Sunday, March 5, 2017 Bald Eagle fishing

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 7:42 am, sunrise 6:36 pm for a total day light of 10 hours and 53 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 28 seconds longer.

Sun and strong, gusty NNW winds continue with temps ranging from 5 to upper 20s.  Clear skies in the forecast for the next week.

In an attempt to get outside but out of the wind, I headed down Lowell Point Road to the state park beach. As I passed the three avalanche snouts, streams of fine snow, like sugar, poured over the truncated faces forming cones beneath. Like the sand in an hourglass the cones grew perceptibly. Eventually Seward Public Works will have to bring the loader to remove them. Meanwhile it was fascinating to watch as I ran the gauntlet.

There is no funding for plowing at the state park so both parking lots remained buried in snow. I parked along the road and walked to the beautiful, sunny, sandy beach at low tide. It was still windy but somewhat sheltered from the full blast. We are so lucky to have this public beach!

Four handsome RED-BREASTED MERGANSER drakes sporting wild and rakish crests, and two hens swam and snorkeled close to shore. Suddenly, paddling was too slow; they raced over the water, orange feet splashing madly, then crashed underwater. After a few moments, up they popped like corks with small fish in their long orange bills. I suspect the fish were herring but it happened too fast to tell.

An adult BALD EAGLE chittered from a spruce tree as I walked underneath. Then he launched and flew towards a distant point. Down he swooped over the water and grabbed something. Unable to lift it, the Eagle sank while splashing awkwardly, wings flailing but still holding on. He tried to fly, but only managed to stroke a few yards then just floated in a big heap as the waves pushed him to shore.

I was worried but almost immediately he regained his strength and flap-swam to the shallows where he could hop-walk to shore. Feathers askew and dripping, he hauled his lunch to a more suitable rock and proceeded to enjoy lunch. I would like to say he caught a huge winter King salmon for all that drama, but my best guess is a large fish head, source unknown. When you’re hungry, can’t be picky!

On the way back to town, the avalanche chutes were still actively adding sifted sugar snow to their growing piles. It will be interesting to see how big they grow by tomorrow.

In other news, on Wednesday Tasha reported a white morph GYRFALCON at about mile 1.5 on the Lost Lake winter trail. Wow! Then on Friday, she heard a WESTERN SCREECH OWL calling near Resurrection River at the start of Exit Glacier Road around 7:30 pm in between the gusts of wind. This species, once considered rare, has been heard and seen so regularly over the years, I think they must be here year round.

Yesterday the SAW-WHET OWL visited my neighbor’s feeder around noon. The Steller’s Jays and a Raven harassed it but it hissed and tried to scare them off. By the time I arrived, it had disappeared.

Around 3 pm, a small raptor, possibly a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, whizzed low across my driveway packing a heavy lunch in its talons. Again, by the time I got my boots on and got outside, it was gone. Birds and birders gotta be either quick or lucky or both!

It’s a hungry time, especially for birds of prey, but they appreciate the menu of passerines and small rodents at our feeder diners. Bon appetit!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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