Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mid-40s, mostly cloudy, light NW wind

Still stuck at 59, although we found out about a Sandhill Crane that was seen here three days ago. Maybe we will find it tomorrow.

We did not see the siskin today (not since yesterday morning), although the feeder was still active.

At Landing Lights Beach, a large number of Jellyfish had washed up on shore. I saw several on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula the other day and remarked to Barb that I had not seen any out there before. They did not have any tentacles, so they were not the lethal Portuguese Man-o-war types–but I didn’t touch them anyway.

Jellyfish, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2013

Jellyfish, Landing Lights Beach, May 29, 2013

A few more flowers are starting to bloom.

Buttercup, Adak, May 29, 2013

Buttercup, Adak, May 29, 2013

Lupine, Adak, May 29, 2013

Lupine, Adak, May 29, 2013

And, of course, the obligatory mug-shot.

Bald Eagle, Lake Shirley, May 29, 2013

Bald Eagle, Lake Shirley, May 29, 2013

There were hundreds of Ancient Murrelets in Sweeper Cove this morning and out in the bay. A few Pacific Loons are still hanging around. We went out to the Loran Station and, unlike our previous two visits this trip, the puffins were abundant and active–feeding and flying back and forth from the sea to their nests. Unfortunately, the cliffsides on which they nest are not visible from the Loran Station viewpoints.

Horned and Tufted puffins, Loran Station, May 29, 2013

Horned and Tufted puffins, Loran Station, May 29, 2013

One more day to find number sixty for the trip.

We will be leaving Adak around 6 pm tomorrow and will be arriving home around 5 pm Friday. So the next post (and wrap-up) of this year’s trip will come on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mid-40s, overcast, occasional sprinkle, 20 mph NW wind

The siskin is still here. We saw it at its roosting area this morning and at the feeder area this afternoon.

At Sweeper Channel, a couple of Greater Scaup posed nicely for me.

Greater Scaup, Sweeper Channel, May 28, 2013

Greater Scaup, Sweeper Channel, May 28, 2013

Greater Scaup, Sweeper Channel, May 28, 2013

Greater Scaup, Sweeper Channel, May 28, 2013

At Landing Lights Beach, we picked up a new trip bird–Sanderling (still in winter plumage). There were 9 Rock Sandpipers as well.

Sanderling, Landing Lights Beach, May 28, 2013

Sanderling, Landing Lights Beach, May 28, 2013

I walked through Contractor’s Marsh and didn’t see a single shorebird. Ditto at Clam Lagoon–both the peninsula and marsh edge were devoid of shorebirds. We had a Pacific Loon today–the first in several days.

If you visit Adak in September, there are many wildflowers in bloom, but in May, very few. This Marsh Marigold was the first blooming flower we’ve seen (not counting the daffodils in peoples’ yards).

Marsh Marigold, Contractor's Marsh, May 28, 2013

Marsh Marigold, Contractor’s Marsh, May 28, 2013

A pair of Pelagic Cormorants posed at Clam Lagoon (you never see the Red-faced this close!).

Pelagic Cormorants, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2013

Pelagic Cormorants, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2013

Cargo that cannot fit on a plane (or would cost too much to ship that way) are delivered to Adak via barge. On Saturday, a barge arrived with lots of stuff, unloaded and then filled back up and left this afternoon. I still don’t see how these things stay upright in the Bering Sea (have you seen The Deadliest Catch?). The containers were stacked four-high and then trucks put on top of them! The barge is towed by a tugboat (duh!).

Barge leaving Adak, May 28, 2013

Barge leaving Adak, May 28, 2013

One-and-half more days to go.

Trip list is 59.

Monday, May 27, 2013 — Memorial Day

We admit our mistakes…

Mid-40s, overcast with an occasional (VERY occasional) spot of sunshine, 25-35 W winds, on-and-off sprinkles.

We went down to Finger Bay this morning and found a Wandering Tattler, but it flew off before photo ops. Back up in town, we found the siskin again, this time roosting in a tree around the corner from the ones at the feeder, because it was more sheltered from the current wind direction (poor Isaac!). Also, the siskin was singing (calling?). It looked a little healthier today.

A couple of days ago, while with Steve and Alan, we stopped at Shotgun Lake and saw a single duck out there that looked different. It was tail-on to us, and the lighting was funny, and it was at a good distance. The butt appeared to be black (like a Gadwall) and the rest of the bird appeared plain (like a Gadwall). Steve radioed to us “Is that a Gadwall out there?”

Although it looked funny, the jizz said to me that it was a wigeon, and I responded as such. However, being easily influenced by the opinions of other birders, I began to question my initial take on the bird. I studied it as best I could under the conditions, and just couldn’t convince myself either way. We finally decided to count it as a Gadwall and added it to our trip list without mentioning it in this blog. However, it still bothered me.

Today at Haven Lake, we saw it again–in better lighting, but farther away–and concluded my initial impression was correct–it was a wigeon. One of the things that bothered us about this bird was that it was alone. All of the other wigeons (Eurasian) that we had seen on this trip were paired already. So now we believe it is a female American Wigeon, which is why she has no mate. There aren’t any male American Wigeons here right now. If anyone wants to tell us different (Ie. is it an Eurasian?), please do.

Here are a couple of photos–and, to illustrate a point, the first one shows the original photo before cropping.

American(?) Wigeon, Haven Lake, May 27, 2013

American(?) Wigeon, Haven Lake, May 27, 2013

American(?) Wigeon, Haven Lake, May 27, 2013

American(?) Wigeon, Haven Lake, May 27, 2013

American(?) Wigeon, Haven Lake, May 27, 2013

American(?) Wigeon, Haven Lake, May 27, 2013

Most of the migrant waterfowl have left, but a few Common Goldeneyes are still around.

Common Goldeneyes, Lake Shirley, May 27, 2013

Common Goldeneyes, Lake Shirley, May 27, 2013

On the way up yo Zeto Point, we saw a funny-looking merganser. It looks like it just hasn’t fully molted into breeding plumage like all the others here. However, he was paired up with a female–so I guess she didn’t mind…

Red-breasted Merganser, Smith Lake, May 27, 2013

Red-breasted Merganser, Smith Lake, May 27, 2013

As I said in a previous post, all of the feeders are active–just no Asian birds.

Gray-crowned Rosy Finches at Sandy Cove Bluffs Feeder, May 27, 2013

Gray-crowned Rosy Finches at Sandy Cove Bluffs Feeder, May 27, 2013

So our trip list remains at 58. Three days to go.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mid-40s, partly cloudy, occasional sprinkle (even snow!), strong (but lighter than yesterday) NW winds.

We started out today checking the feeders as usual and had the Pine Siskin around 8:30 am. Sweeper Cove was sleepy, but we had 7 phalaropes in Phalarope Cove. Sweeper Creek provided no new birds so we headed up past the Airport Ponds towards Contractor’s Marsh. As we were driving the road between the airport and the marsh, I spotted some birds flying over which looked interesting, so I told Barb to stop and I jumped out of the car. The birds were two smaller ones and a larger raptor flapping away. I dismissed the larger bird as an eagle and concentrated on the other two birds, which turned out to be Aleutian Terns.

Just as I announced their identification, Barb yells “Short-eared Owl!” What I had only glanced at was an owl! It was flying away from us, so we hopped back into the car and raced to catch up–which we did.

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2013

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2013

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2013

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2013

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2013

Short-eared Owl, Adak Airport, May 26, 2013

Our only other experiences with Short-eared Owl on Adak were in May 2008 when we saw one flying in from the Bering Sea while we were at the seawall, and last fall when we found the wing of one near Andrew Lake. This was our first opportunity to get photos.

We saw the Black-headed Gull again today at Landing Lights Beach. At the Seawall, I was able to pick out a couple of Laysan Albatross way out. Steve and Alan reported another Wandering Tattler at the Seawall Ponds.

We met the tour group returning from Attu and shared war stories. Their trip was not very good (for Attu!). They got Tufted Duck, Smew, Wood Sandpiper, and others, but no megahit. There tour group included a film crew from Japan who were making a documentary about the 70th anniversary of the battle of Attu (when the US kicked their butts of the island!) For anyone interested in this bit of WWII history, I recommend The Thousand Mile War (Brian Garfield).

Isaac arrived on the plane to go on the second Attu trip (as co-leader), so we met him at the airport and took him over to the siskin location, as he needed it for his Adak list. No luck. The bird did not appear on demand as it had a week ago for John.

Steve and Alan left today and the second Attu trip departed, so we are once again the only birders on the island for the next four days.

The trip list is now 58 and counting…

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mid-40s, overcast, very low ceiling, strong NW winds, occasional drizzle or shower.

More phalaropes showed up today in Phalarope Cove. Two Ruddy Turnstones were out on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula. An Arctic Loon was off the seawall.

Yesterday, Steve and Alan found a Wandering Tattler at the mouth of Sweeper Creek. We could not find it today. We went to a spot today where some Fish and Wildlife people reported a Common Snipe winnowing. Steve and Alan had tried this spot two nights ago and had just a Wilson’s Snipe. Today, we heard a snipe calling, but never saw it. However, the strong wind didn’t help.

No new trip birds. The siskin is still here (Note to Isaac–It showed up at the feeder at 5 pm!).

Pine Siskin and Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Seal Drive Feeder, May 25, 2013

Pine Siskin and Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, Seal Drive Feeder, May 25, 2013

These blog entries will be getting shorter and shorter until something new happens or shows up.

Trip list is holding at 56.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mid-40s, overcast with extremely low ceiling, rain starting in the afternoon, strong northeast winds.

No new birds. The godwits have left, the siskin is still here, and the number of terns is increasing daily.

At Lake Andrew, a pair of Common Loons in breeding plumage were not far offshore.

Common Loon, Andrew Lake, May 24, 2013

Common Loon, Andrew Lake, May 24, 2013

A male Snow Bunting has been coming into the Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder for the past few days. It will not allow close approach, but I got a so-so photo.

Snow Bunting, Sandy Cove Bluffs, May 24, 2013

Snow Bunting, Sandy Cove Bluffs, May 24, 2013

The phalarope migration has generally been late here this year. The Red-necked Phalaropes should be here in numbers, but only a few so far.

On a side note–Steve and Alan hiked down to Shagak Bay the other day and had a Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Emperor Geese. They also took a boat trip out to see the Whiskered Auklets. They had thousands of them and some Parakeet Auklets.

We are hoping the changing weather (winds switching to the northwest and west over the next few days) may blow in some new migrants.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

One week down, one to go…

Mid-40s, overcast, no rain, light winds.

The Emperor Goose that we found yesterday was on Goose Rocks today, affording a photo-op.

Emperor Goose, Goose Rocks, May 23, 2013.

Emperor Goose, Goose Rocks, May 23, 2013.

At Clam Lagoon, we never tire of watching the Sea Otters. Many of them are accompanied by moochers who hang around hoping to get the leftovers from the otter’s repast!.

Sea Otter with Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2013.

Sea Otter with Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2013.

The godwit flock at Clam Lagoon is down to 3.

Otherwise, today was uneventful until late afternoon. All of the feeders that we stocked when we arrived are now very active with one to two dozen birds (mostly Gray-crowned Rosy Finches) visiting each one daily. We expect this activity to attract any stray Asian visitors passing by.

As we pulled up to the Seal Drive feeder late this afternoon, a pale-colored bird flew up into the spruce tree. It was Siskin #1! We hadn’t seen it since Sunday. However, it had its feathers all puffed out, which usually is a sign of an unhealthy bird. In spite of all of the bird seed available, he may just be too stressed out.

Pine Siskin, Seal Drive Feeder, May 23, 2013.

Pine Siskin, Seal Drive Feeder, May 23, 2013.

At mid-point in our trip, we would rate it as average so far. One new Adak bird (Pine Siskin), no lifers. The biggest miss so far is Peregrine Falcon. We have had it on Adak on every one of our previous trips–both spring and fall. Waterfowl seems lower than normal (no Tufted Duck or Smew!), but Rock Ptarmigans and Song Sparrows seem to be more numerous than usual. Shorebirds are also scarcer than normal.

The Pine Siskins are the only non-native Adak passerine so far. However, in the past couple of years, the Hawfinches and Bramblings usually started showing up after May 23rd! So hope abounds…

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mid-40s (this is getting  repetitive, isn’t it?), partly cloudy, light winds.

After checking the usual spots around Sweeper Cove and Creek, we headed up to White Alice–a promontory west of town on which the cell phone towers are located. It usually doesn’t have many birds (except for Snow Buntings) but affords a nice view of Shagak Bay on the western side of Adak Island.

As we neared the top, a shorebird flew in front of us and up to the summit. We quickly reached the top and, as we got out of the truck, a Wandering Tattler called and flew off! Not a bird we were expecting up there…

My experience with Snow Buntings on Adak has been mostly from afar, as they rarely allow close approach. Today was finally different, as one stayed close-by and allowed me to get some stunning photos!

Snow Bunting, White Alice, May 22, 2013

We headed back down, and at the Airport Ponds, there was a flock of Aleutian Terns feeding.

Aleutian Terns feeding at Airport Ponds, May 22, 2013

Aleutian Terns feeding at Airport Ponds, May 22, 2013

At Clam Lagoon, the godwit flock has dwindled down to eleven birds, as the nice weather has provided incentive for the departure of most of the flock. As she was scanning the lagoon, Barb picked out an American Green-winged Teal. It was too far for pictures, but if it was there on our return swing around the lagoon, I would walk out on the flats and try to get some.

We then headed out to the Loran Station–the northernmost point on Adak. A Pacific Wren serenaded us as we did a seawatch for pelagics. The only ones we saw were Short-tailed Shearwaters at the limit of our visibility.

We returned to Clam Lagoon and headed over to the seawall. There, Barb (again!!) spotted an Emperor Goose out on one of the rocky islands just south of the seawall. We hadn’t seen one since Saturday.

At the Seawall Breaches, two Black Oystercatchers were present.

Black Oystercatcher, Seawall Breaches, May 22, 2013

Black Oystercatcher, Seawall Breaches, May 22, 2013

When we got back to the south end of the lagoon, I walked out on the flats towards the feeding teal in hopes that the American was still there. It was.

American (left) and Eurasian Green-winged Teal, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2013

American (left) and Eurasian Green-winged Teal, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2013

Our trip list stands at 56.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice day before the next storm arrives Friday.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Barb’s day!

Mid-40s (the temp, not Barb), strong south winds shifting to southwest. No rain (or at least very little)! The day started overcast, but became partly sunny by afternoon. However, the wind never let up.

Sweeper Cove was still not very productive and the feeders around town had no new activity (except for a Bald Eagle sitting on the rock feeder!). We headed up to Contractor’s Marsh and I walked the west portion while Barb drove around the east end. A Pacific Golden-Plover flew out ahead of me and landed a fair distance away. I got some so-so photos.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractor’s Marsh, May 21, 2013

After all of the tour groups left on Sunday, we thought we would be the only birders left on the island. However, two birders from Seattle (Steve and Alan) arrived on Sunday and we ran into them yesterday and gave them the lowdown. Today, when we got up to Clam Lagoon, they were there and I asked them if the wanted to walk the flats with me. They agreed and we started out while Barb stayed in the truck and scanned from there.

No sooner had we gotten out on the flats than Barb radioed us that there was a Black-headed Gull out there! We soon spotted it and had decent (if distant) looks at it.

Black-headed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 21, 2013

This is the 4th one that we’ve had on Adak–all in May.

No sooner were we done looking at the gull and headed back towards the western side of the flats, than Barb called again to tell us there was a Whimbrel out ahead of us! We soon spotted it and got very good looks despite it all-of-a-sudden beginning to rain! The rain ended as quickly as it started and I got some decent pictures before it flew off.

Whimbrel (Siberian race), Clam Lagoon, May 21, 2013

As it flew off, we all saw the white running up its back, which made it the Siberian race.

Steve and Alan then followed us around the rest of Clam Lagoon. At the seawall, we pointed out a Red-faced Cormorant to them, which was a lifer for them both. There was nothing else new or exciting around the lagoon, but a Parasitic Jaeger did pose for photos.

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, May 21, 2013

We finally picked up a Snow Bunting for our trip list, which now stands at 51.

Keep those birds coming…

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mid-40s, south winds, raining all day.

The weather did not help the birding today. At the various feeders, all we had were Gray-crowned Rosy Finches (and a Raven!). On the water tank cliffside, we spotted a Raven’s nest with three almost-fledged young.

Common Raven nest, Adak, May 20, 2013

At Clam Lagoon, two Dunlin joined the flock of godwits on the flats (too far for photos). Along the west shore of the lagoon, a Common Eider stayed close enough for a portrait (you can never have too many eider photos!).

Common Eider, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2013

Red-breasted Mergansers are abundant on Adak, but fly off at the nearest approach, so it was nice to get a photo of this pair at Lake Shirley.

Red-breasted Mergansers, Lake Shirley, May 20, 2013

We stopped early today (4 pm) as it kept raining and we were having car troubles–the engine died several times today. Cindy (the person we are renting housing and the truck from) promised to have it fixed or get us a replacement vehicle by sometime tomorrow. We suspect it is just condensation in the gas tank, as this vehicle has not been driven for several months. We will see.The wind is supposed to shift to the southwest and then west tomorrow. That should bring some new migrants in.
I hope we have a longer report tomorrow.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We are here to serve…

Mid-40s, pouring rain, 20-25 mph S winds. The sun made brief appearances in the afternoon, but the rain continued off and on throughout the day.

We birded the usual spots around Sweeper Cove and Creek, then headed up to the Airport Ponds and found a flock of Aleutian Terns–our first for this trip.

At the Elfin Forest, we found an unwelcome visitor on the feeder.

Norway Rat on feeder at Elfin Forest, May 19, 2013

At Clam Lagoon we counted 41 godwits through the rain and fog. At Shotgun Lake, we had 28 Buffleheads, which was a high count of any waterfowl we have ever had on that body of water. Later in the day, we only had a pair of Eurasian Wigeon there.

On the east side of the lagoon we had both Arctic and Aleutian terns. Along the Seawall, we had a flock of 15 Ruddy Turnstones–our first for the trip.

Ruddy Turnstone, Clam Lagoon Seawall, May 19, 2013

We also had two Pacific Loons (we had another at Sweeper Cove later in the day).

At the Seawall Breaches, a small flock of Common Eider were close to shore.

Common Eider, Seawall Breaches, May 19, 2013

Common Eider, Seawall Breaches, May 19, 2013

Zugunruhe Bird Tours (Ie. John Pushock) runs the only tours to Attu currently. This year he is running two trips–one starting today and the other starting May 26. The boat (the Puck Uk) arrived last night and John arrived on the plane this afternoon along with several members of his tour group. Four others arrived with us on Thursday and birded Adak for a few days before getting on the boat for Attu. This morning one of the other tour groups on the island took the Puck Uk out for auklets and had a very successful excursion, getting all of the expected species (Whiskered, Crested, Least, Parakeet, and Cassin’s auklets and more).

We had hoped the Pine Siskins would hang around until John got here, as he needed them for his Adak list. Unfortunately, we had checked the feeder five times today with no success, and none of the other groups had seen them today.

We met John at the airport, had a nice chat, wished him well on his Attu trip, and headed down to the pier to say goodby to the other birders leaving on the trip..We then headed back to our dwelling, and went by he siskin feeder. Lo and behold! Siskin #1 was there! Barb dropped me off there to keep my eye on it and then went to find John. He had just arrived at the boat, so he climbed into the truck and they raced back to the feeder. A minute before they arrived, a pair of eagles swooped low over the feeder, causing all of the birds to flush. But just as they pulled up, the birds returned, including the siskin.

As we said, “We are here to serve!”

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mid 40s, 10-25 mph S wind, occasional sprinkle.

The siskin population on Adak doubled overnight!

When we checked the Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder this morning there were two Pine Siskins! The new bird was more heavily streaked than the first and the yellow in the wing was less bold, looking more like the siskins we are used to back home.

Pine Siskin #1, Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder, May 18, 2013.

Pine Siskin #2, Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder, May 18, 2013.

You can see why there was some uncertainty about the identification of the first bird on Thursday.

While watching these guys, a couple of ravens decided that the bird seed was too much to pass up and intruded.

Common Raven, Sandy Cove Bluffs feeder, May 18, 2013.

At Sweeper Cove, we had our first Common Murres of the trip. At Phalarope Cove, we had our first Red-necked Phalarope for the trip.

We decided to go down to Finger Creek. While driving up the south side of Sweeper Cove, we stopped to view some alcids out in the cove. While we were standing there, a Bald Eagle decided to let us know that we were a little too close to his (her?) nest.

Bald Eagle, Sweeper Cove, May 18, 2013.

Bald Eagle, Sweeper Cove, May 18, 2013.

Bald Eagle, Sweeper Cove, May 18, 2013.

Nothing new at Finger Creek, so we headed north. We stopped at the Elfin Forest and spotted a duck in the small pond there. It was an American Green-winged Teal — a rare bird on Adak. Unfortunately, it flew before I could get photos. Maybe tomorrow.

We had the usual suspects on Clam Lagoon, with he godwit flock down to 31. As we drove south along the east side, we noted that the Emperor Goose was still there. (Note: several members of the other tour groups got it as a lifer) We went up to Zeto Point, and on our return, the goose was gone. However, birds do wander around the island, so it may still be in the vicinity.

We counted 8 Arctic Terns at Clam Lagoon and a Common Loon off the seawall.

Our trip list is at 42.

The weather is supposed to be 25-35 mph SE winds tonight into Monday morning, gusting up to 60 mph! We hope it blows some new birds in.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mid-40s, partly sunny, increasing NW winds.

We got a late start today (still recovering from the trip out). Gassed up the truck ($6.11 a gallon!!). Headed down to Sweeper Cove which was practically void of birds. Sweeper Creek had a pair of Rock Sandpipers. No sign of the siskin this morning. After reviewing photos online last night, we agree that it was a Pine Siskin. A new bird for our Adak list, but not a lifer.

We headed north and stopped by Adak National Forest to admire the new sign!

New Adak National Forest sign, May 17, 2013.

At Clam Lagoon, I walked out the peninsula, but didn’t find anything new. However, while out there, the Bar-tailed Godwits flew by.

Bar-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2013.

We get Bar-tailed Godwits every May, but the numbers have ranged from two to scores. This year is apparently a good one.We passed the other tour groups along the way and shared sightings. When we got to the southeast side, we spotted the Emperor Goose sitting with gulls out on the flats trying to blend in. We radioed the nearest tour group and they raced back to get it as it was a lifer for two of them! The other tour group was out of range, but when informed that the bird was still here later in the day, they went looking for it, also. We haven’t heard back from them yet as to whether they found it and if any of their group needed it for a lifer.

As we returned along the seawall, a group of gulls, ravens, and eagles were feasting on some creature washed up into the rocks. We couldn’t see what it was, but the birds were getting their fill.

Common Raven and Glaucous-winged Gulls, Clam Lagoon Seawall,May 13, 2013.

Bald Eagle with fine repast, Clam Lagoon Seawall, May 17, 2013

Back on the west side of the lagoon, in one of the small roadside ponds, a Northern Pintail hustled her brood along the edge.

Northern Pintail with ducklings, near Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2013.

Other birds of note today included 3 Arctic Loons, 4 Arctic Terns, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Marbled and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Glaucous Gull, and at least 8 Eurasian Wigeon.Our trip list stands at 36.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

We started off our trip with a bang (or maybe just a pop)! But more abut that later…

We tried a new air route this year, flying from Philly to Seattle to Anchorage (all on Alaska Airlines). The advantage was we didn’t have to leave Philly until 5:40 pm. The disadvantage was we didn’t get into Anchorage until midnight. That meant no afternoon birding. This morning, we got our shopping done, stored the food in our motel room and went out for a little birding before our afternoon flight to Adak.

At Westchester Lagoon we had two Barrow’s Goldeneyes, but they flew off before I could get their picture. At Ship Creek, we had two Bonaparte’s Gulls and a cooperative Hermit Thrush.

Bonaparte’s Gull, Ship Creek, Anchorage, May 16, 2013.

Hermit Thrush, Ship Creek, Anchorage, May 16, 2013.

At Potters Marsh, we had an assortment of ducks, Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitchers, Northern Harrier, Sandhill Cranes and a couple of Boreal Chickadees. The only other Boreal Chickadee that we have had previously in Alaska was a dead one we found at the airport terminal several years ago! It was nice to see live ones…

Our flight to Adak was highlighted with a distant view of the Pavlof Volcano spewing ash and steam into the air. Our first erupting volcano!

Erupting Pavlov Volcano, May 16, 2013

We arrived at Adak and after unpacking, heard that the other tour group had an unidentified finch of some sort. We quickly found them at the Sandy Cove Bluffs rock feeder viewing a Siskin, but unsure as to whether it was a Pine or Eurasian.

After much discussion and looks at the bird and photos of the bird, most of the birders present were leaning towards Pine. We will have to do some online research tomorrow (too tired tonight) and see if we agree.

Pine(?) Siskin, Sandy Cove Bluffs, Adak, May 16, 2013.

Whichever species it is will be a new bird for our Adak list and if it is a Eurasian Siskin, a lifer.

We headed up to Clam Lagoon for a quick survey and were surprised to find a flock of 35 Bar-tailed Godwits out on the flats (we had fewer than a dozen last year).

We continued around the lagoon to the seawall, where I spotted a Stellar’s Sea Lion thrashing a bird to death. The bird had a lot of white on it and we suspect it was a Common Eider. The Sea Lion disappeared below the surface with its prey, and as we were scanning for it to surface, we spotted an Emperor Goose flying right towards us! It flew low directly overhead and into the lagoon, where we spotted it a short time later. Of course I was out of the car scanning with the scope without the camera in hand!

More tomorrow (its 11:08 pm!)