By Joseph Robertia
Photos courtesy of Carol Griswold. A Siberian Accentor — a small bird with a brown-streaked back and yellowish eyebrows and underparts — showed up in Seward late last month.
While lightning rarely strikes the same spot twice, an equally unusual occurrence has been happening on the Kenai Peninsula this winter as not just one, but two more rare bird sightings have taken place in a winter already marked by a number of odd avian identifications.
A Siberian Accentor — a small bird with a brown-streaked back and yellowish eyebrows and underparts — showed up in Seward late last month, while several small groups of bramblings — long-winged, long-tailed birds with orange to their breasts and shoulders — have been seen in not just Seward, but several other locations, since their November arrival.
“The Siberian Accentor is really exciting. The last observation of one was in Hope back about 20 years ago, so this is a big deal,” said Ken Tarbox, of the Keen Eye Birders, a retired Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist, and one of the organizers of the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail Guide.
Seward birders Kit and Janet Durnil first spotted the Siberian Accentor on Jan. 22. They knew they had never seen a bird with a mask like the accentor, but they weren’t entirely sure what they were seeing. They called Carol Griswold, an avid Seward birder who leads bird-watching trips to see unusual species, such as this.
Griswold said that the bird has been a little tricky to spot. It’s been moving a bit and also traveling with other birds, including varied thrush and fox, golden-crowned, white-crowned and song sparrows.