Sunday, May 29, 2016

Not a lifer, but close…redux

Temp in the 40s, overcast, light rain in the afternoon, Wind SSE 10-20

Still no Hawfinches or Bramblings.

At Sweeper Cove, a Horned Puffin was gracious enough to pose.

Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove, May 29, 2016

Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove, May 29, 2016

As I was taking this photo, we got a call from Paul and Don that they had a Far Eastern Curlew and a Whimbrel at Landing Lights Beach! We flew up there, and saw Don up on the sand dune. I scrambled up to see the birds, snapped a few photos, and then scrambled down to go farther up the dune to get closer, as they were heading up the beach.

In the meantime, Barb drove up to the top of the next hill in hopes of reaching Bill and Chris on the radio. It turned out to be not necessary, as over the hill came Paul, trailed by Bill and Chris. They climbed the dune and got terrific looks at the birds and then Don and I helped Barb up the dune so she could get a look (This wasn’t a lifer, but close!)

The birds flew a couple of times, but always returned to the beach. In flight, we could see the white up the back of the Whimbrel, making it the “Siberian” sub-species. That is the only sub-species that we have seen out here.

Here is a photo gallery.

"Siberian" Whimbrel, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

“Siberian” Whimbrel, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

"Siberian" Whimbrel and Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

“Siberian” Whimbrel and Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

"Siberian" Whimbrel, Far Eastern Curlew, and Glaucous-winged Gull Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

“Siberian” Whimbrel, Far Eastern Curlew, and Glaucous-winged Gull Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Far Eastern Curlew, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2016

Happy curlew-watchers! Chris, Frank, Barb, Don, Paul, and Bill.

Happy curlew-watchers! Chris, Frank, Barb, Don, Paul, and Bill.

We had seen a Far Eastern Curlew on our first trip to Adak in May 2005, but that one was far out on the Clam Lagoon flats and only stayed 15 minutes or so. This one was much nicer. It was a lifer (or ABA Lifer) for everyone else.

The boat from Attu was due in around noon, so we anxiously waited for their arrival, hoping the birds would remain. They arrived at Sweeper Cove, climbed into several vehicles and headed for Landing Lights Beach. They parked part-way up the dune, clambered up, but did not spot them. In the meantime, we drove ahead, planning to scan for the Temminck’s Stint up at Clam Lagoon. However, we stopped at the Navfac Creek viewpoint (which is the north end of Landing Lights Beach) and there were the curlews! We radioed the other groups and they arrived and all had good looks. As far as we can tell, it was a lifer for most (if not all) of the other birders!

We continued up to Clam Lagoon, but could not find the stint. However, the Red Phalarope was still there, giving everyone great views.

Trip Summary

We ended with a trip list of 66, two above average.

We added two birds to our Adak List — Surf Scoter and Red Phalarope

No lifers, but several Semi-lifers — Far Eastern Curlew, Temminck’s Stint, Red Phalarope

Notable records — Western Sandpiper (only 2nd or 3rd spring record), Red Phalarope (not rare, but very uncommon on land), Least Sandpiper (only our 3rd record), Wood Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Brambling, and Hawfinch.

Birds we missed — Smew and Black-crowned Night-Heron (both seen just before we arrived), Peregrine Falcon, Redpoll, Ruff, Yellow-billed Loon, Wandering Tattler.

For the first time in years, all of our return flights left and arrived early or on-time!

We will be back in September…

Saturday, May 28, 2018

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, light variable wind changing to SSE 10-15 in the afternoon

There have been no sightings of Bramblings for several days, and only one report of Hawfinch yesterday morning. After not seeing any for several days, we saw a pair of Tufted Ducks on the Airport Ponds today.

We did not see any new birds today. The Horned Grebe is still here as are a few Pacific Loons.

The Aleutian and Arctic Terns are becoming more active and close.

Aleutian Terns coming in to bathe at Lake Shirley, May 28, 2016

Aleutian Terns coming in to bathe at Lake Shirley, May 28, 2016

After two trips to Clam Lagoon, we spotted the Red Phalarope and Temminck’s Stint again. Yesterday, Bill and Chris did not get the most satisfying looks at the stint, so it was nice when it flew from farther out on the mudflats to the edge of the flats right below where we were standing on the road. They both got great views.

Temminck's Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2016

Temminck’s Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2016

At the Palisades, a Pacific Wren was singing away.

Pacific Wren, Palisades Overlook, May 28, 2016

Pacific Wren, Palisades Overlook, May 28, 2016

The Attu boat is coming in tomorrow and several of the birders on board need the stint, so we hope it sticks around.

Our trip list stands at 64.

We leave tomorrow at 6 pm Adak time and expect to arrive home around 6 pm Eastern time Monday. So this will be our last post until Tuesday when we will wrap up this trip.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Not a lifer, but close…

Temp in the 40s, overcast, occasional very light drizzle, Wind light SSE

No sign of the Hawfinch today, but the other birders were looking again as I write this. No Tufted Ducks today.

At Sweeper Cove, Ancient Murrelets are often easy to see and pose for photos (These are the kind of birds we like — easy to identify!).

Ancient Murrelet, Sweeper Cove, May 27, 2016

Ancient Murrelet, Sweeper Cove, May 27, 2016

We found nothing new on Sweeper Creek, so we headed up to Clam Lagoon. At the viewpoint of Kuluk Bay near the Navdac Creek, we finally added Horned Grebe to our trip list. We were worried that this would be our first May trip without one.

We didn’t see anything new on the Clam Lagoon flats, so I decided to walk out the peninsula.

Just a short way out, a small shorebird flushed in front of me and flew back behind me, between me and Barb, who was watching from the truck. I could quickly see that it was a “peep”, had light legs, and was not a Least Sandpiper. This left two possibilities — Long-toed Stint and Temminck’s Stint. Since we needed Long-toed, we tried to make it into one. However, no matter how we tried to fit a square peg into a round hole, we couldn’t. Paul and Don arrived shortly, and later Bill and Chris. Chris, having spent some time in China, confidently identified it as a Temminck’s — of which he had seen plenty.

So — not a lifer, but since the only other one we had previously seen was in classic fall juvenile plumage — all gray — this was a semi-lifer for us.

Temminck's Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2016

Temminck’s Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2016

Temminck's Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2016

Temminck’s Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 27, 2016

By the way, the Red Phalarope was still there, also.

We continued around Clam Lagoon. At the East Ponds (next to the Seawall), a Common eider posed nicely.

Common Eider, East Ponds, May 27, 2016

Common Eider, East Ponds, May 27, 2016

At the Seawall, there were four Pacific Loons today (Paul and Don counted at least 8), but no Arctic Loon.

Pacific Loons, Seawall, May 27, 2016

Pacific Loons, Seawall, May 27, 2016

There were the usual assortment of scaup and mergansers on Lake Shirley, as well as this Mallard shepherding her flock.

Mallard w/young, Lake Shirley, May 27, 2016

Mallard w/young, Lake Shirley, May 27, 2016

Speaking of shepherding her flock, a few days after we arrived, there was a Northern Pintail with seven ducklings in the pond across from the Clam Lagoon West Lookout. Each day as we went by, the number dwindled until today when there were none. By the way, I posted a photo of probably this same female with young on my blog back on May 17, 2013.

As I was writing this, Chris called to tell us he saw a small gull on Clam Lagoon that could have been a Bonaparte’s or Black-headed. Although we have Black-headed on our Adak list, we don’t have it yet for this trip, and Bonaparte’s would be a new Adak bird for us.

So we headed back up there. When we got there Paul and Don were already looking at it with their scopes — it was a long way out. It was a Black-headed in winter plumage. We had one like this last year. The distance was too far and the lighting so poor that we decided to try tomorrow for photos — if it sticks around.

That brings this trip list to 64. One above average.

A day-and-half to go…

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, occasional rain/drizzle, Wind SSE 10-30 falling to 10-15 in the afternoon.

No new birds.

Two Hawfinches still here.

Hawfinch, near Seal Drive Feeder, May 26, 2016

Hawfinch, near Seal Drive Feeder, May 26, 2016

No Brambling sightings in the past two days. The Red Phalarope is still hanging out at Clam Lagoon. It does not appear to be injured, as it flies around quite well. Although not a lifer, this was certainly the closest look at a breeding-plumage female Red Phalarope that most of the birders here had ever seen — sometimes as close as 20 feet!

Also, we saw the Arctic Loon again today — now with three Pacifics. We had one Ruddy Turnstone at the Landing Lights.

Today was flight day. The groups from Fairbanks and Minnesota flew out this evening. They were a delight to bird with.

Paul Budde arrived to spend a few days birding the island before going out on the Adak Pelagic trip. So now there are us, Bill and Cathy Mauck, Chris Feeney, Don Harrington, and Paul.

Speaking of the airport…

Up-to-date parking facilities at he Adak Airport!

Up-to-date parking facilities at the Adak Airport!

Here is the mandatory annual rainbow shot.

Rainbow, May 26, 2016

Rainbow, May 26, 2016

The trip list stands at 61.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Not NA rare, but Adak rare…

Temp in the 40s, overcast with some (very little) sun in the afternoon, rain and drizzle most of the day, Winds S 20-30.

The overnight storm brought a few birds today.

The weather conditions at the feeders today were not very conducive for observations, so we did not see any Hawfinch or Brambling today. There were still four Tufted Ducks at the Airport Ponds.

We headed north, and when we got to the Clam Lagoon South Lookout, we spotted a small shorebird scurrying out on the flats. Our first impression when viewed through the scope was a Western Sandpiper. But it was a little too far out to be sure. So Frank walked out to get a better look (ie. photos). It was a Western Sandpiper. Although we have seen Western Sandpipers on all of our September trips, this was our first spring record. And, in fact, Birds of the Aleutians cites only one other spring record for Adak !

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

We continued around Clam Lagoon and, near Candlestick Bridge, there was a large number of gulls feeding together. So far this trip, the tides (both high and low) have been very low, so the flats have not been replenished with sea life since we got here. Today the tide covered much of the flats, creating more feeding opportunities for the birdlife — as seen by this picture.

Glaucous-winged Gulls, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Glaucous-winged Gulls, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

At the Seawall, we spotted three loons — two Pacific and an Arctic. We called JJ’s group (who we had just passed) and they came and saw them, as eventually did the other birding groups on the island as well. The Arctic was our first for this trip.

As we came back around to the western side of the lagoon, we ran into the group from Minnesota, who told us we just drove past a Red Phalarope! We hopped out of the car, looked behind us at the edge of the road and there was a Red Phalarope. We were so focused on the other group as we approached them that we weren’t looking for birds! This was a new bird for our overall Adak list, giving us a total of 140.

Red Phalarope, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Red Phalarope, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Red Phalarope, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Red Phalarope, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

We headed to town, checked the feeders – still too windy – and went back up to Clam Lagoon. Everyone was there, having just walked out to see the Western Sandpiper. After they left, we stayed awhile to see what else might fall out of the sky. Unfortunately, the only bird of note was a lone Cackling Goose flying by.

Aleutian Cackling Goose, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Aleutian Cackling Goose, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2016

Our trip list is 61.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Come on birds! Where are ya?

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, Wind S 15-30

The strong westerly/southerly winds have yet to dump any new birds on Adak (at least that we could find!).

We had one Hawfinch and one Brambling today, as well as four Tufted Ducks.

Some of the other birders reported decent views of pelagics at the Loran Station today, so we headed up there.

By the way, someone finally moved the huge boulder that was blocking the last mile of the road to the Loran Station! So you no longer have to view the sea from a mile back of hike to the station for closer viewing. You can now drive all of the way out.

We had several Laysan Albatross within binocular distance, but I couldn’t find them in the camera, so no photos. No other pelagics.

After returning to town, we headed south to Finger Bay. We ran into JJ & co., who relayed an observation to us. First a note about Aleutian Song Sparrows. One of the names we use for them out here is Songpipers, as we always see them down on the shoreline acting like sandpipers, foraging along the water’s edge and shoreline.

Now the observation. They said they aw a Song Sparrow at a little eddy in the stream and it was fishing! Four times in a row, it stabbed at something in the water and each time brought up a small silver fish. They were so enthralled, they forgot to grab their cameras! I guess we should rename it Fishing Sparrow…

Their calling for gale-force southerly winds the next few days, much like last year at this time. Let’s hope they produce the same result — good birds.

Our trip list remains at 58.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Temp in the 40s, overcast to partly sunny, wind W 10-20

No new birds today, although the Fairbanks crew (JJ, Scott, Eric, Rita) thought they might have had three Hawfinches at the feeder this morning. We spent an hour there this afternoon and only saw one Hawfinch and one Brambling. However, the Brambling was singing away! (If you want to call that raspy trill a ‘song’?) It was still neat to hear.

Still 4 Tufted Ducks. No shorebirds other than residents. However, the Red-necked Phalaropes are becoming more conspicuous as they start setting up territories.

We had both Common and Wilson’s snipe at Contractor’s Camp Marsh, but no other shorebirds.

At Clam Lagoon, it was a fine day for sunbathing…

Harbor Seals, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2016

Harbor Seals, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2016

The trip list holds at 58.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Just another sunny day on Adak…

Temp in the 40s, sunny!, wind N 5-10 switching to SW 10-20 in the afternoon

As mentioned in a previous post, the ravens have taken over the Sandy Cove Bluff Feeder.

Common Raven, Sandy Cove Bluffs Feeder, May 22, 2016

Common Raven, Sandy Cove Bluffs Feeder, May 22, 2016

At Sweeper Creek, we finally found a Northern Shoveler. We have had a pair there each of the last few years, so we were wondering if they had finally died or left for nicer environs. Apparently, at least the male has survived.

Northern Shoveler, Sweeper Creek, May 22, 2016

Northern Shoveler, Sweeper Creek, May 22, 2016

Since it was a sunny day, we decided to make the annual pilgrimage up to White Alice (the bluff west of town where the cell towers are). As we were enjoying the view (not many birds usually up there), a flock of Cackling Geese flew by.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, White Alice, May 22, 2016

Aleutian Cackling Geese, White Alice, May 22, 2016

We spotted some Red-necked Phalaropes in some of the small ponds on the way up, but on the way down, one was particularly cooperative.

Red-necked Phalarope, Bering Hill area, May 22, 2016

Red-necked Phalarope, Bering Hill area, May 22, 2016

We headed north and at the Palisades, a couple of Black Oystercatchers were carousing, so Frank hiked down to the beach and caught one napping.

Black Oystercatcher resting, but keeping a wary eye open, Palisades Beach, May 22, 2016

Black Oystercatcher resting, but keeping a wary eye open, Palisades Beach, May 22, 2016

While I was down on the beach, Barb was scanning the bay and saw a whale surface briefly, but it dove and we never relocated it.

With sunny skies and good visibility, we went out to the Loran Station to scan the sea for pelagics. The view was fine, but no pelagics. However, three young Bald Eagles were cavorting overhead.

Bald Eagle, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Bald Eagle, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Bald Eagles, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Bald Eagles, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Bald Eagles, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Bald Eagles, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Also, a Glaucous-winged Gull flew by for a photo-op.

Glaucous-winged Gull, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Glaucous-winged Gull, Loran Station, May 22, 2016

Five more birders arrived tonight — JJ, Scott, Eric, and Rita together and Don to join Bill, Chris, and Cathy. Don arrived, but not his luggage!

After settling in, they headed over to the feeders and found there were now two Hawfinches! The flock is growing…

There was a lot of snow this winter, and the local mountains show it. Notice the different amount due to elevation.

Mt Adagdak, 1614 ft

Mt Adagdak, 1614 ft

Mt Moffet, 3924 ft

Mt Moffet, 3924 ft

Mt Sitkin, 5709 ft

Mt Sitkin, 5709 ft

There is even a patch of snow at the Warbler Willows, which is under 200 feet elevation.

Our trip list is 58, just 5 shy of our average May trip.

Saturday, , May 21, 2016

Temp in the 40s, Overcast, fog, occasional drizzle, Wind NW 10-15.

The birds, they are a-movin’…

Nothing at the feeders during the morning rounds.

At Sweeper Cove, a Pacific Loon is hanging out just outside the small boat marina. But every time I try to get close to get a good picture, it sees me coming and swims farther out!

We headed up to Sweeper Creek and, as we were leaving that area, we turned down a road near the Power Plant that goes down to a little wet area (There are a LOT of “little wet areas” out here!). As we approached, three shorebirds flew out, circled and landed behind a nearby building. I walked around it and found two Wood Sandpipers (don’t know what happened to the third). We called Bill and they arrived shortly and had nice looks at one of the birds.

Wood Sandpiper, near the Power Plant, May 21, 2016

Wood Sandpiper, near the Power Plant, May 21, 2016

We found four Tufted Ducks still at the Airport Ponds.

We returned to town for a pit stop and decided to check the feeders again. At the Seal Drive Feeder another Brambling popped out. This one was brighter than the Elfin Forest one from yesterday, and we later found out that Bill and Chris were looking at the Elfin Forest bird about the same time we were looking at this one. So two Bramblings, so far…

Brambling, Seal Drive Feeder, May 21, 2016

Brambling, Seal Drive Feeder, May 21, 2016

We could not reach Bill, so we continued on.

The godwits appear to have left and we found no other shorebirds at Clam Lagoon.

We headed over to Andrew Lake and finally spotted a Red-necked Phalarope for the trip.

Back to town we went. When we saw the Seal Drive Brambling earlier, it was raining, so I got very poor pictures. So we decided to try again. We pulled up to the feeder location and shortly a Hawfinch popped out! We called Bill and they arrived shortly and not only saw the Hawfinch, but got nice looks at the Brambling as well.

Hawfinch, Seal Drive Feeder, May 21, 2016

Hawfinch, Seal Drive Feeder, May 21, 2016

I was informed by Kitty LaBounty (who was with us on Adak last May) that the sure way to identify a Morel is to look inside. They are hollow.

Morel it is!

Morel it is!

Our trip list is 54.

Note: I made a typo on the trip list spreadsheet earlier, so this is the new correct number.

Keep those birds coming…

Friday, May 20, 2016

Finally, something to brighten our day…

Temp in the 40s, occasional sun, occasional rain or drizzle, Wind W 10-20

The feeders around town were still not producing any Asian vagrants.

At Sweeper Cove, a couple of Ancient Murrelets wouldn’t turn around, which made for an interesting photo.

Ancient Murrelets, Sweeper Cove, May 20, 2016

Ancient Murrelets, Sweeper Cove, May 20, 2016

There were still four Tufted Ducks on the Airport Ponds and the Aleutian Terns have started feeding there. We had a dozen or more.

At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, Frank walked over to where the Ruffs had last been reported, but could not find them. He did get a couple of Common Snipe winnowing.

We went to check the Warbler Willows and, as we were leaving, we got a call from Bill and Chris (Feeney, who flew in yesterday) that they had found a Brambling at the Elfin Forest. We hurried up there and saw a nice male.

Brambling, Elfin Forest, May 20, 2016

Brambling, Elfin Forest, May 20, 2016

Brambling and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Elfin Forest, May 20, 2016

Brambling and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Elfin Forest, May 20, 2016

At Clam Lagoon, there were only five Bar-tailed Godwits left, as well as two Pacific Golden-Plovers.

As we were scanning the flats, a flock of a dozen or so passerines flew across the flats heading west. Frank, Chris and Cathy walked the edge of the flats/marsh in hopes of kicking them up, but found nothing. Flocks of any  passerine in the spring are intriguing, as the local birds generally are not seen in large flocks this time of year. You might see a half-dozen Rosy-Finches (or more at a feeder), but rarely this many. So we have no idea what they were.

We also saw Arctic Terns for the triplist.

At the Seawall, we were able to pick out Shearwaters and Layson Albatross far offshore.

Addendum: Yesterday after dinner, we drove up to Clam Lagoon in hopes that the wind was dying down, thereby allowing better looks (and possibly photos) of the Kittlitz’s Murrelets. Alas, the winds picked up instead, making the waters too choppy. However, I did get the obligatory Otter shot.

Sea Otter w/pup, Cla Lagoon, May 19, 2016

Sea Otter w/pup, Cla Lagoon, May 19, 2016

Also, while getting gas yesterday (down to $6.49 a gallon!) one of the people on the High Lonesome tour pointed out to me some mushrooms growing nearby. I believe they are Morels.

Morel?, near gas station, May 20, 2016

Morel?, near gas station, May 20, 2016

These are the first mushrooms that I have seen out here.

The triplist is 51.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, occasional drizzle, Wind W 10-15 mph

Nothing new at the feeders.

Five Tufted Ducks continue at the Airport Ponds.

At Sweeper Channel, we found a Least Sandpiper. This is a rare bird on Adak, but has been seen each of the last three years, with a pair displaying on territory two years ago!

At Clam Lagoon, we had an American Green-winged Teal. This is a rarity out here, as what the Europeans call the Common Teal is the norm out here.

At the Breaches, we had the first Red-necked Grebes of the trip.

There were two Ruddy Turnstones on Goose Rocks.

Nothing else new to report.

Overall, so far, the number of most migrants is low. We usually see hundreds of Buffleheads, but this year its under a hundred. The scoter numbers are down, very few Common Goldeneye (in fact we haven’t run into them yet, although the tour groups reported some.) No unusual ducks like Shoveler, etc. No Cackling Geese except one reported by the tour groups (a flyby). The number of godwits is above average.

Although some terns are here, they have not yet settled in to feeding routines at Clam Lagoon and the Airport Ponds, so we have yet to get close enough to identify them. We have only seen some flying at a great distance. However, we expect that will change in a few days.

So, a relatively slow start — especially compared to last spring! — but the last week of May is when the most vagrants tend to show up.

The trip list stands at 45.

PS. Sorry, no photos today…

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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

The feeders are attracting finches, but no Asian relatives yet.

We went down to Finger Bay and Creek, but had nothing of note there.

At Clam Lagoon, we had only 17 Bar-tailed Godwits, but added three Pacific Golden-Plovers to our trip list.

We finally caught up to one of the Gyrfalcons that the other tour groups had reported. It was sitting on the Blue Building (literally using the bird feeder!). It was a very pale (but not white) bird. We have never seen a white Gyrfalcon out here. They have all been gray or brown.

Gyrfalcon, Blue Building, May 18, 2016

Gyrfalcon, Blue Building, May 18, 2016

Two Ruffs (actually a Ruff and a Reeve) had been seen the past few days at Contractor’s Camp Marsh, so we finally decided to look for them, but did not find them.

The two tour groups leave tomorrow evening. We hope the shifting winds bring something good in for their last day.

Our trip list is 41.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Temps in the 40s, Partly sunny, N wind 10-15.

We started the day by checking feeders. The Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder has been taken over by ravens, as has the Adak National Forest feeder! The other feeders have begun attracting rosy-finches, so we hope their feeding activity will in turn attract vagrant passersby…

The Airport Ponds were hosting two pairs of Tufted Ducks. And we found another male in the ponds below the Airport Escarpment.

We found two Common Snipe calling and displaying at Contractor’s Camp Marsh. Warbler Willows have not leafed out yet, so they are not as attractive as in the fall, when they provide more cover for passerines. So we didn’t find anything there. Haven Lake had a few Eurasian Wigeon.

At Andrew Lake, we got our first Common Loons for the trip and then spotted a Black-legged Kittiwake, which obligingly came in and landed beside the road in front of us.

Black-legged Kittiwake, Andrew Lake, May 17, 2016

Black-legged Kittiwake, Andrew Lake, May 17, 2016

A trip out to the Loran Station was unproductive, as was our swing around Clam Lagoon and the Seawall. But on our return around the lagoon, we had nice (if distant) looks at several pairs of Kittlitz’s Murrelets.

Kittlitz's Murrelets, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2016

Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2016

Frank walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula and found the godwits. There were 25 of them. We continued down towards town and spotted 3 more on Landing Lights Beach.

Bar-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2016

Bar-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2016

Our trip list is 39.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Temp in the 40s, overcast, wind NNW 10-20 increasing to 15-25+

There are a lot of birding eyes and ears here this week. High Lonesome has 8 people (led by Stephan Lorenz), Wilderness has 10 (led by Aaron Lang), half-a-dozen+ waiting for the Attu tour boat to arrive (Zugunruhe Tours, led by John Puschok), Bill and Cathy Mauck, and us. The boat people expect to leave tonight, the other tour groups will be here until Thursday, and Bill and Cathy will be here the same as us (2 weeks). There will be other birders arriving and leaving during our stay. Some coming for a few days, other coming early to wait for the Attu tour to return and go out on the Adak Pelagic tour (John Puschok). So we hope the extra manpower will help find some good birds.

Today we started at Sweeper Channel, where we had a couple Semipalmated Plovers and Rock Sandpipers. A pair of Tufted Ducks were on the Airport Ponds. At Clam Lagoon, the 13 Bar-tailed Godwits were still there. As we left the south lookout to go up and turn around, we noticed a funny sound. I got out and saw we had a flat tire (not the first time we have experienced this up here!).

We phoned for help because the last time, the jack in the car didn’t work. However, after calling, I noticed the jack looked different, so I tried it and it worked! I raised the car and took off the flat tire. When I unloaded the spare, I saw that it too was flat! So we had to wait until they could get someone to render assistance. Bill and Cathy came by during this time and offered to drive us into town instead of waiting out in the cold. Barb agreed, but I stayed with the car. Two-and-a-half hours later (!!!), we were back on the road again, albeit without a spare…

We drove back up to Clam Lagoon and continued around. We had several Pacific Loons, but not much else of note. However, on the return swing, at the Seawall, we had three Surf Scoters — a rare bird on Adak. And — since we had Black and White-winged scoters earlier in the day — we scored a scoter trifecta! And — it was a new Adak bird or us.

Surf Scoters, Seawall, May 16, 2016

Surf Scoters, Seawall, May 16, 2016

At the north end of Clam Lagoon, a flock of 4 Black Oystercatchers flew in.

Black Oystercatchers, Clam Lagoon, May 16, 2016

Black Oystercatchers, Clam Lagoon, May 16, 2016

When we got back down to the Clam Lagoon flats, the godwit population had grown to 29.

The other tour groups had two Ruffs and several Common Snipe at Contractor’s Camp Marsh today.

Our trip list is 33. Slow start…

Sunday, May 15, 2016

After arriving in Anchorage on Saturday, we did our food shopping and then did some birding. A Red-throated Loon had been reported from Lake Hood, so we looked for it. It was there, and VERY cooperative! In Pennsylvania, Red-throateds are usually seen out in the middle of a lake during rain storms in migration, so this was a real treat.

Red-throated Loon, Lake Hood, Anchorage, May 15, 2016.

Red-throated Loon, Lake Hood, Anchorage, May 14, 2016.

Red-throated Loon, Lake Hood, Anchorage, May 15, 2016.

Red-throated Loon, Lake Hood, Anchorage, May 14, 2016.

This was a state bird for us. At Ship Creek, Frank spotted a Greater Yellowlegs, which was also a new Alaska bird for us.

On Sunday morning we headed up to Arctic Valley and added Townsend’s Warbler to our state list.

Townsend's Warbler, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 15, 2016

Townsend’s Warbler, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 15, 2016

A Fox Sparrow up at the ski area posed nicely.

Fox Sparrow, Arctic Valley Ski Area, Anchorage, May 15, 2016.

Fox Sparrow, Arctic Valley Ski Area, Anchorage, May 15, 2016.

At Potter Marsh, we added Downy Woodpecker to our list and ran into the High Lonesome tour group, which were also flying out to Adak today.

We flew out to Adak and arrived in rain. John Puschock had seen a Black-crowned Night-Heron earlier in the day, but it had flown away. This was a first record for Adak. We hope it is still in the area.

After unpacking, we headed out to do a little birding. We had received a report from a resident that some swans were hanging around a lake on the road up to Bering Hill. Being that there are several roads going up Bering Hill, we started driving around several of them, checking all of the lakes and ponds. We didn’t find any swans, but after 11 years and 18 trips to Adak, we finally saw some Caribou! They normally are only found in the southern end of the island, where we never have gone (it is accessible only by hiking or ATV). So it was nice to finally add them to our Adak list.

Caribou, Bering Hill, May 15, 2016

Caribou, Bering Hill, May 15, 2016

At Clam Lagoon, we had 13 Bar-tailed Godwits. By this time (8:40 pm), we were pretty tired and called it quits.

More tomorrow.