Friday, September 18, 2015 SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER in SEWARD!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 7:32 am, sunset 8:09 pm for a total day length of 12 hours and 37 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 24 seconds shorter.

Mostly sunny today with occasional light rain squalls; high of 50, low of 35ºF. More sun is in the forecast for the next several days.

A day of good omens started with the welcome sunshine and blue sky. A single TRUMPETER SWAN, surrounded by a smattering of ducks including PINTAILS and AMERICAN WIGEONS, ruled the pond at the head of the bay. This is a new arrival as the resident swan family of 8 was feeding at the Lagoon in town. Nine tiny BONAPARTE’S GULLS floated daintily a short distance away.

For the next hour or so, I admired the new termination dust decorating the mountain tops, cloud formations, watched the squalls march up the bay, and enjoyed a rainbow to the north. The only birds were the BONAPARTE’S, MEW, and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, occupied with the spawning pink salmon. A lone HERRING GULL, heavy-bodied by comparison, with a cold, calculating look, flew by.

While crossing through the fading Lygnbey’s sedge meadow, I flushed a medium-sized bird whose call I did not recognize; not high, or deep. It landed nearby at the edge of a small creek and I was able to sneak up on it.    I got several photos before it flushed again, flying low, vocalizing.

The size, bright red crown and buffy, unstreaked breast locked it in as a juvenile SHARP-TAILED SHOREBIRD, a Life Bird! This is a species I have been looking for quite some time. This might be the first documentation of this species in Seward and possibly the eastern Kenai Peninsula. It's a rare bird, but, ‘bout time!

Once again, it landed nearby and again, I was able to sneak up and get more photos. This time, it pecked in a small puddle, waded around, preened, checked the sky by cocking its head sideways, and generally looked pretty relaxed, even as I clicked away. I slowly backed off and made a wide detour around it, leaving it to enjoy its brief stopover in Seward.  The Life Bird Dance would have to wait until I was well away.

Watch me dance, now!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

According to–influenze/species/species.php?code=SHASthe Sharp-tailed Sandpiper nests in NE Siberia, and migrates to SE Australia. Curiously, and uniquely, the adults fly from the breeding grounds overland through Mongolia, China, and Manchuria to coastal Asia, while the juveniles fly east across the Bering Strait to western Alaska, and then fly nonstop directly to Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and nearby islands).

This amazing shorebird has a very long trip ahead! Bon Voyage!

1 comment:

  1. congratulations on that Sandpiper! What a great catch and great pictures. Love your blog. (Tami R. in Homer)