Thursday, May 28, 2015

Final day.

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, showers, SW 20-40 mph wind

We could not find the mystery duck from yesterday.

The Black-tailed Godwit, Glaucous Gull, Tufted Ducks, many Hawfinches, Bramblings, and Wood Sandpipers were still present.

The only bird of interest today was a light-morph Parasitic Jaeger on Clam Lagoon. 99% of the jaegers out here are dark morph, so a light morph makes you take a second look. This one was observed sitting and flying and was a Parasitic.

Light-morph Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2015

Light-morph Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, May 28, 2015

This photo makes it look slightly larger than the dark-morph, but it wasn’t.

For the third trip in a row, we arrived home late. However, the number of hours late keeps going down — so I guess we are at least headed in the right direction.

This was a GREAT trip! Two lifers, many semi-lifers, New birds almost every day. Some great birders to bird with. And some great photos.

The trip list total of 76 was phenomenal. When the other birders were here, most of the rare birds stayed around long enough for everyone to see. We will return.

Rainbow over Sitkin Sound, May 22, 2015

Rainbow over Sitkin Sound, May 22, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We don’t want to leave!

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, occasional spritzle, SSE 15-20 mph winds

As usual, we checked the feeders first thing and the Seal Drive feeder had both a Hawfinch and a Brambling.

Brambling, Seal Drive Feeder, May 27, 2015

Brambling, Seal Drive Feeder, May 27, 2015

We went up to Clam Lagoon, and the Black-tailed Godwit was still present, but no other shorebirds. At Shotgun Lake, the female Smew was still there along with two Tufted Ducks.

Tufted Duck and Greater Scaup, Shotgun Lake, May 27, 2015

Tufted Ducks, Shotgun Lake, May 27, 2015

There was nothing new on the Seawall, Lake Shirley, or down to Candlestick Bridge. As we were coming back past Lake Shirley, a small to medium-sized falcon zipped by — too fast for us to make an identification. It disappeared towards Clam Lagoon. We turned around and searched for it, but no luck.

Back at the Seawall, Frank scanned the horizon and spotted several Laysan Albatross going by. Several were within binocular-range! We turned the car around so Barb could scan, and she not only saw the albatrosses, but also hundreds of Short-tailed Shearwaters. One of the albatrosses came in just beyond Cormorant Rocks, but flew back out to sea too quickly for me to get a photo. It is always a delight to watch pelagics with our feet planted on terra firma, instead of rocking in a boat!

We stopped at Palisades Overlook to scan Kuluk Bay. A falcon flew over and we quickly got on it, as it did not look like one of the Gyrs. It was a Peregrine — our first May bird since 2012.

We continued around the lagoon with no surprises. Heading back towards town, we decided to check the Brambling Feeder — even though the ravens had been feasting there. We pulled into the fenced-in area and saw a Brambling, several Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, and a Hawfinch. Several of the Rosy-Finches flew over to a window with a lattice-grill on it and flew inside. One popped back out, and then another bird popped out that was not a Rosy-Finch. It was an Eye-browed Thrush!

Our experience with his species on Adak was poor. In September 2007, we had spotted a bird hiding in one of the spruces at the Blue Building Feeder. We called the other birders that were there at the time (John Pushock was leading a group). We waited for them to arrive before trying to get a look at the bird. John arrived and, viewing from his van, saw the bird emerge on the other side of the tree from us. Barb got a brief view of the bird before it flew off and I never saw more than a partial silhouette in the tree. It was an Eye-browed Thrush. It was never relocated. Barb had just a good enough look (but not very satisfying) to put it on her list, but I did not.

Today’s bird was much more cooperative.

Eye-browed Thrush, Near Navfac, May 27, 2015

Eye-browed Thrush, Near Navfac, May 27, 2015

We went into town, took a short break and went back out. We saw more Hawfinches and a Brambling. We went up to Airport Ponds and found two pair of Tufted Duck again. In one of the far ponds, there was a Mallard-sized (and shaped) bird with two mergansers. From this distance, it looked all dark, like a Black Duck, but with no contrast between the head and body. We saw it dive once. We drove around to the escarpment to get a closer look, but it flushed when it saw me crest the edge. It flew over to the main pond, but was gone when we drove back over there! We will search for it again tomorrow. We have no idea what it was.

Our trip list is at an astonishing 76!

We leave tomorrow evening. We don’t want to go!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The birds — they just keep coming…

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, 20-30 mph SW wind

Sweeper cove and creek were not productive this morning. The 4 Tufted Ducks were still on the Airport Ponds. At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, no Bean Goose, but we still had a few Wood Sandpipers. No Ring-necked Duck either. Ravens were eating the bird seed at the Brambling Feeder!

The Clam Lagoon flats had no shorebirds. Shotgun Lake surprised us with a Tufted Duck and the female Smew!

Tufted Duck, Shotgun, Lake, May 26, 2015

Tufted Duck, Shotgun, Lake, May 26, 2015

The Seawall was somewhat productive with 3 Arctic Loons and a Sea Lion (briefly). Also at the Seawall, several Laysan Albatross were flying offshore, a little closer than usual, but still scope-required.

At Lake Shirley, we picked out two Lesser Scaup in the Greater Scaup flock.

When we came back around to the south side of the lagoon, there were a lot more birds present. The Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, winter Black-headed Gull, and Glaucous Gull were there. The Red-necked Stint was also there and allowed a close approach.

Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2015

Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2015

We headed back to town, checked the feeders and saw more Hawfinches.

Since the tide was out, we decided to check Sweeper Channel again. Good thing we did! We found a Common Sandpiper — our 4th for Adak!

Common Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 26, 2015

Common Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 26, 2015

Common Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 26, 2015

Common Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 26, 2015

It did not allow a close approach and flew down the channel. We could not relocate it after dinner.

The trip list is now 74!

A day-and-a-half to go…

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rain, rain, rain…

Temp in the 40s, rain, rain, rain, SSE wind 10-15 mph

The day started off with rain. Not just drizzle or occasional showers, but steady — at times hard — rain. It didn’t let up until late afternoon when it lessened to light rain and drizzle. It never completely stopped until evening.

In spite of that, we added another trip bird today.

Sweeper Cove had nothing new. We headed over to Sweeper Channel. As we stopped on the bridge and scanned the edges of the creek, we spotted a bird that was not a Rock Sandpiper. It was a Terek sandpiper! Our second one on Adak (1st was in May 2007). Both birds were seen on the channel.

Terek Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 25, 2015

Terek Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 25, 2015

Terek Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 25, 2015

Terek Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 25, 2015

This is the kind of bird we like — rare, but easy to identify.

We added no other new trip birds today, but The Black-tailed Godwit is still here. We saw the Dunlin and Red-necked Stint on Clam Lagoon this morning, but the weather conditions were too bad to get better photos (The Terek photos above were taken in late afternoon, once the weather improved. The photos I took in the morning were not so hot).

No Smew today, but the Ring-necked Duck is still here. No Bean Geese today. I’ve received some speculation about the identity of the Bean Goose we had at the airport on the 18th. These pictures were not as good as the later ones. Here is a montage of that bird, one of the birds we found on the 22nd, and and a photo of a Taiga from the net. As can clearly be seen, our bird was a Tundra.

Tundra Bean Goose, Airport, May 18 -- Tundra Bean Goose - Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 22 -- Taiga Bean Goose (from the internet).

Tundra Bean Goose, Airport, May 18 — Tundra Bean Goose – Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 22 — Taiga Bean Goose (from the internet).

In the fall, Pectoral Sandpipers are ubiquitous on the island — showing up in almost any wet area — even puddles along the edge of the road. Well, the Wood Sandpipers are channeling the Pectorals. They are everywhere! We have no idea how many there might be here right now.

Likewise, the Hawfinches. We see them around town, but now there is one up at the “Brambling feeder.” (For those of you familiar with Adak, this “feeder” is at the double-fenced building just south of the Navfac creek.) Also, one found the Seal Drive feeder. And another, the feeder behind our lodge.

At the Seawall, we found three Arctic Loons along with the dozen-or-so Pacifics. The Airport Ponds still had 4 Tufted Ducks, but now instead of two pair, there were three males and one female.

Our trip list is now 72!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

With apologies to all…

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, 15-30 SW wind

I took an early morning walk around town and had a flock of 8 Hawfinch and 1 Brambling and saw 4 Wood Sandpipers.

The Common Greenshank was seen earlier, but flew away and we did not see it when we went by. We were heading back home, when we saw the High Lonesome van. They were looking at the two Whimbrel. We saw them again later in the afternoon. They were more cooperative then.

"Siberian" Whimbrel. Sweeper Creek, May 24, 2015

“Siberian” Whimbrel. Sweeper Creek, May 24, 2015

At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, Frank walked across the marsh while the High Lonesome group walked a different section. They kicked up a Wilson’s Snipe, which Barb got a good look at. I kicked out a bunch of Wood Sandpipers. At the north end, only one Tundra Bean Goose was still present. The Ring-necked Duck had moved to the large pond at the west side of the marsh, and while looking for it, the Sitka crew spotted a male Smew! We all got to see it. In addition, a Red-necked Phalarope was seen — our first for this trip.

We continued up to Clam Lagoon. Out on the flats were two small shorebirds — a Dunlin and a smaller shorebird with a red head. Here, I must digress. Flashback to the 70s. A Red-necked Stint was reported from Jamaica Bay NWR. As it would be a lifer, we decided to try for it. We arrived and made our way to the dried-up pond where it had been reported. There were a number of other birders there. They started to go to the right, so — being a contrarian — we went to the left. We shortly found a small shorebird with a red head. We called to the other birders who ran up to our position. They set up there scopes and asked “Where in relation to the Sanderling?” Suffice it to say, we had only seen Sanderlings down the shore in winter and had never seen one in breeding plumage. Unfortunately, there were no rocks under which to hide…

Flash forward to May 2011. I am walking out the Clam Lagoon peninsula. I see a small shorebird with a red head. “Aha!” I say to myself, “I will not make THAT mistake again.” and promptly identify it as a Sanderling. That evening, back at the lodge, I downloaded the day’s photos, and as I perused the “sanderling” photos, realized it was a Red-necked Stint! (I think you can see where this is going…)

Well — today at Clam Lagoon, I trudged out to get a closer look — and photos — of the red-headed bird. The wind was howling and I could not hold my binos steady enough to get a good look, so I depended on my camera. When I got back to the car and looked at the photos on the camera, it looked like it had a thick black bill — indicative of Sanderling. Well — reviewing the photos tonight — guess what? It is a Red-necked Stint!

I will never learn.. but I do admit when I’m wrong.

Fortunately, the Sitka crew saw the bird — although at the time I put it in their heads that it was a Sanderling. The High Lonesome group was back in town packing.

Dunlin (left) and Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2015

Dunlin (left) and Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2015

At Shotgun Lake, lo and behold, the female Smew was back. We continued around Clam Lagoon. We saw the winter Black-headed Gull again and relocated the Black-tailed Godwit. This time he cooperated.

Black-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2015

Black-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2015

We stopped at the “Brambling feeder” near the marsh and saw 3 Bramblings!

We headed back to town and found these Dunlin along the way.

Dunlin and Rock Sandpiper, Landing Lights Beach, May 24, 2015

Dunlin and Rock Sandpiper, Landing Lights Beach, May 24, 2015

Back in town, we found a flock of 6 Hawfinch and two Bramblings. They just keep coming…

Brambling (left) and Hawfinch, Adak, May 24, 2015

Brambling (left) and Hawfinch, Adak, May 24, 2015

We headed to the airport to see the others off. The plane arrived late, but it arrived! It was a pleasure to meet the Sitka birders and we hate to see them go. They certainly picked the right year to come to Adak! We also will miss the group from High Lonesome — they were also fun to be around.

Our trip list is at an all-time high — 71.

What will tomorrow bring?

 

 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

No new birds, but fun anyway.

Temp in the 40s, overcast, rain and drizzle, 20-30 mph SW wind.

Sweeper Cove had a few birds, including this Pelagic Cormorant, which, being a black bird, can be difficult to photograph.

Pelagic Cormorant, Sweeper Cove, May 23, 2015

Pelagic Cormorant, Sweeper Cove, May 23, 2015

The Common Greenshank was reported this morning at Sweeper Creek, but we did not see it.

Only two Tufted Ducks on the Airport Ponds, but we had a flock of 5 Wood Sandpipers there as well. On the Airport Escarpment, we found this cooperative Dunlin.

Dunlin, Airport Escarpment, May 23, 2015

Dunlin, Airport Escarpment, May 23, 2015

The Ring-necked Duck was in the large pond at the west end of Contractor’s Camp Marsh. The 3 Tundra Bean Geese were still present also.

At Clam Lagoon, we had a pairing we believe may be a first for North America — a Black-headed Gull and Black-tailed Godwit at the same time.

Black-headed Gull and Black-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2015

Black-headed Gull and Black-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2015

Today, we got to see the godwit fly, displaying its bold black and white wings and tail pattern (no photos — maybe tomorrow).

The rest of the Clam Lagoon area yielded nothing new, but we did see the other Black-headed Gull again. The rain and wind did not help…

As we were returning to town, we ran into some interns from the Fish and Wildlife Service, who told us they had seen a flock of finches in town and, although some of them were Hawfinches, they thought some were not. We put out the alert to the other bird groups and headed for town. We quickly found the other birders near the FWS office observing some Hawfinches and a Brambling! They had seen at least 6 Hawfinches!

Brambling, City of Adak, May 23, 2015

Brambling, City of Adak, May 23, 2015

Hawfinch, City of Adak (Yes, it is classified as a city!), May 23, 2015

Hawfinch, City of Adak (Yes, it is classified as a city!), May 23, 2015

We, and the other birders cruised around town and, numbers of Hawfinches were seen. It is unclear as to how many. There may be a dozen! The most that we have ever had on Adak is 3.

In addition to the finches, we had a flock of nine Wood Sandpipers land in a recently flooded area just behind our housing area. That makes at least 16 that we personally saw today. The other groups also saw some. In May 2006 (when we weren’t here!) the birding groups on the island reported “about a hundred.” This may turn out to be a similar incursion.

To top it off, the three Tundra Bean Geese flew by the back of our house while we and the Sitka birders were having a chat — and ice cream!

They — and High Lonesome — are rescheduled to leave tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mr. Bumble, may I have some more?

The remnants of Typhoon Dolphin dumped loads of rain and lashed us with 50 mph winds — and gave us birds!

Today was partly sunny, 15-25 mph SW winds, occasional drizzle.

Sweeper Cove had more birds this morning, but nothing new. The Airport Ponds still had 4 Tufted Ducks. Just as we were entering Contractor’s Camp Marsh, we got a call from Sitka that they had a Common Greenshank at Sweeper Creek. We raced down there and got to see it, as did the High Lonesome group. This is at least the third record of this species on Sweeper Creek that we know of (and we are not counting the ones from Sweeper Channel).

Common Greenshank, Sweeper Creek, May 22, 2015

Common Greenshank, Sweeper Creek, May 22, 2015

The Sitka group also reported they had seen snipe (of undetermined species).

We headed back up to the marsh, found no new shorebirds, then checked on the Tundra Bean Goose. Well — he apparently liked it so much on Adak, he invited a couple of friends! There were now three Tundra Bean Geese. As can be seen in the picture, they all sport the diagnostic “grumpy” bill shape.

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 22, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 22, 2015

We went to Clam Lagoon, but saw nothing new on the west side. At the north end, we spotted a winter-plumaged Black-headed Gull (We saw the breeding-plumaged one also, later in the day).

Black-headed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2015

Black-headed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2015

At the Seawall, Barb spotted a large loon that she thought was a Yellow-billed, but it disappeared (as birds are wont to do on Adak!), but later, the High Lonesome group confirmed a Yellow-billed Loon at the Seawall.

As we were heading down the east side, we got a call that there was a Black-tailed Godwit at the south lookout! We raced around the lagoon (boy, do we wish Candlestick bridge would be repaired!). Luckily, the bird was still there with a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits for easy comparison.

Black-tailed Godwit (left) with Bar-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2015

Black-tailed Godwit (left) with Bar-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2015

Although both Barb and I had seen the only Black-tailed Godwit in Pennsylvania, Barb got to see it the first day it was discovered standing in a wet area, while I only saw it as a fly-by two days later. So this bird was practically a lifer.

We birded around the lagoon some more and headed back to town for gas. As we were coming back from the gas station, just south of town, we saw two large shorebirds flying towards us. Barb quickly saw they had down-curved bills, so they were curlews of some sort. They disappeared over a bluff down to the airport runways. We put the call out and Sitka arrived shortly. We then walked over o the edge of the bluff and scanned the area for the birds. Two Whimbrel (of the Siberian race) flew out from below us and onto a runway. The white up their backs was easily seen as they flew.

"Siberian" Whimbrel, Airport, May 22, 2015

“Siberian” Whimbrel, Airport, May 22, 2015

We went back out after dinner and saw both Black-headed Gulls up at the lagoon.

As we drove back into town, we spotted one of the Hawfinches.

Our trip list is now 68 — just one shy of our record!

More, more, more!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Some people just can’t leave…

Overcast, but not raining in the early morning. Then increasing wind and rain throughout the day. South wind 35-40 mph.

We headed up to Contractor’s Camp Marsh to look for the Brambling. As we approached the marsh, we spotted a large flock of Cackling Geese circling and landing on the airport — joining another flock already there. We scoured them for other geese, but they were all Cackling. 105 of them.

Cackling Geese, Airport, May 21, 2015

Cackling Geese, Airport, May 21, 2015

The other two groups were over in the marsh looking at Pacific Golden-Plovers. As we neared the fenced-in compound where the Brambling had been seen, we spotted a Gyrfalcon sitting on the fence. We stayed back and called the other two groups and they got to see it and photograph it up close. It finally flew away when we tried to get closer, so my photo is not so hot.

Gyrfalcon, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 21, 2015

Gyrfalcon, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 21, 2015

We didn’t see the Brambling. We cruised around the marsh looking for Wood Sandpipers, which we did not find. However, the Tundra Bean Goose was still in the field where it was yesterday. We saw some more Pacific Golden-Plovers.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 21, 2015

Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 21, 2015

We ran into the High Lonesome group and they reported seeing a flock of Redpolls.

At Clam Lagoon, we had the Black-headed Gull again. At Shotgun Lake, no Smew. If it had been there, it would have been the latest date that we had had one on Adak (not a record though — there is one June record).

Near the Blue Building feeder, we spotted another Gyrfalcon. This one was different from the other as it had a ragged tail.

Gyrfalcon, Clam Lagoon, May 21, 2015

Gyrfalcon, Clam Lagoon, May 21, 2015

At the Breaches, we had our first Ruddy Turnstone for the trip.

Ruddy Turnstone, the Breaches, May 21, 2015

Ruddy Turnstone, the Breaches, May 21, 2015

On the east side of the lagoon, we found only 3 godwits. The Black-headed Gull had also come over to the east side. Back on the west side, we spotted both the Glaucous and Black-headed Gulls.

We headed back to town to see the Sitka birders and find out if the plane was on time. Not only was it not on time, it was cancelled. You see, Typhoon Dolphin was bearing down on us! So they are stuck here until Sunday. You just can’t get rid of some people…

The Sitka Birders, Vicky, Jen, and Kitty.

The Sitka Birders, Vicky, Jen, and Kitty.

We went back out, checked Sweeper Creek and the Airport Ponds, but everything was hiding. We came around near Contractor’s Camp Marsh and spoted some ducks in one of the nearby ponds. One of them was different. It turned out to be a Ring-necked Duck! Our first for Adak and one of only a few records out here.

Ring-necked Duck, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 21, 2015

Ring-necked Duck, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 21, 2015

We went back and let everyone know about the duck, then went to dinner with Sitka.

A few days ago, Barb had the idea of throwing some seed out behind our unit in case a few birds might wander by. Well — after we got back from dinner, Frank looked out and saw the two Hawfinches feeding away!

Our trip list is now 63 — 2 over our average.

One week down and one to go.

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another fine day on Adak…

Temp in the 40s, partly cloudy, much sunshine, occasional drizzle, NW wind 10-15 mph.

We checked the feeders and looked for the Hawfinches. No luck.

At Sweeper Cove, an Ancient Murrelet was close enough to photograph.

Ancient Murrelet, Sweeper Cove, May 20, 2015

Ancient Murrelet, Sweeper Cove, May 20, 2015

They are here in good numbers now.

We went to Finger Bay and Creek, but had nothing new there.

We met the High Lonesome group at Palisades Overlook and they reported having seen the Brambling this morning and a Short-eared Owl.

We ran into the Sitka crew near Clam Lagoon, and they reporting having seen the Brambling this morning and some Wood Sandpipers, and 18 Pacific Golden-Plovers. They also said they saw three geese (one of which was different) flying towards Shotgun Lake, but they could not relocate them.

We continued around Clam Lagoon to Shotgun Lake, where the Smew was still present. We then went towards Lake Andrew in case the geese made it over there. No luck.

But, on the way back towards Clam Lagoon, the Gyrfalcon graced us with his presence!

We found 9 godwits and the Dunlin on the east side of the lagoon.

Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2015

Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2015

Bar-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2015

Bar-tailed Godwits, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2015

When we got back around to the west side again, the godwits and Dunlin had moved back over there also. While scanning the flats, Barb picked out the Black-headed Gull again.

Frank walked out the peninsula to see what other shorebirds might be out there. Instead of shorebirds, however, he found a Glaucous Gull.

Glaucous Gull (left) with Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2015

Glaucous Gull (left) with Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 20, 2015

We went back down to Contractor’s Camp Marsh to look for the Brambling. While we were there, the other groups arrived. As the High Lonesome group drove off, they spotted the Tundra Bean Goose just a short distance away! This time, he was much more cooperative. In the photos, you can see the definitive short, thick neck and bill shape and grin patch.

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 20, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 20, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 20, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 20, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 20, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 20, 2015

Everyone was thrilled — except those that wanted a Taiga Bean Goose.

We did not see the Brambling.

We went back to town, had dinner and went over to the High Lonesome group’s house to share war stories, as this was their (and Sitka’s) last night on the island.

Afterwards, we went back out to check feeders, including the new Brambling one. No go, but we had a Wood Sandpiper up at the marsh.

On the way back to town, a flock of 37 Cackling Geese flew off the roads onto the airport.

Our trip list is now 61, which is the average number we get on our May trips, and we still have a week to go!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It’s a beautiful day on Adak…

Temp in the 40s, light NE wind getting stronger later in the day and switching to NW. Occasional light drizzle, partly sunny.

The morning dawned to sunshine, bathing Mount Moffet in morning glow.

Mount Moffet, May 19, 2015

Mount Moffet, May 19, 2015

As I was out photographing Mount Moffet, the High Lonesome group informed me that there were now TWO Hawfinches hanging around town. I saw one of them and, later in the day, Barb and I saw the pair together.

We checked the feeders and Sweeper Cove. Nothing new.

We headed up to the Airport Ponds and saw the two pair of Tufted Ducks.We got a call that there were three Arctic Loons off the Navfac Creek area. We raced over there, but by the time we got there they were too far out for photos. However, while looking through a flock of Black Scoters, I picked out a larger duck with an orange bill. It turned out to be a young male King Eider — a new bird for our Adak list!

Clam Lagoon still had 8 godwits and one Dunlin. Shotgun Lake still hosted one female Smew.

We came back down to Contractor’s Camp Marsh and found two of the Wood Sandpipers, who were much more cooperative today.

Wood Sandpiper, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Wood Sandpiper, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Wood Sandpiper, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Wood Sandpiper, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Wood Sandpiper, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Wood Sandpiper, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

The High Lonesome group had a couple more nearby and Kitty was nearby and got to see them again. We continued through the marsh area and came upon a flock of a dozen Pacific Golden-Plovers.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 19, 2015

Everyone saw those, too.

We headed back to town, got dinner and decided to go back out again — as it was so nice out.

By the time we got back up to the marsh, it had started to drizzle again and the wind was much stronger! The Sitka crew were there looking at the plovers and told us the Gyrfalcon had just passed through. Missed it again!

We left them and headed up the road, but just a short distance away, we saw a brightly-marked bird fly across the road. We slammed on the brakes, got out and quickly found it. A Brambling — a lifer for all of the other birders, except us and Forest (the leader of the High Lonesome group). We called the Sitka crew over and they got it. We called Forest and although they had just ordered dinner, they got the restaurant to hold it for them and headed out. They got it too! Yesterday, the Sitka crew had a bird, which they believed was a Brambling, fly across the road a short distance down the road from here. We all looked for it then, but came up empty. It was nice to confirm their sighting today.

Our trip list is at 59 and the first week isn’t even over, yet.

Oh, and one more new Adak bird…

Angry Bird, near Palisades Lake, May 19, 2015

Angry Bird, near Palisades Lake, May 19, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

It keeps getting better…

Temp in the 40s, rain, rain, rain, East wind 35-40 mph.

With the east winds, we decided ti check Kuluk Bay first thing in the morning to see what had been blown in overnight. The answer — nothing.

We checked feeders, then started driving up towards White Alice in case the hawk showed itself. Just as we turned back towards town, we got a call from the Sitka birders that they had a different-looking goose with some Cackling Geese on the end of the airport runway. We put the pedal-to-the-metal and raced to their location. On the way, they radioed again that they believed it to be a Bean Goose — either species of which would be a lifer for us.

We saw their truck by the side of the road and quickly spotted the small flock of geese. Sure enough, it was a Bean Goose. We weren’t sure whether Tundra or Taiga, but took photos and savored the moment. Our first impression was Taiga, but we new we would have to do some research back at the apartment before deciding which one it was.

Tundra Bean Goose (with Cackling Goose), Airport, May 18, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose (with Cackling Goose), Airport, May 18, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Airport, May 18, 2015

Tundra Bean Goose, Airport, May 18, 2015

After looking at information and photos online and consulting with other birders, we settled on Tundra Bean Goose.

The High Lonesome group also arrived and got to see it.

We proceeded up to Contractor’s Camp Marsh and found a Reeve!

Reeve, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 18, 2015

Reeve, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 18, 2015

Reeve, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 18, 2015

Reeve, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 18, 2015

We called the other groups to let them know. We then went out to Lake Andrew. Nothing new there. As we were returning, we got a call from Sitka that they had found the Reeve and three other shorebirds. As we raced there, we got a call from High Lonesome that the other birds were Wood Sandpipers. We arrived at the marsh and quickly got to see them. There were now six Wood Sandpipers!

Wood Sandpipers, Contractor's Camp Marsh, May 18, 2015

Wood Sandpipers, Contractor’s Camp Marsh, May 18, 2015

These were the first we had seen since 2011, and the most we had seen since our first trip in 2005. Both the Reeve and Wood Sandpipers were lifers for Sitka!

After catching our breath, we headed up to Clam Lagoon. There were still 8 godwits and one Dunlin.  At Shotgun Lake, one of the female Smews was in the little outlet pond actively feeding and much closer than previous sightings.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 18, 2015

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 18, 2015

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 18, 2015

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 18, 2015

We continued around Clam Lagoon. At the Seawall, we spotted Short-tailed Shearwaters far offshore. There was nothing new on Lake Shirley.

As we continued down the east shore of Clam Lagoon, there were hundreds of gulls sitting and flying around the flats. There were also dozens of Arctic and Aleutian Terns giving us great views. As I scanned the flocks of gulls, I found a Common Black-headed Gull.

Black-headed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 18, 2015

Black-headed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 18, 2015

In addition to all of this, the Sitka contingent reported a Gyrfalcon at the marsh!

Our trip list s now 55.

What a day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, occasional sun, occasional rain, light to moderate west wind.

The nicest day — weather-wise — so far.

Nothing new at the feeders. There are still two pair of Tufted Ducks on the Airport Ponds.  Still 8 godwits at Clam Lagoon.

At Shotgun Lake, the male Smew was back along with one of the females.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 17, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 17, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 17, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 17, 2015.

We went out to the Loran Station, but visibility was not very good, so we didn’t add anything except the Tufted and Horned Puffins. On the way out, the Sitka Crew (who were driving behind us) saw a hawk come up from near the road and quickly disappear over a ridge. They think it was the Rough-legged Hawk again. We never saw it.

We found an Oldsquaw (so sue me!) at the Seawall. While we were up at Zeto Point, the Sitka Crew arrived at Lake Shirley and briefly saw the male and female Smews there, but they flew off before we arrived back there.

When we got back around to the south lookout of Clam Lagoon, we spotted two Dunlin (doubled our count!). Also, we spotted an American Green-winged Teal. Ninety-nine percent of the teal out here are Common Teal — the Eurasian race of Green-winged Teal, which Europeans count as a separate species.

We went down to Sweeper Creek and found the Sandhill Crane again. This time he cooperated and stayed for  photos.

Sandhill Crane, Sweeper Creek, May 17, 2015

Sandhill Crane, Sweeper Creek, May 17, 2015

Sandhill Crane, Sweeper Creek, May 17, 2015

Sandhill Crane, Sweeper Creek, May 17, 2015

A little farther down the creek, a pair of Eurasian Wigeon took off.

Eurasian Wigeon, Sweeper Creek, May 17, 2015

Eurasian Wigeon, Sweeper Creek, May 17, 2015

A tour group from High Lonesome Tours arrived today, so we will have more eyes.

Our trip list is 50.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Temp in the low 40s, west wind 10-30 mph, overcast, scattered showers.

Not much happening today. The Bar-tailed Godwit count is up to 9 (8 at Clam Lagoon and 1 at Landing Lights Beach). The Dunlin was still here this morning. One female Smew is still on Shotgun Lake and the Sitka crew saw the (a?) Hawfinch in town.

There were two pair of Tufted Ducks on the Airport Ponds.

This morning, the Sitka crew told us they had a Rough-legged Hawk up near White Alice (the hill where the cell tower is). We drove around that area this morning to no avail.

We added a few trip birds — Common Murre, Ancient Murrelet, and two Laysan Albatross off the seawall.

At Clam Lagoon, we had 5 godwits from the south viewpoint. When we got around to the east side, we had a flock of 8 over there. When we got back to the west side again, there were 8 there. We scanned the east side to see if the 8 were still over there. I saw a flock of a dozen-or-so shorebirds, and thought they might be the godwits, but then they flew up and moved down the flats a few dozen yards and I could see that they were some smaller species — not godwits. So apparently the 5 godwits joined three others and moved to the east side, then flew back to the west side. As to the other shorebirds, we lost sight of them. Maybe they will show up tomorrow.

The feeders are starting to attract the rosy finches, so we expect some Asian strays to take notice and stop to feed.

No pictures today…

Friday, May 15, 2015

How do you top two Smews?

Overcast, moderate southwest winds, on and off rain (more on than off…)

We started the day filling feeders and checking Sweeper Cove. We met up with the Sitka contingent at Sweeper Creek and headed up to check the Airport Ponds again. This time the Tufted Ducks cooperated as a male and female were seen well by all.

Haven Lake had no surprises. We stopped at Adak National Forest to fill the feeders and headed towards Clam Lagoon. There were 4 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Dunlin. Lots of Eurasian Wigeon, pintails, Greater Scaup, Mallards, Common Teal, etc.

The Haas Law of Adak says “You MUST stop at Shotgun Lake every time you get near it.” So we did. And, not only was the female Smew from yesterday still present, it had been joined by another female and an adult male!!!!! We had never seen a male Smew before, so this was tantamount to a lifer. The male Smew is an iconic black and white bird that most birders just dream about seeing. We drove around to the back side of the lake so I could sneak up to the edge of the lake behind a berm and get closer photos than can be had from the other side. Here are a few…

Smews, 1 male, 2 female, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smews, 1 male, 2 female, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, (female) ready for lift-off, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, (female) ready for lift-off, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, ready for lift-off, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

Smew, ready for lift-off, Shotgun Lake, May 15, 2015.

That’s how you top two Smews…

We continued around Clam Lagoon, went up to check Lake Ronnie, and came back around. No new birds of note. We spotted this Black Oystercatcher “catching” clams.

Black Oystercatcher, having "caught" a clam, Clam Lagoon, May 15, 2015.

Black Oystercatcher, having “caught” a clam, Clam Lagoon, May 15, 2015.

We headed back to town to get gas and pick up some stuff at the store.As we were driving back from the gas station we stopped to check some waterfowl in a nearby pond. As we were doing so, a Bar-tailed Godwit flew in and landed on the roadside.

Bar-tailed Godwit, near the airport, May 15, 2015.

Bar-tailed Godwit, near the airport, May 15, 2015.

We parted ways with the girls and checked out Sweeper Creek, where we found our first Semipalmated Plover for the trip and flushed a Sandhill Crane! Up at NavFac Creek, we spotted a Common Loon offshore.

Our trip count is 41.

What will tomorrow bring?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Nice way to start…

Our flights on Wednesday were uneventful. We got to Anchorage, got our shopping done and sacked out for a long needed sleep.

We birded around Anchorage this morning and added a few things to our Alaska lists.

First, on the road up to Arctic Valley, Barb spotted a flock of White-winged Crossbills — a new bird for our Alaska list.

White-winged Crossbills, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

White-winged Crossbills, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

Shortly thereafter, we came upon a black Bear. A first for us in Alaska.

Black Bear, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

Black Bear, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

And shortly after that, Barb spotted an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Another state bird for us! I did not get photos of the flycatcher, but it was nice to hear it call. (It is Barb’s phone ringtone…).

Farther up the slope a moose (one of three today) crossed the road in front of us.

Moose, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

Moose, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

We went to Potters Marsh, where we saw the usual suspects, but I caught this chickadee in an interesting pose.

Black-capped Chickadee, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

Black-capped Chickadee, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, May 14, 2015.

On to Adak.

There are no tour groups here this week, but three birders (Victoria, Kitty, and Jen?) from Sitka arrived with us for their first trip to Adak. We suggested they follow us around on our first foray to show them some of the spots. We headed for the Airport Ponds in hope of getting a Tufted Duck for them, but as we neared the ponds, a small bird with striking features flew across the road in front of us. Barb quickly got on it and called Hawfinch! A lifer for all three of the girls! The bird stayed on the side of the road and was very cooperative.

Hawfinch, near Airport Ponds, May 14, 2015.

Hawfinch, near Airport Ponds, May 14, 2015.

Alas, no Tufted Duck.

We continued up towards Clam Lagoon. Just before where the road splits to go to the south side or west side of the lagoon, there is a small pond down to the left where we saw a duck fly in. We stopped to see what it was, but just as we did, it flew away. However, another duck flew in just as the other was departing. I looked at it and immediately identified it as a Smew! Another lifer for the Sitka crew!

Smew, near Clam Lagoon, may 14, 2015.

Smew, near Clam Lagoon, May 14, 2015.

After getting our fill of that bird, we continued around Clam Lagoon. There were three Bar-tailed Godwits on the flats and the usual assortment of waterfowl. We decided to check Shotgun Lake, and — low and behold — there was another Smew.

We drove as far as Lake Shirley, turned around and headed back to town to finish unpacking and get ready for tomorrow.

Not too bad…