Monday, June 8, 2015 Red-winged Blackbird, Dipper, unusual Robin nest site

Seward, Alaska 

Sunrise 4:37 am, sunset 11:17 pm, for a total day length of 18 hours and 40 minutes. Tomorrow will be 2 minutes and 10 seconds longer.

After a brief respite on Sunday, the squalls and dark wall o’ water returned with temps in the high 40s and a strong south wind. More rain in the forecast for the next few days.

The RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was still at the mile 1 Nash Road wetland, calling and singing loudly to proclaim ownership of the entire area. A swarm of swallows, mostly VIOLET-GREEN and TREE SWALLOWS worked the air just above the marsh grasses. The rain must have stirred up a lot of insects, or it might have been a recent hatch. The Red-winged Blackbird flew down into the grasses several times, also interested in the action.

The TRUMPETER SWAN family was mostly hidden in the wetland vegetation.

Fleeing the storm, I headed north to the Bear Lake weir on Bear Lake Road. A BROWN CREEPER worked its way up a spruce tree near the stream. Almost immediately, a fluffy, gray, young DIPPER with a yellow bill appeared on the mossy stream bank.

This was a very competent youngster, who has not only learned how to dip, but also how to find food. It flew to several locations in the stream, hunting with its head completely underwater, the current rushing over it, finding and plucking macroinvertebrates from under the respective sticks and logs. I never saw it dive in or walk around underwater, but with the strong current, that was probably very wise. I also heard GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, and WILSON’S WARBLERS.

All around the little Dipper, silvery adult RED SALMON gathered in small groups, heading home to Bear Lake. It was amazing to watch them hurl themselves airborne against and through the whitewater surging over the weir structure. Technicians were working at the weir, collecting female salmon for inoculation and tagging before being released into the creek upstream, free to swim into Bear Lake to spawn. With dippers and salmon, there is always something interesting to see here all summer. As always, be alert for Brown Bears, attracted to the phenomenal salmon.

I stopped by a friend’s house to photograph an enterprising ROBIN who had built a neat little nest on top of a massive grass structure, on top of a large chain saw, of all things. Her tail rested against the fierce, toothy chainsaw bar. Quite the décor!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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