Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Swans and River Otters

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:25 am, sunset 4:55 pm for a total daylight of 7 hours and 28 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 44 seconds longer. Even though the days are wet and dim and gray, the additional minutes per day are making a noticeable difference. Even more wet and dim and grayness!

The unseasonably warm temperatures, still in the mid 30s to lower 40s, has partially thawed local wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Nothing makes me smile more on a wet, dim, gray day than the sight of six beautiful TRUMPETER SWANS feeding in an open lead between the ice at the Nash Road wetlands.

Yesterday, a COMMON MERGANSER drake paddled around the family, hoping to benefit from anything these long-necked grazers might dislodge. Here, and there, this side and that, just looking. Finally, one of the parents took offense to this intrusion and, beak open, paddled after him when he surfaced for air.

The handsome drake paddled furiously, putting out quite a wake, the Swan not far behind and intent on harm. With a decidedly undignified splash! the Merganser dove, spraying water on the angry Swan. I didn’t see where he surfaced, but I suspect it was a new world record for underwater duration and distance.

I was quite surprised, therefore, upon my return an hour or so later, to see 30 COMMON MERGANSERS lounging around well within striking distance of the swan family members. It all looked so peaceful! Had I not just witnessed the eviction, I would have mistakenly assumed that the Swans were benevolent landlords. Maybe so, but watch out for bouts of crankiness!

Speaking of Swans, I received a report of 8 TRUMPETER SWANS at Grant Lake area, apparently two family groups. I suspect these are not Seward’s resident swans, but it’s good to know there are other swans overwintering in the Moose Pass area.

This afternoon, I checked out a recent landslide on Lowell Point Road that closed the road for several hours this morning. The recent Iniskin earthquake and saturating rain caused yet another section of the steep, unstable mountainside to slide.

While parked by the Lowell Creek waterfall, I noticed three RIVER OTTERS steaming along in their undulating manner. It is not unusual to see the river otter family, but it’s always a treat. They seemed pretty focused, so I leap-frogged ahead. Sure enough, here they came, making good time, showing their long, strong tails whenever they dove.

They popped out along the rocks along the road, investigated the shoreline almost up to the road (!), and then resumed their journey south to an unknown destination. I decided to turn back rather than run the gauntlet down and back, feeling enriched by their presence.

A pair of COMMON MURRES (yea!) and a pair of MARBLED MURRELETS  also paddled by, especially wonderful to see. Smiles for another rainy day!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment