Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Caspian Terns!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 4:32 am, sunset 11:24 pm for a total day length of 18 hours and 51 minutes. Tomorrow will be 1 minute and 1 second longer.

Phenomenal summer weather today! Pure blue sky, dazzling sunshine, temperatures reached a high of 72º with a much-appreciated strong breeze of up to 20 mph from the NNW. Tomorrow is forecast to reach 75º, Thursday up to 78º, and Friday down to 69º. Then some merciful rain and back down to 60º for a few days. Whew! And technically it’s not even summer yet.

I hiked out to Tonsina Point, the northern part of the Alaska State Park Caines Head State Recreation Area. While walking along the tideline, I saw two giant birds with blackish undersides on the wings flying then crash-diving into the water.

A prehistoric harsh and guttural cry cinched the ID for me as CASPIAN TERNS. I only had my point-and-shoot but managed to get a far away photo showing the large red bill and forked tail. It’s exciting to add this rare species to the CHSRA bird checklist.

Other birds of note: baby CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES fledglings begging along the trail, a VARIED THRUSH parent seeking food for its nestlings/fledglings, PACIFIC WRENS singing and scolding (as usual), TOWNSEND’S, WILSON’S, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, HERMIT THRUSH, VARIED THRUSH, and GOLDEN-CROWNED and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS singing. The Fox Sparrow is silent and missed.

Yesterday I visited Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. It was mid-morning and at first the birding was very slow. I thought I was too late when I suddenly heard at least two male SWAINSON’S THRUSHES singing back and forth. One sang from the top of a cottonwood, just past the shelter at the junction of the Glacier View Trail and the Outwash Plain Trail.

I heard at least two GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES hidden in the dense foliage a short ways farther down.

At least two NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES sang loudly from the shrubs near a small creek at the start of the Harding Icefield Trail. I finally found the ventriloquist sitting on a bare branch, but most of the time it was buried in the jungle of green leaves. Another GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH sang from this area as well. Very exciting to hear them!

I listened hard for a Robin, but failed to add it to the thrush list of HERMIT, VARIED, SWAINSON’S, and GRAY-CHEEKED.

If you go, be aware the road construction has begun at the beginning of the park and you should expect delays. Early morning and evening might be better times to bird, but anytime is better than not going.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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