Here is an early update of seabirds showing up in the Resurrection Bay - Chiswell Islands area:
Pelagic Cormorants: Here in abundance and many looking quite spiffy with their shiny greenish-black plumage and bright white rump patches.
Red-faced Cormorants: Several seen near nesting locations at Rugged and Natoa Islands.
Black-legged Kittiwakes: Here in abundance. An estimated 8,000 were seen at their nesting cliffs around Cape Resurrection late last week and thousands more in the Chiswells on April 2nd. While they are common at the nest sites now, it’ll be at least another month before they starting building new nests.
Pigeon Guillemots: Many, perhaps 100 or more, now hanging out nearshore at various locations around Resurrection Bay.
Common Murres: Hundreds to thousands between Cape Resurrection and the Chiswells. Very few still in winter plumage.
Marbled Murrelets: These little ones are year-round residents in Resurrection Bay but not in great numbers over the past month.
Ancient Murrelets: A few seen 1 to 2 miles from Chiswell Island on April 2nd.
Not here yet but expected in another 2 to 6 weeks: Horned and Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros and Parakeet Auklets, Thick-billed Murres, and more.
1.Greater White-fronted Goose
96.Great Blue Heron
104.Great Horned Owl
107.Northern Saw-whet Owl
110.American Three-toed Woodpecker
We have made several trips to the Chiswell Islands, Kenai Fjords, and Prince William Sound so far this summer and all of our regular species are in their expected locations. However, nesting activity appears to be weak again this year. A major storm in mid-June destroyed many of the Black-legged Kittiwake nests, forcing them to rebuild and attempt a second clutch. Still, we are seeing very little incubating or brooding activity among them and among the Common and Thick-billed Murres that inhabit the area. Red-faced and other cormorant nests are rare and little occupied. Little is known about how the more cryptically-nesting seabirds such as the puffins and auklets are doing but many are being seen out on the water near their nesting locations. It is always a joy to see so many beautiful birds in this biologically rich location. Yet, I sometimes wonder how long it will last.
Most of our seasonal alcids (puffins, murres, murrelets, auklets) have arrived in Kenai Fjords for the 2018 breeding season. Here are a few images from late May.
I stumbled across this "rare and enigmatic bird" early morning 5/7/18 out on the Seward airport mudflats. A fantastic find as it has never before been reported for the Seward area. This bird winters on tropical islands in the south Pacific and nests in western Alaska. Fewer than 10,000 are thought to currently exist. See additional details at http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bristle-thighed-curlew
Black-legged Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns, and Greater Yellowlegs (pictured) are among a few of our spring arrivals now in Seward. Won't be long before summer is in full swing!
Did a little birding on my winter vacation. Here are a few that I saw on the southern Baja Peninsula. Pictured here are Ash-throated Flycatcher, Cactus Wren, Groove-billed Ani, Grey Thrasher, Cassin's Kingbird, Gila Woodpecker with a Phainopepla, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-faced Ibises.
A total of 14 Trumpeter Swans are hanging out at the Seward, AK airport lagoon this winter. These birds are nearly year-round residents, especially when winters are mild. There has been at least one nesting pair in the Seward area in most recent years.
A brief trip around the head of Resurrection Bay aboard the M/V Dora netted 35 species and 1080 individual birds for the marine portion of the 2017 Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, Seward, Alaska:
Trumpeter Swan 2, Mallard 1, Harlequin Duck 69, Long-tailed Duck 3, Surf Scoter 52, Bufflehead 47, Common Goldeneye 7, Barrow's Goldeneye 310, Common Merganser 26, Red-breasted Merganser 56, Pacific Loon 4, Common Loon 13, Yellow-billed Loon 2, Horned Grebe 71, Red-necked Grebe 8, Pelagic Cormorant 49, Great Blue Heron 7, Bald Eagle 28, Rock Sandpiper 19, Dunlin 1, Black-legged Kittiwake 1, Mew Gull 51, Herring Gull 13, Thayer's Gull 1, Glaucous Gull 2, Glaucous-winged Gull 31, Common Murre 5, Marbled Murrelet 137, Rock Pigeon 29, Belted Kingfisher 2, Northern Shrike 1, Black-billed Magpie 10, American Crow 18, Common Raven 3, Song Sparrow 1