Thursday, May 24, 2012

A so-so day after yesterday’s excitement.

We started the day at Sweeper Cove and checked on the Hawfinch. No luck (but more on that later…).

Heading up Bayshore Drive, we flushed the Ruddy Turnstones again, but this time instead of flying over the hill, they landed next to the road.

Ruddy Turnstones, Bayshore Drive, May 24, 2012

We birded around the usual spots without finding anything new and headed back to town for a break. In all of the years (since 2005) that we have been coming up here, we never drove up the hill that has the water towers. So we decided to today and got great views of the town of Adak.

The town of Adak, looking south. May 24, 2012

The place we now stay in is located just below center in the above photo. Here is a closer look.

Our abode on Adak. The near half of the blue house.

We headed up to Clam Lagoon and halfway around ran into Bob and Warren who said the Bar-tailed Godwit was still around down near Candlestick Bridge (this is a washed out bridge at the southeast corner of the lagoon over the inlet). We continued around and found the Godwit sleeping.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 24, 2012

For the non-birders reading this blog, this is a bird that usually flies non-stop from Alaska to Hawaii!

Last night I had posted our sightings to the Alaska Birding Listserve and this morning got an email from a birderĀ  (Monte) who was on his (and three friends’) way to Adak on today’s flight. So we met the plane when it arrived this afternoon and filled them in on our sightings. In addition, there were two other pairs of birders arriving. Most of them were staying until Sunday when the Attu boat returns to Adak to take it the rest of the way to Dutch Harbor for some seabirding. They were all interested in seeing the Hawfinch. We gave them directions and then headed back out.

We went to the fish factory outflow at Sweeper Cove to see if there was any gull activity. There were 30 or 40 gulls. Two were in a fight, grabbing each other’s bills and thrashing at each other.

Two Glaucous-winged Gulls fighting, Sweeper Cove jetty, May 24, 2012

They eventually flew off with one in pursuit of the other. In the photo below, all of the birds are Glaucous-winged Gulls. This is why I hate large gulls!

Glaucous-winged Gulls, Sweeper Cove jetty, May 24, 2012

Here is an adult portrait (much easier to identify than all of the immature plumages).

Glaucous-winged Gulls, Sweeper Cove jetty, May 24, 2012

While watching the gulls, we got a call from one of the newly-arrived birders that they couldn’t find the right location for the Hawfinch. So we drove over there and guided them over the phone to the location. The Hawfinch was there! While waiting for them to arrive, I spotted another bird about fifty yards away near a chainlink fence. I thought it might be another Hawfinch! The Hawfinch at the feeder flew over to the fence and both birds flew around the corner of the building. One Hawfinch came back shortly, followed by a Lapland Longspur. So I thought I must have mistaken the Longspur. We headed back to the house and then headed out to dinner. As we were on our way, we got a call from that birder saying they had two Hawfinches side-by-side (well, actually squabbling over who owned the birdseed!). So I had been correct in identifying the second bird.

We had a Hawfinch on our first trip to Adak in May 2005, but then not again until May 2010. Then last May we had three! We already have two this trip, so it will be interesting to see how many more we find.

Our odds of finding something new on the island increased with all of the new eyes that arrived today, so we are optimistic about the next few days.