Monday, May 9, 2016 Spring rush!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 5:31 am, sunset 10:18 pm for a total daylight of 16 hours and 46 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 56 seconds longer.

The sun made a rare and radiant appearance on Saturday, but otherwise we’re in a pattern of light rain and temps in the 40s, edging up to the low 50s, with glimpses of that day star. This is forecast to continue for the next several days. Everything is GREEN in more shades than found at any paint store. I could have mowed the lawn in April, but waited until Saturday out of principle.

It’s hard to keep up with all the birds popping up everywhere, a delightful dilemma indeed. Some are here for the season, while others are resting up and refueling as they continue their incredible journeys north.

Tuesday, May 3: increasing numbers of DUNLIN, WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS, and LONG BILLED and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. NORTHERN HARRIERS, 2 females and 1 stunning, silvery male patrolled for voles.

Wednesday, May 4:
FOS HERMIT THRUSH, calling, “chway”, along Lowell Point Road.
FOS RING-NECKED DUCKS, two drakes and one hen at the Nash Road wetlands. 13 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, winnowing WILSON’S SNIPE, several GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 HUDSONIAN GODWIT, 3 GREATER SCAUP, two drakes and a hen, continuing CANVASBACKS,
swooping VIOLET-GREEN and TREE SWALLOWS at the head of the bay. Also found, a very light-colored EURASIAN WIGEON, that may be a hybrid.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear SAW-WHET OWL calling around midnight from Mt Marathon.

Friday, May 5: bay tour
I gained a new appreciation for the humble PELAGIC CORMORANT that I see all winter. In breeding plumage, with a red face, white flank patch, and white feathers sprouting randomly along his neck, the male is quite resplendent. HORNED and TUFTED PUFFINS are just starting to return, but were not seen on the nesting cliffs where swarms of BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES have claimed nesting sites. I was very pleased to find one small raft of COMMON MURRES. Though the numbers are extremely low, every Murre is cause for celebration after this winter’s terrible wreck. Two BONAPARTE'S GULLS plucked tiny bits of food just outside the boat harbor.

Friday, May 5: A MERLIN flew directly overhead, my FOS, but others have reported them as early as April 22. A single TRUMPETER SWAN adult touched down at the salt marsh pond, but did not stay. LESSER YELLOWLEGS numbers are increasing. I spotted about 20 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE feeding with a dozen or so CACKLING GEESE. Some of the geese did not have that dark brown breast; I’m not sure which subspecies they might be.

Saturday, May 6: sunshine!
A new record for me, seven HUDSONIAN GODWITS at the salt marsh in varying degrees of breeding plumages. They mostly napped in the sun, expertly balancing on one leg, long bill tucked under the wing. A WESTERN SANDPIPER and a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER poked along peacefully through their midst. FOS PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 7, fed in the emerging grasses, almost hidden except when one or another popped up its head to briefly look around.

Monday, May 9:
Only 7 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE spotted today, and no Cackling Geese. The 3 GREATER SCAUP, including one hen, were still here. 7 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS flew overhead, whistling their sweet, pure 3-note “pee-o-wee!” 3 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS flew in the opposite direction, calling “tuu-u-ee!” ARCTIC TERNS zipped around, the males ferrying small fish as courtship continues. An immature BALD EAGLE summed up the weather, hanging out its wings to dry in the welcome interlude between the rains.

Robin reported the AMERICAN DIPPERS are already feeding their babies at the Bear Lake weir. That’s an early start! Also two COMMON LOONS on Bear Lake. Jonah found a FOS BLACK TURNSTONE. Always more to find in the Spring!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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