Wednesday, September 30, 2015 Cackling Goose!

Seward, Alaska

Spectacular golden sunrise 10 minutes after its scheduled appearance of 8:00 am, (mountains to summit), sunset 7:33 pm for a total day length of 11 hours and 32 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 25 seconds shorter.

Last night’s hard rain and freezing temperatures resulted in a stunning new white coat for the mountains north of Seward, and a lacy, white shawl for Mt Alice and Marathon, but nothing farther south. We must have been just at the edge of the big cold front and storm that hit Anchorage.

Though the high was 43º, it was chilly in the brisk NNE wind by the white-capped bay, where many were watching humpback whales.

As one whale surfaced right off shore, I spotted a dark goose with a chin strap shoot past, flying north into the teeth of the wind. Looking at my photos, I noticed it had the short neck, stubby bill, and rounded head of a CACKLING GOOSE, but I am unsure of which subspecies. Seward did not have any Canada/Cackling Geese migrate through this fall, as far as I know, so this single one so late was quite a surprise.

It was a great day for a hike to Tonsina Point, mostly out of the wind. 15 BARROW’S GOLDENEYES paddled in Tonsina Creek with two pairs of HARLEQUIN DUCKS. A few pink salmon spawned in the clear water, surrounded by many carcasses of both pink and chum salmon whose mission was accomplished. Other birds heard or seen along the trail and beach included BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, STELLER'S JAYS, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, DARK-EYED JUNCO, HORNED GREBE, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, and a BALD EAGLE.

The resident TRUMPETER SWAN family of 8 was back at the Lagoon this afternoon. The cygnets are thriving under the attentive care of the watchful adults. Their pink bills are gradually changing to black from the base and tip inwards, but their overall outer plumage remains light gray.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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