I needn’t have worried about missing the bird migration in Seward while I was traveling. A huge low moved into the Gulf of Alaska delivering fog, rain, sleet, and finally an inch or so of snow. Migrating birds, which had blithely flown over Seward in the previously sunny weather, were grounded. Fall out!
Eager to see who had arrived during my absence and who was stranded, I hustled out to the head of the bay. Yay! ARCTIC TERNS were back, the males parading around with tiny fish to impress sweet and patient little lady terns. They got a lot of mileage out of one offering! It was so exciting to see them back after the disastrous egging and wipeout of the entire colony last May.
HUDSONIAN GODWITS probed steadily in shallow water in the rain. A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER male poked through the intertidal zone while a single AMERICAN PLOVER male, an uncommon species here, walked among the emerging sedges. 15 WHIMRELS with their distinctive, long curving bills, soared past in a loose formation, an intriguing sight in the snowstorm. A huge flock of CACKLING GEESE and 3 SNOW GEESE flew down to graze during the storm, joining GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. Clouds of tiny peeps whirled overhead much like the snowflakes.
Add in the ducks, including residents and migrants: MALLARDS, AMERICAN WIGEON, GADWALL, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, COMMON MERGANSERS, and BUFFLEHEAD.
I know I missed many species and numbers with the limited visibility and miserable viewing conditions but what a fabulous welcome home!
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter