Sunday, December 24, 2017 Baby Beluga at the Alaska Sealife Center

Seward, Alaska
Alaska Sealife Center

The adorable, ever-smiling baby beluga, Tyonek, loves to play. Today after his noon bottle feeding, a staff person from the Shedd Aquarium dribbled water drops into his eager mouth. He discovered the floating pool thermometer and pushed it expertly around like a little tug boat. The water, incidentally, was 46º, same as Resurrection Bay. The pool is now filled to the brim to allow him to dive as deeply as possible, holding his breath up to 3 minutes. He showed off how he could turn upside down, exposing his whitish baby belly, and did a little spying with only his head above water. At 3 months, 222 pounds, he’s healthy, active, and on track.
The Alaska Sealife will be closed for Christmas. Don’t forget the upcoming Beluga Chats presentations at 12:15 pm on December 26, 28, 29, and 30th, free with paid admission. The ASLC offers free admission for Alaska residents on Wednesdays from 12 to 5 pm through February 28. Donations and memberships are greatly appreciated to help support this fabulous facility.

Saturday, December 23, 2017 CBC: 66 species plus 2 for CW

Seward, Alaska

66 species plus two for Count Week with a total of 3241 birds just about wraps it up! But for more details, read on:

After a stormy, windy and wet Friday with turbulent seas, a light snow greeted birders on Count Day, Saturday, December 16. The snow exhausted its supply after dispensing about ½” of white stuff and sputtered out with a light rain that ended before sunrise at 10 am. Golden sunshine peeked through the clouds for some, while the Lost Lake Trail team hiked in fog most of the day. The bay was miraculously calm all day for the boat crew resulting in excellent counting conditions. It was a great day to bird!

Temperatures ranged from 32 to 38 degrees with calm to variable winds. One team reported wind to 15 mph. The Lost Lake team measured 32” of snow where all other routes reported that scant half-inch.

A small but dedicated group turned out for the Count: 18 observers counted in the field by, car, hand cycle, fat bike, foot, and boat. Five observers counted their feeders, and two field observers rushed home to count their feeders.

The boat crew had a fabulous day on the bay with a record number of species and number of individuals of the same species. They racked up 20 species in the first hour alone and 35 species total.

Of note were a record 137 MARBLED MURRELETS, 7 GREAT BLUE HERONS, a notoriously secretive species; three loon species including 13 COMMON LOONS, 4 PACIFIC LOONS, and 2 YELLOW-BILLED LOONS; five gull species including 2 GLAUCOUS GULLS, 1 THAYER’S GULL, 59 MEW GULLS (a low number), 13 HERRING GULLS, and 31 of the 80 GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS. Two DUNLIN were spotted with 26 ROCK SANDPIPERS, now expected winter visitors.

COMMON MERGANSERS were notably not common with only 34 seen when there should have been at least several hundred. Only 5 COMMON MURRES were found, which is low, but at least some were found considering the terrible wreck last year.
BARROW’S GOLDENEYES at 328 took first place for the most birds, though this number is historically higher.

While motoring back to the dock, a single BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE flew behind a boat. The other birders waited expectantly but a Mew Gull appeared, much to the chagrin of the spotter. Fortunately, the alleged Kittiwake followed and redeemed his sterling reputation.

Over half the teams found a BROWN CREEPER, for a record number of 33. A record number of 150 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were counted. 

The town team, including an intrepid birder who put on four miles on her hand cycle, pulled out the only BOHEMIAN WAXWING, feeding on the few remaining Mt Ash berries at the Alaska Sealife Center, two of the three RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, a single GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, the handsome Rufous FOX SPARROW, six RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, 23 ROBINS, and the third GLAUCOUS GULL.

The Tonsina Point team found the only DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, and the only 2 PACIFIC WRENS, a record number. The Lost Lake Team found the only SPRUCE GROUSE. Ava’s Place reported the only MERLIN, which has been plaguing her feeders for some time, two AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, a single WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, and the third RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET.

A single HOODED MERGANSER and single GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH missed Count Day but showed up for Count Week. No owls were seen or heard. 

Overall, my impression is that of fewer birds for the majority of species. More extensive scrutiny of spreadsheets, which is not my forte, would be required to support this. Every bird counts! 

Many thanks to Captain Mike Brittain and his famous Dora for donating his boat, fuel, and time once again, to all the dedicated participants who set aside their whole day to walk, bike, hike, and drive around the Circle, and to Micheley who graciously welcomed the birders to Resurrection Art Coffee House Gallery for our pre and post meetings.

Blackbird, Rusty 6                 ­­­          
Bufflehead 64                                           
Bunting, Snow 8                                     
Chickadee, Black-capped 78                  ­­­                  ­­­
Chickadee, Chestnut-backed 58                        
Cormorant, Pelagic 49                   
Cormorant, Double-crested  1                        
Creeper, Brown 33                                 ­­­
Crossbill, Red 16                                             
Crossbill, White-winged 155            
Crow, Northwestern 183                                    
Dipper, American 2                         
Duck, Harlequin  69                        
Duck, Long-tailed 3
Duck, sp  83                                   
Dunlin 2                                  
Eagle, Bald total 90
         Eagle, Bald adult 67                                
         Eagle, Bald immature 30                                     
Gadwall 7                      
Goldeneye, Barrow’s 328                         
Goldeneye, Common 30                                    
Grebe, Horned 71                                             
Grebe, Red-necked 8            ­­­          
Grosbeak, Pine 118                
Grouse, Spruce 1                                     
Gull, Glaucous  3                             
Gull, Glaucous-winged X Herring hybrid  1
         Not counted as a species        
Gull, Glaucous-winged 80                
Gull, Herring 13                                        
Gull, Mew 59                                                   ­­­
Gull, Thayer’s 1                     ­­          
Hawk, Sharp-shinned 3                                     
Heron, Great Blue 7                                 
Jay, Steller’s 18
Dark-eyed Juncos­­­ 62                                         
         Junco, Dark-eyed (Oregon) 7                         
         Junco, Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) 55
Kingfisher, Belted 5                                
Kinglet, Golden-crowned  150                  
Kinglet, Ruby-crowned  3                
Kittiwake, Black-legged        1                 
Loon, Common 13                         ­­­         
Loon, Pacific  4                                        
Loon, Yellow-billed  2                     
Magpie, Black-billed  81                ­­­
Mallard  104                                            
Merganser, Common  34                                   
Merganser, Hooded CW                                   
Merganser, Red-breasted 56                    
Merlin 1                                                   
Murre, Common  5                                 
Murrelet, Marbled  137                            
Nuthatch, Red-breasted 63               
Pigeon, Rock 180                            
Raven, Common  99                                 
Redpoll, Common 199                   ­­­          
Robin, American  23                       ­­­          
Rosy-Finch, Gray-crowned CW                        
Sandpiper, Rock 26                                 
Scoter, Surf 52                                         
Shrike, Northern 3                           
Siskin, Pine 249                               
Sparrow, American Tree  2             
Sparrow, Fox 2                              ­­­          
Sparrow, Golden-crowned 1                    
Sparrow, Song 2                            ­­­          
Sparrow, White-crowned 1             
Swan, Trumpeter 11                                                             
Thrush, Varied 5                              
Waxwing, Bohemian 1                    ­­­           
Woodpecker, Downy 11                                          
Woodpecker, Hairy 3                                       ­­
Wren, Pacific 2                                         


Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter   

Note: this list was updated to reflect two Dunlin and 26 Rock Sandpipers.                                       

Friday, December 15, 2017 Count Week Day Three

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:57 pm, sunset 3:51 pm for a total day length of 5 hours and 53 minutes. Tomorrow will be 1 minute and 1 second shorter.

Last night the sky revealed almost forgotten stars; I even saw the dog star Sirius sparkling to the southeast following the mighty hunter Orion across the black sky. My hopes were high for a little sunshine the next day!

Alas, by morning, the wind had changed back to the south and with it came blasting wind, stinging rain, white-caps on the roiling sea, and an overall dismal grayness that made a short day even shorter. The thermometer reached a low of 26 at 5 am but rose to 41 by midday. The wind ranged from 7 to 24 mph with gusts to 33 mph. And the barometer kept sliding downhill.

An amazing non-bird bright spot was a local kite-surfer with a bright pink sail nailing the waves and wind. That sure put a smile on my face!

Tomorrow, Count Day, the forecast calls for rain with variable winds to 6 mph shifting to southerly in the afternoon and seas subsiding to 2 feet. Should be a “GO” for the boat crew and the Field and Feeder Counters!

I looked hard for a Dipper and Pacific Wren today without success. My wish list was long but by the end of the short day, I only added two new species: a BROWN CREEPER (check!), an adult HERRING GULL (check!), and an OREGON JUNCO (subspecies check!). It was fun to see that Red FOX SPARROW again.

45 species total for Count Week so far.

Wishing everyone a very successful Christmas Bird Count!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter