Tuesday, July 12, 2016 Tern Lake field trip

Seward, Alaska

I couldn’t stand not seeing ARCTIC TERNS any longer, and made a field trip to Tern Lake, 38 miles from Seward, at the junction of Hwy 1 and 9.

The traffic next to the road was noisy and less than idyllic, but it didn’t seem to bother the Terns. I counted at least 18, flying buoyantly around the lake, skimming the surface or diving in with a big splash. What a supreme pleasure to hear their confident cries, and the insistent begging of the youngsters!

Some of the babies are still in the nest, but several adorable fledglings were out and about, learning to hover and dive, begging and being fed when fishing was not catching. It looked like 3-spine sticklebacks were a favorite fast food for the growing young Terns. It won’t be long before they are strong enough to fly to the ocean and thence to the other side of the world. Amazing, beautiful Terns!

Another special treat was a pair of COMMON LOONS, one still sitting on the nest on a little island far from shore. It seems late, but hopefully their chick(s) will soon be ready to swim with the parents. I did not see any Bald Eagles, and that bodes well for the chicks.

A lovely mother LESSER SCAUP watched over her four ducklings in a small pond along the road. The little ones dove like pros and came up with bits of pondweed just like mom. When they got tired, they hopped up on a partially sunken branch to nap with mom in the warm sunshine.

I spotted another proud Lesser Scaup mom with nine ducklings in tow swimming in Tern Lake. A female AMERICAN WIGEON watched me for quite a while, but I never saw any ducklings, ditto a female GREEN-WINGED TEAL. I know how well the little fuzzballs can hide in the sedges, and maybe that’s where they all were.

The MEW GULLS dominated the parking lot area, feasting noisily on scraps tossed by visitors. I counted at least 16 adults. Young Mew Gulls, still sporting wisps of downy feathers, floated quietly near protective vegetation, or napped near the nest sites on the grassy islands.

I tried hard to photograph the spectacular, large blue dragonflies rattling around their territories, but failed. I did manage to get photos of a large dragonfly with an injured wing, resting on a stalk, and a metallic blue damselfly. Fascinating insects!

While I was watching the dragonflies, a muskrat quietly paddled past on a secret mission.

The Terns et al were totally worth long drive; I am so glad I went!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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