The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic CBC Compiler 

Bird counts high this year


Carol Griswold | For The LOG

Seward Christmas Bird Count field counter Jonah Lindquist looks for fowl on Jan. 3.

The Seward Audubon Christmas Bird Count was postponed from Saturday to Sunday, Jan. 3 due to fierce weather. What a difference a day makes. Miraculously, Saturday's raging waters subsided to flat calm; the squalls departed, depleted and defeated. The clouds stubbornly persisted, shedding half-hearted sprinkles throughout the day, just because.

The temps rose from 33 degrees to a pleasant 37 degrees. The recent rains at sea level erased much of the remaining snow, but cloaked the surrounding mountainsides in white once again. Tempestuous rain hammered Seward on Monday and Tuesday, making all the birders very glad indeed for the window of grace on Sunday.

Seventeen field counters, including Capt. Mike Brittain on the Dora and his crack crew of four birders, and three intrepid fatbikers, spent an enjoyable day looking for and counting birds. At home, 10 bird watchers counted their feeders.

The total number of species is 66, with two more for count week.

One of the many highlights of the count was 30 crested auklets spotted by the boat crew. Seward has never had this species on the CBC before. The recent storms delivered this unusual little alcid just in time.

Seward had an all time high of 546 common murres, a species in distress whose numbers of dead birds floating in the water and washed up on the beaches, ranges in the thousands. A live murre was counted at Bear Lake in a little patch of open water. Another live murre, stranded against a fence as high as Mount Everest a block from the beach, was grabbed and splashed; quite a wonderful sight to see it actively preening and paddling away.

Two warblers, a yellow-rumped and an orange-crowned somehow survived some pretty nasty weather to be counted. Neither species has ever been documented on a Seward Christmas Bird Count.

The killdeer and hooded merganser, repeat honored winter visitors, made themselves quite visible. The resident trumpeter swan family, who often disappear for many days, graced the count with their presence. The cygnets were almost as white as their parents.

The only merlin and sharp-shinned hawk cruised by Ava's Place, distressing the songbirds, but the only American tree sparrows (4) and red crossbills (2) popped in.

A willow ptarmigan was spotted along Exit Glacier Road during count week. On the last night of count week, a great horned owl, by Mile 1 Nash Road, softly hooted its way into the record.

Many thanks to all the birders who showed up on Saturday, including folks from out-of-town who braved nasty road conditions, all willing to count in dismal conditions; to the feeder counters who counted their feeders on both Saturday and Sunday; to the field counters who spent the whole day counting on Sunday, to Rez Art for hosting the group meeting, and a big cheer to Captain Mike Brittain who donated his time, expertise, and trusty Dora once again for the CBC.

2015 Seward Christmas Bird Count

30 - Auklet, Crested

28 - Bufflehead

35 - Bunting, Snow

93 - Chickadee, Black-capped

6 - Chickadee, Boreal

132 - Chickadee, Chestnut-backed

53 - Cormorant, Pelagic

11 - Creeper, Brown

2 - Crossbill, Red

156 - Crow, Northwestern

6 - Dipper, American

76 - Duck, Harlequin

7 - Duck, Long-tailed

3 - duck unknown species

67 - Eagle, Bald total

52, Eagle, Bald adult

15, immature

1 - Gadwall

411 - Goldeneye, Barrow’s

43 - Goldeneye, Common

28 - Grebe, Horned

5 - Grebe, Red-necked

71 - Grosbeak, Pine

1 - Guillemot, Pigeon

1 - Gull, Glaucous-winged X Herring hybrid (not a species)

106 - Gull, Glaucous-winged

1 - Gull, Herring

86 - Gull, Mew

1 - Hawk, Sharp-shinned

3 - Heron, Great Blue

61 - Jay, Steller’s

4 - Junco, Dark-eyed (Oregon)

114 - Junco, Dark-eyed (Slate-colored)

3 - junco unknown species (pink)

1 - Killdeer

3 - Kingfisher, Belted

14 - Kinglet, Golden-crowned

5 - Kittiwake, Black-legged

6 - Loon, Common

1 - Loon, Pacific

2 - Loon, Yellow-billed

2 - loon unknown species

72 - Magpie, Black-billed

114 - Mallard

12 - Merganser, Common

1 - Merganser, Hooded

7 - Merganser, Red-breasted

1 - Merlin

546 - Murre, Common

66 - Murrelet, Marbled

70 - Nuthatch, Red-breasted

CW - Great Horned Owl

71 - Pigeon, Rock

94 - Raven, Common

118 - Redpoll, Common

19 - Robin, American

4 - Rosy-Finch, Gray-crowned

9 - Sandpiper, Rock

109 - Scoter, Surf

2 - Scoter, White-winged

133 - Siskin, Pine

4 - Sparrow, American Tree

3 - Sparrow, Fox

7 - Sparrow, Golden-crowned

8 - Sparrow, Song

5 - Sparrow, White-crowned

1 - Starling, European

Carol Griswold | For The LOG

A new record of 546 live murres were counted in the 2015 Christmas Bird Count. Over a 1,000 dead murres line local beaches.

6 - Swan, Trumpeter

1 - Thrush, Varied

1 - Warbler, Yellow Rumped

1 - Warbler, Orange-crowned

11 - Woodpecker, Downy

4 - Woodpecker, Hairy

1 - Wren, Pacific

66 - Total Species

CW - Great Horned Owl

CW - Willow Ptarmigan


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