Sunday, April 9, 2017 FOS Tundra Swans, Savannah Sparrow

Seward, Alaska

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 6:57 am, sunset 9:02 pm for a total daylight of 14 hours and 5 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 28 seconds longer.

Undecided April cycled through frost, snow, rain, and sunshine this weekend, with repeats of favorite phases. I took my umbrella and sunglasses on the same field trip and needed both. Despite the freezing temps at night, puddles and melt water flowed by mid-afternoon and brave purple crocuses peeked out though the thinning snow next to the house. Gradually warmer temps and sunshine in this week’s forecast, with snow/showers by next weekend. It’s April!

Today at the thawing saltwater estuary at the head of the bay, three FOS (First of Season) TUNDRA SWANS fed peacefully in an open lead. One handsome bird sported the maximum amount of yellow on its upper bill. The other two had just a trace of yellow. Such beautiful birds!

The resident parent TRUMPETER SWANS fed at the other end. I only saw two cygnets today (three yesterday) and hope the third was just out of sight. All seemed idyllic until something triggered the Trumpeters, and a terrific chase was on as the huge birds rip-snorted down the open lead, black webbed feet flailing on the water, wings beating powerfully, trumpeting excitedly.

The Tundras wisely did not linger to discuss the matter, and took off. They circled around and around, obviously wishing to land to feed and rest, but didn’t dare. The Trumpeter parents celebrated their victory with a swan version of high five.

Finally, the three Tundras landed in the ocean to rest. Flying takes a lot of energy! After about 15 minutes, they once again took off and circled and circled before finally risking a splash down in the open lead. For now, the Trumpeters permitted it, and transient peace returned.

Far ahead on the beach a tiny brownish flicker caught my eye. Was it a leaf, tumbling along? Blending in perfectly, the flicker turned into a bird as it jumped up into the dead beach rye grass then back to the wrack line. I finally got a good look: FOS SAVANNAH SPARROW! He was all alone, and very active. So great to welcome him home! Jonah heard and spotted a single LAPLAND LONGSPUR in the winter-bleached tangles of beach rye grass.

Way off at the mouth of Resurrection River, a blizzard of gulls suddenly swirled up like a shaken snow globe. An overfly by a Bald Eagle? It was too far to tell why, but something sure riled them up. I couldn’t count and so will just conservatively estimate a bazillion.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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