Thursday, July 28, 2016 Birding Nash Road

Seward, Alaska

The nine TRUMPETER SWANS at Mile 1 Nash Road were visible today, feeding near the nest site with a batch of MALLARDS and possible AMERICAN WIGEONS. When the cygnets stretched, their large wings were white against their gray bodies. It won’t be long before they are practicing short flights!

It was lucky to spot them as often the whole family gathers for a nap at the ’ol nest site, and only one adult might be visible through the tall grass.

A HARLAN’S HAWK “kee-yuured” several times near the wetlands. I wonder if they nested in Seward as this has occurred throughout the summer.

Next stop, Fourth of July Beach at the end of Nash Road, left on Jellison and right on Delphin, another right to the parking lot on the west end. Eighteen HARLEQUIN DUCKS in eclipse plumage bobbed up and down in the waves, diving in synchrony. It’s always a good idea to check all of them carefully in case one is not a Harlequin. Could be a young male Steller’s Eider is masquerading as a Harlie, as happened in 2014.

For the past 10 days or so, Fourth of July Creek has been a hotspot for MARBLED MURRELETS feasting on small fish. While it was hard to count the tiny divers bouncing up and down in the waves, I estimated at least 50, maybe more. Their high-pitched whistles rang out as the families kept in contact. The juveniles looked like a smudgy version of an adult in winter plumage with lots of white, while the adults were still in their very dark breeding plumage.

Three DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS swam and dove among the Murrelets. I haven’t seen this species for a while, and here they were again.

BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS mobbed bait balls among the Murrelets. Others sat at the shoreline, napping. Several took thorough baths in the cold, silty, glacial water of the river. One would think that living in water would be enough, but that fresh water must feel really good.

An adult BALD EAGLE hunted low over the gray waves, wings beating laboriously, taking tight turns, and then plucked a fish from the water for dinner. Another Eagle watched from a spruce tree near the shore, a white snowball among the dark branches. Two curious RAVENS circled overhead.

I did not find the two juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPERS today, but have seen them bobbing and feeding along the river and nearby shallow streams.

The last stop was Ava’s Place, east on Salmon Creek Road, and first right past the Salmon Creek Bridge to her blue-roofed cedar sided home and bird feeder bonanza. Three HAIRY WOODPECKERS snarfed down on homemade suet, including a young male. These woodpeckers nest nearby.

Several RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES zipped in and out. A crowd of PINE SISKINS feasted at the thistle seed feeder, barely able to share the bounty. Young Siskins still begged for food in the trees. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER flitted through the branches, not needing the feeders, but perhaps glad for the company.

Ava noted that early morning is the best time to view the most birds. She also reported seeing WHITE-WINGED and RED CROSSBILLS recently.

All in all, a pretty interesting afternoon birding on Nash Road!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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