Thursday, September 22, 2016

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, occasional light shower, Wind WNW 15-25 mph

No new birds to end the trip.

We searched for the Eurasian Sparrowhawk some more, but did not find it.

You can see some more details on the sighting at http://franklinhaas.com/EUSP/EUSP.html

Here is the mushroom that I mentioned last week. It appears to be Volvariella speciosa. I now have encountered all of two species of mushrooms on Adak. New slogan — Adak: Not a mycologist’s paradise!

Volvariella speciosa, Adak, September 13, 2016.

Volvariella speciosa, Adak, September 13, 2016.

Our flights home were uneventful until we got to the Philadelphia Airport. At baggage claim, one of our bags showed up on the carousel, but then it stopped. It turned out that there was some mechanical problem with the conveyor belts down below. It took over an hour before the rest of our luggage appeared!

The trip was a great trip.

It started out with great looks (and numbers) of Short-tailed Shearwaters, a Red-throated Loon for our Adak list and a rare (for Adak) Red Knot.

The second week started off in the doldrums, but finished with a bang — a first confirmed North American record of Eurasian Sparrowhawk! Note: John Puschock had a Eurasian Sparrowhawk on Adak a few years ago, but was unable to get diagnostic photos.

Our triplist was only 52 — 2 below our average, with no Asian passerines and few shorebirds.

We will return in May.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, Wind W 15-25 mph

We checked the feeders and Sweeper Cove. Nothing new. The high tide made Sweeper Creek shorebird-unfriendly.

So we checked the High School Willows (nothing) and then the High School Spruces. As I scanned the trees, I saw a gray shape that wasn’t there previously! I got the scope on it and discovered an accipiter. The bold facial pattern led us to believe it was a Northern Goshawk! But, after posting the photos to the IDFrontiers listserve, it was pointed out to us that it was a female Eurasian Sparrowhawk (which looks like a small Goshawk)! This should be the first accepted North American record!!!!! (John Puschock had one a few years ago, but it was not accepted by the Alaska Records Committee and there were at least two sight records from Attu.)

Northern Goshawk, High School Spruces, September 21, 2016

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, High School Spruces, September 21, 2016

Northern Goshawk, High School Spruces, September 21, 2016

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, High School Spruces, September 21, 2016

For more details about this sighting, go to http://www.franklinhaas.com/eusp/eusp.html

Not a bad bird for our penultimate day!

We checked every tree we could find today, hoping it would be perched in one of them, but no luck.

Speaking of raptors, you can never have too many photos of Peregrines. This one was circling me at Clam Lagoon today — I guess he couldn’t find any shorebirds to catch.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, September 21, 2016

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, September 21, 2016

At the Seawall, we had a flock of 30 Ruddy Turnstones. No other shorebirds today.

Also, at the Seawall, I spotted an albatross way out, but could not determine the species.

Our trip list is now 52.

We leave tomorrow around 6 pm and expect to arrive home late Friday afternoon.

I will post our wrap-up blog on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, no rain until late afternoon, Wind W 20-30 mph

There were new birds on the island today, just not new birds for our trip list!

We did not see any shearwaters in Kuluk Bay today and at the Seawall, they were few and far out.

Also at the Seawall, the number of Red-necked Grebes jumped to 15 from 7. No loons today.

Near the Palisades Overlook, we came upon a lone Cackling Goose sitting in the middle of the road. It flew off to the side when it saw us.

Cackling Goose, Palisades Overlook, September 20, 2016

Cackling Goose, Palisades Overlook, September 20, 2016

After the last two September trips where we found good birds (Wood Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler) at Warbler Willows, we now check that location twice-a-day. So far, to no avail…

If there are any Asian birds that blew onto the island the last two days, we haven’t found them yet.

PS: They got the gas pumps fixed.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, very occasional sprinkle, wind WSW 15-30 mph

No new birds today.

The only shorebirds today were a pair of Western Sandpipers at Clam Lagoon. The pair of Pacific Loons are still at the Seawall.

There was a large flock of waterfowl on Shotgun Lake today, including about 50 Northern Pintails, 15 Mallards, and 4 Eurasian Wigeon.

The most interesting event of the day was a Steller’s Sea Lion off the Seawall that attracted a flock of gulls. You can see why in the pictures below.

Steller's Sea Lion with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Seawall, September 19, 2016

Steller’s Sea Lion with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Seawall, September 19, 2016

Steller's Sea Lion with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Seawall, September 19, 2016

Steller’s Sea Lion with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Seawall, September 19, 2016

Steller's Sea Lion with fish (this is what all the fuss was about!), Seawall, September 19, 2016

Steller’s Sea Lion with fish (this is what all the fuss was about!), Seawall, September 19, 2016

The tides out here are an enigma. For instance, since we got here, the tide has been low in the morning and high in the afternoon. Then, this past Saturday there was this very low tide in the afternoon! Since then, the tide has been high 24-hours a day! This is not unusual, we have experienced such odd tide schedules here on past trips. In fact we have experienced a week or more of consistent high tide and vice versa!

I decided to do some research on this and found a great visual tide chart at http://www.tide-forecast.com/locations/Adak-Bight-Adak-Island-Alaska/tides/latest

It turns out that the tide isn’t high all of the time — it just looks that way. The tide is currently in the following pattern — very low tide in the middle of the night (when — foolish us! — we’re sleeping), then a normal high tide, then only a very small dip to low tide, then high tide, and then a big drop to low tide in the middle of the next night. So during the day, it looks like high tide all of the time! Now, why it doesn’t go to a normal low tide during the day, we don’t understand. We think it might have something to do with the interactions between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, but we could be way off base. I guess we need a tide expert…

By dawn tomorrow, there will have been more than 24 hours of west winds (strong west winds). If they brought any good birds in today, we didn’t see them. Maybe tomorrow…

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Rain, rain, rain…

Temp in the 50s, rain all day, overcast, wind S 30-40 mph

It has rained all day today and the wind was a steady gale. Although the clouds lightened a bit an hour ago (it is now 8:30 pm), it quickly clouded in again and there is a fine drizzle now.

It is supposed to clear overnight and be sunny tomorrow, with WSW winds.

In spite of this, we added a bird today — Pacific Loon. There were two at the Seawall. Unlike all of the other loons we have seen this trip, these still had much of their breeding plumage.

We had two more Emperor Geese on Clam Lagoon and one Parasitic Jaeger.

We had NO identifiable shorebirds today — this may be a first! We saw a couple flying by the Seawall far out, but could not tell what they were.

The shearwaters continue to fly by at a great distance, but a few still come within binocular range. We even saw a few from Candlestick Bridge. Still no other pelagics.

At the north end of Clam Lagoon, the south winds were casting a lot of stuff on the shoreline, to the delight of the gulls. We saw gulls dining on a crab, a starfish, and some sort of other crustacean.

The conditions today did not lend themselves to photography!

When we went to get gas yesterday afternoon, there was a sign that said “Out of Order — we are trying to fix it as fast as we can.” The notice was dated the day before. It is still not fixed, but we expect whatever parts were needed arrived on the flight from Anchorage this afternoon. We found someone with gas reserves to lend us, so we are not stranded yet

Speaking of the plane…

The weather here when the plane was due to arrive was rainy, very windy, and fogged in. We were not sure it was going to land. We were out at the Kuluk Bay Overlook when the plane was due. At the very last minute, it appeared out of the fog and touched down. Thank heavens for instrument landing technology! A few years ago, the plane would not even have left Anchorage with these weather conditions.

The triplist is 50.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Temp in the 50s, Partly sunny, scattered drizzle late in the PM, Wind SW 15-30 mph

No new birds today. In all of our trips up here there are always a few days — usually in the middle — when we don’t get anything new. This is that stretch of days. We are hoping that the westerly winds that started yesterday will blow something in.

At Clam Lagoon today, we had 5 Sanderlings, 2 Western Sandpipers, 6 Pectoral Sandpipers, and 1 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Its amazing how little effect the strong winds have on these little birds feeding on an open mudflat. I was hard-pressed to keep upright!

Western Sandpiper (front) and Sanderling, Clam Lagoon, September 17, 2016

Western Sandpiper (front) and Sanderling, Clam Lagoon, September 17, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 17, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 17, 2016

At the Seawall, we had three Ruddy Turnstones and one Rock Sandpiper.

Ruddy Turnstone, Seawall, September 17, 2016

Ruddy Turnstone, Seawall, September 17, 2016

Again, there were shearwaters well withing binocular range. And again, we spent some time scanning for other pelagics, to no avail!

We saw at least two — maybe three — Peregrines today.

Come on, west winds!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, wind NW 10-15 mph

Except for a brief shower at dawn — which created the following rainbow — this was the most precipitation-free day so far.

Rainbow, Adak, September 16, 2016

Rainbow, Adak, September 16, 2016

Note: this satisfies the annual rainbow photograph quota for 2016.

At Sweeper Cove, two Emperor Geese flew over — apparently not the ones we saw the other day, as there was no juvenile with them.

At Sweeper Channel, there were a couple of cooperative wigeon.

Two Eurasian Wigeon and a Common Teal, Sweeper Channel, September 16, 2016

Two Eurasian Wigeon and a Common Teal, Sweeper Channel, September 16, 2016

The number of Eurasian Wigeon are slowly increasing this trip, but have not yet exploded like last September’s trip, when the number tripled overnight.

At Clam Lagoon, there were two Western Sandpipers and two Sanderlings out on the flats.

Two Western Sandpipers (left) and two Sanderlings, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2016

Two Western Sandpipers (left) and two Sanderlings, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2016

At the Seawall, the shearwaters were mostly far out, with an occasional few coming within binocular range. With good viewing conditions, we spent a lot of time scanning the birds at the horizon, looking for albatrosses. No luck!

At Lake Shirley, the Peregrine made another appearance, this time sitting for a while.

Peregrine Falcon, Lake Shirley, September 16, 2016

Peregrine Falcon, Lake Shirley, September 16, 2016

No new birds today.

The trip list remains at 49.

PS: When we mention that this or that bird has not been seen by us the last few trips, etc., keep in mind that we are on the island only two weeks in May and two weeks in September each year. That leaves eleven months with no birders out here recording the birdlife. It was different when Isaac lived here for five years, but not now. So we are just recording a glimpse of the birdlife on Adak each trip.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional rain/drizzle, wind N 10-20 mph

This morning there were still a few shearwaters close to shore in Kuluk Bay. We have never before had so many consecutive days with shearwaters being close like this. Although the majority of the shearwaters are passing by farther out, there is still a smattering of birds venturing in closer. This has been a real treat. Still no other pelagics, however…

At Sweeper Cove, there was a Black Oystercatcher (one of 5 we saw today).

We decided to make our obligatory drive up to White Alice (a promontory west of town on which the cell towers are located and affords a view of Shagak Bay on the west side of the island). We frequently see Snow Buntings up there, but not today. However, there was a family (families?) of Ravens cavorting in the wind.

Common Raven, White Alice, September 15, 2016

Common Raven, White Alice, September 15, 2016

On the way back down, Barb spotted a Gyrfalcon which went by too fast for me to get photos.

At the Palisades Overlook, there was a feeding frenzy of gulls and kittiwakes. While scanning through them, I found a Parasitic Jaeger. This jaeger had some pale coloration on the belly, unlike 99% of the jaegers up here which are normally dark.

At Clam Lagoon, it was raining again, so I did not walk out the peninsula. However, we spotted the Sanderling flock out on the flats. It had grown to 15 birds.

At the Seawall, Barb saw an Arctic Loon. The grebes were still there. There was another feeding frenzy which, this time, was joined by 2 or 3 more Parasitic Jaegers.

At Candlestick Bridge, we again saw the whale for four surfacings of one-second each! Based on the size and dorsal fin, it was likely a Minke.

At Lake Shirley, a Peregrine Falcon made an appearance.

Peregrine Falcon, Lake Shirley, September 15, 2016

Peregrine Falcon, Lake Shirley, September 15, 2016

When we got back to the other side of the lagoon, I walked out the peninsula. The Red Knot was not there. No where any other shorebirds either. I walked down the marsh edge and had only two Pectoral Sandpipers and a Long-billed Dowitcher, none of which hung around long enough to be photographed.

Our triplist is 49.

One week down, one to go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional rain/drizzle, Wind NW 10-15 mph

Kuluk Bay off Sweeper Cove was like a sheet of glass this morning — a strong contrast to the rough seas since we arrived. There were a lot of birds (but most far out), including still a few shearwaters.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches and Song Sparrows have found our various feeders, so activity is picking up — just waiting for an Asian passerine to stop by.

We headed up to Contractors Camp Marsh, where I walked a portion of it while Barb drove around. We flushed many Pectoral/Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and at least one Snipe (Wilson’s until proven otherwise).

As I was out walking, Barb found two Long-billed Dowitchers.

Long-billed Dowitchers, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 14, 2016

Long-billed Dowitchers, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 14, 2016

We then checked Warbler Willows — no luck — and headed to Adak National forest to stop for lunch and see if any funny-looking birds might pop out of the trees. No funny-looking ones did, but a curious Song Sparrow had to check out our truck.

Song Sparrow on hood of truck, Adak National Forest, September 14, 2016

Song Sparrow on hood of truck, Adak National Forest, September 14, 2016

There are a lot of young Song Sparrows (and young every other species) around this time of year, but the young Song Sparrows always seem extra curious and tame.

The Red Knot is still out on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula.

At the East Side Ponds, a pair of Pacific Golden-Plovers few in front of us and landed on an island in the middle.

Pacific Golden-Plover, East Side Ponds, September 14, 2016

Pacific Golden-Plover, East Side Ponds, September 14, 2016

The water was relatively calm at the Seawall and we saw 7 Red-necked Grebes and 5 Horned Grebes — no loons today. There were 5 Black Oystercatchers on Goose Rocks. Only a few shearwaters were seen passing by.

At Candlestick Bridge, we saw the back and dorsal fin of a cetacean. It showed that much of itself three times (one second each) and then disappeared. This has been our experience with most whales and dolphins up here. They do not linger and certainly don’t stay at the surface for more than a second. All of those videos that you see on television nature specials, where the whales or dolphins are swimming along the surface, frequently breeching, etc…. ALL LIES!

Back at the Seawall, we found a lone Western Sandpiper.

Western Sandpiper, Seawall, September 14, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Seawall, September 14, 2016

We returned to Contractors Camp Marsh to look for more shorebirds. In the area where we had the dowitchers, there was a flock of Common Teal and Northern Pintails. The pintails were stretching up there necks and picking off bugs. I wanted to get a photo of that behavior, but by the time I got into position, they decided to tuck their heads in and take a post-prandial nap!

We saw more Pectorals, etc., but no new species.

We did a late-afternoon check of Sweeper Cove and were surprised by a flock of 18 Cackling Geese flying over. Although not rare, this is only the second of our nine September trips that we have seen them (we almost always get them on our May trips).

Our triplist is 48.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light rain/drizzle (the “occasions” being when we stop and get out of the truck!), wind S 10-15 mph.

Not much new birdwise today.

We added Black Oystercatcher to the trip list.

The Red Knot is still here and the Sanderling flock has increased to 11. Also, we had an immature Peregrine Falcon today.

Our one incident today happened near the Seawall. There is some old chainlink fencing here and there, often topped with barbed wire. Such exists at the south end of the Seawall. As we were parked there, Barb glanced at the nearby fencing and saw a longspur hanging from the top wire — and fluttering.

I went over and saw that it had gotten its foot caught in one of the barbed wire barbs. The fence was too high for me to reach, so Barb pulled the truck next to it and I climbed on the bed to reach it. Its foot was already mangled and bloody, but I managed to pull it out and the bird flew away.

Longspurs sure have sharp beaks!

Lapland Longspur caught in barbed wire, September 13, 2016

Lapland Longspur caught in barbed wire, September 13, 2016

When we went down to Finger Creek the other day, before turning down the switchback to get to the road next to the creek, I walked over to the bluff that overlooks the creek to see if the road had cleared from the flooding of the past few days. It had, but as I looked down, I was surprised to not see salmon in the creek. This creek is usually brimming with salmon this time of year.

However, when we drove down to creekside, I could see why I had that impression. The stream was full of salmon, but unlike previous years, the water was still so high that their dorsal fins and backs were not sticking out of the water! The water has normally been so low that you see hundreds of salmon backs and fins all across the creek!

Barb photographed the Salmon eggs (roe) in the stream.

Salmon eggs, Finger Creek, September 12, 2016

Salmon eggs, Finger Creek, September 12, 2016

I found a new mushroom today and am working on its Identification (with the assistance of Kitty LaBounty). I will post it once she IDs it.

Our triplist is 43.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Temp in the low 50s, partly cloudy in the AM, overcast and light rain in the PM, Wind SSE 10-20 mph

At Sweeper Cove this morning, we found three Emperor Geese — two adult and one juvenile. We had never seen a juvenile before, so this was a semi-lifer. Also, we hadn’t seen any Emperor Geese since September 2014, so it was nice to find some again.

Emperor Geese, Sweeper Cove, September 12, 2016

Emperor Geese, Sweeper Cove, September 12, 2016

Emperor Geese, Sweeper Cove, September 12, 2016

Emperor Geese, Sweeper Cove, September 12, 2016

We went around Sweeper Cove and headed up Bayshore. Nothing new, but there was more variety in the bay now that the sea had settled down.

At the Landing Lights, I found a dead juvenile Tufted Puffin.

Juvenile Tufted Puffin, Landing Lights, September 12, 2016

Juvenile Tufted Puffin, Landing Lights, September 12, 2016

We checked Warbler Willows and Lake Jean. Nothing new.

At the Palisades Overlook, there was a lot of activity in the bay — mostly kittiwakes and gulls.

At Clam Lagoon, I walked out the peninsula and the Red Knot was still there. But it had no companions.

Red Knot, Clam Lagoon, September 12, 2016

Red Knot, Clam Lagoon, September 12, 2016

We drove out to the Loran Station and had a nice view, but no pelagics. On the way back we had another Peregrine Falcon.

At the Seawall, Barb spotted a loon which we quickly identified as a Red-throated. This was exciting, as this is the last loon species we needed for our Adak list! Soon after, a second one joined the first. Unfortunately, the waves were still too high and the birds too distant for me to get a photo. Maybe they will hang around…

Some Ruddy Turnstones fly by and we saw a couple of Marbled Murrelets and two Horned Grebes.

There were still Short-tailed Shearwaters flying close to shore. Still no other pelagics.

From the east shore of Clam Lagoon, we spotted some shorebirds way out on the edge of the flats. They were the Red Knot and nine Sanderlings. Like the geese, we hadn’t seen any Sanderlings out here since September 2014.

Returning to the Seawall, we found two Arctic Loons! As we left the Seawall, a Peregine flew by. All three of our Peregrine sightings have been adults, so we don’t know if it is one bird or three.

Our trip list is 42.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lifer? Knot!

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, a little drizzle in the AM, Winds N 15-20 mph

With the improving weather, we headed up to Clam Lagoon to get the morning low tide.

We didn’t see anything new on the open flats, so went to the Peninsula. I walked out and around the second bend, spotted a medium-sized shorebird. I was unable to identify it and started taking photos. It kept moving out towards the end of the spit, where it was joined by a Western Sandpiper.

Both birds allowed close approach and I was able to get definitive photos of both. However, when I got back to the truck and compared the larger bird to the field guides, we were stumped. It didn’t quite match anything we could find.

Well,when we returned to the house later and sent photos to John Puschock and Isaac Helmericks (our go-to guys), they quickly responded that it was a juvenile Red Knot.

Somehow, we had gotten it into our brains that Red Knots had shorter bills than this, so we discounted it out-of-hand when paging through the field guide! It has been awhile since we have seen a knot.

So, no lifer, but at least a new Adak bird for us. This may be only the 5th or 6th record for Adak.

Red Knot, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

Red Knot, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

Red Knot and Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

Red Knot and Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

After seeing the knot, I walked the marsh edge and found two Pectoral and one Sharp-tailed sandpipers.

We continued around the lagoon to the Seawall, where we saw more shearwaters, but not nearly as many or as close as the previous two days.

When we got back around to the west side, I walked out the peninsula again and found the Red Knot and stint, but they flew off. As they flew away, they were joined by five other small shorebirds. I decided to just wait awhile and, sure enough, two of the peeps returned to the shoreline near me. They were Western Sandpipers.

Western Sandpipers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

Western Sandpipers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 11, 2016

At the Adak National Forest, we had a “live” Pacific Wren.

Pacific Wren, Adak National Forest, September 11, 2016

Pacific Wren, Adak National Forest, September 11, 2016

We were able to drive around Contractors Camp Marsh today, but did not find anything new. However, nearby we found our first Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch for the trip!

Next, we headed down to Finger Bay. The road along the creek that was flooded yesterday was now relatively clear, although several salmon were stranded in the larger puddles in the road. We didn’t see anything new there, but on the way back, we had a Peregrine Falcon near Sweeper Cove.

Our trip list is now at a more respectable 36.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Temp in the upper 40s, overcast, rain, NE wind 30-50 mph.

At Sweeper Cove this morning, we still saw a shearwater or two, plus there were more birds generally — puffins, guillemots, etc.

In Kuluk Bay, off Navfac Creek, we saw a pair of White-winged Scoters.

By mid-morning we hadn’t found anything else new and headed back to the house for a pit stop. A hunter (Nick), who we met on the plane, was next door, and mentioned that near the hut that he and his son had camped in the night before (near Finger Bay), was a large tub with several drowned green birds! Well, that certainly peaked our interest!

So we headed down there. We found the hut and the large plastic tub with three drowned birds in it. The sides of the tub were too slippery for the birds to climb out, so once they flew in (for what purpose, we aren’t sure) they simply could not escape and finally succumbed.

They weren’t green, but the algae growing on them was…

There were two Pacific Wrens and a Song Sparrow.

Drowned Song Sparrow and Pacific Wren, Near Finger Bay, September 10, 2016.

Drowned Song Sparrow and Pacific Wren, Near Finger Bay, September 10, 2016.

Drowned Pacific Wren, Near Finger Bay, September 10, 2016.

Drowned Pacific Wren, Near Finger Bay, September 10, 2016.

To prevent any more fatalities, I threw a couple of small boards into the water to give any future drop-ins some purchase for flying out.

At Finger Bay, we finally saw a couple of Pelagic Cormorants and a few Harlequin Ducks. They DO exist!

We headed back north.

We were going to drive through Contractors Camp Marsh, but the heavy rain has flooded many of the roads. Although they were covered by only a few inches of water in most places, there is so much debris that flies around there (boards with nails, metal roofing, etc.) that unless you can see the road surface, it is unwise to drive there. So we continued north.

At the Seawall, there were very few shearwaters visible and the surf was pounding. The tide was so high and the waves so large that Goose Rocks were only visible briefly every few minutes!

We had a Greater Scaup at Lake Shirley.

On the eastern side of the lagoon flats, we spotted two shorebirds — one large and one small — way out. They were too far for pictures and the 40 mph wind and rain made the photographic conditions even worse. However, I had to try to get close enough to them to identify them, so I climbed down the embankment and started wading out towards the birds. I got a couple of distant photos before they took off. Here is the best one.

Mystery shorebirds, Clam Lagoon, September 10, 2016.

Mystery shorebirds, Clam Lagoon, September 10, 2016.

We don’t know what they were. We thought they might be yesterday’s Greenshank and a Dunlin. We sent the photo to some better birders and they also were unsure, but they suggested the larger bird might be a godwit. However, godwits are rare on Adak in the fall. Maybe tomorrow’s weather — less rain — will enable us to find them in more ideal viewing conditions.

Down at Candlestick Bridge, Barb saw some shorebirds fly along the edge of the beach and disappear around the bend, so I walked down there and found a dozen Rock Sandpipers and one Ruddy Turnstone.

Rock Sandpiper, Candlestick Bridge, September 10, 2016.

Rock Sandpiper, Candlestick Bridge, September 10, 2016.

We went back around the lagoon and I walked out the Peninsula (in driving wind and rain), in hopes that the mystery shorebirds had taken shelter in the lee.

No such luck.

We headed back to the house and called it a day.

The triplist is up to 27.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Shearwaters redux…

Temps in the high 40s, overcast, rain, east wind 15-30 mph

Although we have experienced more days with rain than without on our trips to Adak, we have only had a few where it rained all day and night. This is one of those.

It started raining last night and is not expected to stop until tomorrow night. This has been a steady rain — no letup — although the intensity has varied. And the wind is relentless.

We were excited yesterday at the close shearwaters up at the Seawall. Well, today was even more exciting, as the shearwaters were in Kuluk Bay by the thousands and flying by the Kuluk Bay Overlook at (relatively) close range. We have had them in Kuluk Bay on east winds before, but usually for an hour or so in the morning and then they moved out to sea. Today, they were in the bay all day. We even had a couple fly briefly into Sweeper Cove.

We watched them for some time, looking for other pelagic species, but found none!

Here are a few more shearwater photos.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016

Note the legs sticking out beyond the “short tail.”

So we headed up to Clam Lagoon. I spotted a medium-sized, gray and white shorebird feeding near a flock of Common Teal. The distance and weather conditions made it difficult to determine what it was, so I clambered down to the mudflats to get a closer look, while Barb kept tabs on it from the truck.

No sooner had I started walking towards it, than the teal all took flight, as did the shorebird. Barb was able to see the distinctive flight pattern of a Common Greenshank. It landed way out in the middle of the flats, but then took off again and flew out of view (so no photos).

There were 6 Parasitic Jaegers still hanging around. They usually leave here by mid-September.

We continued around the lagoon and as we approached the East Side Ponds, a shorebird flew up and away. Our impression was the Greenshank.

The Seawall had its share of Shearwaters, but farther out than yesterday.

There was a flock of Northern Pintails on Lake Shirley.

We headed back down to the Kuluk Bay Overlook to watch the shearwaters some more. As I was scanning through them, a flock of shorebirds came into view. They were Red Phalaropes.

Red Phalaropes (and a Glaucous-winged Gull), Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016.

Red Phalaropes (and a Black-legged Kittiwake), Kuluk Bay, Sept 9, 2016.

We had just seen our first Adak Red Phalarope this past May (a lone bird). We new that they migrated past Adak regularly, but are seldom seen from land here. So this was a treat.

The weather has been so bad that we haven’t even seen Harlequin Ducks, Cormorants, of Rosy-finches! Our meager trip list is all of 18!

The rain is supposed to start diminishing tomorrow night and the winds shift back to northwest.

There are probably some good birds hunkered down on the island right now, so we hope better weather will allow us to find them.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mostly cloudy, temp in the low 50s, moderate (and increasing) east wind.

We arrived in Anchorage yesterday after an uneventful day of travel.

This morning, we did some usual birding around Anchorage.

We added one new mammal to our Alaska list — Red Squirrel.

Red Squirrel, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

Red Squirrel, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

We also added Steller’s Jay.

Steller's Jays, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

Steller’s Jays, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

At Potters marsh, a kingfisher posed for us.

Belted Kingfisher, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

Belted Kingfisher, Potters Marsh, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

And at West Chester Lagoon, Barb spotted a cooperative Gadwall for me to photograph.

Gadwall, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

Gadwall, West Chester Lagoon, Anchorage, Sept 8, 2016

Barb also spotted a Rusty Blackbird while I was around the bend. We could not relocate it when I got back to her.

Shortly thereafter, a Merlin flew in and soon a flock of half-a-dozen magpies and several Steller’s Jays were involved — chasing and being chased through the treeline. This was still going on 20 minutes later as we left.

At Ship Creek, we saw some interesting behavior by a Magpie. It was down at the water’s edge, constantly chattering, and poking at and picking up various objects. At one point, it picked up an egg-shaped pebble (about 3/4 inch) and placed it into a crevice in a small log laying by the streamside. It then picked up a small twig (about 3 to 4 inches long) and placed it in the same crevice on top of the pebble. It then went over to the water, picked up another pebble, but dropped it in the water. It then fished out of the water a small wad of algae and laid it on the log it was standing on. It tried to pick up some more pebbles out of the water, but dropped all of them. It then pick up the algae and dropped it back into the water. All the while, chattering…

We have no idea what this was all about…

We arrived on Adak a little early, got unpacked and headed up to Clam Lagoon. We didn’t see any shorebirds or other birds out of the ordinary, so we drove around to the Seawall. As mentioned above, there were east winds. Usually on east winds, we can see the shearwaters and albatrosses flying by — although still pretty far out. However, as soon as we stopped and started scanning, we spotted shearwaters flying between us and Goose Rocks! Only once before had we seen them this close, and then it was only one bird.

Now there were a few dozen flying around and sitting on the water. There were many more flying by at a distance, but the closer ones were a treat.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Seawall, Sept 8, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Seawall, Sept 8, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Seawall, Sept 8, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Seawall, Sept 8, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Seawall, Sept 8, 2016

Short-tailed Shearwater, Seawall, Sept 8, 2016

This was the best view we had ever had of shearwaters from terra firma!

Barb had a glimpse of a small gull with a black hood, but it flew away before we could identify it. We hope it reappears.

It is 10:30 here. I am going to bed…