Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Temp in the 50s, overcast, rain, S wind 15-30 mph, increasing as the day went on.

Sweeper Cove and channel were pretty empty of birds. This was the highest tide we’ve had this trip, leaving little shorebird-attractive shoreline along the creek. The strong wind and rain didn’t help, either.

After checking the Warbler Willows, we drove out to Lake Andrew. As we drove along the shore, a Northern Harrier popped up and, with a 30 mph tailwind, quickly disappeared ahead of us. It was a female, but we never got close enough or photos to determine if it was the American or Eurasian race. The one we had in September 2009 was American.

After going back and forth on the road hoping the bird would circle back, we spotted three Eurasian Wigeon on the lake. So far this year, the wigeon have all stayed at a distance not suitable for photography, but these were much closer — albeit in lousy light conditions.

Eurasian Wigeon, Lake Andrew, Sept 30, 2015.

Eurasian Wigeon, Lake Andrew, Sept 30, 2015.

Eurasian Wigeon, Lake Andrew, Sept 30, 2015. Braving the wind-driven waves.

Eurasian Wigeon, Lake Andrew, Sept 30, 2015. Braving the wind-driven waves.

The wind was howling out at the Seawall, but the waves were smaller than yesterday. We finally found a Common Loon for the triplist. We also saw a parade of Albatrosses, just visible with binoculars, but just far enough out and with poor visibility as to make species identification impossible. We counted at least 8, and if we had scanned some more, we probably could have counted more.

The waterfowl flock on Lake Shirley continued with Greater Scaup, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintails, Mallards, and were joined by two Northern Shovelers.

Nothing else of note today. We ended earlier than usual because the weather was getting worse.

We leave tomorrow at 6 pm (Adak time) and expect to arrive home Friday around 5 pm est.

The final wrap-up post will be posted Saturday morning (unless the Anhinga at Tinicum is still being seen and we run down to get it!).

Triplist is 55.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

WARBLER! WARBLER! Well… let’s not  get too excited…

Temp in the 40s, sunny, south wind 10-15 mph

We woke up to something we had never seen on Adak — a clear sky! Not a cloud to be seen! Because of the clear skies and diminished wind, the temperature dropped to 32. We had to scrape the ice off the car windows. Mt Moffet received its first snow of the season — just a dusting, which melted off by midday. Mt Sitkin (1800 Ft higher) got more snow, which didn’t melt off.

While drinking her morning coffee and watching our birdfeeder, Barb saw a flock of 4 Redpolls come in briefly, but they moved on before I could get there.

At Sweeper Cove, just like yesterday, we found an immature puffin. Only this time it was a Horned.

Juvenile Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove, Sept 29, 2015.

Juvenile Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove, Sept 29, 2015.

I walked much of Contractor’s Camp Marsh today and found exactly zero shorebirds!

The longspur numbers are diminishing rapidly.

We got up to the willows below Haven Lake (which we used to call the Boy Scout Cabins Willows — see below) around noon. As I walked over to the willows, I saw a bird flitting. I got on it immediately (while shouting to Barb “Warbler!”) and my first reaction was “Oh crap, a confusing fall warbler!”

Of course, we were hoping for a confusing Asian warbler, but it was not to be. It was an American warbler — a Blackpoll Warbler. Although common back home, this was not only a first record for Adak, but a first record for all of the Aleutians! Not bad.

Blackpoll Warbler, Warbler Willows, Sept 29, 2015.

Blackpoll Warbler, Warbler Willows, Sept 29, 2015.

Blackpoll Warbler, Warbler Willows, Sept 29, 2015.

Blackpoll Warbler, Warbler Willows, Sept 29, 2015.

Blackpoll Warbler, Warbler Willows, Sept 29, 2015.

Blackpoll Warbler, Warbler Willows, Sept 29, 2015.

Since this is where we had the Wood Warbler (4th North American record!) last September, we are christening these now the Warbler Willows.

The triplist is 53.

A day-and-a-half to go…

Monday, September 28, 2015

Temp in the 40s, N wind 10-20 mph, partly sunny.

No new birds today.

At Sweeper cove this morning, we found a juvenile Tufted Puffin. We have found them here on previous trips, but the lighting was always terrible. This morning, the sun was shining.

Tufted Puffin (juvenile), Sweeper Cove, Sept 28, 2015.

Tufted Puffin (juvenile), Sweeper Cove, Sept 28, 2015.

Tufted Puffin (juvenile), Sweeper Cove, Sept 28, 2015.

Tufted Puffin (juvenile), Sweeper Cove, Sept 28, 2015.

I walked the Clam Lagoon Peninsula and marsh edge and found only one Pectoral Sandpiper! I guess the cold front not only brought in a few birds, but pushed some out as well. On the walk out the peninsula, there were numerous jellyfish which had been stranded on the last high tide.

Stranded Jellyfish, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2015.

Stranded Jellyfish, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2015.

Stranded Jellyfish, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2015. Note the track made by the upper one.

Stranded Jellyfish, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2015. Note the track made by the upper one.

In addition to the influx of Eurasian Wigeon, the number of Northern Pintails has also risen. As we were counting the number of pintails and wigeon on Lake Shirley, an immature Bald Eagle swooped in and sent everyone flying. Once airborne, the flock attracted the attention of a nearby Peregrine who almost got one of the pintails, but the duck zigged when the hawk zagged, and escaped. The ducks returned to the lake and the Peregrine took a few more unsuccessful passes at them and then moved on.

We’ll keep looking…

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Temp in the 50s, but going down to the 40s, mostly cloudy, intermittent light showers, N wind 10-20 mph

The cold front certainly brought some birds to the island and allowed us to see some that we had missed earlier.

The north winds changed the flight path of the masses of shearwaters going by the Seawall, making them visible again. So we were able to watch them for a while and pick out both Black-footed and Laysan albatrosses.

As we were going by the north end of Clam Lagoon, hundreds of Kittiwakes flew in and settled on the water. We had seen this behavior before, down at Sweeper Cove. They do not appear to be feeding, just resting.

Black-legged Kittiwakes, Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2015.

Black-legged Kittiwakes, Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2015.

Up until today, we could only find 11 Eurasian Wigeon, and they were on Haven Lake. Last night, several dozen arrived. We found 24 on Lake Shirley and another dozen or so on Clam Lagoon. Isaac had told us they start arriving en masse in late September, and so they did…

The numbers we saw today probably equals all of the Eurasian Wigeon we have seen on all of our trips out here, as we only see a few pairs in May and never have stayed this late in September to see the larger numbers.

We kicked up more Pectoral Sandpipers today, 5 along the road going out to Lake Andrew and a couple in Contractor’s Camp Marsh. I plan to walk the marsh and/or Clam Lagoon tomorrow to see what else dropped in.

There are still a couple of flocks of Ruddy Turnstones hanging around.

The bad news is that one of the runways (north/south) has been declared unfit and is not going to be repaired. This leaves just the NE/SW runway for all landings and takeoffs. This may mean more cancelled flights, as certain wind and weather conditions will preclude landing there.

Fred left today, leaving us as the only birders on the island for the next four days.

The triplist is 52.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Temp in the 50s, S wind 5-15 mph, mostly cloudy, occasional shower.

We finally caught up to a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, but it wouldn’t sit still long enough for a photo. Unlike these turnstones.

Ruddy Turnstones, Landing Lights Jetty, Sept 26, 2015.

Ruddy Turnstones, Landing Lights Jetty, Sept 26, 2015.

There were 15 turnstones and 7 Rock Sandpipers at the Landing Lights Jetty.

A lone White-winged Scoter off the Seawall takes our triplist to 50.

After a few days of Peregrines only, we found a Gyrfalcon at Contractor’s Camp Marsh. The number of longspurs appears to be declining, they are starting to leave.

The Crested Auklet is still hanging around the Fuel Pier, but disappears from time-to-time.

We saw dolphins (porpoises?) in Sweeper Cove this morning, but too far away and too briefly to identify. We have been seeing marine mammals frequently this trip, but rarely well enough to identify or photograph.

By the way, gas is down to $6.49 out here (down from $6.81 in May)!

Northwest winds are predicted tomorrow. Come on, birds!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Temp in the high 50s, S wind 10-20 mph mostly cloudy.

We are getting Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, Song Sparrows, and Lapland Longspurs (collectively known up here as Rosy Long-Sparrows!) at the feeders, but nothing else so far.

It rained last night, so we weren’t eating dust all day. Some of the small wet areas got wetter…

Fred (the recently-arrived birder) and I walked the Clam Lagoon marsh edge in hopes that two people might find more birds than one. We did, but not by much. We found 3 Long-billed Dowitchers (as opposed to 2) and 2 Pectoral Sandpipers (as opposed to 1). Still no Sharp-tails.

The Taiga Flycatcher was last seen on Wednesday, 9/23.

The change in weather may have brought in some loons. We had one Pacific and 4(!) Yellow-billed — 2 in breeding plumage and two in non-breeding — at the Seawall.

We also spotted a couple of Kittlitz’s Murrelets, to bring our triplist to 48.

As we came around a bend on the west side of Clam Lagoon, a young Bald Eagle attempted to fly away from the shoreline, but misjudged his takeoff and fell haplessly into the lagoon! Not very suave…

He tried to swim, then tried to take off again, then just swam back to shore — suitably embarrassed.

Embarrassed Bald Eagle, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2015.

Embarrassed Bald Eagle, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2015.

Embarrassed Bald Eagle, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2015.

Embarrassed Bald Eagle, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2015.

Embarrassed Bald Eagle, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2015.

Embarrassed Bald Eagle, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2015.

We saw a Stellar’s Sea Lion at the Seawall and a Minke Whale was giving brief views there as well.

Not a bad way to start our second week.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Still in the doldrums…

Temp in the 50s, south wind, 10-15 mph, partly sunny.

No Taiga Flycatcher today.

We found nothing new today. The triplist is stuck at 46.

There was a flock of 41 Ruddy Turnstones in Seal Rock Cove. The number of Horned Grebes is building — now about 15.

The tide was higher this evening, inundating much of the flats (but not all) at Clam Lagoon. We hope this bodes well.

Another birder arrived on today’s plane. He will be here only till Sunday, but an extra pair of eyes never hurts.

Waiting for the rain…

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Temp in the 50s, light variable wind becoming moderate SW by afternoon. Sunny.

Another balmy sunny day on Adak.

The Taiga Flycatcher is still here.

The only new trip bird was a flock of Black Scoters.

It is much more fatiguing when you are not finding new birds.

The biggest misses so far are Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Sanderling, and Emperor Goose. We ALWAYS get those on our September trips. It is the law that Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are always present in September on Adak! I have walked Contractor’s Camp Marsh and Clam Lagoon marsh edge several times each and all I have found is 2 pectorals, a snipe, and a couple of dowitchers. This is unheard of!

We are currently in a protracted spell of very low tides (both high and low!), meaning the flats at the lagoon are not being replenished daily, making them less attractive to shorebirds. The tide chart we have does not show a change for the remainder of our stay…

Except for last Thursday night, we have not had any rain, so all of the little wet areas that would usually attract Pectoral Sandpipers, have all dried up.

It is supposed to rain starting tomorrow night. And the wind is supposed to get stronger and change to the south. Maybe that will also bring a change in the birds.

Triplist is 46.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Temp in the 50s, light variable wind, partly sunny.

The Taiga Flycatcher is still here.

After checking the feeders and Sweeper Cove, we went to the High School Willows. We spotted a small bird in the largest clump of willows, but could not tell what it was from the distance we were observing. I walked up towards the willows with the camera, while Barb scoped the bird from the car. I got close enough to see that it was a Common Redpoll.

Common Redpoll, High School Willows, Sept 22, 2015.

Common Redpoll, High School Willows, Sept 22, 2015.

As I tried to get closer (for a better photo), it flew into the next clump of willows. Then several flew out. Then some more! It turned out there were about a dozen Redpolls hiding in there.

We headed down to Finger Bay to see if the tattlers were still around. No luck.

At the Clam Lagoon Seawall, we had three Pacific Loons, our only addition to the triplist today. Here is a photo of Goose Rocks, that we frequently mention in this blog.

Goose Rocks and Cormorant Rocks, Seawall, Sept 22, 2015.

Goose Rocks and Cormorant Rocks, Seawall, Sept 22, 2015.

Here is the obligatory up-close-and-personal photo of an eagle.

Bald Eagle, Adak, Sept 22, 2015.

Bald Eagle, Adak, Sept 22, 2015.

Here is a nice portrait of one of the huge Aleutian Song Sparrows.

Song Sparrow, Seawall, Sept 22, 2015.

Song Sparrow, Seawall, Sept 22, 2015.

I walked the Clam Lagoon Peninsula and marsh edge, but only found one Pectoral Sandpiper! I also found this wayward salmon, who had not found his way to his spawning creek.

Salmon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2015.

Salmon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2015.

We found out the helicopter was from a nearby research vessel, just dropping off some personnel.

Triplist is 45.

 

 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Temp in the 50s, West wind, 10-15 mph, partly sunny.

First, a correction to yesterday’s post. The Taiga Flycatcher was a FIRST for Adak, not second. We “misremembered” a previous flycatcher report. (If you just read yesterday’s report, it says “first.” That’s because I just changed it…)

The Taiga Flycatcher is still here. As is so often the case, when we have a great day like yesterday, the following day is nothing to write home about. And so it was.

We added Common Snipe to the trip list. Had a cooperative Pectoral Sandpiper at Clam Lagoon (still no Sharp-tails!!).

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 21, 2015.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 21, 2015.

I mentioned the other day the improvement to the south lookout at Clam Lagoon. I forgot to mention the improvement in the roads. Since we were here in May, most of the roads that we regularly travel on have been graded, including the north and east side of Clam Lagoon (which hadn’t been graded in years). Also, they fixed a large sinkhole that was developing at the north end of the lagoon road where a culvert was washing out. Kudos to the new Roadmaster!!

The most exciting thing today (apart from seeing the flycatcher again) was a helicopter that flew in from the east, landed for only 10 to 15 minutes, and took back off to the west. And it wasn’t one of those Coast Guard long-range behemoths! Just a small one. We have not heard from the locals yet as to the story…

In our excitement about the tattlers and flycatcher yesterday, I forgot to mention that the Salmon run is still in full swing down at Finger Creek. It is ended at most of the other streams.

Salmon Run, Finger Creek, Sept 20, 2015.

Salmon Run, Finger Creek, Sept 20, 2015.

Last, but not least, while walking out the Clam Lagoon peninsula the other day, I noticed some small holes in the mud/sand. They did not appear to go very deep, but were freshly excavated. Oddly, there were no tracks of any kind around them, coming or going! Here is a photo of one with my footprint for size comparison.

Mystery Hole, Clam Lagoon, Sept 21, 2015.

Mystery Hole, Clam Lagoon, Sept 21, 2015.

There were plenty of tracks, both bird and rat nearby, so the sand was soft enough to record them. Also, the tide had not reached this high in several days. Does anyone know what would create these? I am guessing possibly some type of flying insect hatching out? You can contact me at fhaasbirds@gmail.com.

The trip list is 44 (Our September average is 56).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How do you define crazy? Episode 2.

Temp in the 50s, light W wind building to moderate by afternoon, mostly sunny.

A few birds have found a couple of our feeders, but nothing unusual, yet. At Sweeper Cove, we could not find the auklet from last night, but there were more birds there this morning than the previous couple of days.

We headed down to Finger Bay and creek. There is section of Finger Creek that veers away from the road, but has a path along it that eventually meets back up with the road (it is only a hundred yards or so). Well, every trip, I walk that trail while Barb drives up ahead. This is because I expect to find a Common Sandpiper or Wandering Tattler — or who knows what else — along that stretch. So every year I walk it and find nothing. Until today!

Just as I got to the first bend, a pair of tattlers flew across in front of me, one landing on a rock in the middle of the creek and one disappearing around the bend. I quickly called Barb to backup and join me. She got to me shortly and saw the bird and then the other bird came out as well. They were not just tattlers, but Gray-tailed Tattlers (both immatures). We had only seen Gray-tailed once before, in 2007, when Bob Schutsky had found a pair (adult and immature) at Clam Lagoon. I guess they always come in twos!

Gray-tailed Tattlers, Finger Creek, Sept 20, 2015.

Gray-tailed Tattlers, Finger Creek, Sept 20, 2015.

Note the short wings, white sides, and prominent supercilium.

We headed back north, finding nothing new at the usual spots. I walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, but the Western Sandpiper was gone and nothing took its place.

As we neared the Blue Building Feeder, I spotted a small bird dart behind one of the spruce trees. It looked different. I got out of the car and walked up the back side of the trees while Barb walked up the front.

A small bird fluttered out, flycatching. My first impression was American Redstart, which also flycatches and has pale tail markings similar to what I was looking at. However, I knew American Redstarts do not get out to the Aleutians. It went from tree to tree, around the building and back again, giving me photo opportunities. It was a Taiga Flycatcher! The first record for Adak, as far as we know. And a lifer for us!

Taiga Flycatcher, Blue Building near Clam Lagoon, Sept 20, 2015.

Taiga Flycatcher, Blue Building near Clam Lagoon, Sept 20, 2015.

Taiga Flycatcher, Blue Building near Clam Lagoon, Sept 20, 2015.

Taiga Flycatcher, Blue Building near Clam Lagoon, Sept 20, 2015.

We continued around the lagoon. No shorebirds on the Seawall. The pond along the road to Zeto Point had a bunch of Pintails, Mallards, and one Northern Shoveler.

As we came back around, we stopped again at the Blue Building and the flycatcher was still there.

We headed back to town, checked feeders, and went down to Sweeper Cove to see if the auklet had returned for late-day feeding as yesterday. It had. It still wasn’t close, but close enough to get a photo to confirm it was a Crested, not Whiskered.

Crested Auklet, Sweeper Cove, Sept 20, 2015.

Crested Auklet, Sweeper Cove, Sept 20, 2015.

A great day!

The triplist is 43.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, west wind 10-15 mph.

No activity at the feeders, yet. At Sweeper Cove, a flock of Snow Buntings and Rosy-Finches were active. The Snow Bunting were mostly juveniles.

Snow Bunting, Sweeper Cove, Sept 19, 2015.

Juvenile Snow Bunting, Sweeper Cove, Sept 19, 2015.

We headed north, finding nothing at the usual stops. At an overlook between the Elfin Forest and Palisades Overlook, we found a Black Oystercatcher. At Clam lagoon, we had three young Peregrine Falcons sitting out on the mudflats. So this makes at least 4 Peregrines and 2 Gyrfalcons are here.

I walked the marsh edge and found two Long-billed Dowitchers and a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Long-billed Dowicher, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2015.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2015.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2015.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2015.

I then went out the peninsula and found a lone Western Sandpiper.

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2015.

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2015.

At the Seawall, we had a flock of Ruddy Turnstones. We continued on up to Lake Ronnie and had a flock of Northern Pintails on one of the ponds along the road (as well as a Mallard and Eurasian Wigeon). Up at Lake Ronnie, we added Northern Shoveler to the list.

Back at the Seawall, we relocated the Turnstones and another Western Sandpiper.

Western Sandpiper, Seawall, Sept 19, 2015.

Western Sandpiper, Seawall, Sept 19, 2015.

We headed back to town, not finding anything else new.

After dinner, we headed out for a quick check of feeders and Sweeper Cove.

In Sweeper Cove, we found an auklet, but it was almost sunset and the bird was at least one-third of a mile away and backlit! The best we could tell was that it was either a Whiskered or Crested. Last week’s group had an immature Whiskered Auklet feeding near the Sweeper Cove breakwater, so it may well have been the same bird. We will look for it again tomorrow in better lighting conditions and hopefully closer.

The triplist stands at 39.

Friday, September 18, 2015

What’s the definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome…

Partly sunny, temp in the 50s, occasional light shower, NW wind, 10-20 mph.

No lifers or new Adak birds today, but still interesting.

We started out filling feeders and checking Sweeper Cove and the channel and creek. At the channel, a Pelagic Cormorant was actively fishing and came up with what (to us) appears to be an eel.

Pelagic Cormorant (with eel), Sweeper Channel, Sept 18, 2015.

Pelagic Cormorant (with eel), Sweeper Channel, Sept 18, 2015.

There was nothing on the Airport Ponds. We went up to Haven Lake and found 11 Eurasian Wigeon and two Greater Scaup. Lake Andrew was void, but up at the Adak National Forest, a pair of Pacific Wrens graced us with their constant activity.

At the Palisades Overlook, a Gyrfalcon playing with a Common raven entertained us. When we got to Clam Lagoon — side note: The south lookout at Clam Lagoon, since we have been coming up here in 2005, consisted of a small break in the weeds enabling a view of the flats. Just west of that spot, there is an interpretive sign about Emperor Geese that was hidden by uncontrolled vegetation. Well — now that has all changed! The area around the sign has been cleared and a nice pulloff space has been created for viewing the flats. Cheers to the FWS! — we spotted an adult Peregrine Falcon out on the flats.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

As we turned around to continue around the lagoon, another falcon soared into view. It was a Gyrfalcon. The Peregrine rose up to play/fight with it. Then two more falcons appeared! It appeared that there were two Gyrfalcons and two Peregrines playing overhead all at once. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Gyrfalcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Gyrfalcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Every fall, the Common Teal (Eurasian race of the Green-winged Teal) gather in flocks and hide out in a series of long narrow ponds parallel to the road on the west side of the lagoon. So each year I make one effort to see if any odd ducks are hiding with them. Since, as soon as they see me, they burst into flight and away to the next pond, my strategy is to take as many photos of the flock in flight and analyze them later. I have done this for multiple years now, and it has never yielded anything other than Common Teal…

Common Teal, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Common Teal, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.a

At the northern end of Clam Lagoon, we saw our first Rock Sandpipers of the trip. At the Breaches, as I walked out to the shoreline, there was a feeding frenzy of gulls, alcids, cormorants, and kittiwakes going on just offshore. I took some photos and, while wondering to myself what the object of the frenzy was — leftovers from an Orca kill?? — I scanned the bay for more birds and — lo and behold — an Orca surfaced briefly and disappeared as quickly! Only our second Orca in all of these years.

At the Seawall, we had a flock of 20 Ruddy Turnstones. As we came back around, I walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, but found no shorebirds. At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, a short walk flushed a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Our trip list stands at 30.

 

Thursday, Sept 17, 2015

We arrived in Anchorage on Wednesday, did our shopping, birded a little bit and settled in for the night.

Thursday morning, we headed up to Arctic Valley Ski Area. We didn’t see anything unusual on the way up, but found a pair of Northern Shrikes up at the top.

Northern Shrike, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015

Northern Shrike, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015

One was young and the other an adult. On the way back down, we found a Boreal Chickadee.

Boreal Chickadee, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015

Boreal Chickadee, Arctic Valley Road, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015

We headed down to Potter Marsh. It had started to rain, so we decided to forgo the boardwalk and drove around instead. We found a pair of Trumpeter Swans with an American Wigeon.

Trumpeter Swan and American Wigeon, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

Trumpeter Swan and American Wigeon, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

Next, we went to West Chester Lagoon and the Audubon Bench (a viewing area just up the coastal trail from the lagoon). I walked up to the bench, while Barb scanned the lagoon. When I got there, a Great Blue Heron flew out and towards the lagoon. I phoned Barb and she managed to get a photo with her cell phone as it flew by.

Great Blue Heron, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

Great Blue Heron, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

I also had an Osprey and Bald Eagle flyover, and two Sandhill Cranes bugling.

Sandhill Cranes, Audubon Bench, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

Sandhill Cranes, Audubon Bench, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

There were many Bonaparte’s Gulls on the lagoon.

Bonaparte's Gull, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

Bonaparte’s Gull, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2015.

We headed to the airport. The plane left a little late, but arrived at the scheduled time (5 pm). We met Bob Schutsky and his group and a few birders from Tennessee at the Adak airport and got updated on what they had found the previous week. They were all departing today.

None of the rarities found had been seen in recent days (Little Stint, White-winged Crossbills, Slaty-backed Gull).

We headed to the lodge to unpack. As Estrella (the current lodge manager) was showing us how she had cleaned the windows in the sunroom, a flock of small birds appeared outside. They were Common Redpolls — six of them! We hadn’t even unpacked our binos or camera, yet! A nice start to the trip.

We did a quick trip up to Clam Lagoon, with the only birds of note being 3 Pacific Golden-Plovers.

The Northern Shrikes and the Great Blue Heron were new state birds for us.

21 species to start.

More tomorrow.