Tuesday, October 30, 2018 Short-eared Owl!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:16 am, sunset 6:08 pm for a total day length of 8 hours and 51 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 13 seconds shorter.

27 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS zipped over the Lagoon yesterday, chattering. First flock of the fall that I’ve seen.

After the season’s first snowfall yesterday, today dawned with something else new: a peek at the sun! The sun, however, brought the north wind with gusts to 23 mph which quickly blew away the meager snow in town, leaving the icy patches. The forecast is for chilly temperatures for the next few days with lows in the low 20s overnight to mid-30s daytime. Then, with a slight rise in temps, back to rain or snow showers for the next week.  

I was surprised to find a female LONG-TAILED DUCK this morning, diving near a dozen COMMON MERGANSERS in the lee of the wind by the harbor Uplands. This has become an unusual fall and winter species.

A murder of NORTHWESTERN CROWS mobbed a snack car along the Waterfront that drove off and left me with the expectant crowd. A few brave ones rode along on my hood and rearview mirror, but I have learned not to feed them or face mobbing forever. They don’t forget a food source! Instead, I enjoyed watching them crack through the ice-covered puddles and finding no liquid water, gobbled down the ice chips.

At 12:30, my neighbor sent me a photo of an Owl perched high on top of a power pole a block south of my house. I dashed out, but it had vanished. Slowly, I drove up the alley, looking in vain for that needle in a haystack. Suddenly, the brown owl appeared, flying low away from me! I sped up, following, losing, then refinding it just as it landed in the green grass by the side of the road. Several unsuspecting vehicles passed it, but it did not flush. I crept up and parked alongside the road near the amazing owl.

A SHORT-EARED OWL!! I was expecting a Great-Horned Owl as I’ve never seen this species in my neighborhood before. The beautiful Owl looked right at me with its stunning yellow eyes as I clicked away, but did not seem perturbed. It was alert to the few vehicles driving past, and put up its horns when a couple bicycles rolled by. The addition of two more bicycles and a couple of dogs on leashes exceeded its maximum for tolerance and it wafted away.

This is a species of high conservation concern in North America mostly due to declining grasslands. An ADFG study found Short-eared Owls satellite-tagged in Nome flew to states in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and Texas. One flew almost 4000 miles from Nome to central Mexico. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=445

May it find munchies in urban Seward or more suitable grassland habitats with voles on its long migration south. Bon voyage!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

Sunday, October 28, 2018 The Wet Week’s Wrap-up

Seward, Alaska

Monday, October 22 Sunshine!
A perky PACIFIC WREN called insistently from my back yard while performing an inspection of the house siding, deck planter, and nearby shrubs. I tricked the curious little wren to pop up for a quick photo by pishing briefly. I hope he finds enough spiders and other invertebrates to tide him over, maybe even for the winter.

Gulls gathered at Resurrection Bay Seafoods at the start of Lowell Point Road hoping for fish scraps. The extreme weather and rough seas have been so bad, few fishing boats went out and of those, even fewer were able to fish for Pacific Cod.

I continue to search without success for the adult California Gull that Scott Schuette spotted on Sunday. I think I found his ICELAND (THAYER’S) GULL, and BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, MEW GULLS, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, HERRING GULLS, (and hybrids, no doubt).

Wednesday, October 24 Rain, then a peek at the sun
A cow Moose crossed the road at dawn in the rain; amazingly difficult to see such a big animal in the twilight! Also spotted in the early dawn, six wary GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at the tidelands. This sure seems like a late date for them.

Report of 50+ Geese flying high overhead, heading south. I wonder if they could have been more Greater White-fronted Geese or perhaps Snow Geese that were recently reported in the Kenai area.

Friday, October 26 Cloudy
Single TRUMPETER SWAN at the Lagoon, spotted frequently these past few weeks, always alone. The resident Trumpeter Swan family of eight has been hanging out at the Nash Road wetlands.
An adult BALD EAGLE polished off the best parts of a silver salmon carcass at the Lagoon then waded off to rinse its beak. Instantly, the attending two BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES and two juvenile GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS moved in to feast on the rest.

A cheerful DIPPER chatted conversationally to itself as it scouted for salmon eggs and macroinvertebrates in the small streams feeding into the Lagoon. It was such a pleasure to slowly walk along, watching it flip over alder leaves at the edge, dive into the water, popping up with a pink salmon egg, and survey its world from an alder. What a joyful bird, rain or shine!

A BROWN CREEPER gleaned tiny invertebrates from under the potato chip bark of a spruce tree. I often hear them, but it’s always special to see one.

Saturday, October 27 Rain, rain, rain
Two active River Otters ran around at the Lagoon north shore, checking out silver salmon that are still spawning, and possibly the remnants of the Eagle’s carcass, before plunging back into the safety of the water.

Sunday, October 28 Rain, then cloudy, then back to rain with wind
I was surprised to hear a ROBIN scolding in the alley before flying down to feast on red Mt Ash berries. I haven’t seen or heard a Robin in several weeks. Everyone seems grateful for a few hours without rain.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

Remember the Sun!

Monday, October 22, 2018 Sunshine!
Seward, Alaska

A most welcome break in the heavy rain today! The Diversion Tunnel Waterfall calmed down from brown to white and the sun ignited double rainbows. Mt Alice sported a new, snowy shawl and graced the numerous puddles around town. The R/V Sikuliaq gleamed from her berth in port. Color exploded from the amazing tiles on the Seward Community Library & Museum. Seward smiled!

Unseasonable high of 51ยบ proved the sun still has some heat when it can beat through the thick gray clouds.

More rain in the forecast makes every minute of bright sunshine precious.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter