing their way ever upstream to spawn and strew coral-colored eggs like Mardi Gras beads. About 50 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS flew overhead, then about 30 PIGEONS.

The “Little-Sit” was a lot of fun with so many eyes to pull birds out of the thickets, water, and sky.

I checked the alley between First and Second Avenues by Jefferson Street; sure enough, the RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was busy tending his sap wells. I pulled forward and stopped at the top of the hill. A SONG SPARROW popped up within arm’s reach and sat on the elderberry branch, totally unconcerned. A large flock of DARK-EYED JUNCOS flowed along the shrubbery along the road. As I checked for the White-throated Sparrow, my cell rang. Pat and Eric had indeed found the STELLER’S EIDER on the east side of the bay at Spring Creek Beach and were very pleased with their Seward trip.

Just then the Juncos abruptly disappeared in a flurry of feathers. A second later, a stunning SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flashed in and perched on a branch, its long, slender, bright yellow legs gleaming. Finding nothing to eat, off he flew. What a great surprise!

Back home, I froze as a perky, petite PACIFIC WREN hopped around my front yard, busily checking out the spruce tree trunk, and the site of the former and future bird feeder, his little tail jauntily cocked upwards. That was another treat.

CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES did find my small sunflower seed feeder and swarmed it periodically with tiny, excited remarks.  GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS seeped from the spruce branches, passing through. I was glad that I could spend time outside taking care of chores while listening and watching to the bird activity all around. Someday, I should do a “Little Sit” in my yard!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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