Saturday, September 28, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, Wind SW 5-15 mph

Our final day.

We added Yellow-billed Loon to the Trip List.

At least three Short-tailed Shearwaters were still hanging out in Kuluk Bay near the Palisades Overlook.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Kuluk Bay, September 28, 2019

I did not walk out on Clam Lagoon and we did not see the Marsh Sandpiper from shore.

It was a good trip, but not great.

We added one new bird to our Adak list – Greater Yellowlegs.

We had five Asian strays – Red-necked Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Brambling, and Gray-tailed Tattler.

The Short-tailed Shearwaters hanging out in Kuluk Bay for most of the trip was fun.

Although the Marsh Sandpiper was not new for us, it was only our second and I got great photos.

The Marine invasion that we were so concerned about never happened.

Our trip home was uneventful.

Final Trip List was 56 (Average = 54). Final Year List was 85 (average = 82.5 – love that half-bird!)

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

We will be back.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, winds SW 10-20 mph

The Gray-tailed Tattler was still down at Sweeper Channel this morning, along with two Ruddy Turnstones. We also had 19 turnstones at the Landing Lights.

A new trip bird was Thick-billed Murre up at the Seawall. We also had five Emperor Geese there.

The Marsh Sandpiper is still here as well as a bunch of Pectoral and Sharp-tailed sandpipers. Here is our parting shot of the Marsh.

Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 27, 2019

We also had a flock of TEN Rock Ptarmigans. The most we have seen in over a year!

But the theme of the day was aerial gymnastics!

At the Water Tower Bluff at the north end of town, eagles, ravens and Peregrines were cavorting in the strong updrafts caused by the southwest winds striking the cliff face.

Two Peregrine Falcons and a Bald Eagle, Adak, September 27, 2019
Two Common Ravens, one bald Eagle, and two Peregrine Falcons, Adak, September 27, 2019
Two Bald Eagles and a Common Raven, Adak, September 27, 2019
Two Bald Eagles and a Common Raven, Adak, September 27, 2019

Then, up at Lake Shirley, a Peregrine Falcon and a Common Raven were going at it!

Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019
Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019
Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019
Peregrine Falcon, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019. VICTORY!

Later, we found this bird on the airport runway.

Peregrine Falcon, Airport (the closed runway!), September 27, 2019

And finally, our mandatory Bald Eagle photo…

Bald Eagles, Sweeper Channel, September 27, 2019

Trip List is 55. Year List is 84.

We leave around 5 PM Adak time tomorrow and expect to be home around 5 PM on Sunday.

I will post our last day’s blog Monday morning.

Today’s eBird list is at:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, wind SW 10-20 mph

Even though the winds were from the wrong direction (south) yesterday, the storm apparently put down some new birds for us.

Nothing new at the feeders, but when we went down to Sweeper Channel, we found a Gray-tailed Tattler (our fourth fall sighting).

Gray-tailed Tattler, Sweeper Channel, September 26, 2019
Gray-tailed Tattler, Sweeper Channel, September 26, 2019

At Clam Lagoon, more shorebirds came in since yesterday. I had two Sharp-tailed and at least ten Pectoral Sandpipers, as well as the Marsh Sandpiper.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 26, 2019

The Sanderling flock has grown to 32.

At the Seawall, it was every man (and woman) for himself!

Harlequin Ducks, Seawall, September 26, 2019

After dinner, I went back out and had five Pacific Golden-Plovers along the roadside near Landing Lights. Three of these birds still had remnants of breeding plumage, making them different from the birds we saw a few days ago. I didn’t get photos of those three — it was too dark!.

Pacific Golden-Plovers, near Landing Lights, September 26, 2019

At the Marsh, I flushed a snipe again and, as usual, was unable to identify it or get photos.

The Trip List is 54, Year List is 84

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Temp in the 40s, A ray of sunshine early, then rain all day, Wind SSW 15-30 mph

Now that’s Adak weather!

Hardly any birds today, the constant rain and howling winds saw to that.

A brief rainbow when we first ventured out this morning.

Rainbow on Adak, September 25, 2019

Then the rains came!

Even the birds off the Seawall who are used to stormy seas were few and far between.

The plane arrived in spite of the weather and Bob and Steve departed this evening. Although they did not see a lot of Asian rarities, they will be among the elite few who have seen Marsh Sandpiper in North America!

We will be on our own the next few days.

Our eBird list (all 23 species!) is at:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Temp in the 40s, sunny, Wind WSW 10-15 mph

As usual, the first thing we do is check the Seal Drive feeder. There was nothing new, but the seed was low, so we pulled in and reseeded it. Then we continued on the road that circles behind the feeder location back towards the main road. As we turned the corner, a flock of longspurs flushed. Not unusual, but one had a big white rump! Thankfully, the flock landed in the next driveway and we got good looks at them. There were TWO Bramblings with them!

Two Bramblings (and a tail-end view of a Lapland Longspur), Adak, September 24, 2019
Brambling, Adak, September 24, 2019
Brambling, Adak, September 24, 2019

This was a Year Bird, as we missed the one that was seen by others on our spring trip.

After checking some usual spots, we headed up to Clam Lagoon, where we had arranged to meet Bob and Steve to walk the flats. When we told them about the Bramblings, they headed back to town to look for them (unfortunately, they did not succeed). So I walked the flats alone.

I had four Pectoral Sandpipers (2 flushed, 2 did not) and the Marsh Sandpiper.

Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 24, 2019. Note the white up the back.

Also out on the flats was a flock of eight Sanderlings.

When we got around to the Seawall, there were another two-dozen Sanderlings sitting on Cormorant Rocks.

Also at the Seawall, the Red-necked Grebe numbers jumped from 3 the past week to more than two-dozen!

Short-tailed Shearwaters were passing by out at the horizon and we had one Laysan Albatross as well.

We are seeing more Greater Scaup and Northern Pintails. Not sure if some are migrating already or they are just concentrating more where we are birding.

Finally, here is a picture of one of the Song Sparrows that always follows/leads me out as I walk out on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula.

Song Sparrow, Clam Lagoon, September 24, 2019

This brings our Trip List to 53 and our Year List to 83.

Bob and Steve leave tomorrow.

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Temp in the 40s, sunny, wind NW 5-10 mph

We woke up to Mount Moffet topped in a dusting of snow. It was melted by mid-afternoon, but the new snow on Mount Sitkin (1800 ft higher) remained.

Mount Moffet, Sept 23, 2019

We went down to Finger Creek where the salmon run seems about done and smaller than usual. We didn’t find anything new there, but on the way back we found a Gyrfalcon at the Hilltop Quarry, sitting on the same pinnacle that we saw one on in June.

Gyrfalcon, Hilltop Quarry, Sept 23, 2019

When we got back to town, we heard from Bob and Steve that they went to the clinic and got diagnosed with a bad sprain (NOT broken!). So he is still in pain, but relieved.

We had two Aleutian Cackling Geese fly over and land at the airport (NOT a good idea!).

Aleutian Cackling Geese, Airport, Sept 23, 2019

At Contractors Camp Marsh, we kicked out a flock of 6 either Pectoral or Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. They flew off into the central part of the marsh. We couldn’t get a good enough look at them or get them in the camera.

Then five Pacific Golden-Plovers flew out. But they landed nearby.

Pacific Golden-Plovers, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019
Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019
Pacific Golden-Plovers, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019
Pacific Golden-Plovers, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019

I also flushed a snipe, but could not determine the species.

At least one Short-tailed Shearwater continues in Kuluk Bay.

A marine biologist, who was out here to monitor sea mammals while the Marines were playing, confirmed that we were seeing a (or several) Minke Whale(s).

Our Trip List is up to 51 (54 is average). No change to the Year List.

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, very occasional light shower, Winds NW 5-15 mph

We started the day giving Bob and Steve the fifty-cent tour of Adak. We didn’t find anything new, but saw the usual suspects.

We then headed up to Clam Lagoon to try again for the Marsh Sandpiper.

By the way, I didn’t mention last night that as they were walking through the marsh to get to where the sandpiper was last seen, Bob slipped on a log while trying to cross a stream and sprained/broke(?) his left ankle! However, he persevered and continued down the half-mile or so to where the ducks flushed, taking the sandpiper with them.

So, this morning, Steve and I walked out on the flats (low tide) to try to see the sandpiper and hoped that it would be in a position for Bob to see it from shore with the scope.

YES! Steve had an up-close-and-personal look and Bob got a satisfactory look with the scope.

The bird was still there when we left.

We believe this is only the ninth record for North America (and our second)!

Remarkably, the Short-tailed Shearwaters continue in Kuluk Bay – even in this sunny, balmy weather. We have never seen anything like it. They are not real close, but close enough for the photo from two days ago.

The only other bird of note today was an Oldsquaw (so sue me!), down off the Sweeper Cove breakwall. When we left here in June, there was one hanging out at the Seawall. We assume this is the same bird, as there are previous records of lone birds spending the summer here.

Long-tailed Duck, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, September 22, 2019

This brings our Trip List to 48. The Year List remains at 82.

Today’s eBird list is at:

Saturday, Septembr 21, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, dry in the morning, steady rain from noon to 3 PM, then more rain after 3:45 PM!, Wind E 5-15 mph

Despite the good morning weather, we didn’t find anything new.

We did however, see the whale that has been hanging around closer up – although we did not see anymore of it than before. It was in Sweeper Cove. We saw it as we were driving out the breakwall.

We believe it is a Minke Whale. If there are any whale experts out there, please feel free to correct us.

Minke Whale?, Sweeper Cove, September 21, 2019

We didn’t see any shorebirds at Contractors Camp Marsh. The rainfall before we arrived must have been way above normal, as we have never seen the marsh flooded as deep as it is now. As mentioned yesterday, the main road is under 6 inches of water. The area where we had the Spotted Redshank last year is a lake. Usually, half of this would be dry.

Contractors Camp Marsh (Redshank Drive), September 21, 2019
Contractors Camp Marsh, September 21, 2019
Contractors Camp Marsh, September 21, 2019

At Candlestick Bridge, we saw a Peregrine Falcon chasing a Kittiwake and was soon joined by a second Peregrine. The two falcons soon gave up the chase and flew off in different directions – as did the Kittiwake… We later saw a Peregrine harassing the teal flock on Clam Lagoon.

At the Seawall, there were three Emperor Geese out on Goose Rocks (for which it is named!).

Several Short-tailed Shearwaters are still hanging around. We saw several fly in front of the hovercraft as it was leaving late this afternoon (see below).

The Marsh Sandpiper is still here.

On today’s flight, Bob and Steve Bossert arrived to add two more sets of eyes to help find more birds. It was pouring rain when they arrived, but I led them up to Clam Lagoon and showed them where I last saw the sandpiper this afternoon and then left them go for it.

Being late in the afternoon, the resident flock of several hundred Common Teal (and others) were out feeding in the area of the sandpiper and apparently flushed as Bob and Steve got nearer, and took the sandpiper with them. They saw what they believe was the bird, but will try again tomorrow morning in better conditions – and without the excitable teal flock to interfere!

We had two Rock Ptarmigan today, the most we have had this trip.

There were 12 Black Scoters off the Palisades Overlook.

The Sanderling flock was on the east side of Clam Lagoon this afternoon.

The Marines are leaving. No grand invasion (bad weather — such wimps!). According to news reports, there were 3000 marines aboard that assault ship! That would have been an interesting experience to watch. As it was, there was absolutely no infringement on our birding activity while they were here.

Here are a few shots of one of the hovercrafts going out to the mothership. The amount of spray it generates all but obscures it as it gets going.

Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership (note the other hovercraft still on the beach).
Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership (Note the other hovercraft still on the beach)
Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership
Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership. Take our word for it…

No change to the Trip or Year lists

Today’s eBird list is at:

The weather is supposed to get nicer the next few days.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, wind NW turning to SW 5-15 mph

A sunny day on Adak!

We were greeted by a sun-bathed Mount Moffet this morning.

Mount Moffet, September 20, 2019

Out on Kuluk Bay, I saw two Cackling Geese.

At the Landing Lights, there were four turnstones and three Rock Sandpipers.

There was nothing new at the Forest, Warbler Willows, or the Thrush Feeder, so we headed into Contractors Camp Marsh.

Because of the heavy rains, the main road that runs east/west through the marsh has been flooded with 6-8 inches. So we were reluctant to drive it. Instead, we drove up to the flooded part and I got out to walk up the flooded road.

Just as I started into the deepest part, two shorebirds (one large, one small) flushed from nearby and flew around the corner of an old building foundation. I walked up on the foundation and Barb drove up near it and then joined me.

When I initially saw them, I recognized the smaller bird as a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and the larger one appeared to be a Tringa. I said “Here we go again!”

However, when I got a good look at the bird, it sure looked like a Greater Yellowlegs! They were in heavy migration back home just before we left for here. We are VERY familiar with them.

Well, I was right and the bird with it was a Sharp-tailed!

Greater Yellowlegs, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 20, 2019
Greater Yellowlegs, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 20, 2019
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (left) and Greater Yellowlegs, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 20, 2019

The yellowlegs is only the fifth record for Adak – all in September or October. And, of course, a new Adak bird for us.

The Short-tailed Shearwaters continue to hang around in Kuluk Bay and we also had one sitting on the water and fishing near Goose Rocks on the Seawall.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Palisades Overlook, September 20, 2019

At the Breaches, I had a Pacific Loon.

At the Seawall, there were still 3 Horned Grebes and 3 Red-necked Grebes, as well as a pair (male/female) of White-winged Scoters.

I walked the Clam Lagoon Peninsula and Marsh edge today, but only got three Pectoral Sandpipers for my effort. No Marsh Sandpiper.

We are finally seeing more wrens – probably due to the nice weather today.

Pacific Wren, Seawall, September 20, 2019

Last night, after dinner, the sun came out, so we went up to Clam Lagoon to see if anything dropped in. Well, by the time we got up there, it started to rain again! However, we did witness a large number of waterfowl feeding up near the West Lookout. There were several hundred, mostly Common Teal, but also some Pintails and Mallards. The interesting thing is we have seen a lot of Northern Pintails since we got here, but they have all been females or young. But with this flock were several adult males! Go figure…

As I said, it was raining, the lighting was terrible, so we didn’t spend a lot of time scoping through the flock for oddballs.

Since tonight was fair and sunny, we again went up after dinner to spend some time looking through the flock for who-knows-what. However, they did not cooperate. Instead, they stayed down in the southwest corner (poor lighting and distant).

But, when we first arrived, we scanned the peninsula, and there were eight Sanderlings! We had not seen any earlier in the day.

Then, while vainly scanning the distant, backlit flock of ducks, the Marsh Sandpiper walked out of the reeds behind them. So it is still here after all!

Two more birders are arriving tomorrow, so it looks good for them.

The Marine invasion never took place. They were loading up the hovercraft for departure this evening.

Their mother-ship finally ventured near enough to shore for us to see it (but still not close).

Marines’ Mothership with chopper approaching for landing.

Our Trip List is 47 and the Year List is 82.

Our eBird list is at:

Its supposed to rain tomorrow…

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, rain much of the day, wind N 10-15 mph

Last May, we noticed a dearth of Rock Ptarmigan. Lisa (F&WS) informed us that the berry crop was very low last winter and ptarmigan survival rates were poor. The paucity remains, as we have only seen three ptarmigan since we arrived. Normally in the fall, we frequently see family groups of 6-10 at a time! Apparently the breeding season did not go well either.

Also, there seem to be fewer Pacific Wrens around. In fall, we usually see them almost everywhere – trees, bushes, Seawall, etc., what with all of the young scattered about. But this year we have only seen a few.

There are at least two Peregrine Falcons here – one in town and at least one at Clam Lagoon (possibly two up there).

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2019

At clam Lagoon, in addition to seeing the Marsh Sandpiper again, I got a photo of just a few of the Common Teal that apparently had a successful breeding season…

Common Teal (as the Brits call them!), Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2019

At the Seawall, a couple of Stellar’s Sea Lions watched us carefully.

Stellar’s Sea Lion, Seawall, September 19, 2019

Short-tailed Shearwaters continue to fish in Kuluk Bay. About a dozen have been there the past few days.

As we stopped on the hill above the NavFac Beach (to see what the Marines were up to), a flock of Aleutian Cackling Geese flew over.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, NavFac Beach, September 19, 2019

Today’s Marine activities included bringing a number of vehicles and supplies ashore using hovercraft.

Marine Hovercraft, NavFac Beach, September 19, 2019. Note the size of the Marines on the right one…

The invasion was delayed again due to weather.

Two Septembers ago, we ran into a crab boat captain (Mark), who was very friendly, asked us what we were doing (this was out near Clam Lagoon) and told us about his crab fishing, etc. (this time of year he fishes for Brown Crab – the sweetest crab meat). After conversing awhile, he asked if we would like a couple of crab! We were going home in two days, so we couldn’t take them with us, but we said we (meaning Barb) could eat one here. So he invited us down to his boat where he cooked one up for us! We took it back to the house and Barb feasted for two days!

Last year, we missed him, but this year the Early Dawn (his boat) pulled in as we were down at Sweeper Cove looking for gulls, etc. Again, he offered us a crab. And here it is!

Again, he cooked it for us and Barb ate some for dinner tonight.

Crab! It’s what’s for dinner!

The Trip List is 45. No change to the Year List.

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, light rain all day, wind S turning to SE 5-15 mph

With the strong NW winds the past day-and-a-half, we expected to find new birds. We did, just not rarities (but they are probably here somewhere…).

Still nothing new at the feeders, but the Thrush Feeder has a dozen rosy-finches.

At the Seawall, we saw a pair of Red-throated Loons. Only the fifth time for us out here.

Red-throated Loons, Seawall, September 18, 2019

The mother Red-breasted Merganser was still minding her young (singular). Here is a slightly better photo of the young bird (taken through the rain).

Young Red-breasted Merganser, East Side Ponds, September 18, 2019

On the east side of Clam Lagoon we had our first Emperor Geese for the year (we missed them in May). There were four birds.

Emperor Geese, Clam Lagoon, September 18, 2019

The number of Ruddy Turnstones is up this year. We are finding flocks at Landing Lights, the Seawall, and around Clam Lagoon.

I did not walk the marsh edge today, so do not know if the marsh Sandpiper is still here.

Pectoral Sandpipers are starting to show up in any roadside puddles with a little bit of vegetation. Typical in the fall.

Later in the afternoon, as we were pulling out of our driveway, a Common Raven was sitting on the back of the pickup truck next door. Did you know the Common Raven is the largest passerine in the world? And the Kamchatka subspecies (what we have out here) is the largest subspecies?

Common Raven, Adak, September 18, 2019

The Marine landing has been a fizzle so far. When we were up at the Blue Building Feeder, we saw one landing craft speeding towards NavFac Beach. When we got down there a few hours later, there were a dozen-or-so Marines standing around with a couple of Humvees, two fuel trucks, and a navy bulldozer working on the beach. We weren’t sure whether the dozer was repairing damage or preparing for a larger contingent tomorrow.

We will see.

It was a miserable day with the constant rain. Usually, the rains out here are intermittent, making it bearable. But every once in a while, we get one of these days…

The Trip List is 44 (54 is average) and the Year List is 80 (82 is average).

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, a little sunshine by late afternoon, on and off sprinkles, Wind West at 20-40 mph

Nothing new today.

We’ve had strong NW to W winds the past 24 hours, so we expect new birds will be appearing shortly. Just not yet today…

Offshore from Sweeper Cove this morning were a few Short-tailed Shearwaters, but not much else.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Kuluk Bay off Sweeper Cove, Sept 17, 2019

We are in a stretch of extra-high tides right now, so Sweeper Creek offers no shorebird-friendly shoreline.

There were more turnstones at Landing Lights and one Rock Sandpiper.

At the Seawall and the Breaches, we had even more turnstones, rock Sandpipers, and the Sanderling flock.

Sanderlings, The Breaches, Sept 17, 2019
Ruddy Turnstone, Seawall, Sept 17, 2019

The Marsh Sandpiper is still present at Clam Lagoon, but the Westerns and stint were not seen today.

Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 17, 2019

From the Palisades Overlook, we watched a couple of shearwaters partake in a gull/alcid feeding frenzy where a whale of some sort was feeding. Never did get a look at the whale, just its water-churning, etc.

There were also two Parasitic Jaegers out there.

The strong winds made for stormy seas, so the naval ship in Kuluk Bay moved farther out and there were no exercises today. There is also a Coast Guard cutter here. We assume that is taking part as well.

The Trip List stands at 42.

Today’s eBird list is at:

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Oh, wait – its not the Russians, just the marines… more on that later.

Temp in the 50s, overcast, light rain or drizzle until late afternoon, wind SSW 10-20 mph

I am allowed one bone-headed misidentification per trip. I hope yesterday’s was this trip’s quota!

When we initially saw what turned out to be the Marsh Sandpiper, we knew it was a Tringa, but were unsure which one. I got a bunch of photos and, upon arriving back at the house, we studied them.

Although the bird looked slim-and-trim like a Marsh, the bill gave us pause. It seemed heavier than it should be and the lower mandible had a distinct upward bend to it. Nowhere could we find a photo (not just an illustration) of a Marsh Sandpiper with a bill like that! So, fixating on the bill without studying the other plumage characteristics (such as a white supercilium behind the eye – which eliminates greenshank!) We settled on a slim Common Greenshank – maybe a young bird with a not quite developed bill.

We were met the following morning with email from several qualified observers pointing out the error of our ways. At least we got the stint right!

We hope the rest of the good birds we get will be like the Spotted Redshank from May 2018 – no confusing that sucker…

The Thrush feeder is attracting Gray-crowned Rosy-finches, but nothing at the other feeders, yet…

I did not walk Clam Lagoon today. I try to do it every other day so as not to harass the migrants that are resting and refueling. However, that cuts down on the daily list.

The near-constant precipitation cut down on the passerines, but the usual waterfowl were out and about. We had nothing different until we got to the east side of Clam Lagoon, where we found a flock of 25 Sanderlings. We didn’t have any this past spring so they were a year bird.

At Candlestick Bridge, coming out of the fog were three Short-tailed Shearwaters. We later saw them again from the Palisades Overlook.

We have been checking the National Forest and Warbler Willows at least twice daily, but so far have found only Song Sparrows and Pacific Wrens.

In late afternoon, we checked the fish factory outflow at the Sweeper Cove breakwall and, although there was no great gathering of gulls, there was a Crested Auklet (not close) present.

This is the only Auklet that we have seen from shore more than once. We have had them in three Septembers so far.

While scanning for other auklets, etc, Barb had a sea mammal surface and disappear (as usual for us!). We have no idea what it was.

As we were returning to our house to settle in for the night, the roar of military helicopters filled the air.

The Marines are coming out here this week to run some exercises – including storming the beaches!

It will be interesting…

Our trip list is 42 and Year List is 79.

The weather patterns continue to roll through at a breakneck pace, so we expect new birds to come along.

Today’s eBird checklist is at

No photos today.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Temp in the 50s, overcast, occasional light rain, wind variable 5-15 mph

The weather systems in the north Pacific and Bering Sea are moving rapidly west to east – unlike the stationary weather patterns of this past May. We anticipated that this would bring better birds.

We were not wrong…

We started the day with our usual routine around Sweeper Cove and creek, etc. We started seeding some bird feeders.

Our first good bird of the trip was a Peregrine Falcon over the Sandy Bluff (we didn’t have one this past May).

At the Landing Lights, we had a Ruddy Turnstone and a Rock Sandpiper.

While scanning the bay at Palisades Overlook, an Orca surfaced right in my scope’s field! Of course, it then went under and made VERY brief surfacings over the next 15 minutes or so. Never got a photo! We also saw a couple of Black Oystercatchers there.

We headed up towards Clam Lagoon, checking on willows and trees along the way. We didn’t see any new passerines, but Kuluk Bay provided alcids, scoters, eiders, etc.

At Clam Lagoon, I decided to walk the marsh edge and the peninsula.

A Young Glaucous-winged Gull was standing near the edge of the marsh displaying its pristine plumage.

Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019

The edge netted three Pectoral Sandpipers, one Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and a Marsh Sandpiper!

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019
Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019
Marsh Sandpiper , Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019
Marsh Sandpiper , Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019

Out on the peninsula, I spotted three peeps. Two were obviously Western Sandpipers, but the third looked different – shorter bill, plumage differences, etc. I thought the third bird was a Red-necked Stint, but as anyone who follows this blog knows, I struggle with these guys! So, once we got home, I sent photos to Isaac, who confirmed my initial identification. Thanks Isaac!!

Western Sandpiper (left) and Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019

The Seawall had both Red-necked and Horned Grebes (we missed Red-necked in May), and a Pacific Loon. We also had a flock of 18 Ruddy Turnstones there.

On both Lake Shirley and the lagoon were a lot of waterfowl. Just the usual suspects, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallards, Norther Pintails, Common Teal, Greater Scaup, and Red-breasted Mergansers.

An interesting find was a mother merganser with one VERY young offsping. Not only are the typical merganser families much larger, but to have this young a bird was unusually late in the season. The following is not a great photo, but it does show what I’m talking about.

Red-breasted Merganser with young, East Side Ponds, Sept 15, 2019

We had only 70 species on our May trip, but we have already added seven to that list for our year list!

Not a bad start.

Our eBird list for today is at

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Our flights were uneventful. We did our shopping and a little birding, got supper and turned in.

On Saturday morning, we headed down to Potters Marsh in hope that the Falcated Duck that had been there in May and June just might still be hanging around.

We spent a couple of hours to no avail. If it was still there, it wasn’t showing itself to us…

There were a lot of waterfowl (teal, gadwall, scaup, mallard, wigeon, shoveler, etc.), but no falcated. There also a lot of yellowlegs — far more than we had ever seen there before.

Greater Yellowlegs, Potter Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 14, 2019.

We also had several Rusty Blackbirds.

So we headed up to Arctic Valley and, although we were not the first vehicle up the road, we still managed to see two Spruce Grouse along the way.

The other bird of note was a Sharp-shinned Hawk — only the second that we had seen in Alaska.

The flight to Adak was a bit bumpy, but arrived on time. However, there was a contingent of naval personnel who had just completed a military exercise waiting to go home. Since the TSA inspectors arrive on Adak on the incoming flight, the outgoing luggage can’t be inspected until they arrive. So since there was such a large number of passengers (highly unusual for Adak), and they wanted to get the plane back as soon as possbile, the ground crew delayed delivering the incoming luggage to the baggage area until after they had loaded the outgoing luggage!

So we didn’t get our luggage for more than an hour (we went to out rental unit and unpacked our carry-on and stuff that we store there while we waited.

After finally getting our luggage and getting the food stowed away, we finally got out to do a little birding. The only bird of note was a Parasitic Jaeger on Clam Lagoon. They usually leave around mid-September.

It was late in the day, so many birds had already turned in for the night. Very few passerines were seen.

We are ready for a full day tomorrow!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Temp in the 40s, Partly Sunny, Wind SE 5-10 MPH

Our final day.

Nothing new. The Hawfinch has not been seen since early yesterday. The Godwit and Brant are still here.

However, we did have a Common Snipe pose for us this morning.

Common Snipe, Contractor’s Camp Marsh. June 8, 2019

Chris Feeney is staying until the 12th, so we hope he gets some new birds. And the Adak Pelagic birders will be around after their trip (depending on weather).

We ended up with 70 species (slightly better than average).

Our strategy of coming a week later this year paid off in what was certainly not a good year. We got several Asian birds after all of the earlier groups had left — Common Greenshank, Eye-browed Thrush, Brambling, Hawfinch, Wood Sandpiper, (Siberian) Whimbrel.

And we had some unusual birds for Adak — Snow Goose, Brant, Tundra Swan, Northern Shoveler, Herring Gull (American), Bank Swallow.

A Long-tailed Duck lingering well into June was interesting, as was the Horned Grebe (of which there were only 2!).

We had only two Bar-tailed Godwits, but the earlier groups only had one!

There were a lot of snipe around this year (both Common and Wilson’s) and no one had any trouble seeing both.

On the other hand, there were very few Rock Ptarmigans.

The spring Long-billed Dowitchers were new for our spring trips (and beautiful birds, to boot).

Two Wandering Tattlers and a Thick-billed Murre were nice finds.

Our best bird however was the Bank Swallow, as that was a new Adak bird for us.

Our trip home was uneventful and we will be planning our September trip shortly. However, the military is planning on running some exercises on Adak this September and have not yet settled on a date. So we can’t plan until we know — it would not be fun to be scanning seabirds at the Seawall and have a thousand marines storming ashore!

We will let you know…

Friday, June 7, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, Wind SE 5-10 mph

A fishing boat came in this morning, so we hoped there would be stuff coming out of the Fish Factory outflow off the Sweeper Cove Breakwall, thus attracing gulls. We checked several times in the morning and later in the afternoon, but saw no activity. However, there are always a few gulls hanging around – just in case – and this morning we had two Herring Gulls (American subspecies).

Two days ago, our Ford Expedition had a flat ire, so we got a late start that morning. Today, down at Finger Bay, our vehicle failed to start! Luckily, Bill and John were there and gave me a ride up to the top of the hill where I could get a Cell Phone signal and call for assistance! Otherwise, it would have been a one-mile uphill climb! Anyway, we got another truck (lost two hours of birding time) and soldiered on.

While waiting for the calvary, I got some nice oystercatcher flight photos.

Black Oystercatcher, Finger Bay, June 7, 2019

Black Oystercatcher, Finger Bay, June 7, 2019

Puffins, all of a sudden, are showing up all over. We had several close Horned Puffins today and many Tufteds farther out.

Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, June 7, 2019

We saw the Hawfinch briefly this morning, but not later in the day.

The Bar-tailed Godwit and Brant were still on Clam Lagoon, and the Long-tailed Duck was still at the Seawall.

Long-tailed Duck, Seawall, June 7, 2019

We leave tomorrow afternoon (around 5 pm) and expect to arrive home around 5 pm Sunday.

So my next posting will be Monday morning.

Jon is leaving with us, but Chris will be here until Wednesday. Also, the boat from Attu arrives tomorrow. We don’t know if any of them will remain on the island or just fly out with us. However, the three birders who arrived two days ago should be joined by other birders coming in on the flight for the pelagic trip, and they usually get a day or two to bird on the island after the boat trip. So there will be some coverage for a few days after we leave.

Our trip list stands at 69.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, wind SE 5-10 mph

A sunny, balmy day. Not exactly “good bird” weather…

A flock of Rock Sandpipers have been hanging around the Landing Lights Jetty and nearby beach. We had 16 today. Here are a few of them.

Rock Sandpiper, Landing Lights, June 6, 2019

The Brant and Hawfinch are still here, but we did not see the godwit today.

The American Wigeon continues to hang out with the Eurasians on Haven Lake.

And the Long-tailed Duck is still at the Seawall.

We hadn’t seen Buffleheads since June 1, so it was a surprise to see two today at Clam Lagoon.

Bufflehead, Clam Lagoon, June 6, 2019

As we were heading home late in the afternoon, Jon called to say he had a Wood Sandpiper. We went and saw it, but couldn’t get John and Bill on the radio. The bird was down the little road near the Power Plant. It had flushed when they drove down the road and eventually flew behind a warehouse there where there is a very tiny wet area. The very same thing happened to us a couple of years ago – same flush-spot, same end-spot — only there were 3 instead of 1 sandpiper.

Wood Sandpiper, near the Power Plant, June 6, 2019

After leaving there, we were able to finally raise Bill and John, but the bird was gone when we got back there. This was the first Wood Sandpiper in several days.

Late in the day, Jon and Chris had a King Eider and a Herring Gull at the Seawall.

Our Trip List remains at 67.

Wednesday June 5, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, Wind SE 5-10 mph

The Brant, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Hawfinch are still here.

The latest record for the godwit on Adak is June 15, so we are creeping up on it. Unfortunately, we leave on the 8th and Chris leaves on the 12th, so if this bird stays beyond the 12th, we will not know.

This is the first June record for Brant on Adak, but there are a couple of June records for other Aleutian Islands (Nizki and Amchitka).

We had an American Wigeon hanging out with the Eurasian Wigeons on Haven Lake.

At the Seawall, the Long-tailed Duck was still here. There are records of this species remaining all summer. Also, 2 Pacific and one Common Loon (we had another Common Loon on Lake Leone).

Shearwaters were still flying by the Seawall at the horizon.

As mentioned in a previous post, there are fewer than normal ptarmigan around. Here is one who stood still.

Rock Ptarmigan, Adak, June 5, 2019

Rock Ptarmigan, Adak, June 5, 2019

We had three Ancient Murrelets in Sweeper Cove.

The Horned Grebe was still in Sweeper Cove. There are no Horned Grebe records for June on Adak, so this is a late date.

Up at the North Quarry, a Snow Bunting posed a second.

Snow Bunting, North Quarry, June 5, 2019

Finally, at the Seawall, we had a Thick-billed Murre. The inverted “V” neckline was visible, but it dove and emerged too far out for photos. Maybe tomorrow. They are uncommon this time of year.

Jim Deforge left today, but two more birders arrived early for the Adak Pelagic trip which starts on Saturday.

Trip List is 67.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Large waterfowl and passerines…

Temp in the 40s, overcast, occasional drizzle, Wind SE 5-10 mph

Not as many Tufted Puffins and other alcids off the Sweeper Cove jetty this morning. The feeders continue to attract Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, but nothing else (except the Hawfinch at the Thrush Feeder).

The Snow Goose did not leave after all. It just moved to a different part of the Marsh, where we saw it this morning. This is only the third record for Adak (and we’ve seen two of them!).

Snow Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, June 4, 2019

As mentioned above, the Hawfinch is still around, but the Brambling has not yet discovered a feeder.

At Clam Lagoon’s West Lookout, I spotted a Brant on the east side. We called the guys and met them on the east side, where we all got nice views. This is our second Brant record for Adak and one of only a dozen or so overall.

Brant, Clam Lagoon, June 4, 2019

Brant, Clam Lagoon, June 4, 2019

After viewing the Brant, we continued back along the Seawall and saw the (a) Long-tailed Duck again.

As we were heading back to town, the Low Tire Pressure light came on, so we headed for the house and called for assistance. I measured the tire pressure and it was on 27 – the other tires were 45. They came over, removed the tire, inflated it and looked for leaks. None were found. So they put the tire back on and we will keep an eye on it.

While we were waiting, the guys called and said a Tundra Swan was at the Airport Ponds. After getting back on the road, we went over there and saw it. By comparing the photos, we determined this was the same bird we had last seen on the 29th.

Tundra Swan, Airport Ponds, June 4, 2019

Earlier in the day, the guys told us they had a breeding-plumaged Horned Grebe down at the Marina. It wasn’t there when we checked, but they later refound it out in Sweeper Cove, where we got to see it. The one we had on the Seawall was still in winter plumage, so this makes a total of 2 for the trip.

Horned Grebe, Sweeper Cove, June 4, 2019

We then went to the Sweeper Channel. While scoping some waterfowl upstream, I spotted a swallow! We called the guys and they arrived shortly. After searching downstream, where I thought I last saw it, Barb spotted it back upstream, just where we found it before. It was quickly identified as a Bank Swallow (or Sand Martin as the Brits call it). I went and sat on the bank of the channel for a half-hour or so attempting to get identifiable photos of this VERY fast-flying little bird. After a couple hundred photos (many of them blank!), here are my best efforts.

Bank Swallow, Sweeper Channel, June 4, 2019

Bank Swallow, Sweeper Channel, June 4, 2019

Bank Swallow, Sweeper Channel, June 4, 2019

Bank Swallows are circumpolar, so this guy could have arrived here from either the east or west! This as an Adak bird for us. And it is one of only a few for Adak.

Our Trip List is 66.

Keep ‘em comin’…

Monday, June 3, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, wind variable 5-15 mph

A very pleasant day on Adak. Less wind, some sun, and no rain.

Kuluk Bay was flat and calm this morning, so alcids that normally are too far off shore to see in choppy or wavy seas were visible today. We had 80+ Tufted Puffins and one Horned Puffin.

We were cruising around town this morning (looking for passerines) when Jon called us about a Snow Goose up at the Marsh. We got there shortly, and yup, there was a Snow Goose! We have only seen Snow Goose out here once before, in May, 2012. So this was a pretty good bird.

Snow Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, June 3, 2019

Snow Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, June 3, 2019

Snow Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, June 3, 2019

It flew around a bit and then landed back in the marsh again. It was gone this afternoon. Of course, where we come from — Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — two months or so ago, we had thousands of these at the nearby Middle Creek Wildlife Management  Area. A beautiful sight, but hardly rare. It’s all relative…

After viewing the goose, we checked the Thrush Feeder and the Hawfinch was still there. By the way, the boat from Attu is due back here on the 8th and they have not seen a Hawfinch there, so they are hoping this bird hangs around! Come to Adak where the good birds are…

We started heading towards Clam Lagoon, when the guys called again to tell us they had a Brambling at Warbler Willows! It had flown off by the time we got back there, but we hope it will find one of the feeders and settle in for a few days.

While looking for the Brambling, Chris pointed out a Pacific Wren for us. These wrens can be difficult to find in the spring, unlike in the fall when young’uns are about and you are tripping over them!

The guys walked out the Peninsula and had the Bar-tailed Godwit being pursued by a Parasitic Jaeger. So I don’t know if we will see her again…

At the northwestern quadrant of the lagoon, many murrelets were enjoying the calm water. Both Marbled and Kittlitz’s were courting and calling.

Up at Lake Ronnie, I had a Lesser Scaup hanging out with the Greaters.

The Lapland Longspurs have been particularly accommodating this year for photos. In the past, they always seemed too fidgety. This year, they are standing on their posts or rocks and standing still between changing positions. Here are a few shots.

Lapland Longspur, Palisades Overlook, June 3, 2019

Lapland Longspur, Palisades Overlook, June 3, 2019

Lapland Longspur, Palisades Overlook, June 3, 2019

Lapland Longspur, Palisades Overlook, June 3, 2019

Last fall, I mentioned how I found the fall Long-billed Dowitchers in a different posture (and hence “jizz”) than spring birds. Spring birds looking more snipe/woodcock-shaped, while fall birds were tall and slender. Here is a prime example comparing this year’s birds with one from a few Septembers ago.

Long-billed Dowitchers. May 28, 2019 (left), Sept 13, 2009 (right)


Our Trip List is 62.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, occasional light drizzle/rain, Wind variable 10-15 mph

The winds are shifting. Sometimes today they were from the northwest, other times northeast, sometimes calm.

However, the birds didn’t change much.

We saw another Red-throated Loon at the Seawall and a couple of Common Loons elsewhere.

The guys had two Wandering Tattlers at the same location where we found one two days ago.

The Hawfinch is still here, as are the Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, June 2, 2019

Whimbrel (Siberian race), Bayshore Road Beach, June 2, 2019

Whimbrel (Siberian race), Bayshore Road Beach, June 2, 2019

These three Whimbrels are extremely flighty. Whimbrels that we have found here in the past have usually been fairly approachable. Not these guys! Just poking your head over the dunes to check the shoreline sends these guys flying. Yet, they keep sticking around…

The Lupine is beginning to bloom and I found a new flower to add to my flower photos page – Lyrate Rockcress (Arabidopsis lyrata). I found it while walking over the dunes to look at the Whimbrels!

Lupine beginning to bloom, June 2, 2019

Lyrate Rockcress (Arabidopsis lyrata), June 2, 2019

Jon had a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and a couple of Wood Sandpipers at the Marsh today. We get a lot of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers in the fall, but this my be the first spring record for Adak. Unfortunately, we did not see it.

Our bird feeder at the house consists of an old cable spool that the guys rolled over from nearby. The Rosy-Finches love it, as do the ravens. However, the ravens have now started to tear it apart to get at the seeds between the boards!

Raven damage to feeder (with a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch looking on).

Trip List is stuck at 59.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, wind N 10-20 mph NO RAIN!

This is our first Adak trip in June since 2008. In that year, we came out on May 29 and stayed until June 12. The plan was to stay late enough so that when we got back to the mainland, we could spend a few days up at the Denali Highway looking for Arctic Warblers, Smith’s Longspur, and Willow Ptarmigan. Unfortunately, we were still too early because the warbler and longspur had not yet returned, and we did not get up early enough to find ptarmigan out on the edge of the road. So we dipped out on all three, but still had a good time and saw a lot of other Alaskan birds.

On Adak that year, we were still novices at finding “goodies”, the weather was balmy, and the only bird of note was a Northern Wheatear. However, we did have a number of notable June records for Adak – Emperor Goose, Bufflehead(1), Gadwall.

For the mandatory Bald Eagle photo for the year, I present our national emblem in all his glory!


We found that the Hawfinch had moved down the hill to the Thrush Feeder (probably because the rat at the National Forest was eating all of the bird seed!).

Hawfinch, Thrush Feeder, June 1, 2019

The Eye-browed Thrush was not seen today.

At the Warbler Willows, we did not have any warblers, but this Lapland Longspur posed nicely.

Lapland Longspur, Warbler Willows, June 1, 2019

At Lake Andrew, we had a Common Loon and another one from the Palisades Overlook.

Up at the Seawall, we finally found a lone Black-legged Kittiwake out on Goose Rocks and a lone Horned Grebe at Janet’s Cove. We normally have dozens of Red-necked Grebes and a dozen Horned Grebes here in May, but this is the only grebe we have seen so far. And the other birding groups before us did not do much better. Don’t know why…

Parasitic Jaegers are hard to photograph because they are an all-dark bird. So this pair in decent lighting was a treat.

Parasitic Jaegers, Clam Lagoon, June 1, 2019

As we were going back to town, we stopped to scan the beach near where the Whimbrels were yesterday and found one out on the beach. As we continued down the road, the other two flushed off of the sand dunes, were joined by their beach-mate and flew back up the beach.

After dinner, I went back out with Chris and Jon and we had a pair of American Wigeons in Sweeper Channel. A species we had missed so far this trip. Eurasian Wigeons are the “common” ones out here, but each year, a few Americans show up.

American Wigeon, Sweeper Channel, June 1, 2019

The Trip List is at 59.

No new lifers or Adak birds so far, but still not a bad first week.

One to go.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast and rain in early morning, partly sunny in the afternoon, Wind NNW 10-15 mph

The passerines are coming! The passerines are coming!

Nothing new around town, so we headed up to Lake Andrew, where we had one of the many Red-necked Phalaropes that nest here.

Red-necked Phalarope, near Lake Andrew, May 31, 2019

We then headed towards Clam Lagoon. The guys were ahead of us at the West Lookout, getting ready to walk out the peninsula, We stopped at the Palisades Overlook and spotted an Arctic Loon. We called the guys and they came back to us and all got it. It was an Adak Bird for Jon and Jim and a year bird for Chris.

They went back and walked out the peninsula while we scanned from the South Lookout. They shortly radioed that they had an Eye-browed Thrush! We quickly got over there and I walked out there, but they had only seen it briefly and it had flown away. Oh, well…

A consolation prize was the Bar-tailed Godwit flew into a mudflat close to the road where Barb could get a great look at it.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 31, 2019

We continued around the lagoon, but found no new birds. As we were leaving Candlestick Bridge, the guys called o report a Hawfinch at Adak National Forest!

We continued back around the lagoon and down to the forest where we saw the Hawfinch.

Hawfinch, Adak National Forest, May 31, 2019

The sun came out this afternoon and highlighted a Common Teal nicely.

Common Teal, Sweeper Channel, May 31, 2019

After returning to the house, we got a call from the guys that the thrush had returned to the peninsula and was behaving tamely. They came down and picked me up and we walked back out and indeed the thrush walked out of the reeds and gave us nice photo-ops.

Eye-browed Thrush, Clam Lagoon, May 31, 2019

After dinner, Jon, Jim, and I went back out. Jim suggested going up Bayshore Drive to look for the Whimbrels we saw there yesterday (As if they would still be there!). Lo and behold, as we were driving up the drive, they flew by and over to the beach. Way to go, Jim!

We went up to the Forest and took another gander at the Hawfinch and called it a day.

While we were gone, Barb watched our feeder. Here are a few of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches eating our seed.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches on our “Feeder”, May 31, 2019

Not a bad day!

Trip List is 56.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Temps in the 40s, overcast, rain in the morning, Winds N 15-30 mph

Our windiest day of the trip. Because of the wind it appeared birds were more skitterish, flying off before we could get anywhere near.

In spite of that, we added several trip birds today.

While up at the Seawall, Jon, et al. Spotted a Long-tailed Duck, which we then also saw.

Also, we saw Short-tailed Shearwaters off in the distance.

Along Clam Lagoon’s shore, we had a Black Oystercatcher (eventually we had 7 for the day).

Black Oystercatcher, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2019

Down at Finger Bay, we found an Ancient Murrelet and then 5 more. Also there, we saw a non-breeding plumaged Horned Puffin (our first Horned for the Trip).

Horned Puffin (in non-breeding plumage), Finger Bay, May 30, 2019

On the way back towards town, as we were pulling into the North Quarry, Barb spotted a Wandering Tattler on the rushing stream there. It did not cooperate for photos. However, it did stick around for Jon’s group to get it later.

We also saw a Gyrfalcon. Based on descriptions of the Gyrs being reported, there may be as many as three here.

Jon’s group had seen the Swan and some Plovers at the Marsh this morning, but they were gone by the time we got there. So, after dinner, we went back up there to see if they had returned. Jon’s group was heading there also, so we met up there. No swan or plovers.

We all decided to take a quick look up to Clam Lagoon. We got there and scanned the flats for the godwits or anything else. As we were getting ready to head back, Jon yelled “Common Greenshank!” It flew overhead and landed in a small marsh and disappeared  about fifty yards away. As we approached the marsh, it flew, but I got a few photos.

Common Greenshank, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2019

Common Greenshank, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2019

Common Greenshank, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2019

We returned to the house to work on this blog, etc. No sooner were we settled, than Jon called about three Whimbrel on Bayshore Drive. We scrambled up there and got them. They were the Siberian race (we have never seen the American race up here).

Whimbrel (Siberian race), Adak, May 30, 2019

Whimbrel (Siberian race), Adak, May 30, 2019

Earlier in the day, when we were at the South Quarry, we again saw a Gyrfalcon sitting on the same little knoll where we had seen one last fall. We also noticed a lot of whitewash on various spots on the cliff-side which looked like roosting areas. So I asked the guys later if any of them would like to come with me down to the quarry late in the evening (the sun is setting here around 11 pm!!) to see if the Gyrfalcon was using those roosts.

Jon volunteered. So after the Greenshank and Whimbrel excitement, about 9:30, we drove down there.

Well, they were roosts — just not Gyrfalcon roosts. They were Raven roosts. Pretty neat, but not quite as exciting…

On the way back, we stopped at the North Quarry and refound the Wandering Tattler. This time it stayed put.

Wandering Tattler, North Quarry, May 30, 2019

We then drove up into the quarry which is next to Lake Leone and found the Common Loon which they had earlier, but which we had missed.

Common Loon, Lake Leone, May 30, 2019

Then, to top it off, we checked the Airport Ditch on the way back and found another Wood Sandpiper!

Wood Sandpiper, Airport Ditch, May 30, 2019

Not a bad day…

By the way — There are very few Rock Ptarmigan here this year. Apparently, last year was a very poor breeding season. We are only seeing one or two each day, compared with maybe a dozen or so, normally.

So far this trip, the following species have been seen by other birders, but not us: American Wigeon, Arctic Loon, Common Merganser, Pacific Wren.

Trip list is 53. Our average May trip is 67.

The weather systems in the Bering Sea are stuck in a rut. There are not moving much – more wobbling than anything. Hence, our winds continue from the north. Not good for Asian rarities.

But we will keep on lookin…

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast with some sun in the afternoon, Winds North 10-20 mph

Still no Asian passerines.

At the Airport Ditch this morning we had 2 Wood Sandpipers.

Wood Sandpiper, Airport Ditch, May 29, 2019

Here is my mandatory annual photo of a Rock Sandpiper.

Rock Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019

And here is a better photo of the American and Eurasian Green-winged Teals.

American Green-winged Teal (left) and Eurasian Green-winged Teal (Common Teal), Airport Ditch, May 29, 2019

The Tundra Swan was still at the Marsh this morning, but there were no Pacific Golden-Plovers or Pectoral Sandpiper.

John and Claire had a Wandering Tattler out on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, but it was gone by the time I got there.

Just before today’s flight arrived, we were at the Sweeper Channel and had another Short-eared Owl flush! It disappeared up on the side of the creek, so we drove around to the other side and I walked over to where I thought I last saw it and it flushed and flew over the old (closed) runway – giving me photo opportunities.

Short-eared Owl, near Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019

Short-eared Owl, near Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019

Short-eared Owl, near Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019

Short-eared Owl, near Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019 (Bird Quiz, anyone?)

Short-eared Owl, near Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019

Short-eared Owl, near Sweeper Channel, May 29, 2019

Later, we saw Lisa (from the Fish and Wildlife Service) at the airport and she told us there were a lot of Short-ears around this year. This was our third this trip and we are only four days in!

John and Claire called us to say they saw three Whimbrel fly off near the gas station area. We looked for them later, but with no success.

All of the other birders here left on today’s flight and Jon, Jim, and Chris arrived and we filled them in on the lack of birds. Let’s hope the brought a change of luck!

After dinner we went back up to the lagoon and found the Bar-tailed Godwits were still here. Only one was reported this morning and we hadn’t seen any.

No new birds today.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, rain most of the morning, Wind WNW to NNE 10-20 mph

Birds are moving!

At the Marsh today we had 4 Pacific Golden-Plovers and the Pectoral Sandpiper. Here are two photos of the same bird. Hard to tell…

Pectoral Sandpiper, May 26 (left), May 28 (right).

I  assume they are the same bird, as only one Pectoral Sandpiper has been seen the the last three days at this spot (and Pectorals are rare here in spring!). It could be that one left and was replaced by another, but I am skeptical. It just goes to show how lighting, posture, and wind can change the appearance of a bird.

The Tundra Swan is still hanging around the Marsh.

Tundra Swan, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 28, 2019

At Clam Lagoon, while on the east side, we spotted a light-phase Jaeger on the west side. Since 99% of the Parasitic Jaegers on Adak are dark-phase, we always look closer at any light-phase. We couldn’t tell from this distance, but later on got a closer view and confirmed it was a Parasitic.

In all of our trips to Adak, Arctic Terns have always avoided my camera. I have some poor shots, but nothing like the Aleutian Terns, which have posed for me on more than one occasion! Well this year has been different – as you saw on the previous few days. Here is another one.

Arctic Tern, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2019

After returning to town, we went down to the Airport Ditch. I spotted a Long-billed Dowitcher! This was the first May-trip dowitcher we have had. We get them regularly on our fall trips, but never in the spring. There are only a few spring records for Adak. So this was a good bird! We radioed the other groups and they soon arrived as we were leaving. Moments later, they called us to say there were two! We returned and got photos of both.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Airport Ditch, May 28, 2019

Long-billed Dowitcher, Airport Ditch, May 28, 2019

Long-billed Dowitchers, Airport Ditch, May 28, 2019

There was also another Pacific Golden-Plover nearby.

When we got back to the house, I downloaded today’s photos. Earlier, I had walked the Clam Lagoon Peninsula and marsh edge. As I was about half-way down, I spotted what appeared to be two shorebirds east of the South Lookout. Being without a scope (I just carry my camera on these treks), I took a long-distance photo, enlarged it on my view-screen, and decided they were just teal (fuzzy photos on a small screen in gale-forced winds!). SIDE NOTE: Common (Green-winged) Teal out here look like shorebirds at a distance when feeding on the flats. They also peep like shorebirds and fly like shorebirds! It is very frustrating to say the least! Really!

When I viewed the photos on the computer later, I saw that they were indeed shorebirds – probably godwits. I radioed Peder’s group (I couldn’t reach the other) and gave him the info.

After dinner, we headed back up to the lagoon and found Peder’s group just returning to the truck after confirming the godwits. Not only that, but they had 5 Whimbrel fly over heading back towards the main road. We spent some time with them trying to locate the Whimbrels, but had no luck.

They headed back to town, while we scanned the flats and relocated the godwits for a better view.

We later were able to get in touch with the other group and gave them the info.

Peder’s group also reported to us an American Wigeon. Eurasian Wigeons are the common wigeon out here, but every spring there are one or two Americans.

One other note. As we were heading back to town earlier, we saw two ravens down on the beach at the water line, digging and feeding on something. I filmed a video of it.

We have no idea what they were digging up out of the sand, but they were being very successful at it.

The new birds today show that migrants are working their way to Adak in spite of the wind direction.

46 species and counting.

The two groups are leaving tomorrow and Jon, Jim, and Chris are arriving.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, occasional rain, mostly drizzle, some dry spells, Wind N 10-15 mph

Still no Asian birds at any of the feeders, but activity has built up at each one.

We had a Wood Sandpiper at the Airport Ditch this morning.

At the marsh, as we were talking with Wendy and John (part of Cassity’s group), snipe — presumably of both Wilson’s and Common — were performing overhead!

At the Adak National Forest, as I walked up to refill the feeder, a Short-eared Owl flew out and quickly disappeared down the hill.

At the north end of Clam Lagoon, the terns were gathered on the rocks like yesterday, but this time there were both Arctic and Aleutian. However, they were segregated. The Arctics to he right and the Aleutians to the left.

Arctic Terns, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2019

Arctic Terns, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2019

Aleutian Terns, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2019

When we got around to the East Side Ponds, there was a flock of five Northern Shovelers! We have had Shovelers on only 10 of our 24 trips. The most we ever had was 6 back in May 2014. We usually have only one or two, so this was an unusual number.

Northern Shovelers, East Side Ponds, May 27, 2019

Shortly after passing Lake Shirley, another Short-eared Owl flushed from beside the road and – as usual – quickly disappeared around the hillside. Two in one day! Not only have we never had two in one day on Adak, we have never had two sightings in one trip! So that was nice.

At Candlestick Bridge, a flock of 4 Black Oystercatchers flew by.

Earlier, when we had stopped at the Palisades Overlook, I saw a large flock of dark waterfowl way over near the shore east of Candlestick Bridge. They were too far away to identify, so when we got to the bridge, I walked down to the beach, around the bend and far enough down the shoreline so I could scope them. They were mostly Harlequins, but there were also 8 Black Scoters and 2 White-winged Scoters. As I said yesterday, most of the migrant waterfowl has left, so any lingering birds like these help the trip list.

As we were going around the lagoon, we ran into Peder’s group who informed us they had 8 Pacific Golden-Plovers and the Pectoral Sandpiper at the marsh this morning. When we were there earlier, the other group was walking the marsh, so the plovers apparently had moved. When we got back there this afternoon, we found 7 of the plovers and the pectoral in the usual location.

After a break at the house and refueling ($5.91/gal — up $.10 from last year, but still a bargain compared to $6.87 a few years ago!) the car (a Ford Expedition, by the way), we headed down to the Hilltop Quarry in search of Snow Bunting for the trip. We were successful.

So we are up to 43 for the trip list. No new Adak birds or lifers so far.

Still north winds…

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, then an occasional spot of sun, winds N at 10-15 mph

We started seeing birds at our feeders this morning. Mostly Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, but that’s a start.

At the Airport Ponds, a group of Aleutian Terns were feeding. This is a favorite spot for them. Up at Contractor’s Camp Marsh, we found three Pacific Golden-Plovers at their usual spot. Although we have seen these plovers in many locations around the island, no other spot is as dependable as this one — the eastern edge of the marsh area at the northeast quadrant, one road west of the main road bordering the marsh.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May26, 2019.

We went to Lake Andrew and had the usual suspects, but also had a little bit of drama.

As we were driving back along the edge of the lake, we saw an eagle hovering over an adjacent pond with several ducks not thrilled with the idea. As the waterfowl took off, the eagle pursued a teal out over Lake Andrew, making several unsuccessful passes at it. However, the duck decided to try putting down in he water to try to avoid the eagle — NOT a great idea!

The eagle again swooped in, forcing the teal to dive to escape. When the teal surfaced it was attacked again by the eagle — which was hovering overhead like an Osprey — and again had to dive to escape. This time it stayed under longer, but eventually had to come up, and this time the eagle landed right on it, held it underwater until it died, and then flew off to the shoreline with it for a tasty meal. Unlike the young eagle we saw a few years ago that landed in the water while trying to catch a fish, and then couldn’t figure out how to take off, and then ignominiously paddled with its wings to shore, this bird had no trouble lifting straight up out of the water — teal in hand.

We headed up to Clam Lagoon and, as we drove around the west side, we ran into the Peder Svingen group (the other is the Kris Cassity group). They told us they saw a Common Merganser on the lake between Shotgun Lake and Lake Andrew. They weren’t sure if it were the Asian variety, so we headed up there to take a look. By the time we got there, the bird had flown. However, as we continued the drive towards Lake Andrew, we spotted a Wood Sandpiper in a small wetland visible from the road.

Wood Sandpiper, near Andrew Lake, May26, 2019.

The other groups and the Johnny and Shari Powell (who were here last week) have had several so far.

At the northwest corner of Clam Lagoon, there were several cormorants sitting on the pilings. Usually, these would be pelagic, but today a Red-faced joined them.

Red-faced (left) and Pelagic cormorants, Clam Lagoon, May26, 2019. Note larger size and stouter bill on the Red-faced.

As we continued around the lagoon, a bunch of Arctic Terns were sitting on the rocks near shore. As I stepped outside the car to get photos, they rose up and flew overhead, calling and dancing in the air.

Arctic Tern, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2019

Arctic Terns, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2019

Arctic Terns, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2019

There were half-a-dozen or so Pacific Loons off the Seawall and one Red-throated Loon.

Back around on the west side, we found a pair of Northern Shovelers — not a rare bird, but uncommon on Adak.

Northern Shovelers, near Clam Lagoon, May26, 2019.

We drove down to Contractors Camp Marsh, where we met Kris Cassity’s group. We told them where we had seen the plovers earlier and they headed over there. We joined them shortly, and while scanning, I spotted a shorebird in the grasses that stumped me. I wasn’t sure of its size (there were only grasses around it, not something easily sizeable like a log or piece of trash!). However, it seemed like a medium-sized shorebird. I alerted the other birders, tried to direct them to the bird — which was difficult as there were no landmarks nearby.

I took several photos and, when I looked at them, the bill and overall impression made me think Least Sandpiper — a very uncommon species up here. But I wasn’t convinced. When we got back to the house, I sent photos to Isaac and he responded that it was in fact a Pectoral Sandpiper. We see many Pectorals here each fall, but they are unusual in spring.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May26, 2019.

That only worsened my confusion — an unexpected species…

We headed into town for a quick break and then went back up to the marsh. Kris’s group was still there. After chatting a bit, we parted ways, but a minute later, he radioed that they had a swan flying in. It landed not fifty yards away. It was a Tundra.

Tundra Swan, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May26, 2019.

We went back towards town and went down to the Airport Ditch to look for shorebirds. There were no shorebirds, but we did find a Green-winged Teal mixed in with the Common Teal.

Green-winged (left with vertical white stripe) with Common teal (horizontal white stripe), Airport Ditch, May26, 2019.

Our trip list is a paltry 39, which is to be expected this late in the month. Most of the waterfowl are gone, and they usually help pad the list.

We are getting northwest winds right now, and although we prefer southwest winds in spring, we will take anything with a westward bent!

More tomorrow.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hello from Adak!

Our flights were uneventful.

After checking in at Anchorage and doing our shopping, we headed down to Potter Marsh, where a Falcated Duck had been seen two weeks earlier. Although there were no reported recent sightings, hope springs eternal…

We spent a bunch of time there, but did not see the bird. We later found out that it was reported the same day we were there!!! Oh well…

However, when we pulled into one of the viewing areas, we saw a pair of Gadwalls reproducing! I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch them in the act, so you will have to settle for post-coital photos.

Gadwall, Potter Marsh, Anchorage, May 24, 2019

Gadwall, Potter Marsh, Anchorage, May 24, 2019

Saturday morning, we headed up to Arctic Valley as usual. The highlights were a nice Wilson’s Warbler and a Gray-cheeked Thrush.

Wlson’s Warbler, Arctic Valley Rd, Anchorage, May 25, 2019

Gray-cheeked Thrush, Arctic Valley Rd, Anchorage, May 25, 2019

We headed over to Lake Hood and found the Red-throated Loon in its usual spot. If anyone wants to see a Red-throated Loon up-close-and-personal, this is the spot! The bird has been returning here for the past few years (without a mate) and is extremely friendly, coming within a few feet of onlookers on shore.

Red-throated Loon, Lake Hood, Anchorage, May 25, 2019

No new Alaska birds.

We headed to the airport and met several of the other birders who were going out at the same flight. The flight arrived early. At the Adak airport, we met John and Shari Powell. They had been out here since the 18th and were leaving today.

They let us know that they had seen at least two Wood Sandpipers at Contractors Camp Marsh, a large flock of Bar-tailed Godwits around Clam Lagoon, and three Whimbrel (Siberian Race) near Clam Lagoon. So  few a few nice birds have moved in since the tour groups left on the 18th.

We did a quick Clam Lagoon drive this evening, but didn’t find any of the afore-mentioned birds. However, one of the other groups that came out with us did have a Wood Sandpiper at the marsh.

We came a week later this year, since the past few years have produced some nice birds during the first week of June (after we left!). We thought we would give it a try. And — it turns out — we didn’t miss anything skipping a week. There have been relentless northerly winds most of the month, making it anathema to Asian vagrants.

We are hoping for a change to southwesterlies…

More tomorrow.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, wind 10 SW mph

Final day

No new shorebirds or passerines, but out at Lake Andrew, Barb spotted a Northern Harrier. By the time I jumped out of the truck to get photos, it was gone.

It was an “orange” bird, thereby excluding Hen Harrier. This is the second time that we have had a harrier at Lake Andrew that quickly got away. Our other two encounters were more photo-friendly.

After all of the great trips we have had over the last couple years, we knew we were headed for a let down. Well this was it. No lifers.

However, it was our third best trip species-wise (60). And our second best year list (92).

We added Redhead to both of our Adak lists and Barb added Leach’s Storm-Petrel (I had one previously).

The shearwaters, Fulmars, and petrel were certainly the highlight of the trip.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, the plane did not arrive on Wednesday, so today’s flight had more passengers than normal. The plane arrived on time, but since the TSA agent comes out with the plane and examines EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF BAGGAGE, the plane left an hour late! This made our connection in Anchorage iffy, but the pilot put the pedal to the medal and we arrived just as our flight to Chicago was boarding. Whew!

That flight left on time and arrived early, but the gate was not empty, so we sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes and were late!

Our layover in Chicago is three-and-a-half hours, so it was no problem.

The flight to Philadelphia left about a half-hour late and, as we were landing, he aborted (there was a plane on the runway where it shouldn’t have been) so we circled for another thirty minutes before finally landing.

So we got home about an hour late, but safe (and with our luggage!).

We will return next May.

PS: We got the Rock Wren this morning (Oct 8)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light shower, Wind SW 10-15 mph

Although there have been a couple of fishing boats in, the fish factory has not been outputting any stuff to the outflow, so the gull activity has waned.

We checked all of the feeders and bushes and trees, but all we found were native species.

As we were approaching Contractor’s Camp Marsh, Barb heard geese, so we got out of the truck and scanned. There was a flock of about one hundred Cackling Geese going over. They were high and not intent on landing.

A Peregrine Falcon was sitting on a guy wire surveying the marsh.

Peregrine Falcon, Contractors Camp Marsh, Oct 5, 2018

After checking Warbler Willows, we went up to Lake Jean (an arm of Lake Andrew) and found a flock of 21 Greater Scaup and one male Bufflehead! This is an early date, as Birds of the Aleutians lists Oct 11 as the early date for the Aleutians (and Oct 17 for Adak).

Bufflehead (left) with Greater Scaup, Lake Jean, Oct 5, 2018

At Clam Lagoon, out on the peninsula, there were 9 Sanderlings.

Sanderling, Clam Lagoon, Oct 5, 2018

I can’t resist taking photos of Sanderlings…

Later, at the South Lookout, we saw the flock of 29.

At the Seawall, Horned and Red-necked grebes continue in good numbers. A Common Murre came in close enough to photograph.

Common Murre, Seawall, Oct 5, 2018

Our Trip List stands at 59, which is way above average, although no lifers contributed.

Our Year List is 91, our second best.

We leave tomorrow evening (6 pm) and will be arriving home late Sunday afternoon and hope to try for the Rock Wren in Bucks County early Monday morning (assuming it is still being reported), so I won’t be posting the wrap-up until Monday afternoon (EDT).

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, overcast, becoming mostly cloudy, Wind WSW 10-20 mph

Not much to report today. If the strong westerlies brought along any Asian birds, we have not yet found them.

There was one Emperor Goose on Clam Lagoon today. We had 8 on the 23rd and 2 on the 24th and Jon and Jim had a flock of 30 a few days before we arrived. We thought the numbers would increase as the time went on, but that hasn’t been the case. A flock of 28 Cackling Geese has been here all week and another flock of 10 arrived two days ago. We have occasionally heard other flocks going over, but could not spot them.

Out at the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, I saw one Sanderling. Then two more joined it, and then the rest of the flock showed up. Unlike the previous sightings, they were not terribly intimidated by me. I walked slowly past them – going out and coming back – and they remained feeding there. Unfortunately, no other shorebirds joined them.

At the marsh edge, the same Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that I photographed two days ago posed out in the open today. Again, approaching slowly allows for close encounters with these birds without spooking them. When I passed by, he just walked back into the reeds.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Oct 4, 2018

Maybe we will find something new tomorrow…

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Temp in the 40s, Overcast and raining until early afternoon, then mostly cloudy, Wind WSW 20-30 mph

Storm birds, but not what we expected…

It was raining and blowing since yesterday evening. A strong low pressure system was sitting just northwest of us sending strong winds and rain in our direction. The wind pattern showed strong winds leading directly from the Kamchatka Peninsula to here!

Come on birds!

It was too wet and windy to look for dicky birds, so we headed to the Sweeper Cove outflow to see what was happening with the gulls. There was the usual mixture, but we also saw a few Short-tailed Shearwaters out on the bay – but not very close.

Gulls and kittiwakes feeding frenzy, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

As usual the gulls and kittiwakes were going at it.

Glaucous-winged Gull and Black-legged Kittiwake, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

We headed north, and at the Airport Creek Bridge, there were two Ruddy Turnstones and one Rock Sandpiper (we hadn’t seen a Rock since last Thursday).

At Clam Lagoon, ducks were out feeding – I guess they felt safe in this weather. There were Mallards, Common Teal, and Northern Pintails. At the Peninsula (seen from the truck!) The flock of Sanderling were skittering about.

The surf was too rough to see much at the Seawall.

As we headed back south, at the Airport Creek Bridge, there were two Rock Sandpipers and two Sanderlings!

We returned to the house for a break (and lunch), then headed back over to Sweeper Cove. The rain was pretty much over, so the conditions were much better – but the truck was still rocking from the wind.

As we pulled up, we saw the flock of gulls as before, but then noticed some darker birds. They were Short-tailed Shearwaters.

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Short-tailed Shearwater with Black-legged Kittiwake, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

We then noticed others. They were Fulmars!

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Then we noticed a small dark bird. It was a Leach’s Storm-Petrel!

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

This is how we like our pelagics – with our feet firmly planted on solid ground!

The petrel was an Adak bird for Barb. I had seen one in May 2010.

We then went around to all of the bushes and trees, looking for new passerines – no luck.

Then up to Clam Lagoon. The tide was in, so there were no flas for shorebirds, but the ducks were still out and were joined by the Cackling Goose flock.

On our way back to town, we had a Glaucous Gull at the Navfac beach. This is our first for a fall trip. We assume we were usually too early for them in September.

Glaucous Gull, Navfac Beach, Oct 3, 2018

Back down at Sweeper Cove, all of the pelagics had left, but a flock of ten Cackling Geese landed nearby. I am always taken aback when I see geese out on the ocean (other than Brant).

Cackling Geese, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

The Trip List is now 58 (5 short of our best) and the Year List is 91 (3 short of our best).

PS: The plane did not arrive today due to weather.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, overcast, becoming partly sunny, Wind WSW 15-20 becoming 20-30 in the afternoon.

Nothing new around town, so we headed north.

At Clam Lagoon, Barb spotted a Jaeger sitting out on the flats. It was too far to identify, so I walked out there and got some very shaky photos – holding a camera steady in 30 mph crosswinds is challenging at best.

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

It turned out to be a Parasitic – a trip bird, but not a year bird. However, it beats the previous late date for a Parasitic Jaeger in the Aleutians (09/21, Attu) and our latest date of 9/19. Also of note was that it was a light morph – 99% of the birds we see out here are dark morphs.

Since I was already out on the flats, I walked the edge and finally got a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper to stand (relatively) still.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

No shorebirds were on the peninsula.

Also on the flats was the flock of Cckling Geese that has been hanging around for the last week or so. Note how they are lined up behind each other to block the gale-forced winds.

Cackling Geese with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

At Lake Andrew, a Peregrine Falcon was toying with a Raven.

Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Andrew, Oct 2, 2018

At the Seawall, we found an Arctic Loon, making this the first trip on which we got all five loon species!

The winds have been roaring all last night and today from the WSW. They should drop a few more birds here for us to find. I hope we can in the last four days…

The Trip List is 55. Year List remains at 89.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, partly sunny, becoming overcast in the afternoon, Wind WSW 10-15 increasing to 20-30 in afternoon.

At the Airport Creek Bridge, we had 3 Ruddy Turnstones, our first since Thursday.

Up at Clam Lagoon, from the South Lookout, we saw the Sanderling flock over on the peninsula, but hey took off and disappeared. When I walked out the peninsula, one lone Sanderling was there.

After passing the Sanderling, just around the bend, a peep flushed again before I could identify it (no, I do not know the peep calls…). Very frustrating.

As I returned, the Sanderling was crouched in a foxhole, trying to stay out of the 30 mph winds.

Sanderling, Clam Lagoon, Oct 1, 2018

At the Lake Andrew Rec Center, a trio of eagles tried out the play equipment.

Bald Eagles, Lake Andrew, Oct 1, 2018

At the Seawall, we had the usual suspects.

At Lake Shirley, the Northern Pintails had gone, but the number of Greater Scaup had increased.

Lake Ronnie was where the Common Teal were hiding today. I scanned though the flock, but could not find anything different.

Back at the Seawall, we found another far-out Yellow-billed Loon. Then a large splash caught our eye. It was a Steller’s Sea Lion working on a fish he had just caught.

Steller’s Sea Lion, Seawall, Oct 1, 2018

Steller’s Sea Lion with Glaucous-winged Gull (and unidentified fish), Seawall, Oct 1, 2018

When we got back around the lagoon, the Sanderlings were on the mud flat adjacent to the South Lookout (don’t know if “Lonesome George” had joined them…).

No new birds today. Trip List remains at 53. Year List at 89.

The winds are getting stronger. Hope springs eternal…

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, partly sunny, Wind WSW 10-20 mph

We went over to Lake Andrew early to see if that duck was still around, but all we found were 5 Common Teal. Out on the lake were two Common Loons — one in breeding plumage and one not.

Still no passerines at any of the willows, spruces, or feeders (other than locals).

At the Seawall, the number of grebes continues above average. We are seeing around 20 Horned and 25 Red-necked each day.

Horned Grebes, Seawall, Sept 30, 2018

At the Airport Creek Bridge, Barb spotted he Sanderling flock coming in. There were 29.

Sanderlings, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 30, 2018

Sanderlings, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 30, 2018

But the excitement of the day came as we were approaching the Lake Andrew Rec Center. We stopped to look at the ponds, and just as we did, a shorebird flew out. It was pale gray, had a white stripe up its back, a long bill, and orange/yellow legs that stuck out beyond the tail. We don’t know if our presence or the eagle or the ravens flying over agitated it, but it flew back and forth (too fast or me to photograph it) and finally landed in one of the ponds behind some reeds. I took the best photos I could and then it flew up again and circled around and disappeared.

Based on what we saw in flight and the head, bill, and neck markings seen in the photo, we believe it is a Spotted Redshank! Our second for the year (but different plumage)!

Spotted Redshank, Andrew Lake Rec Center Ponds, Sept 30, 2018

Good thing that we had the breeding-plumaged bird last May, as this was not very satisfying. This is the first Asian bird we have had on this trip, so we are optimistic that some others may show up. We have been in a westerly flow for several days, but the winds have not been very strong.

We subsequently searched all of the usual places that it might have gone, to no avail.

I usually do not like walking the Clam Lagoon marsh edge on consecutive days, but I had to in case the bird had settled there. I did not find it, but got a nice shot of the Long-billed Dowitchers.

Long-billed Dowitchers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 30, 2018

After dinner, we ventured out again and decided to use the western lighting to scan Kuluk Bay. We were rewarded with a nice Red-thoated Loon. The first one we have had within reasonable photo distance.

Red-throated Loon, Kuluk Bay, Sept 30, 2018

Red-throated Loon, Kuluk Bay, Sept 30, 2018

We also had some nice White-winged Scoters.

White-winged Scoters, Kuluk Bay, Sept 30, 2018

The Trip List is 53 (above average) and the Year List remains at 89.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light rain, wind SW 10-15 mph diminishing as the day went on.

We added two trip birds today.

A Gyrfalcon flew by us near Haven Lake and a Common Loon was on Lake Andrew.

Also at Lake Andrew, a duck flew out of one of the ponds adjacent to the road and disappeared over a dike. It looked different. I slogged my way over to the dike and peered over. There were three ponds – 2 big and 1 little. I could not see all of each pond, but what I could see had no birds.

I noticed that there was a small building up on the hillside (that we had driven up to once before) which would provide a view of all three ponds – or so I thought. However, halfway up the road, there was a locked gate! We could see much of the larger pond from there, but not the other two.

So we will try again tomorrow.

The gulls at the fish factory outflow continue to squabble over the bits nd pieces being discharged there. Here is a short video of the gathering. (Note: I am still working on this, so it may not work.)

At the Seawall, we had 6 Pacific Loons today as well as continuing good numbers of Horned and Red-necked Grebes.

We went up to Clam Lagoon after dinner again, but this time there was only one Common Teal to be seen!

Later, coming back to town, we stopped at the Thrush Feeder where about 40-50 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches had been feeding earlier.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Thrush Feeder, Sept 29, 2018

But by this time of day (sunset), they had gone to roost and two large rats were finishing up whatever the finches hadn’t eaten. This is why I fill the feeders in the morning, rather than the afternoon before.

Norway Rat, Thrush Feeder, Sept 29, 2018

The Trip List stands at 51. The Year List remains at 89.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, rain in the morning, partly sunny in the afternoon, Wind WSW 10-20 mph diminishing in late afternoon.

We added a few trip birds and one year bird, but otherwise, pretty slow.

At the Seawall we saw a Crested Auklet (year bird). This is the third fall trip on which we have seen Crested Auklet close to shore. The other two were in Sweeper Cove and just outside Sweeper Cove. As were those previous sightings, this one also was an immature.

We also found one Ancient Murrelet there.

At the Landing Lights, I saw the flock of 25 Sanderlings on the beach at the Airport Creek Bridge. But, by the time I got back to the truck and we drove the thirty yards up to the bridge, they were gone. One of the birds looked darker than the others and was probably a bird that hadn’t finished molting yet, but it could also have been another sandpiper.

Earlier in the week when Jon, Jim, and I walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, we found a Sea Otter carcass.

Sea Otter remains, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2018They look a lot cuter like this…

Sea Otters, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2018

I walked out the Peninsula this morning and had a small shorebird flush ahead of me before I saw it on the ground. It circled out over the lagoon and back behind me, but when I returned, it was nowhere to be found. Yesterday, when a Pectoral Sandpiper that I was trying to circle around so as not to flush it, flushed, it was soon joined by a smaller shorebird from farther up the marsh edge. They put down a hundred yards ahead of me, but when I got to that area, all I could find was the Pectoral. So there is a small shorebird hanging around — just have to get a look at it.

After dinner, we headed back up to Clam Lagoon. This time of year, the Common Teal hide most of the day in hidden ponds and channels (hiding from hunters and predators we suppose). Then, late in the afternoon, they venture out along the Clam Lagoon marsh edge to feed. So this is the best time to look through the flock for any Asian strays that might be hanging with them (although the lighting sucks at this time of day!).

As usual, they were out along the marsh edge, but we couldn’t pick out any oddities. Two Falcated Ducks were seen in June (after we had left!), and we hoped they somehow stayed around…

The Trip List is 49 and the Year List is 89.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly sunny, wind S 5-10 mph

It blew hard (up to 45 mph) last night and rained an inch, but this morning it was calm and sunny (but cool).

No new birds at Sweeper or the feeders. We checked Warbler Willows and Adak National Forest, but nothing there.

At Landing Lights, four Ruddy Turnstones and one Rock Sandpiper continue.

Ruddy Turnstone, Landing Lights, Sept 27, 2018

Because of the storm last night and the perfect conditions (no wind or rain), I decided to walk Clam Lagoon again today. I had the same mix of birds that we had previously (Pectorals, Sharp-tailed, Dowitchers).

Long-billed Dowitcher, Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2018

I didn’t see that many dowitchers when I was starting out birding, and when I did, they were hunched down like snipe doing their sewing-machine-feeding action. I am always caught a little off-guard when I see them like this — standing tall like a Tringa.

At the Seawall, a young Tufted Puffin was within camera range.

Immature Tufted Puffin, Seawall, Sept 27, 2018

At Lake Shirley we searched for the Redhead to no avail. It, and the American Wigeon, were gone. There were still plenty of Greater Scaup, pintails, and Eurasian Wigeon. We checked Lake Ronnie, but only found Mallards up there. Maybe it is on one of the more inaccessible ponds. We have had birds on Lake Shirley before which would disappear for a day or two and then reappear. We will see.

Further down along the east side of the lagoon, another Peregrine circled overhead.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2018

The sea was still calm as we came back up to the Seawall, so I spent some time scoping (usually, the sea is wavy or choppy, making it hard to get on distant birds long enough to identify them). Today yielded 2 Pacific Loons, 1 breeding-plumaged Yellow-billed Loon (of course, too far out for photos! One of these days…), a White-winged Scoter, 12 Horned Grebes, many Red-necked Grebes, and a lot of alcids. We could not pick out any pelagics going by.

The Trip List is 47, the Year List is 88.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, rain starting in late afternoon, Wind S 10-20 mph

The weather is finally changing. The winds are supposed to swing around to the west and get stronger the next few days. Just what we’re looking for.

The next two sightings are subject to change (gulls are not my forte)!

The fish factory has been busy all week — new boats coming in each day — so the waste outflow at the Sweeper Cove Breakwall has been attracting a lot of birds. Nothing new until today when we spotted a Herring “Vega” Gull.


Herring “Vega” Gull, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, Sept 26, 2018


Herring “Vega” Gull, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, Sept 26, 2018

Up at the Airport Creek Bridge we found a Slaty-backed Gull.

Slaty-backed Gull, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 26, 2018

Slaty-backed Gull, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 26, 2018


Slaty-backed Gull, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 26, 2018

Jon, Jim, and I walked Clam Lagoon again this morning and found about the same as two days ago.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 26, 2018

But the excitement of the day was at Lake Shirley, where we found a Redhead — second record for Adak. It was all the way across and in very poor light, but I got some very poor photos.

Redhead (second from right — in back), Lake Shirley, Sept 26, 2018

We hope it will hang around and give me a better photo-op.

We had 25 Sanderlings on the lagoon and the flock of 25 Cackling Geese is still hanging around.

Only one Ruddy Turnstone and no Rock Sandpipers today (although Jon and Jim had 4 turnstones).

Jon and Jim left today, so we are birding alone for the next ten days.

The trip list is 43 and the years list is 87.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, light NW winds (Horrible weather!!!!)

So far, most commentators on our crane say it is a Sandhill. We tend to agree.

Nothing new today (not even a trip bird). However, I did get some photos.

A flock of Cackling Geese near the Seawall took off as we tried to pass them.


Cackling Geese, near the Seawall, Sept 25, 2018

In the fall, there are many more Pacific Wrens around and they are very friendly.

Pacific Wren, Seawall, Sept 25, 2018

As are the song Sparrows.

Aleutian Song Sparrow, Landing Lights, Sept 25, 2018

There are usually more Peregrine Falcons around, too.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2018

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2018

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2018

At the Landing Lights today, I had a shearwater (probably Short-tailed) fly in just above the water (which was like glass) flap-flap-flap-glide, occasionally dropping his head to pick something off of the surface. It was too backlit and far away to get photos. but it was neat to watch.

There are Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches and Song Sparrows at several of the feeders, but nothing else so far.

The majority of Lapland Longspurs have left, but a few flocks remain.

Jon and Jim leave tomorrow, so we will be the only birders on the island for the next week-and-a-half. We hope they find a goodie before they leave.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light shower, wind WNW switching to NW 10-15 mph

My blog was still down. This was posted Tuesday morning.

The fish factory was in operation today so there were a lot of gulls at the Sweeper Cove breakwater. Nothing unusual, however.

We spent all of the morning around or near town, as far as Landing Lights.

At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, we had two Peregrine Falcons cavorting.

Peregrine Falcons, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 24, 2018

Just as we were leaving Landing Lights, a crane flew directly over us heading out over the bay. It turned south and flew along the shoreline. We raced down along Bayshore Drive and spotted it again turning towards Sweeper Cove. We raced to Sweeper Cove and saw it flying due west towards the west end.

By the time we got to the end of the cove, we had lost sight of it. We started driving around that area in hopes of finding it on the ground. This is the same area where a flock of 30 or so Sandhill Cranes spent a week or so back in May/June 2008. Also, we have had Sandhill Cranes only on our May trips.

We tried calling Jon and Jim, but couldn’t reach them. We finally turned into the road leading up to the gas station, and just as we stopped, Jim called and asked if we saw anything new. We reported that we were chasing a crane and gave them our location. As I was doing that, Barb yelled “There it is!.” It flew low directly over us. I hopped out and started taking photos while directing Jim where the bird was headed.

The bird flew south of us, circled like it was going to land, but instead rose again, circled even higher and eventually disappeared over the ridgetop.

By then Jon and Jim had arrived (too late to see the bird) and they followed us up the road that went around the ridge in hopes of spotting it again (Both needed that bird for Adak).

We got around the ridge and scanned. No bird. We headed up to he quarry at the top of the next ridge and scanned. No bird.

We assumed it was a Sandhill, but when we looked at the photos on the camera, we weren’t positive. This bird was a young bird and had black secondaries. We new from our bird guides that Common Cranes have black secondaries and adult Sandhill Cranes have gray secondaries, but we couldn’t determine if young Sandhills also had black secondaries.

I posted the photos to IDFrontiers and waited for replies…

Sandhill Crane, Sweeper Cove area, Sept 24, 2018

So far, two responders ruled out Common Crane and one ruled out Sandhill! We are waiting for more replies. (Although we are leaning towards Sandhill).

In the meantime, we headed up to Clam Lagoon. Jon, Jim, and I walked the marsh edge and there were a lot more birds there today. It was hard to tell exactly how many, as some of the birds just flushed and landed ahead of us. Others circled around behind us. Suffice it to say there were probably a dozen Pectorals, 2 or 3 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and 2 or 3 Long-billed Dowitchers.

Halfway up, the rain started and soaked us pretty good…

We continued around the lagoon. On the east side we had two Emperor Geese and an adult Peregrine Falcon (the pair we saw earlier were young birds).

Or trip it is up to 40 and our year list is 86.

My blog software is back up and running!!!

Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23, 2018

Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23, 2018

My WordPress blogging software got corrupted somehow, so I was not able to do any posts the first couple of days. This is being posted on 9/25.

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, west wind 10 mph

Our flights were uneventful.

On Saturday morning in Anchorage, we drove up to Arctic Valley first thing and, like last year, we were the first one up the road, so we found a couple of Spruce Grouse along the road edge. This one flew up into a tree.

Spruce Grouse, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, Sept 22, 2018

Part way up, barb spotted a couple of Varied Thrushes out in the open, but by the time I raised my camera, they had scuttled back into the brush. We just have not had any luck with those…

Once we reached the top (the ski area), we spotted a Dipper which cooperated by posing nicely for us.

Dipper, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, Sept 22, 2018.

Potter Marsh produced nothing new for us, so we headed up to Ship Creek. As usual, the tide was out, so no shorebirds at the mouth. We drove upstream a bit to a parking area and in an impoundment next to the creek were three Wilson’s Snipe.

Wilson’s Snipe (the third one was out-of-frame), Ship Creek, Anchorage, Sept 22, 2018

We headed to the airport and arrived in Adak around 5 PM. Jon And Jim filled us in on what few birds were around. They had had Emperor Geese and Gray-tailed Tattler (both lifers for Jon) and another birder had a Baird’s Sandpiper (w/photos). They also had Pacific Golden-Plovers, several American Pipits, a Red Phalarope, and at least one Parasitic Jaeger still hanging around. Not much else to report.

We did a quick run up to Warbler Willows and the flats at Clam Lagoon. At the flats, we had a flock of nine Sanderling.

We called it a day.

Sunday, Sept 23

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, west wind 10 mph in the AM increasing during the afternoon.

On Sunday, we started our usual route of Sweeper Cove, Sweeper Creek, feeders, etc.

At the Sweeper Cove breakwall, a small fishing boat was just off-shore (maybe 50 yrds) and a large number of gulls and alcids were present. However, none of them were extraordinary. Glaucous-winged Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Murres, Pigeon Guilemots, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned Puffins, etc.

At Landing Lights, we had several Rock Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones (this is where both the tattler and Baird’s had been seen).

We met up with Jon and Jim at Clam Lagoon and the three of us walked the marsh edge. We found 4 Pectoral Sandpipers and 2 Long-billed Dowitchers. Amazingly, no Sharp-tailed Sandpipers! Up til that point, they hadn’t seen a pectoral (they had been there since Wednesday).

Pectoral Sandpipers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 23, 2018

Long-billed Dowitcher, Clam Lagoon, Sept 23, 2018

At the Seawall, there were a lot of Red-necked Grebes (a couple dozen) and 6 Horned Grebes.

Lake Shirley hosted a couple dozen Eurasian Wigeon and one American, as well as a dozen Greater Scaup and 4 Northern Pintail.

As we neared Candlestick Bridge, I spotted a family of Emperor Geese – 2 adults and 5 kids. When we drove back up to the Seawall another lone goose was out on Goose Rocks (and rightly so!).

Emperor Geese, Clam Lagoon, Sept 23, 2018

Just north of town, a flock of 16 Cackling Geese flew over.

The Sanderlngs, Emperor Geese, and Dowitchers were new birds for our Adak Year List (now at 83).

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, Wind w 15-20 mph

Final Day

Just as we were going out, Jon called to say the Sandhill Cranes were down near the Airport Ditch. We went down there, but the cranes were gone.

At Sweeper Cove we had another Horned Puffin.

Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove

We went up to Clam Lagoon, but found no shorebirds on the peninsula. The flats had few birds, also.

On flight day, we tend to stay near town in case something goes wrong with the truck. The Brambling was at Seal Drive Feeder and Jon and Jim reported having two there later.

The Temminck’s Stint was still here.

Late in the afternoon, we were just driving towards town from Landing Lights when Jon called to say they just had two Tundra Bean Geese flying over and headed our way from town. We looked up and there they were, coming in for a landing on the other side of the airport runway. They disappeared over a little rise.

We drove up to the Airport Escarpment where we could see the runway and spotted them. The distance and heat waves prevented nice photos, but here is one anyway.

Tundra Bean Geese, Airport, May 30, 2018

That put our trip list at 80! One shy of our May record.

In summary, the trip was very good.

It started off with a bang — the Great Egret — but quickly got bogged down by east winds. However, the winds shifted for the second week and we did much better.

We had one Lifer — Spotted Redshank

Four new Adak birds for us — Great Egret, Spotted Redshank, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Hooded Merganser

The Semi was a new bird for Adak.

Other birds seen by other birders while we were there, but missed by us, include: Short-eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Red-necked Stint, Sandhill Crane, and Dunlin.

Barb now has 147 for Adak, I have 146.

A combined list of 152.

THE bird of the trip was, of course, the Spotted Redshank. Not a bird we really had expectations of.

We will be back in September.

PS: There was an article in the recent ABA publication Birder’s Guide to Travel on Adak, etc. There have been some changes (such as flight schedules) since that piece was put together. See my Guide to Birding Adak, Alaska at for current information.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Adak weather at its finest!

Temp in the 40s, overcast, drizzle most of the day, wind WSW 30-40 mph!

It was so lovely out, that Jon decided to take a stroll on the beach…

Jon Boone out for a leisurely beach stroll on a balmy day on Adak…

Notice the tilt towards the WSW…

We headed up to Clam Lagoon first thing to see what might have blown in overnight.

The Little Stint was still there, but not the Red-necked.

Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 29, 2018

Along the marsh edge, we found a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Out from the South Lookout, an adult Slaty-backed Gull was sitting with the Glaucous-winged Gulls.

Slaty-backed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 29, 2018

We headed south, had a Hawfinch at the Adak National Forest, then went down to the marsh. Just as we were approaching, Jon called to say the Spotted Redshank was back!

We raced over to the area, but just as we arrived, it took off and disappeared. Barb saw it fly out, but I missed it. Although we all searched the area for some time, it was not refound.

By the way, the Greater White-fronted Goose that had relocated to the marsh the day before, watched with befuddlement at these strange beings racing around the marsh…

Down at Sweeper Creek, we found a Hawfinch in the lone spruce tree there, This is where we saw our first Adak Brambling.

Hawfinch, Sweeper Creek Spruce, May 29, 2018

The weather was horrible all day, so we took a break mid-afternoon.

When we went back out, we were driving up Bayshore and stopped to check the beach. I saw a small gull next to a large gull and my first reaction was “What’s the large gull?”

It should have been “What’s the small gull?”

It turned out to be a Mew Gull. Only the second that we have seen out here. The question then was “What subspecies?”

After checking the guides and the photos, we determined that it was the North American subspecies Larus canus brachyrhynchus.

Mew Gull Larus canus brachyrhynchus, Sandy Cove Beach, May 29, 2018

Mew Gull Larus canus brachyrhynchus, Sandy Cove Beach, May 29, 2018

Mew Gull Larus canus brachyrhynchus, Sandy Cove Beach, May 29, 2018

How this North American bird found its way out to Adak during a week of strong southwest winds is beyond me. It should have been one of the Asian subspecies.

Jon and Jim had three Sandhill Cranes today.

At 79 species so far, this is already our second-best May total.

One more day to find another good bird.

NOTE: This will be my last post until Friday morning, eastern time. We leave tomorrow evening around 6 pm and don’t get home until Thursday around 5 pm (which is noon Adak time)!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Temp in the 40s, Mostly cloudy, occasional fine drizzle, Wind SW 20-40 mph

The Brambling has settled in at the Seal Drive Feeder.

Brambling, Seal Drive Feeder, May 28, 2018

A Hawfinch is there, too (as well as at several other feeders).

At the Airport Ditch, at least one Wood Sandpiper and the two peeps are still being seen, as well as the Greater White-fronted Goose. Wood Sandpipers continue to be seen at multiple locations.

Greater White-fronted Goose, Airport Ditch, May 28, 2018

The goose was not seen there later in the day, but has moved up to Contractor’s Camp Marsh.

Jon and Jim also had a Dunlin today.

A flock of 18 Aleutian Cackling Geese flew over today.

At Lake Shirley/Lake Ronnie, the American Wigeon and Lesser Scaup were still present, but not the Hooded Merganser or Tufted Duck.

Jon and Jim refound the Gadwall hiding in a small reedy pond on the approach to Lake Shirley.

At the Seawall, we finally spotted a Short-tailed Shearwater flying by.

At Clam Lagoon, I again walked the marsh edge. Right near the beginning, the American Green-winged Teal posed.

American Green-winged Teal, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2018

A little farther up, A Pectoral Sandpiper flew out.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2018

As Barb pulled up to the West Lookout (where she would pick me up), she saw a  small to medium-sized shorebird on the nearby flats, but it flew off before she could get the scope on it.

As we were coming back around the lagoon, we ran into Jon and Jim who said they just had a Red-necked Stint out on the peninsula.

I walked out, and just as I rounded the bend, a peep flew out and away and I could not relocate it. I assumed it was the stint.

After dinner, I went back up to the peninsula and walked out, hoping the stint had returned. My experience with stints out here has been that they stay a few days and are friendly.

Well, as I walked out, the same thing happened — a peep flew out and disappeared. However, this time it circled back and landed thirty yards behind me. It was a Little Stint — our first spring record. Many more are seen in the fall.

So I don’t know what I saw earlier — the Red-necked or the Little. Maybe tomorrow.

Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2018

So new birds are coming in each day. More strong SW winds are expected to continue through Wednesday. Unfortunately, we leave on Wednesday! Who knows what else will be blown in. In the meantime, we keep on lookin’…

The trip list is 77.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Temp in the 40s, overcast, heavy rain starting in early afternoon, Wind SSE 10-15 increasing as the day went on

At Sweeper Cove this morning we finally got a Horned Puffin for the trip. Alcids in general have been low in numbers here this year. Don’t know why…

At the Seal Drive Feeder, we got a Brambling. Jim and Jon have seen several so far, but not at feeders.

Brambling, Seal Drive Feeder, May 27, 2018

The Hooded Merganser and Lesser Scaup were seen at Lake Smith today by Jon and Jim. This lake is along the drive up to Lake Ronnie, and ducks frequently go between the two. The American Wigeon were on Lake Shirley and the Seawall produced nothing new.

There are Wood Sandpipers in a number of locations. Not a major invasion (like a hundred), but still not bad. Very easy to see.

I decided to walk the Clam Lagoon Marsh Edge. Although it is better in fall, you never know. I tried calling Jon and Jim to join me, but couldn’t reach them.

I walked down to the flats and shortly after, a Mallard jumped out in front of me and. instead of flying away — as Mallards are wont to do out here — she flayed about as if injured. This was the same “broken wing act” we saw by the Semipalmated Plover a few days ago. There were chicks nearby.

Mallard doing a “broken wing act”, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2018

Shortly after, Barb called to let me know there was a large shorebird ahead of me — probably a Common Greenshank, She was scoping from the truck at the South Lookout.

Right after she called, I came upon a peep right in front of me. I couldn’t see the shorebird Barb had located due o the vegetation. So I concentrated on the bird at hand. I got several excellent photos, and as I was talking with Barb on the radio, Jon chimed in and asked what was happening. We told him about the two birds and invited them to join me. They said they would be right there.

I decided to not move so I wouldn’t flush the birds, but within a minute, they both took off for parts unknown!

Jon and Jim arrived a few minutes later and we walked the length of the edge and out the peninsula to no avail. However, we flushed a pipit, which Jon called an American. I somehow got photos of it in flight and confirmed Jon’s identification.

American Pipit, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2018

The peep turned out to be the Semipalmated Sandpiper from two days ago down near the airport. The breast and back feathers molting in were identical.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2018

We split up and Barb and I went down to Warbler Willows. Although not leafed out, yet, (and much better in the fall) we still check them — just because.

When we got there, a Common Redpoll was sitting there, but quickly flew away.

The rain was coming down in buckets at this point and the wind was increasing, so we went back to the house for a break.

When we went back out, the weather was still miserable, but we persevered.

At the Airport Ditch, we found a pair of geese. One Aleutian Cackling and a Greater White-fronted. However, the White-fronted was no larger than the Cackling! This should not be — we thought. We tried to make the White-fronted into a Lesser White-fronted, to no avail. We later learned that the smallest Greater White-fronted was no larger than a large Cackling. Oh well, at east a trip bird.

Greater White-fronted Goose (right) and Aleutian Cackling Goose, Airport Ditch, May 27, 2018

Greater White-fronted Goose, Airport Ditch, May 27, 2018

We called Jon and Jim and they added it to their list as well.

After we left, they refound the Temminck’s Stint there.

I went out after dinner to see if anything else was blown in. On my way up past the airport, several shorebirds flew across the road. I couldn’t tell what they were in the poor light and driving rain, and, of course, they landed behind some grasses. I got out of the truck and walked over and discovered they were just Rock Sandpipers.

Rock Sandpiper, Airport, May 27, 2018

As i drove up the road, many more flew off the side of the road. They had been sheltering in the lee of the sand dune between the road and the beach.

Our trip list is now 74!

More strong SW winds coming!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A waterfowl day.

Temp in the 40s, overcast turning partly sunny. Wind SW 5-10 increasing as the day went on.

At least one Hawfinch remains at the Adak National Forest and Jon and Jim saw one in town and one down near Sweeper Cove today.

There are a few more Wood Sandpipers around at various places.

Neither the Spotted Redshank, or the two peeps were seen today.

At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, a lot of snipe were calling and winnowing. I managed to get a shot of a Common.

Common Snipe, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 26, 2018

At Lake Jean, we had a Common Loon and a flock of 48 Cackling Geese flew over.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, Lake Jean, May 26, 2018

At the Seawall, there were several Pacific Loons and dozens of White-winged Scoters.

You may be wondering why I haven’t yet posted a photo of the Tufted Duck at Lake Shirley.

Well, Lake Shirley is approximately two-and-a-half football fields wide! And the ducks tend to stay on the far side (see my Common Greenshank photos from last May to see the quality of photos at that distance).

Well today, as we approached the lake, the Tufted Duck was on this side. Of course, as soon as she saw us she started to swim away, but not before I was able to finally get a photo.

Tufted Duck, Lake Shirley, May 26, 2018

As I was concentrating on taking the above photo, Barb was trying to get my attention, but I was so focused, it wasn’t sinking in. There was a pair of American Wigeon close by! 99% of the wigeon out here are Eurasian, so American is noteworthy.

American Wigeon, Lake Shirley, May 26, 2018

We continued up to Lake Ronnie.

As I was scanning the Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards, and Scaup, I noticed a pair of Lesser Scaup (usually annual, but not common).

Then I noticed a smaller bird with the mergansers. It turned out to be a female Hooded Merganser. A rare bird out here and an Adak bird for us.

Hooded Merganser (back) with Red-breasted Merganser, Lake Ronnie, May 26, 2018

So three waterfowl for the trip list and one new Adak Bird. No lifers, but still a good day.

We have added 4 new birds to our Adak list so far on this trip — Great Egret, Spotted Redshank, Semipalmated Sandpiper (also a first for Adak) and Hooded Merganser.

The trip list is now 68.

The southwest winds are picking up again…

Friday, May 25, 2018

They just keep coming…

Temp in the 40s. partly sunny, showers in the morning, Wind North 15-20 mph

Note: If anyone read yesterday’s blog before I corrected it, please note that the “Little Stint” was actually a Semipalmated Sandpiper. More on this below.

It took ten days, but we finally got out mandatory rainbow photo for the trip.

Rainbow, Adak,, May 25, 2018

We decided to head up to Adak National Forest first thing this morning in order to see the Hawfinches before they hid on us all day!

Well, we got there, and although it took about 15 minutes, they finally appeared.

We headed down the hill, checked the Thrush Feeder, then went into the marsh.

At the “Plover Spot”, we saw 3 Pacific Golden-Plovers. Then I saw another shorebird which I immediately recognized as a Spotted Redshank! In breeding plumage no less!

Thankfully, Jim and Jon were in radio distance and got to our location in a few minutes. This was a lifer for Jim, Jon, and me. Barb had one in New Jersey many years ago, but this was a semi-lifer, as her previous one was in non-breeding plumage.

No question on this ID.

Spotted Redshank, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 25, 2018

Spotted Redshank, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 25, 2018

Spotted Redshank, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 25, 2018

Spotted Redshank, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 25, 2018

Spotted Redshank, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 25, 2018

There are two other records for Adak — one on May 30,1972 and one on Sept 20,1975.

What a bird!!!!

A nice way to start the day.

Now, about yesterday…

I am allowed to make one bone-headed ID mistake each trip. Yesterday’s Little Stint was this trip’s quota.

When I saw the bird, I new it was a peep/stint. It had dark legs, so Least, Long-toed, and Temminck’s were ruled out. Baird’s and White-rumped are very distinctive, so they were ruled out also. That left Western, Red-necked, and Little. Westerns have long bills and always some rufous feathers somewhere, so that eliminated that species.

So that left the two stints. Having seen both Red-necked and Little, I felt confident that I could tell them apart. The bird just didn’t look like a Red-necked to me, so I convinced myself (and the others around me) that it was a Little Stint.

After posting it to this blog last night, I received several messages from good birding friends who are much better at this than I am, pointing out that this was in fact a Semipalmated Sandpiper!

Semi had never even crossed my mind, as they have never occurred here (although Isaac had a glimpse of what he thought as one several years ago) and are rare in the Aleutians as a whole.

So. The bird was a Semipalmated Sandpiper. New for Adak and new for our personal Adak list (and trip list),

Back to today.

We headed up to Clam Lagoon. There was a Common Loon on the lagoon — unusual location.

The score today at Lake Shirley was Tufted Duck 1; Gadwall 0.

As we drove down the east side of the lagoon, we got a call from Jon that there was another peep with the one from yesterday and they thought t might be a Temminck’s!

We raced around the lagoon (boy, we wish Candlestick Bridge was repaired — maybe when we win the lottery…)

We got there and saw the bird. It had yellow legs, which meant it was either a Least Sandpiper, a Long-toed Sandpiper, or a Temminck’s Stint. The Long-toed is fairly distinctive in shape and appearance, so was ruled out.

We’ve seen two Temminck’s Stints here, one in spring and one in fall. At first, this bird did not strike me as a Temminck’s — the jizz just wasn’t right. But after looking at it more carefully (especially after yesterday’s fiasco), I was finally convinced it was.

But, just to be certain, I sent photos to my friends — Aaron and Isaac — and they concurred.


This also was a lifer for Jon and Jim!

Here are a few photos.

Temminck’s Stint, Airport Ditch, May 25, 2018

Temminck’s Stint, Airport Ditch, May 25, 2018

Temminck’s Stint, Airport Ditch, May 25, 2018

Temminck’s Stint (left) and Semipalmated Sandpiper, Airport Ditch, May 25, 2018. Photo by Jim DeForge.

Its amazing how different a bird can look in different positions and lighting!

While observing the peeps, a nearby Semipalmated Plover kept chasing them away anytime they got near her nesting area.

She tried to lure us away as well.

Semipalmated Plover trying to lure us away from her nest with her “broken wing” act. No, we did not step on it! May 25, 2018

Later, we went back up to Adak National Forest, just to see if anything new showed up. We pulled up and a few minutes after sitting there, a bird flew out and started flycatching above the forest. It landed briefly, but not long enough for me to get the camera on it. It then continued flycatching back and forth across the road and trees until it finally flew east and disappeared. It was flying so erratically that I could not get my camera on it. When it had landed, i did see that i had a long tail (like a Song Sparrow, for instance), but we could not tell what it was. It was totally backlit as well.

We called Jon and Jim and they arrived, but none of us could relocate the mystery bird.

One that got away…

On the way back to town, there were a couple of Glaucous Gulls hanging out near the Landing Lights.

Two Glaucous Gulls with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Landing Lights, May 25, 2018

The trip list is 65.

Keep em comin!