Monday, March 9, 2015 Harbor Hotspot

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 8:32 am, sunset 7:45 pm (Daylight Savings Time), for a total day length of 11 hours and 12 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 30 seconds longer.

I spoke too soon. And the pussy willows and bright crocuses were wrong. Winter reasserted itself with ferocious glee; the temperature plunged to the low 20s, and the wind, o that biting, blasting wind, sucked all the warmth out of the cheery sun with gusts to 33 mph. Last week’s rain left a trace of snow up high, enough for the wind to whip up impressive streamers, whirling snow devils, and manic eruptions worthy of white volcanoes. The bay frothed with white caps. There was no escape from the blast.

The seafood processors are not processing much, so the birds and wildlife were feasting on juvenile herring instead. The Seward Boat Harbor seems to be a nursery for zillions of herring trying to hide under the floats and boats. The BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES  served as herring spotters, circling over the harbor, then plunged headfirst to nab one. Their excitement attracted the less acrobatic COMMON MERGANSERS and BARROW’S GOLDENEYES who rapidly paddled over, creating tiny wakes, or flew low over the water and splashed down to get a piece of the action.

The plentiful COMMON MURRES did not seem particularly interested in the other birds’ discoveries, but instead paddled about all over, diving after their own fishy discoveries.

A lively pod of about five Steller’s Sea Lions surged around the harbor, scattering the rafts of seabirds. Sea Otters, also about 5 or 6, lounged around on their backs, ever relaxed, crunching noisily on mussels plucked from the floats. Several calm Harbor Seals, poked their shiny heads up to look around, then tipping their noses up, quietly slipped back down into the water.

To top off the Alaskana, a mature BALD EAGLE soared overhead, looping its way over the seabird buffet spread below. And in the parking lot? RAVENS merrily attacked black plastic bags of treasures in unprotected pickup truck beds. When tired of that, they lifted off effortlessly to swoop, spin, and sail with their playmate the Wind. At least the Ravens revel in it!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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