Wednesday, February 1, 2017 Sunshine and Swans!

Seward, Alaska

What a wonderful early present: the forecast was in error in our favor! Sunshine arrived a day earlier than expected with a bonus of no wind and mild temps above freezing with mid-day spike to 35º. Usually the sun brings its buddies, Wind and Chill, but not today!

As the warm sun hit the snow-burdened branches, audible sighs of relief could be heard as the heavy loads plopped to the ground and they sprang up. The surrounding mountains glistened with their new, shiny white glaze of hardened snow, offset by a stunning blue sky.

The forecast is now for sunshine until Monday. Bring out the lawn chairs!

I snowshoed to my COASST beach at the head of the bay for the monthly dead bird survey. Crusty snow covered the entire stretch of my beach, and no pitiful wings stuck out above it, so I took time to live bird instead.

Glassing out to the tideline, past the zillion tide-strewn snow sculptures were seven, real, live TRUMPETER SWANS! Where have they been? I haven’t seen them since mid December. Two white adults paddled peacefully with the three cygnets and their two parents in the calm shallows. I wonder if they are siblings?

As I watched, a flock of about 40 ROCK SANDPIPERS flew in front and landed. So nice to see them too! It was too far to tell if any Dunlins were in the flock, and I did not risk disturbing them to find out.

At my turnaround point, a busy DIPPER walked in the creek with its head underwater, flipping rocks and finding food. A pair of BUFFLEHEADS took flight (sorry!) but a lone hen COMMON MERGANSER soaking up the warm sun only stood up for a minute, then settled back down on her snow bed. Everything was simply brilliant and beautiful in this unexpected light.

Afterwards, I had to check Ava’s Place to see what it looked like in the sun. Here too, every bird shone in bright colors and vivid details. The PINE SISKINS clung to their newly discovered Niger seed sock like Velcro. ’Bout time!

A pumpkin-orange VARIED THRUSH cautiously sat in the Mayday tree as PINE GROSBEAKS circulated from tree to seeds. A ROBIN stood uncertainly among those on the ground, learning about sunflower seeds, scolded if he got too close to the hungry Pine Grosbeaks. A handsome male DOWNY WOODPECKER flew in to check out the suet feeder, taking turns with the Chickadees. Bird sounds filled the air.

Finally, the “Boss” arrived, zipping around the menagerie to oversee his domain, and enjoyed a long drink at feeder #3 before gliding away at jet speed.

What a delightful, exceptionally fine day!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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