Sunrise 8:20 am, sunset 6:03 pm for a total daylight of 9 hours and 43 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 27 minutes longer.
A huge storm moved in from the Pacific Ocean yesterday afternoon. Overnight snow showers deposited a few inches of heavy slush by morning. As the temperature warmed from 34º to 39º, continuous squalls from the boiling Gulf of Alaska delivered hard rain all day, punctuated by a south wind.
Avalanches of heavy, wet, snow cascaded down the surrounding mountains. The supersaturated soil along the steep mountainside of Lowell Point Road gave way at a new location around 2 pm, blocking the road with debris.
The forecast shows rain, and lots of it, until March and beyond as two powerful lows sweep across the north Pacific.
On Saturday, between 25-35 people participated in the annual Anchorage Audubon Seward field trip, squeezing into the best possible weather window. Resurrection Bay was flat calm and the light rain and wind held off until midafternoon. We met at 10 am at the parking lot by friendly Kenai Fjords Tours gift shop (free coffee and rest rooms!) and carpooled to various birding hot spots, including Ava’s Place until 1 pm.
Although the tide was too high to find the Killdeer, there were many highlights. A customarily elusive GREAT BLUE HERON sat still as a statue on the new breakwater foundation at Spring Creek Beach on the east side of the bay at Mile 5 Nash Road. An active tug nearby, the excavator dredging the new harbor channel, and all us birders did not faze this bird. Everyone got great looks. It was still sitting there when we left.
Trip Leader Aaron Bowman pulled out a small flock of active GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, gleaning invertebrates from the lower branches of a spruce near the road at Benny Benson Park. Usually, these tiny ventriloquists are invisible somewhere high in the upper branches and very difficult to spot.
Aaron also found a YELLOW-BILLED LOON in his scope, about halfway to Caines Head. Even if it was a speck bird, it’s always great to know at least one is around.
At 1 pm, we enjoyed an extremely interesting presentation on a long-term project to reintroduce Steller’s Eiders to the Yukon Flats by Tasha DiMarzio at the Alaska Sealife Center. It was fun to see the many seabirds up close in the avian habitat afterwards. No speck birds there! Many thanks to Tasha!
Afterwards, the dwindling group birded around town. Thanks to Frank who waited patiently to identify a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW hopping furtively through a brush pile on Second near Jefferson.
By 3 pm, it was apparent the big storm was approaching, and it was time to dash back to Anchorage before it hit. Thank you, Aaron, for organizing and leading this trip once again, thanks to everyone who took the time and effort to bird Seward, and to the businesses who made us feel welcome!
Group List, not everybody saw everything. Please email me if you saw anything not on this list:
GREAT BLUE HERON
Safe Travels and Happy Birding!