Tuesday, January 31, 2017 Birding in the Slop

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:13 am, sunset 5:10 pm, for a total day light of 7 hours and 57 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and zero seconds longer, putting us over the 8-hour mark.

What a difference a few degrees makes! With the temperature hanging above 32º, what might have been lovely, useful snow was instead slop in several wet variations including mist, rain, sn’rain, sleet, showers, and supersaturated snow. Tomorrow is forecast to be about the same, but inexplicably, the sun is rumored to return Thursday for a week. As always, we shall see!

There is nothing more uplifting than birding on a glum day. Feeling more like a boat than a car, I drove to Ava’s, spraying water on both sides, receiving the same, and leaving a wake. At least my car looks clean!

As the heavy flakes thumped down on the already overburdened branches, birds materialized in cameo appearances on the little Mayday tree. A cheerful BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE called out loudly, undeterred by the weather. And then I saw it was the one with a deformed bill, still getting along, not complaining.

Several PINE GROSBEAKS perched momentarily on the snowy branches. One in particular looked soggy; I hope she will be OK. Then a bright and handsome ROBIN, a giant in comparison to the others, landed in a shower of shaken snow. At least two Robins have figured out how to eat from Ava’s buffet alongside the Grosbeaks and other regulars.

Next, a small flock of PINE SISKINS zipped in and wasted no time to belly up to the seeds spread along the porch railing. They still have not figured out the special sock hanging like a ripe fruit, filled with Niger seed just for them.

A little, long-tailed sparrow flitted in, an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW! Nice to know he’s still around, looking dapper.

On the far side of the yard, I spotted a tiny bird floating along unlike any other bird: the ANNA’S, of course. He sat in the midst of the snowy branches, unperturbed by the giant snowflakes that could have easily flattened him with a direct hit. If he thought this snowstorm might be a bit of a setback to his plans, he gave no notice. With three heated sugar water feeders in easy reach, all he has to worry about is choosing which one.

Feeling much better, I backed away then mopped up the inside of my car door with a large towel and shook it off. Wallowing back down the road through the snow sludge, I was glad to return to my warm, dry home. Those birds are a lot tougher than I!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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