On my way to Anchorage to catch a flight to Sedona Arizona in late February, Jack and I made a stop off in Seward to visit with my brother and his lovely wife, to bird, and to visit the Alaska SeaLife Center (free on Wednesdays to Alaska residents in the winter). The day was sunny, but breezy.
No trip to Anchorage or Seward is complete, at least for me, without a stop off at Tern Lake. You can usually find an American Dipper hanging out in the stream near the rest area. And find one we did. This bird was singing its heart out as it searched for food along the frozen lake shore where it empties into the stream. The bird would be on the ice bobbing and then it would dive into the water, splash around, and then jump out and fly back to the ice. Fun to watch and I was able to capture it on video as well.
We arrived in Seward about noon – under beautiful sunny skies. The next day proved to be just as beautiful as the day before. You just can’t beat Alaska sunshine during the winter – it warms the soul.
Seward we visited the Alaska SeaLife Center. One of the main purposes of the visit was to check out the octopus that had recently laid eggs. I was surprised at how small the mother octopus was. After laying her eggs, the female octopus stops eating and dies of starvation after her eggs have hatched. The males die several months after mating.
The center does research on Stellar and Spectacled Eiders. There were a fair number in the open air pens. Jack and I are hoping to see all four of the eiders, in the wild, this spring in Barrow. Beautiful birds.
Our next stop at the center was the area where all the birds held in captivity hang out. Lots of Tufted Puffins and Common Murres, along with a pair of SMEW (might be the only ones I ever see) and a Red-legged Kittiwake (same thing – only one I may ever see, unless I visit the Pribilof Islands). Fun to go downstairs and watch the birds diving for food, bathing, or play. And what a great place to get “up-close” views and photos of these birds.
Of course that isn’t all we saw at the Alaska SeaLife Center. There are lots of marine mammals and marine life for viewing, including a female octopus that had recently laid rice-shaped white eggs.
And one cannot forget about the marine debris artwork. Marine debris is an issue near and dear to my heart. Whenever I am out on the beach I dutifully pickup whatever debris I can find and carry back to my vehicle, provided I have a bag in which to carry the debris. The students who created this work of art are so creative. I would love to have something like this in my yard. Call me crazy.
At my brother’s house I found a Varied Thrush hiding on the ground. The bird was a little shy and flushed whenever I opened the window to try to get a better photograph. They also had Dark-eyed Juncos and a Downy Woodpecker coming to their feeders.
The next morning before we left town for our drive to Anchorage we stopped off at a few birding hotspots: Lowell Point, Ava’s Feeders, Nash Road, and the lagoon along the road into town. I suspect it has a name for locals and other birders. At the lagoon we saw several pairs of Common Goldeneye. The males were doing their display calls and behaviors – throwing their heads back. Fun to watch their efforts to woo the females.
There have been several Purple Finches in town, but we missed them. Maybe next time. Here is a list of the species we (Jack and I) observed while we did a quick visit of Seward:
Belted Kingfisher (always a favorite)
It was definitely “A Great Day to Bird” in Seward.