Thursday, April 13, 2017 Snipe, Butterflies, and Bumblebee

Seward, Alaska

Sunny weather continues with temps ranging from the low 30s to mid-50s. There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, but it’s disappearing fast.

Two FOY (First of Year) WILSON’S SNIPE showed up yesterday. As the temperature rose above 50º a FOY Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterfly fluttered along in the breeze. It landed often to bask in the sunshine, displaying its owl-like face. This beautiful butterfly overwinters as an adult and thus is the first one out in the spring. Nearby, sharp green spears of beach ryegrass emerged from the last year’s clumps of dead and tattered leaves. A time lapse of their growth would be fun to watch.

I enjoyed a nice kick sled trip on Exit Glacier Road today. VARIED THRUSHES sang all along the road, proclaiming territories in a still snowy landscape. I passed many wolf spiders and caterpillars crossing the icy road. The road crew was busy plowing, trying to get the road ready to open soon. Winter and I are on borrowed time!

Back home, while taking photos of my bright and cheerful crocuses, I heard a loud droning. I didn’t have long to wait! The FOY bumblebee headed straight for the open flowers and soon doused herself with delicious pollen.

Crocuses are one of the first pollen sources available to bumblebees in the early spring. The flowers poke through snow to bloom, and only open in the sunshine to protect their precious pollen. When the shade returned, they closed up shop. The bumblebee made good use of the short window of opportunity.

Willows, which are insect pollinated, are also starting to bloom and will provide much appreciated pollen for insects which will in turn attract warblers and other birds. We are all waiting for the table to be set and the guests to arrive!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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