Thursday, November 6, 2014 No Cape May Warbler, but lots of other great birds

Seward, Alaska

The Lagoon, sandwiched between Third Avenue and Chamberlain/Dairy Hill Lane and Van Buren St continues to be a hot spot. Overnight, the middle refroze, concentrating the birds at the edges and creek inlets/outlets.

The stupendous TRUMPETER SWAN family once again spent the night at the south end of the Lagoon where I found them feeding steadily this morning. One cygnet figured out how to balance tail-up without falling over to reach deeper. A few MALLARDS hovered nearby to take advantage of any leftovers. Occasionally, a silver salmon bumped into a swan, “goosing” them into rapid retreat, very funny to watch. The parents are magnificent, continuing to guard their four beautiful cygnets.

Over at the north end by Dairy Hill Lane, the bald eagles, ravens, and gulls are just going nuts over the bountiful silver salmon, still surging into the streams to spawn. The THAYER’S GULL monitors the eggs at the culverts, especially when the tide is not too high, plunging its head underwater to snatch them up.

A first year BALD EAGLE figured out how to disembowel a female silver salmon, regretfully still alive, and feasted on her jewel-like eggs. An older eaglet stood patiently in the water nearby, waiting and watching. Finally, the younger eagle moved off and he moved in. After a bit, he moved off a few yards, and immediately the nearby RAVENS zipped in to gobble up the scattered eggs.

The ravens chased off the crying GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS who also sought the bounty, but everyone had to back off when the eagle swaggered back. One brave raven leaned over as far as possible to ease his beak to the edge of the pile of eggs while the others watched warily to see if the eagle would take off his head. Back and forth, the birds negotiated rights to the feast as if it was the only salmon available.

As Richard Nelson of Encounters said, “Life is only borrowed from other life.”

A pair of DIPPERS raced across the scene, noisily chasing each other. The winner did a victory lap over an innocent pair of MALLARDS, who “ducked” to avoid this fired up little gray song bird. A short time later, I heard the dipper singing from the stream, king of the world and a vast treasure of eggs.

A racket of creaks and squeaks from the alders drew me across the lane to a flock of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. Their numbers have increased dramatically from a few birds to over 20. It’s great to see them again.

The CAPE MAY WARBLER was notably missing, and now has not been seen since Monday, November 3. I fear he is gone.

I did check for the STELLER’S EIDER at both Spring Creek Beach and Fourth of July Beach but did not find him. I suspect he is still around, but was just not in view from land.

I also checked several times, briefly, for the RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, but did not see him. Hopefully he is still around too, and has discovered the suet feeders nearby.

Downtown, everyone is amazed at the numbers of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. There might be a CEDAR WAXWING among them.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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