May 9: Birding Seldovia

Observations by Cindy Mom:

The original plan for today included at least an hour of tidepooling at Outside Beach, since this morning’s low tide was (again) one of the lowest of the year, a minus 5.1-footer. I figured that I’d bird my way from town to Outside Beach and then take a low tide break. But the birding was so good I just never stopped! I ended up birding for five hours, and hiked 5.4 miles.

I started on the boardwalk in downtown Seldovia, then went up the Slough and along Shoreline Drive to the Lagoon, then to Outside Beach and the RV Park, and finally back to town on the Otterbahn Trail by way of White Rocks and Sandy Beach. I saw and heard thirty-eight species of birds, which is a new record high for me to see in one day here.

The birding in Seldovia is a lot different than in Homer. I didn’t see one shorebird today, except for a pair of Black Oystercatchers who probably nest across Seldovia Bay at Hoen’s Lagoon. They visit the harbor’s edge at low tide to forage, so it’s easy to see them from almost anywhere along the harbor. 

We don’t have puffins or murres, but we do have a sizeable population of Pigeon Guillemots who nest in the cliffs all along our coast. Because they feed in shallower waters than other alcids, they are close to shore and you can reliably see guillemots from downtown Seldovia, without even having to get in a boat.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Stellars JaY

Other “regulars” in Seldovia include Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Steller’s Jay, Belted Kingfisher, Pacific Wren, Merlin, and Rufous Hummingbird. I saw all of these today, including one very agile Steller’s Jay who was stealing seed from a feeder clearly not meant for jays.

The first and second prizes for Singers of the Day go to Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Fox Sparrow. They seemed to be everywhere: in town, in the woods, along the shore, and in open areas. Their songs filled the air along my entire walk.

Fox Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler

It’s always fun to welcome back the “summer people” and today I saw my First of the Season Yellow-rumped Warbler and Townsend’s Warbler.

I was surprised to see four species of sparrow at Outside Beach: not only the usual Song and Fox Sparrows, but also an American Tree Sparrow and two Golden-crowned Sparrows. The tree sparrow is a new one for my Seldovia list.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Pacific Wren

Three Pacific Wrens were singing on the mile-long walk on the Otterbahn Trail. I love these little guys who sing with such heart, and stay put long enough so you can get a decent photo.

The forest here has some of the biggest Sitka spruce trees anywhere on the Kenai Peninsula. Moss, lichens, ferns, Canada dogwood, trailing raspberry, and blueberries complete the rainforest scene. If you ever need a break from big-city Homer, come on over to this side of the bay!  

Cindy Mom has worked as a guide on St. Paul Island in Alaska’s Pribilofs (Bering Sea), served as a seabird and shorebird biologist for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. An all around naturalist, Cindy is the owner/operator of Seldovia Nature Tours.