Very Early Plover and Other Totem Park Birds

Heavy clouds and rain. Temperatures near 40F.

I was on a zoom call this morning when Connor came up and told me about a Pacific Golden-Plover at Totem Park.

This was certainly unexpected, and provided sufficient reason for me to switch over to my phone and take the call with me.

Joe had messaged Connor and was still there at the end of the park where he had found the plover. The tide was coming off of high, and not much of the beach was exposed. He directed my attention to the plover sitting there at the edge of the seaweed.

I took a few pictures before stepping back into the forest to get out of the rain and chilly wind.

While walking around, I happened to catch sight of a Northern Goshawk as it landed on a branch of the trail. It didn’t stay there long, but I was able to take a few steps for a clearer view and get a picture of it perched. Then it took off.

After my call, I went back to check on the plover again. I didn’t see it, and messaged Connor. He said it had been scared and flushed by a raven (though later after I told him about the goshawk, he wondered if it had something to do with it) and flown over towards Cannon Island.

The tide had fallen enough to expose some of the beach. While I was standing there, a moderately sized flock of shorebirds flew in. When I took a few steps down to take some pictures, I noticed the plover take a couple of steps. I think it had been at least partially obscured behind a pile of seaweed. It clearly seemed uncomfortable, so I stepped back away to take photos of the other shorebirds.

As best I can tell, this is the earliest record for Pacific Golden-Plover in Alaska. The prior earlier record was on that showed up in Gustavus in early March. It’s also only the second winter record for Alaska. The only other winter report is from Sitka. One showed up along the runway in late December 2020.

I considered heading out for the 5pm low tide. Persistent rain and the anticipation of a cold wind kept me home.

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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