Saturday, October 6, 2018

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

Final day

No new shorebirds or passerines, but out at Lake Andrew, Barb spotted a Northern Harrier. By the time I jumped out of the truck to get photos, it was gone.

It was an “orange” bird, thereby excluding Hen Harrier. This is the second time that we have had a harrier at Lake Andrew that quickly got away. Our other two encounters were more photo-friendly.

After all of the great trips we have had over the last couple years, we knew we were headed for a let down. Well this was it. No lifers.

However, it was our third best trip species-wise (60). And our second best year list (92).

We added Redhead to both of our Adak lists and Barb added Leach’s Storm-Petrel (I had one previously).

The shearwaters, Fulmars, and petrel were certainly the highlight of the trip.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, the plane did not arrive on Wednesday, so today’s flight had more passengers than normal. The plane arrived on time, but since the TSA agent comes out with the plane and examines EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF BAGGAGE, the plane left an hour late! This made our connection in Anchorage iffy, but the pilot put the pedal to the medal and we arrived just as our flight to Chicago was boarding. Whew!

That flight left on time and arrived early, but the gate was not empty, so we sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes and were late!

Our layover in Chicago is three-and-a-half hours, so it was no problem.

The flight to Philadelphia left about a half-hour late and, as we were landing, he aborted (there was a plane on the runway where it shouldn’t have been) so we circled for another thirty minutes before finally landing.

So we got home about an hour late, but safe (and with our luggage!).

We will return next May.

PS: We got the Rock Wren this morning (Oct 8)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light shower, Wind SW 10-15 mph

Although there have been a couple of fishing boats in, the fish factory has not been outputting any stuff to the outflow, so the gull activity has waned.

We checked all of the feeders and bushes and trees, but all we found were native species.

As we were approaching Contractor’s Camp Marsh, Barb heard geese, so we got out of the truck and scanned. There was a flock of about one hundred Cackling Geese going over. They were high and not intent on landing.

A Peregrine Falcon was sitting on a guy wire surveying the marsh.

Peregrine Falcon, Contractors Camp Marsh, Oct 5, 2018

After checking Warbler Willows, we went up to Lake Jean (an arm of Lake Andrew) and found a flock of 21 Greater Scaup and one male Bufflehead! This is an early date, as Birds of the Aleutians lists Oct 11 as the early date for the Aleutians (and Oct 17 for Adak).

Bufflehead (left) with Greater Scaup, Lake Jean, Oct 5, 2018

At Clam Lagoon, out on the peninsula, there were 9 Sanderlings.

Sanderling, Clam Lagoon, Oct 5, 2018

I can’t resist taking photos of Sanderlings…

Later, at the South Lookout, we saw the flock of 29.

At the Seawall, Horned and Red-necked grebes continue in good numbers. A Common Murre came in close enough to photograph.

Common Murre, Seawall, Oct 5, 2018

Our Trip List stands at 59, which is way above average, although no lifers contributed.

Our Year List is 91, our second best.

We leave tomorrow evening (6 pm) and will be arriving home late Sunday afternoon and hope to try for the Rock Wren in Bucks County early Monday morning (assuming it is still being reported), so I won’t be posting the wrap-up until Monday afternoon (EDT).

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, overcast, becoming mostly cloudy, Wind WSW 10-20 mph

Not much to report today. If the strong westerlies brought along any Asian birds, we have not yet found them.

There was one Emperor Goose on Clam Lagoon today. We had 8 on the 23rd and 2 on the 24th and Jon and Jim had a flock of 30 a few days before we arrived. We thought the numbers would increase as the time went on, but that hasn’t been the case. A flock of 28 Cackling Geese has been here all week and another flock of 10 arrived two days ago. We have occasionally heard other flocks going over, but could not spot them.

Out at the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, I saw one Sanderling. Then two more joined it, and then the rest of the flock showed up. Unlike the previous sightings, they were not terribly intimidated by me. I walked slowly past them – going out and coming back – and they remained feeding there. Unfortunately, no other shorebirds joined them.

At the marsh edge, the same Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that I photographed two days ago posed out in the open today. Again, approaching slowly allows for close encounters with these birds without spooking them. When I passed by, he just walked back into the reeds.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Oct 4, 2018

Maybe we will find something new tomorrow…

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Temp in the 40s, Overcast and raining until early afternoon, then mostly cloudy, Wind WSW 20-30 mph

Storm birds, but not what we expected…

It was raining and blowing since yesterday evening. A strong low pressure system was sitting just northwest of us sending strong winds and rain in our direction. The wind pattern showed strong winds leading directly from the Kamchatka Peninsula to here!

Come on birds!

It was too wet and windy to look for dicky birds, so we headed to the Sweeper Cove outflow to see what was happening with the gulls. There was the usual mixture, but we also saw a few Short-tailed Shearwaters out on the bay – but not very close.

Gulls and kittiwakes feeding frenzy, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

As usual the gulls and kittiwakes were going at it.

Glaucous-winged Gull and Black-legged Kittiwake, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

We headed north, and at the Airport Creek Bridge, there were two Ruddy Turnstones and one Rock Sandpiper (we hadn’t seen a Rock since last Thursday).

At Clam Lagoon, ducks were out feeding – I guess they felt safe in this weather. There were Mallards, Common Teal, and Northern Pintails. At the Peninsula (seen from the truck!) The flock of Sanderling were skittering about.

The surf was too rough to see much at the Seawall.

As we headed back south, at the Airport Creek Bridge, there were two Rock Sandpipers and two Sanderlings!

We returned to the house for a break (and lunch), then headed back over to Sweeper Cove. The rain was pretty much over, so the conditions were much better – but the truck was still rocking from the wind.

As we pulled up, we saw the flock of gulls as before, but then noticed some darker birds. They were Short-tailed Shearwaters.

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Short-tailed Shearwater, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Short-tailed Shearwater with Black-legged Kittiwake, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

We then noticed others. They were Fulmars!

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Fulmar with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Then we noticed a small dark bird. It was a Leach’s Storm-Petrel!

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

This is how we like our pelagics – with our feet firmly planted on solid ground!

The petrel was an Adak bird for Barb. I had seen one in May 2010.

We then went around to all of the bushes and trees, looking for new passerines – no luck.

Then up to Clam Lagoon. The tide was in, so there were no flas for shorebirds, but the ducks were still out and were joined by the Cackling Goose flock.

On our way back to town, we had a Glaucous Gull at the Navfac beach. This is our first for a fall trip. We assume we were usually too early for them in September.

Glaucous Gull, Navfac Beach, Oct 3, 2018

Back down at Sweeper Cove, all of the pelagics had left, but a flock of ten Cackling Geese landed nearby. I am always taken aback when I see geese out on the ocean (other than Brant).

Cackling Geese, Kuluk Bay, Oct 3, 2018

The Trip List is now 58 (5 short of our best) and the Year List is 91 (3 short of our best).

PS: The plane did not arrive today due to weather.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, overcast, becoming partly sunny, Wind WSW 15-20 becoming 20-30 in the afternoon.

Nothing new around town, so we headed north.

At Clam Lagoon, Barb spotted a Jaeger sitting out on the flats. It was too far to identify, so I walked out there and got some very shaky photos – holding a camera steady in 30 mph crosswinds is challenging at best.

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

It turned out to be a Parasitic – a trip bird, but not a year bird. Howevr, it beats the previous late date for a Parasitic Jaeger in the Aleutians (09/21, Attu) and our latest date of 9/19. Also of note was that it was a light morph – 99% of the birds we see out here are dark morphs.

Since I was already out on the flats, I walked the edge and finally got a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper to stand (relatively) still.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

No shorebirds were on the peninsula.

Also on the flats was the flock of Cckling Geese that has been hanging around for the last week or so. Note how they are lined up behind each other to block the gale-forced winds.

Cackling Geese with Glaucous-winged Gulls, Clam Lagoon, Oct 2, 2018

At Lake Andrew, a Peregrine Falcon was toying with a Raven.

Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Andrew, Oct 2, 2018

At the Seawall, we found an Arctic Loon, making this the first trip on which we got all five loon species!

The winds have been roaring all last night and today from the WSW. They should drop a few more birds here for us to find. I hope we can in the last four days…

The Trip List is 55. Year List remains at 89.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Temp in the low 50s, partly sunny, becoming overcast in the afternoon, Wind WSW 10-15 increasing to 20-30 in afternoon.

At the Airport Creek Bridge, we had 3 Ruddy Turnstones, our first since Thursday.

Up at Clam Lagoon, from the South Lookout, we sae the Sanderling flock over on the peninsula, but hey took off and disappeared. When I walked out the peninsula, one lone Sanderling was there.

After passing the Sanderling, just around the bend, a peep flshed again before I could identify it (no, I do not know the peep calls…). Very frustrating.

As I returned, the Sanderling was crouched in a foxhole, trying to stay out of the 30 mph winds.

Sanderling, Clam Lagoon, Oct 1, 2018

At the Lake Andrew Rec Center, a trio of eagls tried out the play equipment.

Bald Eagles, Lake Andrew, Oct 1, 2018

At the Seawall, we had the usual suspects.

At Lake Shirley, the Northern Pintails had gone, but the number of Greater Scaup had increased.

Lake Ronnie was where the Common Teal were hiding today. I scanned though the flock, but could not find anything different.

Back at the Seawall, we found another far-out Yellow-billed Loon. Then a large splash caught our eye. It was a Steller’s Sea Lion working on a fish he had just caught.

Steller’s Sea Lion, Seawall, Oct 1, 2018

Steller’s Sea Lion with Glaucous-winged Gull (and unidentified fish), Seawall, Oct 1, 2018

When we got back around the lagoon, the Sanderlings were on the mud flat adjacent to the South Lookout (don’t know if “Lonesome George” had joined them…).

No new birds today. Trip List remains at 53. Year List at 89.

The winds are getting stronger. Hope springs eternal…