Saturday, Sept 17, 2011 – Addendum

The “Japonicus” American Pipit that Isaac reported the other day turned out to be an American race after he studied his photos.

Re: the Vega Gull. Several trips ago, while at the same spot (the fish factory outflow), I was fifty yards up the shore photographing Harlequin Ducks when Barb spotted a darker-backed gull in the gull flock. By the time I got back to the car, the bird was gone and I never saw it. She was confident that it was a Vega. So this trip’s bird was new for Frank, but not for Barb.

Saturday, Sept 17, 2011

Today broke overcast, but calm.

Sweeper Cove and Kuluk Bay were like glass. It was very easy to pick out alcids, etc. on the water, but because it was so peaceful, there weren’t many.

However, we did see our first Black Oystercatcher of the trip on one of the rocky islands just off shore.

By the time we got up to Clam Lagoon in late morning, it was still calm. We spotted a shorebird nestled against the edge of the marsh, so Frank decided to walk the edge again to see what was there.

The bird turned out to be the Ruff hanging out with a Pectoral Sandpiper.

A few other shorebirds of undetermined species flushed along the way and back into the marsh.

Ruff, Clam Lagoon, 9/17/2011

As Frank got near the north end of the marsh, it began to rain, so he did not go out the peninsula to see if the stint was still there.

Along the seawall, we saw more Horned Grebes, our first Common Loon of the trip, and five Rock Sandpipers flew by (our largest count for the trip).

The bay was calm and a lot of birds were feeding there, but nothing out of the ordinary.

When we returned to town later in the afternoon, we went down to Sweeper Cove and drove over to the jetty. A lot of gulls had gathered at the fish processing plant outflow. This plant had been shut down the past few years, disappointing birders, as it attracted a lot of gulls. Well, it opened back up this summer, and a fishing boat had just arrived earlier in the afternoon and it was churning.

We studied the gulls and Barb soon picked out a darker-backed one. After a minute or two, frank finally found the one she was looking at and started taking pictures (what else?). It turned out to be a Vega Gull. This species is recognized by Europe, but is still considered a race of Herring Gull by the AOU. We’re counting it!

Vega Gull (front) with Glaucous-winged Gull, Kuluk Bay, 9/17/2011

We headed back towards the house and stopped at the Bayshore Overlook for one last glance at the bay. We spotted a large swarm of shearwaters out in the bay heading north. We quickly drove north up to Palisades Overlook, hoping to catch them nearby, but apparently they took a right and headed back out to sea! Oh well, next time.

The weather forecast is for 25-40 mph winds tonight, gusting up to 60! Hope it brings some new birds.