Monday, April 27, 2015 Crazy April

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 6:06 am, sunset 9:46 pm, for a total day length of 15 hours and 40 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 18 seconds longer.

The winter that almost wasn’t arrived in April with unwelcome snow surprises, and day after day of chilly temps in the low to mid 30s. Repeated squalls punctuated with strong winds, hail, and even a dash of unusual, rolling thunder was a terrible challenge for both local and migrating birds.

Now, brave new green leaves poke through the brown lawn thatch, Tiny, perfectly folded origami shrub and tree leaves unfold a bit more every day. Dandelion rosettes of course, are looking perky and ready to rip. As the calendar eases into May, more seasonal April showers are in the forecast with steadily increasing temperatures into the mid to high 40s, possibly even the low 50s.

In the midst of all this wild weather, I have received several reports of baby birds. Already! Ava reported her first baby of the year, a PINE SISKIN, on April 17th. Another reported fledgling PINE SISKINS, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, and PINE GROSBEAKS on April 23.

The squalls and dark clouds delivered birds mixed with snow. On April 15 I received a credible report of about 75 SANDHILL CRANES flying north up Resurrection River valley towards Exit Glacier. The first bumblebee took a test flight. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE and 2 AMERICAN WIGEON were reported.

April 16: An excited flock of 32 swans including TRUMPETER and at least 14 TUNDRA SWANS touched down for a brief rest, also 50 CANADA GEESE, and 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS.

April 17: First report of BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS at Lowell Point. 32 SANDHILL CRANES spotted, and 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE.

April 19: the hard rain, hail, and southerly squalls delivered several dozens of STORM PETRELS to the inner bay. They danced so lightly on the surface amid the hulking gulls, like delicate gray and white butterflies. The opportunistic BALD EAGLES added them to their menu, strewing their feathers and small carcasses along the roads and into the forest.

April 20: first RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, male, reported at a waiting feeder on Nash Road at 6 pm, right after it stopped snowing. That person was a real optimist and she was right! 150 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE reported as well as flocks of birds overhead.

April 21: ROBIN singing sweetly in the snowstorm. Ava reported her first RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, male, near Nash Road.



April 24: First ARCTIC TERNS (5)!
Three large flocks of SANDHILL CRANES flew high over town about 7 pm, milling about, seemingly uncertain of which route to take. One group split up and the leaders formed a small but tidy V. The rest of that flock formed a straight line connecting to the V in an absolutely perfect arrow pointing north! And north they all flew. It was astonishing!

April 25: First RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, singing in my yard.
Report of SNIPE winnowing over wetlands. Large flock of geese migrating north about 9 pm.

April 26: First RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, male, reported in town.

April 27: A few more PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS, and BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS spotted at a distance. Report of a few WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS trickling in.

Despite the inclement weather, Spring is definitely here. Bravo!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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