Saturday, October 24, 2015 Around town

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9 am, sunset 6:22 pm for a total day length of 9 hours and 22 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 19 seconds shorter.

Rain and more rain, in spurts and squalls and downpours. High of 45ยบ, calm. More clouds and rain in the forecast until Thursday.

In between the rains, I got out for a little birding this afternoon, stopping first along Waterfront Park. Highlights included about 10 FORK-TAILED STORM PETRELS sweeping over the flat bay, several COMMON MERGANSERS, PELAGIC CORMORANTS, and HARLEQUINS feeding close to shore.

NW CROWS flew their vertical loops as they pried mollusks such as blue mussels and chitons from the intertidal rocks, flew up to drop them, and hurtled down to eat them before another crow snatched the morsel.

I found a neat little Crow pellet deposited on the railing of the Scheffler Creek Bridge. It resembled a small spruce cone at a glance, but a closer look revealed bits of those blue mussel and chiton shells mixed with seaweed and other inedibles.

Two dark SONG SPARROWS called out from the streamside where they explored the rocks.

An interesting trio of large gulls staked out their spot near the beach. The first gull, a HERRING GULL, had black primaries with white spots on the tips. The third gull, a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL had a uniform pale gray mantle and primaries. And standing in between with its intermediate characteristics, was a HERRING GULL X GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL hybrid with dark gray primaries with white spots on the tips. The light wasn’t great, but the Glaucous-winged Gull eyes looked darker, not bright yellow like the other two.

Over at the Lagoon, a dozen MALLARDS squabbled and squawked in the salmon stream outlet, feasting on eggs. If this species were less common, I think we’d appreciate it more. The drake is indeed, a very handsome duck!

A few aging salmon dashed past, but I could not determine if they were Reds or Silvers. This late in the season, Silvers are more likely. I hope to get a better view on a drier day.

Back home, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, and a BROWN CREEPER swept through the front yard, calling excitedly, perhaps also glad for the reprieve from those heavy raindrops.

The beauty of birding is that the birds don’t have to be rare or extraordinary to be interesting and appreciated. They simply are.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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