Saturday, January 16, 2016 Trumpeter Swans return!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:45 am, sunset 4:30 pm for a total daylight of 6 hours and 45 minutes. Tomorrow will be 3 minutes and 58 seconds longer.

Inky-blue clouds settled back into their comfortable couch over town this morning anticipating a long visit. The chilly north wind exerted its presence with temps at 28º. Recently open pond and lakes refroze except for a few small openings. Despite the sparse snow cover, it felt like winter once again.

Walking along the beach after completing the mid-month COASST survey, (no new dead Murres), I heard soft trumpeting, looked up, and wow! The stunning TRUMPETER SWAN family of six flew low, right overhead in a spectacular formation! I watched in amazement and joy as they powerfully stroked straight for the Lagoon. Where have they been? How do they survive the bleak, long winter?

I hustled over to the Lagoon, and sure enough, there they were, feeding purposefully but without haste, on the open north end. Heads up, look around, heads down, reach for deep vegetation. The four cygnets are as big as their parents now. Their bills are almost entirely black with a bit of pink remaining in the middle. Their necks are still dusky gray, but half of their wings and most of their bodies are white. They all looked healthy and competent.

A contingent of opportunistic MALLARDS and COMMON GOLDENEYES scurried over to grab any scraps. The HOODED MERGANSER was not seen today, but was reported here yesterday.

A DIPPER sang its cheerful, bubbling song in the culvert under the road, magnified by the great acoustics. I wonder if it seeks the added value of singing in a culvert, as we do singing in the shower?

Over at the harbor, brave jumpers were getting ready to plunge into the cold water. A male BELTED KINGFISHER did the same, without any pledges or concerns beyond scoring a small fish for lunch.

Hours after the jump ended, at 4 pm, the temperature rose to 39º and it started raining lightly. The forecast is for similar warm temperatures and rain mixed with snow for the next several days. Keep those feeders full during these dark, wet days.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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