Monday, May 30, 2022

A good day, but frustrating…

Temp in the 40s, overcast with a few rays of sunshine late in the day, Winds light, East

Two Pine Siskins continue to visit my feeder and there is another one over at the High School Spruces.

No Bramblings have been seen for two days.

On my usual morning route, I stopped at the Airport Ponds and there was the Tufted Duck! This is where he truly belongs. I should have named these ponds Tufted Duck Ponds, because I have seen more here than anywhere else!

Tufted Duck, Airport Ponds, May 30, 2022

I then decided to go up to where the other guys had the Wandering Tattler two days ago in hopes of adding it to my trip list. I planned to walk the northwest shoreline of Clam Lagoon. I got there and started walking. After about a third of a mile, I found it!

Wandering Tattler, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2022
Wandering Tattler, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2022
Wandering Tattler, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2022

This is the first time that I have had both Tattler species on the same trip.

As I continued my way back down the lagoon, a Marbled Murrelet came closer than usual.

Marbled Murrelet, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2022

And here is the Annual Mandatory Eagle Head Shot!

Bald Eagle, Seawall, May 30, 2022

The other guys went out on a boat trip today and had all of the auklets and a bunch of other stuff. I met them upon their return and told them about the Tufted Duck. Although not a lifer for any of them, it was an Alaska bird for them. So we went over and got it.

They then went home to lunch and I headed back up to Clam Lagoon (I had only done the west shore this morning).

When I got to the south shore, I spied the godwit flock in the same place as yesterday. I did a quick count and it was the same.

I continued around the lagoon, eventually to Candlestick Bridge, turned around and proceeded on the loop back.

I stopped a few hundred yards north of the bridge and scanned the flats. There, I saw a flock of seven godwits (which had not been there a few minutes before when I scanned it on the way to the bridge).

My first thought was “Where are your buddies?” I scanned for more, but could not find them.

More interesting is that two of these godwits were noticeable smaller than the others!


They were closer to the west shore and the lagoon channels made it impossible for me to get close from this side and the heat waves were too bad for a photo, so I chose to race around to the other side and approach them from there.

I got back around to the South Lookout in about ten minutes. Not bad without breaking an axle! The road around Clam Lagoon is not in very good shape…

When I scanned, the flock of 35 godwits was right where I saw them an hour earlier and the two Black-tailed were back in the southwest corner feeding where they originally had been found.

But no sign of the seven.

I decided to walk out the flats anyway, just in case they flew back in. No luck.

After spending some time there checking the previous flock (and recounting it), I decided to go back around to the east shore again in case the seven had flown down towards Candlestick Bridge and out of sight from where I was now.

No luck.

I waited and waited and scanned and scanned, to no avail.

I am confident that they were probably two Hudsonian Godwits and five Bar-taileds, but I will never know for sure.

Just another “one that got away.” I’ve had a lot of those out here.

The Trip list is 66.

Today’s list can be seen at

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Temp in the 40s, overcast, wind light ENE

I did not see a Brambling today. They may have finally moved on.

But there are still at least two Pine Siskins coming to my feeder.

The other guys told me they had a Wandering Tattler last evening up at Clam Lagoon, so I headed straight up there this morning in hopes it was still hanging around.

However, when I got to the lagoon and did a quick scan before heading up to where the had the tattler, I found a flock of 34 Bar-tailed Godwits (plus the 2 Black-tails)!

So I headed back to town to alert them (it was a lifer for some of them) and they soon joined me up there and reveled in the new birds.

Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 29, 2022
Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 29, 2022

We then proceeded around the lagoon, but could not find the tattler.

We got to the Seawall, scanned a while, then moved farther along to scan some more.

As we got out of the car, a tattler called and flew back up the Seawall a little bit.

It turned out to be a Gray-tailed! This is the first one I have seen in May. Up til now, all spring birds were Wanderings and all fall birds were Gray-tailed.

Gray-tailed Tattler, Seawall, May 29, 2022
Gray-tailed Tattler, Seawall, May 29, 2022

Better birders than I confirmed that today’s bird is a Gray-tailed, while yesterday’s was a Wandering!

After Clam Lagoon, the group went out to the Loran Station and I headed elsewhere.

I found the errant Tundra Swan on Palisades Lake.

Tundra Swan, Palisades Lake, May 29, 2022

And down on Navfac Beach, I found a lone Bar-tailed Godwit.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Navfac Beach, May 29, 2022

The Trip List is 64.

Today’s list can be seen at

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Temp 49, overcast, wind 5-10 mph ENE

Still in the doldrums, weather-wise.

No new birds today, but a fun day nonetheless.

The Black-tailed Godwits and two Bar-tailed Godwits were on Clam Lagoon this morning.

And the Tundra Swan, Common Mergansers, Bramblings, and Pine Siskins lingered.

The flight arrived at 2 PM and Sam and Bob departed and Dave and Dave and Steve and Bo and Tammy arrived!

After they quickly unpacked the birding necessities, I took them up to Clam Lagoon for the Black-tailed Godwits, which would be lifers for all of them.

The birds cooperated and they all got great photos.

They told me they were interested in the wagtail, Short-eared Owl, and Common Snipe.

So I decided to at least show them where these birds were being seen, so they could try for them over the next few days.

We went down to Contractors Camp Marsh, and as we pulled up to the White Building, there was the wagtail perched on the roof! Unfortunately, it flew down behind the building and we could not relocate it.

While we were there, snipe were calling. I’ve had both Wilson’s and Common there this trip, so I don’t know which ones they were. I can only identify them by sight.

So at least they will know where to look tomorrow.

As we were leaving that area, a Short-eared Owl popped up and perched and then flew around to the delight of all. It as a lifer for at least one of the group.

We then went over to the Landing Lights, and as we were walking out, there was the wagtail on the beach! Again, everyone got photos. I’m not sure how many this was a lifer for.

On the jetty, were a flock of Rock Sandpipers (another lifer for one of them).

We then headed into town so I could show them the feeder where the Bramblings and Siskins were coming to.

As we pulled up, there were a couple of Bramblings!

What a start to their trip!

In all of these cases, I hung back to let them get photos, so I took none today.

However, my feeder-cam was busy all day and captured this.

Brambling (rear) and Pine Siskin, My feeder, May 28, 2022

A shout out to Gabi, who suggested I put a feeder-cam up. Thanks Gabi!

Today’s trip list can be seen at

Friday, May 27, 2022

Temp 50 (again!), partly sunny, Occasional very light spritzle, Wind ENE 5-10 mph

Still caught in the doldrums.

The weather systems in the Bering Sea are basically stationary.

Nice weather for those who live here, bad for birders…

All three godwits remain. This morning the Black-tailed were sleeping out on the flats on one leg each. Unlike the previous couple of days, they were still in the southwest corner of Clam Lagoon this afternoon.

The White Wagtail was seen again today (not by me).

While coming back around the northeast corner of Clam Lagoon, another Short-eared Owl flushed from the side of the road.

Just to be clear. SEOs are not rare out here — in fact they breed here. You just have to be in the right place and time to see one. Of those 22 other trips when we did not see one, many other birders on the island at the time did.

I decided to go out to the Loran Station. I have never had much luck out there scanning for pelagics, but I go out there at least once a trip, just because…

I did manage to see some way-out shearwaters and one Laysan Albatross, but nothing I couldn’t have seen from the Seawall.

One good bird I had there was a Pacific Wren — new for the trip.

Here is another common bird photo.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Adak, May 27, 2022

And another…

Common Teal, Adak, May 27, 2022

Sam alerted me to an American Wigeon pair out at Lake Andrew.

American Wigeon, Lake Andrew, May 27, 2022

95% of the wigeon out here are Eurasian, but we usually get a couple of Americans each spring.

My feeder-cam came through, with shots of all four siskins today.

4 Pine Siskins and 1 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, My Feeder, May 27, 2022
4 Pine Siskins and 1 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, My Feeder, May 27, 2022

And I saw a Brambling at my feeder this evening.

One nice thing about here is the gas price. Unlike the rest of the country, the price is only up 22 cents since last year. It helps that they only get gas deliveries once or twice a year.

The trip list is 62.

Today’s list can be seen at

Sam and Bob are leaving tomorrow and 4 new birders are arriving.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Temp 50!, overcast, occasional very light drizzle, Wind NE 5-15 mph

I forgot to mention a pair of Thick-billed Murres I had yesterday at Sweeper Cove.

Thick-billed Murre, Sweeper Cove, May 25, 2022

After checking the feeders and Sweeper Cove, I decided to head up to Clam Lagoon, as low tide is in the morning right now.

As I drove by the airport, a Short-eared Owl flew by.

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2022

Having seen these owls on only 5 of my 27 trips out here, it has been a treat seeing three on one trip!

At Clam Lagoon, I found the three godwits were still here (2 Black-tailed, 1 Bar-tailed).

Black-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2022
Black-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2022
Black-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2022

The 5 Common Mergansers were on Hidden Lake this morning (Common Mergansers are uncommon out here).

Its been a while since I posted a chick-pic, so here it is…

Rock Ptarmigan, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2022

At the north end of Clam Lagoon, I found 2 Ruddy Turnstones.

On the way back to town, I found this Song Sparrow overlooking the Palisades…

Aleutian Song Sparrow, Palisades Overlook, May 26, 2022

At the Seal Drive feeder, I had 4 Bramblings. I have not seen very many the past couple of days. I am wondering if some of them moved on or I just have bad timing.

Brambling. Seal Drive Feeder, May 26, 2022

At the Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder, a pair of Snow Buntings were feeding.

Snow Bunting, Sandy Cove Bluffs Feeder, May 26, 2022

Since I’ve been here, other birders reported seeing 4 Pine Siskins, but all I ever saw at one time was 2.

Well, this evening, I looked out at my feeder (yes, I have a feeder in the back yard of my townhouse) and beside the ever-present Rosy-Finch was a siskin. Then two, Then four!

Unfortunately, the battery on my feeder-cam had died by that late in the day, so I got no videos.

This is the first year I have a feeder cam, so I am learning its limitations. Today, it took 218 video clips before the battery ran out around 3 PM. I have it plugged into a spare battery pack, but even that was not enough for the whole day. Next year I will get a larger battery pack.

I did get a photo of three of them with my Canon, but they were through two panes of glass, so they are not great.

Three Pine Siskins and a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Adak, May 26, 2022

I hope, now that the siskins have found this feeder, that they will visit earlier in the day and be captured on video.

The trip List is at 60.

Today’s total list can be seen at

I just found out that there will be 4 more birders arriving on Saturday, so I won’t be the only birder on the island next week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Temp 51!!!, partly sunny, Wind East 5-10 mph increasing in the PM

After the good past two days, today was rather slow.

I decided to make the hike (1.3 miles each way) for the Tufted Duck.

About 100 yards into the walk, four peeps flushed from the creek and flew over to the Airport Ditch.

I abandoned the duck hunt and headed over to the Ditch. No luck. Whatever they were had moved on by the time I got there.

As I was searching for those birds, I received a call that there was a pair of Kittlitz’s Murrelets just off Bayshore Drive.

So I headed over there. As usual, they were not real close, but I got identifiable pics.

Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Kuluk Bay, May 25, 2022

So, back to the duck search.

I hiked out, flushing a variety of ducks along the way: scaup, goldeneyes, RB Mergansers, Mallards, teal…

Common Goldeneyes, Sweeper Creek, May 25, 2022
Lesser Scaup, Sweeper Creek, May 25, 2022

I was near the end when two Greater Scaup took flight, followed shortly by another bird. AHA! The Tufted Duck! I took some quick photos as it flew away. When I got back to the house this evening and studied the photos, it was just another Greater Scaup.

Oh well…

At Clam Lagoon, I finally saw the Bar-tailed Godwit that had been reported the last week or so. However, it was far out and the heat waves were bad, so no pics.

As I walked back on the mud flats towards the car, I found this.

Octopus, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2022

At Shotgun Lake I saw all five Common Mergansers together (Again, the heat waves made photos impossible).

Up near Contractor’s Camp Marsh, I ran into Shep and Jon and they told me about a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch nest they found. I checked it out and here it is.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch nest, Adak, May 25, 2022

It was inside an old concrete bunker on top of a set of metal shelves. Nicely protected from the weather.

Trip List is 59.

Today’s list can be seen at

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Quality trumps quantity…

Temp in the high 40s, Partly Sunny, No Precipitation, Wind E 5-10 mph

With the overnight east winds and relatively calm seas, it was easy to pick out a number of Horned and Tufted puffins in Kuluk Bay.

There was nothing else of note until I went up to Haven Lake, where I found the Tundra Swan (finally!).

Tundra Swan, Haven Lake, May 24, 2022

At the Landing Lights Jetty, I took the required annual Rock Sandpiper photo.

Rock Sandpiper, Landing Lights Jetty, May 24, 2022

I then worked my way up to Clam Lagoon and was almost to the Blue Building complex, when the Goffs radioed that they had two(!) possible Black-tailed Godwits at the southwest corner of Clam Lagoon.

I raced back there (as did the other birders in the area) and sure enough, there were a male and a female Black-tailed Godwit!

Black-tailed Godwit (male), Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2022
Black-tailed Godwit (female), Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2022
Black-tailed Godwits (male on the left), Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2022

I had only seen one in spring before (2016), so this was great!

Arriving birders brought news of a Tufted Duck at Sweeper Creek. So several of us hastened down there. Steve saw it briefly, but when he turned to call to the others, the bird disappeared. It was found later in the day (not by me), but was very flighty and required a long hike up the channel that runs parallel to Sweeper Creek. Maybe it will find a nice pond to settle in on and I will see it then.

After all of the reports of the wagtail being spotted at Contractor’s Camp Marsh, I decided I would eat my lunch there and wait an hour or two, if needed, to see this bird.

Well, of course, as soon as I pulled up to the spot, there it was!

White Wagtail (Black-backed morph), Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 24, 2022

It is of the black-backed variety. Our previous record was a gray-backed bird.

After that (and lunch) I took another swing around Clam Lagoon, but the only new bird I found was a Northern Pintail.

I headed back to the house and had dinner. Just as I finished, I got a call from Sam that they had a Least Sandpiper on Sweeper Creek. I headed over there and got it for the trip.

Least Sandpiper, Sweeper Creek, May 24, 2022

I’ve only had them on four previous trips, so it is a good bird out here.

Three of the groups of birders are leaving tomorrow, so fewer eyes…

The trip list is up to 58.

You can view today’s list at

Monday, May 23, 2022

Temp in the 40s, overcast, no precipitation, Wind ENE 5-10 mph

A very good day. No lifers, but a few nice birds.

First, an apology.

I forgot to post the photo of the “odd-looking” siskin yesterday. So here it is.

Notice the lack of streaking in the center of the breast/belly and the hint of yellow above and behind the eye. These are traits of the female Green-morph Pine Siskin.

“Green morph” Pine Siskin, Naval Admin Building, May 21, 2022

Today started out at the Marina, where I picked up Ancient Murrelets.

Ancient Murrelet, Marina, May 23, 2022

How’s that for an ID quiz?

Then I drove down to Finger Bay, picking up 8 Snow Buntings and a Red-necked Grebe along the way.

Then I didn’t get anything else new until I got to the East Side Ponds at Clam Lagoon, where a Long-billed Dowitcher flushed as I drove along. I could not relocate it.

This is only the second Spring dowitcher that I have had out here.

At the Seawall, I had both Pacific and Arctic Loons.

Arctic Loon, Seawall, May 23, 2022

I had several puffins of both species fly by. I spent a few minutes scanning the horizon for stiff-wings and was rewarded with about a half-dozen Short-tailed Shearwaters and one Laysan Albatross.

At Lake Shirley, I found the Barrow’s Goldeneye that others had reported a few days ago in Clam Lagoon.

Barrow’s Goldeneye (right) with Common Goldeneye, Lake Shirley, May 23, 2022

On the way back to town, I got a report of a Pacific Golden-Plover and A Ruddy Turnstone at Landing Lights Beach. When I got there, only the turnstone was still there.

Ruddy Turnstone, Landing Lights Jetty, May 23, 2022

I had an early dinner, then went back out.

At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, I spotted one of the Common Mergansers that have been hanging around.

Common Merganser (with Red-necked Phalarope) Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 23, 2022

When I got back up to Clam Lagoon, I got a report that the plover was on the peninsula.

But, before I could get to that, I also was told a Short-eared Owl was hunting nearby.


Short-eared Owl, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2022

This is the first Short-eared Owl that I have seen out here that sat long enough for a photo!

At the peninsula, I got the plover.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2022

As I came around the northeast corner of the lagoon, another owl was hunting there. He also sat for a photo!

Short-eared Owl, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2022

On the other side of the lagoon, I captured this gull working on dinner.

Glaucous-winged Gull with dinner, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2022

Then, to top off the day, I had a flock of Aleutian Cackling Geese fly over.

Cackling Geese, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2022

In addition to all of this, the wagtail and godwit were both seen again and a Tundra Swan has been hanging around since yesterday and a Gyrfalcon was seen. None of these birds showed itself to me however.

My trip list jumped to 52 (from 39)!

My day’s list can be found at

It is supposed to be nice weather again tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Temp in the 40s, Overcast, fine drizzle much of the day, Wind NNE 5-15 mph

The tide was very high this morning, so Sweeper Channel and other shorebird spots were wanting. The constant drizzle also fogged in areas sporadically. Not ideal birding conditions…

The mystery siskin from yesterday is probably just a “green morph” Pine Siskin. I was trying to make it into a Eurasian.

I wanted to get more photos of it today, but the Naval Admin feeder was inundated by ravens. No siskins there! However, there was one at the Seal Drive feeder.

Pine Siskin, Seal Drive Feeder, May 22, 2022

This is only the second trip on which I had siskins. They are rare out here.There are only about a half-dozen records for Adak.

The Bramblings, on the other hand, show up practically every year. Although this year does not stack up to 2017, when there were over a hundred, it is still a pretty good year. Here’s one of the females.

Female Brambling, Seal Drive feeder, May 22, 2022

I added a number of common species to the trip list (today’s eBird list can be seen at

Here are a few photos of same.

Semipalmated Plover, Adak, May 22, 2022
Red-necked Phalarope, Lake Andrew, May 22, 2022
Lapland Longspur, Blue Building Feeder, May 22, 2022

At the Seawall, I saw two Steller’s Sea Lions. Always a treat.

As mentioned in past posts, there is a continuing effort to find and destroy unexploded ordnance on the island. Well, apparently, a few weeks ago, when they were blowing up some relic bombs, it got out of hand and started a grass fire. This was up towards the Loran Station and the fire swept down all the way to Lake Andrew. Here are some photos.

Recent burn, Lake Andrew, May 22, 2022
Recent burn, Lake Andrew, May 22, 2022
Recent burn, Lake Andrew, May 22, 2022
Recent burn, Lake Andrew, May 22, 2022. Clearly, the road acted as a firebreak.

I imagine when I return in September, this area will be green again.

There are four other birding groups on the island, so nothing should be missed. Two of the groups had been here since last Wednesday. The others arrived the same day as I did.

Some birds seen by those groups, but not yet by me, include Bar-tailed Godwit, Wood Sandpiper, Common Merganser, Wandering Tattler, Short-eared Owl, a possible Gray-tailed Tattler, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and White Wagtail.

Coming to Adak later than normal will probably result in a lower overall trip list. Much of the waterfowl have already left.

The trip list is at 36.

No strong southwesterlies in the weather forecast, but we keep hoping.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Good to be back.

My flights were uneventful.

Nothing new in Anchorage, but I was finally able to get a photo of a Violet-green Swallow on Arctic Valley Road.

Violet-Green Swallow, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, May 21, 2022

For umpteen years, Barb and I would drive up to Arctic Valley in hopes of finding a Willow Ptarmigan — our nemesis chicken! Last year, with the help of Dave Sonneborn, I finally saw one up at the Glen Alps area.

So, of course, when I got up to the Arctic Valley ski area this morning, what did I see? A Willow Ptarmigan! It flew before I could get a photo.

How many of us have experienced this? You search for years for a particular species, but once you finally see one, you start tripping over them…

Arrived on Adak at 2 PM and was met by Sam Brayshaw at the airport with the latest sighting info.

There are at least three siskins and 7 Bramblings, and the White Wagtail was seen again.

None of these are lifers, but nice birds anyway.

After some quick unpacking and organizing, I headed out to check the usual spots.

I saw two of the Pine Siskins at the Naval Admin Building.

Pine Siskins, Naval Admin Building, May 21, 2022

I took another photo of one there, but it looked odd to me. I’m having my Adak Bird ID team working on it. Probably just another Pine…

I went up to Clam Lagoon and the seawall, finding the usual suspects.

On the way back, I stopped at the Seal Drive Feeder to look for the Bramblings.

NOTE: Someone put seed out at the nearby fallen spruce tree, which is about forty yards away from the Seal Drive feeder, hence splitting the flock! I always warn birders not to do that, but someone didn’t get the message. So now you have to figure out which feeder to stake out. Of course, if you choose Seal Drive, the birds will be at the fallen tree and vice versa!

Anyway, in spite of that, I saw two of the Bramblings

Brambling, Adak, May 21, 2022

A nice start to the trip.

My body is still on Pennsylvania time, so off to bed!