Sunrise 7:06 am, sunset 8:55 pm for a total daylight of 13 hours and 49 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 28 seconds longer.
Sunny, cold, and windy March slipped away under the cover of clouds, passing the baton to unsettled April. The ever-increasing daylight speaks of Spring in stark contrast to the thick, white blanket of snow.
Temperatures ranging in the upper 30s and lower 40s bring day after day of light rain and snow showers. Slowly, the snow is diminishing, and a few patches of bedraggled ground peek out beneath the spruce boughs. Feeders remain important and well attended by PINE GROSBEAKS, PINE SISKINS, CHICKADEES, and other usual feeder birds.
Not expecting any changes to this scenario, I just about fell over when a flock of 16 geese, mostly CANADA with a few smaller, possibly CACKLING GEESE flew past gaining elevation, heading north. Spring!!! Dozens of NORTHERN PINTAILS, a pair of GADWALL, and two male EURASIAN WIGEON joined the usual MALLARDS, BUFFLEHEAD, and GOLDENEYES in the melting pond at the head of the bay. Spring!!!
A bazillion gulls rested at the mouth of the Resurrection River, crying and carrying-on. Small flocks of HERRING GULLS flew overhead, also shouting about Spring and seemed to be heading north into the clouds.
I looked down and noticed several small invertebrates creeping slowly over the ice and through ice melt water. Bob Armstrong and John Hudson identified them as beetle and moth larvae, including a ferocious-looking predaceous diving beetle larva with intimidating jaws. They are tough to survive in that frigid water. Spring!!!
Next, I tracked an unrecognized sweet little conversation, possibly a song, to the tip of a spruce branch and found an adult NORTHERN SHRIKE perched contentedly. It looked a bit disheveled due to the rain, but sang nonetheless. Spring!!!
Over on Nash Road, a pair of TRUMPETER SWANS was reported on the still-frozen wetlands on April 2, splashing and trumpeting in the surface meltwater. I refound them on April 5, napping on top of the ice adjacent to a growing lead of melt water. I call these the “interlopers.” All winter, they have been tolerated by the resident swan family, and perhaps one or both are older siblings.
The resident Trumpeter Swan family is still intact with three cygnets and two fabulous parents. They left for weeks at a time during the harsh winter, perhaps moving to the open water of Trail River by Moose Pass or to Kenai River by Cooper Landing. Recently, they were spotted feeding in the salt water of Resurrection Bay, somehow finding sustenance.
Soon, I anticipate that the parents will drive away all interlopers and their beloved, and much confused 11-month old cygnets to start nesting at Nash Road for the fourth summer in a row. Last year, the mom (pen) was on her nest by April 5th.
Late at night on my walk around the block, I heard a GREAT HORNED OWL hooting softly in the light rain. Other Great Horned Owls are calling in Forest Acres. Spring!!!
Rain, sleet, snow, rainbows, and sunshine, Spring is here no matter what April throws at us!
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter
Update: GREEN-WINGED TEAL arrived April 7!
PS Please be very respectful of these tired and hungry birds, migrants and winter survivors alike. Take your scope and use your optics to get close. If the birds show signs of alarm, back off. They’ve endured a lot and have essential work to do.