Monday, November 30, 2015 Beach Survey: Murre Wreck

Every month, I survey the beach south of the Seward Airport as part of the COASST citizen science program (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survery Team). Although COMMON MURRE carcasses litter the Seward boat harbor and various other places around town under favorite BALD EAGLE perches, I had not found any carcasses on my surveys. Until today.

Over the past five days, Seward experienced a huge storm with south winds and surf combined with extreme high tides between 12.5 and 13.4 feet. The beach was strewn with debris including mats of seaweed, broken branches, and large driftwood logs. Tangled in the wrack, I found many storm-washed COMMON MURRES, but only one intact. All the rest had been partially eaten.

More carcasses were deposited on the beach rye grass berm. Freshly killed carcasses lay amidst a snowstorm of white feathers near the driftwood perches of the Bald Eagles. Due to the high, high tide, I found another 5 carcasses tossed into the grass up to 2 blocks from the beach. I’m sure I missed many in that zone.

The tide did a major cleanup, depositing at least 36 carcasses along the beach. It was a very sad duty to report all these Murres, but hopefully the survey will add important data to help scientists understand this phenomenon that extends from northern Oregon and Washington to the Gulf of Alaska.

On a brighter note, the resident TRUMPETER SWAN family with all four cygnets was again feeding at the recently thawed pond. Yesterday, I found 3 adults in a nearby pond that were not part of this family. It is possible that the very protective resident swans drove them off.

The Swan Diverter Fund is up to almost $800.00, thanks to recent generous contributions. If you would like to help save the swans from senseless power line deaths, please see the November 15, 2015 blog entry for contact information.

Totally unrelated, if you haven't heard about the talking MAGPIE living at the Alaska Zoo, check out this amusing website <> Hi George!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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