May 7: Morning at the Marsh

Observations by Michelle Michaud:

What a fantastic way to start out the morning – watching birds come and go from the Beluga Lake lower viewing platform.  I arrived to find a tagged moose feeding in the marsh.  Along with the moose were several species of shorebirds (Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe, and Least Sandpipers), along with several waterfowl species (Mallard, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler).  These waterfowl were later joined by Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, and a Trumpeter Swan.  There were seven male Green-winged Teal swimming around in a small pool trying to vie for the attention of a single female teal. 

The morning was quiet in terms of birders – with only one dedicated birder other than myself present.  In these times of the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing, it was nice to see folks taking turns using the the viewing platform two at a time.  

In addition to shorebirds and waterfowl, there were a number of songbirds singing in the trees.  The most vocal songster was the American Robin.  But not to be outdone, a Lincoln’s Sparrow was serenading us with his beautiful song.  A Rusty Blackbird decided to make a brief appearance, but I was the only one around to capture this bird as it chirped from the top of a tree and then proceeded to feed in the marsh.

Rusty Blackbird
American Robin

You never know what you might find at the marsh.  Yesterday another birder and I spotted two coyotes coming out into the open about 50 yards from the viewing platform.  The coyotes got spooked when they spotted us and turned around and disappeared from whence they came.

There were three moose in the marsh as well, and they did not appreciate the presence of the coyotes, so they took off in the opposite direction at a pretty good clip.  This was my first sighting of coyotes in the Homer area and was the highlight for my visit to the marsh.

Don’t be in a rush.  Take some time at each of the places you visit.  You never know who might fly in and stay for a few minutes or a few hours.  In all I was able to identify 30 species of birds and they weren’t all observed at one time, but over a two hour time period. 

Don’t forget to check out the inside of the boat harbor for the Wandering Tattler.  They are back.  I was happy to spot two of them this morning feeding along the banks of the harbor near the new Harbor Masters Office.  This stretch of the harbor is known as Tattler Alley.  And if you don’t see them it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.  They could be loafing on the rocks, completing hidden in plain sight.  They camouflage well. 

Michelle Michaud is an avid birder who enjoys traveling the world in search of birds. In Homer, she participates in citizen science projects, including the Kachemak Bay Birder’s Shorebird Monitoring, Alaska Grebe and Loon Monitoring Project, and COASST.