Friday, May 25, 2012

What’s good for the goose…

Guess what? We started the day at Sweeper Cove jetty and then checked for the Hawfinches. No luck. As we continued along Sweeper Cove, we ran into Ted Kenefick and Peter Harrison (yes, of Seabirds fame) who had a flat tire and no tool to get the spare! After futile attempts to release the spare tire, we gave them a lift up to Will’s so they could rent a vehicle until someone could fix the tire.

We checked Sweeper Creek and various feeders and eventually headed up to Clam Lagoon. There, we met Paul Mayer and Bob (sorry, forgot your last name) who had just come off of the flats. They said there was a dark duck or small goose across the way, so I set up my scope (a Questar) and quickly confirmed it was a Brant! A new bird for our Adak list. In addition, they stated that as they were coming out of town earlier, they saw two Snow Geese and a Greater White-fronted Goose flying towards the airport. Snow goose would also be a new Adak bird for us and we had previously seen only one White-fronted, so this was tantalizing news. They also said they saw a small shorebird out on the flats.

We continued around Clam Lagoon to the southwest access point and Paul, Bob, and I walked out the peninsula. No small shorebird, but we did see a female Bar-tailed Godwit and the Bramblings.

We went around to the other side of the lagoon and found the Brant.

"Black" Brant, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2012.

This was the western race, previously known as Black Brant.

We continued down to Candlestick Bridge and scanned the inlet and the beaches. Note: In all of the trips we have made to Adak (this is our 11th) we have never seen a single shorebird on the beaches next to the inlet. Yet, as I scanned the beach, I found 5 Bar-tailed Godwits (1 male and 4 female). So we were now up to 6 godwits for the day. In the picture below, the male is on the right.

Bar-tailed Godwits, Palisades Beach, May 25, 2012.

As we headed back up past Lake Shirley, a Bald Eagle was mantling some prey on a post next to the road. Eagles are remarkably tame up here.

Bald Eagle, Lake Shirley, May 25, 2012.

We stopped at the “breach” (a portion of the seawall that was topped by winter storms) and walked out to the rocky beach to look for shorebirds. After scanning for a few minutes, I spotted a Wandering Tattler. Unfortunately, by the time I lowered my binos and lifted up my camera, he was gone. So no photo. However, that was the first reported Tattler this spring. The previous groups had not found any. While waiting at the truck for me to return, Barb spotted a Peregrine Falcon harassing a Bald Eagle. She called me and I got to see it as well.

We started back towards town, and ran into Monte and his group and shared sightings. As we pulled away, I spotted three geese flying overhead. It was the two Snows and the White-fronted. They were headed towards Clam Lagoon, so we did a 180 and raced up there in time to see them land on the flats on the east side. It was 4 pm, so we decided to go back into town, get gas (it closes at 5) and then come back up to try to get photos.

As we came back up to the lagoon and were racing around the north end, I saw a bird fly out from the near shore to the waters edge. But this was not a pattern I was used to up here, so I told Barb to stop. I quickly saw it was a Greater White-fronted Goose!

Greater White-fronted Goose, north end of Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2012.

We said to each other that this was probably the one that was with the Snows and it was not a good sign that they had split. Ie. the others may have continued on. However, we continued on, and as we neared the south end of the seawall, there were the two Snows and another White-fronted! So there were at least two White-fronted.

Snow Geese and Greater White-fronted Goose, Clam Lagoon Seawall, May 25, 2012.

We continued down towards Candlestick Bridge and checked again for the Brant. We didn’t see it at first, but then it came flying in from the north and a Parasitic Jaeger took up after it and chased it for a minute or two.

Brant being pursued by Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2012.

At Candlestick Bridge, we found Bob and Warren and Monte’s group. Bob and Warren followed us back to see the geese. We stopped and saw the Brant, then headed back to where we saw the Snows. They were gone. We continued up to the north end where we saw the single White-fronted, but he too was gone. So we started scanning the lagoon, and soon Bob spotted the Snows over on the far shore. Barb quickly spotted the White-fronted with them. Bob and Warren went back to the breach to look for the Tattler, while Barb and I headed back towards town.

We checked on the Hawfinch and found one. This one was different than he one we saw the other day; it had less white in the wing and a slightly longer bib.

Hawfinch, Naval Administration Building, May 25, 2012.

Not a bad day. We picked up two new birds for our Adak list and saw Bramblings and a Hawfinch again. Let’s keep em’ coming!