Sunday, September 30, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, partly sunny, Wind WSW 10-20 mph

We went over to Lake Andrew early to see if that duck was still around, but all we found were 5 Common Teal. Out on the lake were two Common Loons — one in breeding plumage and one not.

Still no passerines at any of the willows, spruces, or feeders (other than locals).

At the Seawall, the number of grebes continues above average. We are seeing around 20 Horned and 25 Red-necked each day.

Horned Grebes, Seawall, Sept 30, 2018

At the Airport Creek Bridge, Barb spotted he Sanderling flock coming in. There were 29.

Sanderlings, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 30, 2018

Sanderlings, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 30, 2018

But the excitement of the day came as we were approaching the Lake Andrew Rec Center. We stopped to look at the ponds, and just as we did, a shorebird flew out. It was pale gray, had a white stripe up its back, a long bill, and orange/yellow legs that stuck out beyond the tail. We don’t know if our presence or the eagle or the ravens flying over agitated it, but it flew back and forth (too fast or me to photograph it) and finally landed in one of the ponds behind some reeds. I took the best photos I could and then it flew up again and circled around and disappeared.

Based on what we saw in flight and the head, bill, and neck markings seen in the photo, we believe it is a Spotted Redshank! Our second for the year (but different plumage)!

Spotted Redshank, Andrew Lake Rec Center Ponds, Sept 30, 2018

Good thing that we had the breeding-plumaged bird last May, as this was not very satisfying. This is the first Asian bird we have had on this trip, so we are optimistic that some others may show up. We have been in a westerly flow for several days, but the winds have not been very strong.

We subsequently searched all of the usual places that it might have gone, to no avail.

I usually do not like walking the Clam Lagoon marsh edge on consecutive days, but I had to in case the bird had settled there. I did not find it, but got a nice shot of the Long-billed Dowitchers.

Long-billed Dowitchers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 30, 2018

After dinner, we ventured out again and decided to use the western lighting to scan Kuluk Bay. We were rewarded with a nice Red-thoated Loon. The first one we have had within reasonable photo distance.

Red-throated Loon, Kuluk Bay, Sept 30, 2018

Red-throated Loon, Kuluk Bay, Sept 30, 2018

We also had some nice White-winged Scoters.

White-winged Scoters, Kuluk Bay, Sept 30, 2018

The Trip List is 53 (above average) and the Year List remains at 89.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light rain, wind SW 10-15 mph diminishing as the day went on.

We added two trip birds today.

A Gyrfalcon flew by us near Haven Lake and a Common Loon was on Lake Andrew.

Also at Lake Andrew, a duck flew out of one of the ponds adjacent to the road and disappeared over a dike. It looked different. I slogged my way over to the dike and peered over. There were three ponds – 2 big and 1 little. I could not see all of each pond, but what I could see had no birds.

I noticed that there was a small building up on the hillside (that we had driven up toonce before) which would provide a view of all three ponds – or so I thought. However, halfway up the road, there was a locked gate! We could see much of the larger pond from there, but not the other two.

So we will try again tomorrow.

The gulls at the fish factory outflow continue to squabble over the bits nd pieces being discharged there. Here is a short video of the gathering. (Note: I am still working on this, so it may not work.)

At the Seawall, we had 6 Pacific Loons today as well as continuing good numbers of Horned and Red-necked Grebes.

We went up to Clam Lagoon after dinner again, but this time there was only one Common Teal to be seen!

Later, coming back to town, we stopped at the Thrush Feeder where about 40-50 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches had been feeding earlier.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Thrush Feeder, Sept 29, 2018

But by this time of day (sunset), they had gone to roost and two large rats were finishing up whatever the finches hadn’t eaten. This is why I fiil the feeders in the morning, rather than the afternoon before.

Norway Rat, Thrush Feeder, Sept 29, 2018

The Trip List stands at 51. The Year List remains at 89.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, rain in the morning, partly sunny in the afternoon, Wind WSW 10-20 mph diminishing in late afternoon.

We added a few trip birds and one year bird, but otherwise, pretty slow.

At the Seawall we saw a Crested Auklet (year bird). This is the third fall trip on which we have seen Crested Auklet close to shore. The other two were in Sweeper Cove and just outside Sweeper Cove. As were those previous sightings, this one also was an immature.

We also found one Ancient Murrelet there.

At the Landing Lights, I saw the flock of 25 Sanderlings on the beach at the Airport Creek Bridge. But, by the time I got back to the truck and we drove the thirty yards up to the bridge, they were gone. One of the birds looked darker than the others and was probably a bird that hadn’t finished molting yet, but it could also have been another sandpiper.

Earlier in the week when Jon, Jim, and I walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, we found a Sea Otter carcass.

Sea Otter remains, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2018They look a lot cuter like this…

Sea Otters, Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2018

I walked out the Peninsula this morning and had a small shorebird flush ahead of me before I saw it on the ground. It circled out over the lagoon and back behind me, but when I returned, it was nowhere to be found. Yesterday, when a Pectoral Sandpiper that I was trying to circle around so as not to flush it, flushed, it was soon joined by a smaller shorebird from farther up the marsh edge. They put down a hundred yards ahead of me, but when I got to that area, all I could find was the Pectoral. So there is a small shorebird hanging around — just have to get a look at it.

After dinner, we headed back up to Clam Lagoon. This time of year, the Common Teal hide most of the day in hidden ponds and channels (hiding from hunters and predators we suppose). Then, late in the afternoon, they venture out along the Clam Lagoon marsh edge to feed. So this is the best time to look through the flock for any Asian strays that might be hanging with them (although the lighting sucks at this time of day!).

As usual, they were out along the marsh edge, but we couldn’t pick out any oddities. Two Falcated Ducks were seen in June (after we had left!), and we hoped they somehow stayed around…

The Trip List is 49 and the Year List is 89.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly sunny, wind S 5-10 mph

It blew hard (up to 45 mph) last night and rained an inch, but this morning it was calm and sunny (but cool).

No new birds at Sweeper or the feeders. We checked Warbler Willows and Adak National Forest, but nothing there.

At Landing Lights, four Ruddy Turnstones and one Rock Sandpiper continue.

Ruddy Turnstone, Landing Lights, Sept 27, 2018

Because of the storm last night and the perfect conditions (no wind or rain), I decided to walk Clam Lagoon again today. I had the same mix of birds that we had previously (Pectorals, Sharp-tailed, Dowitchers).

Long-billed Dowitcher, Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2018

I didn’t see that many dowitchers when I was starting out birding, and when I did, they were hunched down like snipe doing their sewing-machine-feeding action. I am always caught a little off-guard when I see them like this — standing tall like a Tringa.

At the Seawall, a young Tufted Puffin was within camera range.

Immature Tufted Puffin, Seawall, Sept 27, 2018

At Lake Shirley we searched for the Redhead to no avail. It, and the American Wigeon, were gone. There were still plenty of Greater Scaup, pintails, and Eurasian Wigeon. We checked Lake Ronnie, but only found Mallards up there. Maybe it is on one of the more inaccessible ponds. We have had birds on Lake Shirley before which would disappear for a day or two and then reappear. We will see.

Further down along the east side of the lagoon, another Peregrine circled overhead.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2018

The sea was still calm as we came back up to the Seawall, so I spent some time scoping (usually, the sea is wavy or choppy, making it hard to get on distant birds long enough to identify them). Today yielded 2 Pacific Loons, 1 breeding-plumaged Yellow-billed Loon (of course, too far out for photos! One of these days…), a White-winged Scoter, 12 Horned Grebes, many Red-necked Grebes, and a lot of alcids. We could not pick out any pelagics going by.

The Trip List is 47, the Year List is 88.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, rain starting in late afternoon, Wind S 10-20 mph

The weather is finally changing. The winds are supposed to swing around to the west and get stronger the next few days. Just what we’re looking for.

The next two sightings are subject to change (gulls are not my forte)!

The fish factory has been busy all week — new boats coming in each day — so the waste outflow at the Sweeper Cove Breakwall has been attracting a lot of birds. Nothing new until today when we spotted a Herring “Vega” Gull.

 

Herring “Vega” Gull, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, Sept 26, 2018

 

Herring “Vega” Gull, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, Sept 26, 2018

Up at the Airport Creek Bridge we found a Slaty-backed Gull.

Slaty-backed Gull, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 26, 2018

Slaty-backed Gull, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 26, 2018

 

Slaty-backed Gull, Airport Creek Bridge, Sept 26, 2018

Jon, Jim, and I walked Clam Lagoon again this morning and found about the same as two days ago.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 26, 2018

But the excitement of the day was at Lake Shirley, where we found a Redhead — second record for Adak. It was all the way across and in very poor light, but I got some very poor photos.

Redhead (second from right — in back), Lake Shirley, Sept 26, 2018

We hope it will hang around and give me a better photo-op.

We gad 25 Sanderlings on the lagoon and the flock of 25 Cackling Geese is still hanging around.

Only one Ruddy Turnstone and no Rock Sandpipers today (although Jon and Jim had 4 turnstones).

Jon and Jim left today, so we are birding alone for the next ten days.

The trip list is 43 and the years list is 87.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, light NW winds (Horrible weather!!!!)

So far, most commentators on our crane say it is a Sandhill. We tend to agree.

Nothing new today (not even a trip bird). However, I did get some photos.

A flock of Cackling Geese near the Seawall took off as we tried to pass them.

 

Cackling Geese, near the Seawall, Sept 25, 2018

In the fall, there are many more Pacific Wrens around and they are very friendly.

Pacific Wren, Seawall, Sept 25, 2018

As are the song Sparrows.

Aleutian Song Sparrow, Landing Lights, Sept 25, 2018

There are usually more Peregrine Falcons around, too.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2018

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2018

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 25, 2018

At the Landing Lights today, I had a shearwater (probably Short-tailed) fly in just above the water (which was like glass) flap-flap-flap-glide, occasionally dropping his head to pick something off of the surface. It was too backlit and far away to get photos. but it was neat to watch.

There are Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches and Song Sparrows at several of the feeders, but nothing else so far.

The majority of Lapland Longspurs have left, but a few flocks remain.

Jon and Jim leave tomorrow, so we will be the only birders on the island for the next week-and-a-half. We hope they find a goodie before they leave.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light shower, wind WNW switching to NW 10-15 mph

My blog was still down. This was posted Tuesday morning.

The fish factory was in operation today so there were a lot of gulls at the Sweeper Cove breakwater. Nothing unusual, however.

We spent all of the morning around or near town, as far as Landing Lights.

At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, we had two Peregrine Falcons cavorting.

Peregrine Falcons, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 24, 2018

Just as we were leaving Landing Lights, a crane flew directly over us heading out over the bay. It turned south and flew along the shoreline. We raced down along Bayshore Drive and spotted it again turning towards Sweeper Cove. We raced to Sweeper Cove and saw it flying due west towards the west end.

By the time we got to the end of the cove, we had lost sight of it. We started driving around that area in hopes of finding it on the ground. This is the same area where a flock of 30 or so Sandhill Cranes spent a week or so back in May/June 2008. Also, we have had Sandhill Cranes only on our May trips.

We tried calling Jon and Jim, but couldn’t reach them. We finally turned into the road leading up to the gas station, and just as we stopped, Jim called and asked if we saw anything new. We reported that we were chasing a crane and gave them our location. As I was doing that, Barb yelled “There it is!.” It flew low directly over us. I hopped out and started taking photos while directing Jim where the bird was headed.

The bird flew south of us, circled like it was going to land, but instead rose again, circled even higher and eventually disappeared over the ridgetop.

By then Jon and Jim had arrived (too late to see the bird) and they followed us up the road that went around the ridge in hopes of spotting it again (Both needed that bird for Adak).

We got around the ridge and scanned. No bird. We headed up to he quarry at the top of the next ridge and scanned. No bird.

We assumed it was a Sandhill, but when we looked at the photos on the camera, we weren’t positive. This bird was a young bird and had black secondaries. We new from our bird guides that Common Cranes have black secondaries and adult Sandhill Cranes have gray secondaries, but we couldn’t determine if young Sandhills also had black secondaries.

I posted the photos to IDFrontiers and waited for replies…

Sandhill Crane, Sweeper Cove area, Sept 24, 2018

So far, two responders ruled out Common Crane and one ruled out Sandhill! We are waiting for more replies. (Although we are leaning towards Sandhill).

In the meantime, we headed up to Clam Lagoon. Jon, Jim, and I walked the marsh edge and there were a lot more birds there today. It was hard to tell exactly how many, as some of the birds just flushed and landed ahead of us. Others circled around behind us. Suffice it to say there were probably a dozen Pectorals, 2 or 3 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and 2 or 3 Long-billed Dowitchers.

Halfway up, the rain started and soaked us pretty good…

We continued around the lagoon. On the east side we had two Emperor Geese and an adult Peregrine Falcon (the pair we saw earlier were young birds).

Or trip it is up to 40 and our year list is 86.

My blog software is back up and running!!!

Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23, 2018

Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23, 2018

My WordPress blogging software got corrupted somehow, so I was not able to do any posts the first couple of days. This is being posted on 9/25.

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

Our flights were uneventful.

On Saturday morning in Anchorage, we drove up to Arctic Valley first thing and, like last year, we were the first one up the road, so we found a couple of Spruce Grouse along the road edge. This one flew up into a tree.

Spruce Grouse, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, Sept 22, 2018

Part way up, barb spotted a couple of Varied Thrushes out in the open, but by the time I raised my camera, they had scuttled back into the brush. We just have not had any luck with those…

Once we reached the top (the ski area), we spotted a Dipper which cooperated by posing nicely for us.

Dipper, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, Sept 22, 2018.

Potter Marsh produced nothing new for us, so we headed up to Ship Creek. As usual, the tide was out, so no shorebirds at the mouth. We drove upstream a bit to a parking area and in an impoundment next to the creek were three Wilson’s Snipe.

Wilson’s Snipe (the third one was out-of-frame), Ship Creek, Anchorage, Sept 22, 2018

We headed to the airport and arrived in Adak around 5 PM. Jon And Jim filled us in on what few birds were around. They had had Emperor Geese and Gray-tailed Tattler (both lifers for Jon) and another birder had a Baird’s Sandpiper (w/photos). They also had Pacific Golden-Plovers, several American Pipits, a Red Phalarope, and at least one Parasitic Jaeger still hanging around. Not much else to report.

We did a quick run up to Warbler Willows and the flats at Clam Lagoon. At the flats, we had a flock of nine Sanderling.

We called it a day.

Sunday, Sept 23

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, west wind 10 mph in the AM increasing during the afternoon.

On Sunday, we started our usual route of Sweeper Cove, Sweeper Creek, feeders, etc.

At the Sweeper Cove breakwall, a small fishing boat was just off-shore (maybe 50 yrds) and a large number of gulls and alcids were present. However, none of them were extraordinary. Glaucous-winged Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Murres, Pigeon Guilemots, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned Puffins, etc.

At Landing Lights, we had several Rock Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones (this is where both the tattler and Baird’s had been seen).

We met up with Jon and Jim at Clam Lagoon and the three of us walked the marsh edge. We found 4 Pectoral Sandpipers and 2 Long-billed Dowitchers. Amazingly, no Sharp-tailed Sandpipers! Up til that point, they hadn’t seen a pectoral (they had been there since Wednesday).

Pectoral Sandpipers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 23, 2018

Long-billed Dowitcher, Clam Lagoon, Sept 23, 2018

At the Seawall, there were a lot of Red-necked Grebes (a couple dozen) and 6 Horned Grebes.

Lake Shirley hosted a couple dozen Eurasian Wigeon and one American, as well as a dozen Greater Scaup and 4 Northern Pintail.

As we neared Candlestick Bridge, I spotted a family of Emperor Geese – 2 adults and 5 kids. When we drove back up to the Seawall another lone goose was out on Goose Rocks (and rightly so!).

Emperor Geese, Clam Lagoon, Sept 23, 2018

Just north of town, a flock of 16 Cackling Geese flew over.

The Sanderlngs, Emperor Geese, and Dowitchers were new birds for our Adak Year List (now at 83).

More tomorrow.