Friday, June 5, 2015 Scattered Shorebirds among Serious Squalls

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 4:40 am, sunset 11:13 pm for a total day length of 18 hours and 33 minutes. Tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 37 seconds longer.

The huge storm that was predicted for Wednesday/Thursday rolled in today delivering hard rain and a strong south wind. The high was 48ยบ. More rain is forecast for Saturday, tapering off over the next few days as it blows through.

During a seductive lull in the storm, I ventured out to the tidelands, prepared for the rain. BALD EAGLES perched like vultures on just about piece of driftwood. I wondered who is tending the nests? One juvenile took off after a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL and gave it a pretty good scare, nimbly chasing it, before breaking off for a rest.

I flushed four shorebirds ahead of me: a WESTERN SANDPIPER, SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, and a DUNLIN in full breeding plumage. I was surprised to see the Dunlin; the Western and Semi-palmated Plover nest here, and the Pectorals are moving through.

Another surprising late shorebird shot ahead of me, a WHIMBREL. I looked eagerly for any sign of color on the rump, but no luck changing it to a Bristle-thighed Curlew. Earlier in May, I was almost sure that I heard its remarkable call among a flock of 8 Whimbrels, but I never was able to distinguish it. That slim chance always makes Whimbrel sightings exciting.

Just as the hard rain resumed, I spotted a flash of white outer tail feathers. I extracted my camera from under my raincoat and got a few photos of a late AMERICAN PIPIT, walking along the wrack line by itself. The pipit sported a yellowish wash on its breast and flanks, much brighter than the usual pipits. This species nests in the nearby subalpine zone, such as at Lost Lake. Then the sky let loose for real, drowning any hope for further photography.

All in all, a very dramatic wonder wander.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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