Temp in the 40s, Almost clear at dawn, but overcast by mid-morning, Wind calm at dawn, but SE 15-25 by late afternoon, rain starting at 5:30 PM
I keep checking Lake Leone for the Tufted Duck. The scaup have returned, but no Tufted.
Another nice morning to look for dickey-birds, so off I went to check all of the spruces and willows. No luck.
At Contractors Camp Marsh, I had two Pacific Golden-Plovers. They looked like the two I had at Clam Lagoon a few days ago.
At the Palisades Overlook, I spotted the (a) Red-throated Loon that Aaron had reported last week. Yes I identified this one correctly (upturned mandible clearly seen, although hard to see in this photo).
At Clam Lagoon, I walked the Peninsula and Marsh Edge.
Nothing on the Peninsula.
The Marsh Edge had Pectorals and Sharp-tails.
At one point a flock of three Pecs flushed and were soon joined by two much smaller shorebirds. Unfortunately, I only got distant, rear-end pics. So no ID.
When I pulled into the Blue Building area, the Gyrfalcon flew by.
The Seawall had a scattering of the usual birds.
On the road just past Lake Shirley, I spotted a bird on the side of the road that looked “different.”
After a steady diet of longspurs, rosy-finches, and song sparrows, you learn to notice something “different.”
I got my binos on it and recognized it immediately. A White-crowned Sparrow!
Not rare back home, but a first for Adak.
There are no confirmed records for the Central and Western Aleutians. So this was a very good record.
But Wait. There’s more!
Just as this bird scooted into the grasses on the left side of the road, another “different” bird emerged from the right.
I also recognized this one immediately (but not from familiarity, just from field guides).
A Eurasian Skylark!
There are two record for Adak back in 1995 (2 birds in June/July and one bird in August). Plus Isaac Helmericks had one on Oct 25, 2010.
So another great record. And a lifer to boot!
No more big hits today.
I went down to Finger Bay and photographed the gulls waiting for dinner.
This one kept walking in front of my car. I think he was too fat to fly…
So I added three birds to my trip list, two birds to my Adak list, and one bird to my Lift List today.
It was cold enough last night for Mount Moffet to get its first snow dusting of the season.
It was all melted off by late afternoon.
I checked the High School Spruces several times today. No thrush sighting.
Between the High School Spruces and the High School Willows, there is a lone large spruce tree.
I scan it every time I pass by and have never seen a single bird there. Not even a longspur.
Well this morning I pulled up started to scan it and out popped a bird!
It was too far to identify with binos, so (not thinking) I grabbed my window mount scope and zeroed in on it. As soon as I did, it flew away!
If I had grabbed my camera instead, I would have had a chance to click off one or two pics. Distant, but probably identifiable.
I searched all of the nearby willows and spruces to no avail. I have no idea what the bird was. It was light underneath. That is all I got before it flew. Disappear #1.
On the past two mornings, while scanning Kuluk Bay for seabirds, I have spotted the Gyrfalcon hunting over the water (presumably for waterfowl and alcids). I have seen this behavior on previous trips.
At Contractors Camp Marsh, I spotted a Peregrine Falcon cruising by. But this one was an adult (unlike the juvenile I had been seeing the past week).
But by the time I jumped out of the car to get a photo, it had disappeared. Disappear #2.
After checking all of the willows, spruces, and feeders, I headed up to Clam Lagoon.
The Peninsula had no shorebirds, so I walked the Marsh Edge.
I only had Pectoral and Sharp-tailed sandpipers today. No dowitchers.
But I also saw the adult Peregrine again. This time for a photo.
Over at the Seawall there was a feeding frenzy of gulls and murres going on. With them was a Pacific Loon.
By the way, the Arctic Loon that I reported a few days ago was a Common. For some reason up here, Common Loons look smaller to me and the bills look smaller as well. Once I have that in my brain, then it is a choice between Pacific and Arctic. I have to judge loon size better…
When I stopped by the Adak National Forest, just after I stopped, a small bird flew onto one of the top branches. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again! So I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car — as the bird flew away.
When I stopped to see Lisa (the Refuge Manager), she asked if I had seen any recent dead birds or sickly-looking ones.
The eagle population on Adak has crashed. Down at Finger Creek, during the salmon run (right now), there should be dozens of eagles. I remember one year that Barb counted 59!
This year there are none.
And the number of eagles I am seeing elsewhere is in the single digits.
They suspect bird flu, but have not yet proven it. They are looking for freshly dead birds to analyze.
Temps in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional drizzle, Wind SW 10-20 mph
An interesting day, but not exciting…
A lot of distant and/or blurry photos today.
Once it was bright enough, I went over to the High School Spruces to look for the Naumann’s Thrush.
As I walked up to the area, I heard robin-like chatter and saw the thrush fly down to a lower tree and then up to the Eurasian Sparrowhawk tree and then disappear into the foliage.
It was way too fast for me to get any photos, but it was clear it was the thrush.
I knew that if I hiked up the hillside, it would simply fly away, so I decided to wait it out.
I waited for over an hour, but it never showed itself. I even tried playing its song and call (yes, I have all the Siberian bird songs on my phone!), but it is not as if this bird were defending its breeding territory. No response.
I tried again in late afternoon, but did not see or hear it.
I will try again on ensuing days.
As I was standing there waiting for the thrush, a low-flying flock of Cackling Geese came over.
They were low enough that the white collar was visible, designating them as the Aleutian race.
On the way out from Warbler Willows, near the road to Lake Andrew, I flushed another snipe. However, this time I saw where it went, so I walked over there and got a nice blurry photo of it. It was a Common Snipe — as can be told by the broad white trailing edge to the wing.
Just off South Kuluk Beach, there was a feeding frenzy — mostly Red-breasted Mergansers. But also a White-winged Scoter.
Ever since the scoter split, I have been trying to find a Stejneger’s Scoter out here. This one was just a White-winged.
Later, up at the Seawall, I found a female Black Scoter.
Also at the Seawall, Red-necked Grebes continue to hang around.
I drove down to Candlestick Bridge, checked all of the gulls on the flats and returned to the Seawall.
Out on Goose Rocks were two Emperor Geese.
They weren’t there when I had passed by about 40 minutes before.
I took some photos. Then I looked down at my camera to adjust some settings, looked up and they were gone!
As with so many of the birds out here, you gotta be fast…
Yesterday was a two-falcon day.
Today was a two-goose day!
When I got back around to the west side of the Lagoon, I saw two shorebirds out on the flats, but nearer the South Lookout than where I was.
So I raced down to the South Lookout, climbed down to the flats, and started to approach them (taking photos along the way).
Anytime I see shorebirds out in the middle of the flats, I expect them to be something different than the birds along the marsh edge or peninsula.
They were just Pectorals.
I think they landed there just to fool me into thinking they were something else!
As I was walking out there, I also noticed a pair of large ducks feeding alone.
Most ducks this time of year are in flocks, so loners get me interested.
Not only were they feeding on their own, they didn’t flush when I got within a thousand yards from them like all the others do.
In fact they let me get within 40 yards and they just kept on feeding.
Unfortunately, they were just Northern Pintails.
I guess they were young birds who had not yet learned how dangerous man is.
Temp in the 40s, mostly sunny, almost calm at sunrise changing to SE 10-15 mph in the afternoon. Rain starting at 5:30 PM
Perfect weather for dickey-bird hunting!
So i spent the morning scouring every spruce tree and willow bush that I could find.
To no avail!
I visited the High School Spuices (Naumann’s Thrush site) three times today. Nada…
However, during my rounds, I found the Gyrfalcon again.
Later in the day, I saw the Peregrine. So it was a two-falcon day.
In the afternoon, I headed to Clam Lagoon and walked the Peninsula and Marsh Edge.
The Peninsula was birdless, but as I was walking from the Peninsula across the flats towards the south end of the Marsh Edge, three shorebirds flew in and landed nearby.
Two plovers and a dowitcher.
The dowitcher was much more colorful than the three I saw in the 18th.
I believe this was a juvenile, while the others were winter adults.
The plovers were in different plumages. Here is the first one.
The second one I am not sure of and have put out feelers to my band of experts. It might be an American Golden-Plover… or not.
Along the Marsh Edge were the usual suspects, pectorals, sharp-tails, and dowitcher.
Over the last week, Aaron’s group had been seeing a Little Stint here as well. Examination of their photos show it to be a different one from the one we had on the 18th.
I did not see it today. Of course…
Over at the Seawall, not too many birds were sitting on Cormorant Rocks!
I then revisited the feeders, spruces, and willows. Still nada…
I checked Lake Leone and all of the ducks were gone (tufted and scaup).
Up at the Hilltop Quarry, I finally got my Snow Buntings for the trip.
The salmon are nearing the end of their run on Finger Creek, but the gulls are still having a feast.
And a Harlequin was in a hurry to get away from me as I drove along the creek.
Aaron’s group departed yesterday, so I am the lone birder on the island right now.
Birds that they saw that I did not include: Wood Sandpiper, Gray-tailed Tattler, Black Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Common Goldeneye, Barn Swallow (would have been an Adak bird for me), and Rough-legged Hawk.
The vagaries of birding. Being at the right place at the right time. For most of those birds, it was a one or two minute interval that made the difference between seeing and not seeing those birds.
Temp in the 40s to low 50s, mostly cloudy, wind NW 1-20 mph
As I was making the rounds filling feeders in the pre-dawn twilight, Jupiter (and several of its moons) were low in the western sky.
I have rarely seen planets (or stars for that matter) up here, as it is so often overcast.
It took me the better part of a week to see my first Laysan Albatross of the trip, and then this morning I had 4 within ten minutes or so as I was scanning near the Sweeper Cove breakwall!
Over the last several days, as I was approaching the Warbler Willows road, I flushed a snipe from beside the road.
Each time it was too quick to get a good enough view to determine the species.
Today, I saw it on the road before it flew and was able to get my binos on it as it flew off. I could see that it was a Wilson’s.
Where Airport Creek flows into Kuluk Bay (just north of the Landing Lights) a flock of mergansers and Eider were having a small feeding frenzy.
Among this flock was also an Common Loon.
Up at the Blue Building, I finally ran into a Brambling — although a very uncooperative one.
There appear to be several on the island, as Aaron has heard/seen at least two, and maybe three, others.
But the most excitement of the day was mid-afternoon (just before the flight arrived).
I had just returned to the town area when I got a call from Aaron saying that they just had a Naumann’s Thrush at the High School Spruces!
I arrived in a minute and got to see it and get one poor photo.
Aaron got many more photos (standing and in flight) and after reviewing them and then checking an ID reference while sitting at the airport, was confident it was that species and not a Dusky/Naumann’s hybrid.
He was going to do more research and reach out to other experts, so I will let you know the conclusion as he posts it.
I drove around and filled all of the feeders in and near town before sunrise.
As I was driving back, I saw a small gull down on South Kuluk Beach.
This is where I found a Short-billed Gull back in May 2018.
However, this bird was a juvenile and I am not familiar with differentiating between Common and Short-billed gulls in this plumage.
I took a bunch of photos and in the afternoon posted them to the IDFrontiers listserve for advice.
The consensus is it is a Short-billed (the North American version of what used to be called Mew Gull). So it was not an Asian stray.
It’s interesting, as the last one I had also followed several days of strong westerly winds!
Here is the mandatory Bald Eagle pic for the trip.
Up at the Seawall, a couple of Pacific Wrens put on a show.
They are really common this time of year, what with all of the young out and about.
I had 11 Ruddy Turnstones on Clam Lagoon and 20 Rock Sandpipers at Sweeper Channel.
The more exciting news played out in the afternoon, when Aaron’s group was watching a Gyrfalcon (which I later saw) and a Rough-legged Hawk flew in, eliciting a chase by the Gyrfalcon (to out of sight). It was a dark morph (only found in North America).
Upon hearing this, I spent the rest of the day scouring the area and saw the Gyr, but could not find the hawk.
It was on Sept 25, 2007 that I saw a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk up near Candlestick Bridge. That bird was a one-day wonder. You can see a photo on the Sept 2007 blog.
I hope this bird stays around long enough for me to see.
By the way, the gull did not stay around for Aaron’s group to see.