Friday, September 14, 2012

Light breezes and partly-cloudy skies greeted us at dawn this morning. We headed down to Sweeper Cove (via a couple of feeder spots where we put out birdseed) and had a bunch of both Horned and Tufted puffins. Although the lighting was poor, I did manage to get a serviceable photo of one of the Horned.

Horned Puffin, Sweeper Cove, 09/14/12

Sweeper Creek had a couple of Rock Sandpipers. We headed to the general store to get a few items that we couldn’t ship (eggs, coke). We cruised around the town a little bit, looking for the wagtail that had been seen there the previous week, but had no luck.

We headed north along the bayshore, had a Peregrine Falcon just south of the Landing Lights,  briefly checked Contractor’s Marsh, then headed to Lake Andrew. As usual this time of year, there are tons and tons of Lapland Longspurs flying down the roads as you drive along. As Isaac said when we asked him how soon the longspurs leave, “Not soon enough!”

At Clam Lagoon, we arrived just as John, Colin, and Jack (Wykoff) were about to walk out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula. I joined them, while Barb stayed back at the truck. Just around the first bend was a Red-necked Stint. This is the third consecutive trip on which we have had Red-necked Stint on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula!

Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, 09/14/12

Out at the tip, I photographed a Song Sparrow–“Up close and personal.”

Song Sparrow, Clam Lagoon, 09/14/12.

Barb and I continued around Clam Lagoon, while the others headed south.

We turned in to Shotgun Lake, but there were no birds there. However, as we started to leave, I looked back and a dozen ducks flew in. They were mostly Mallards, two Eurasian Wigeon, and one smaller dark duck. The road on this side of the lake is pretty far from the birds, so even with our scopes, it was difficult to determine what the mystery duck was. So we drove around to the other side and I crawled through the grasses to the edge of the bluff overlooking the lake and started taking pictures.

After looking at the photos on the camera, we felt the bird might be a Tufted Duck, but we had only seen this species in spring plumage before, and this was different. We decided we would have to review the photos on the computer screen when we got back to town in order to determine the correct identification.

We tried to call John, but we had no signal. We continued around Clam Lagoon. We had a dozen Red-necked Grebes and several Pacific Loons and one Arctic and one Common Loon off of the seawall. We checked Lake Ronnie from Zeto Point, and had a dozen Mallards and two Greater Scaup. Frank spotted our first Black Oystercatcher for the trip from up there and we saw another one fly by at Goose Rocks.

As we came back around Clam Lagoon, we stopped at Seal Rock Cove and spotted our first “mixed flock” of shorebirds — 19 Ruddy Turnstones and 1 Rock Sandpiper.

Ruddy Turnstone and Rock Sandpiper, Seal Rock Cove, 09/14/12.

We got back to town, got gas (still $6/gal.), and went to the house to review the photos.

After reviewing the photos, we decided it was a Tufted Duck. Not a lifer, but a first for a fall trip. [Added 9/15: CORRECTION! After advise from Isaac and some more research on the web, we have decided it is an eclipse plumage Greater Scaup — not a Tufted Duck.]

Greater Scaup in eclipse plumage, Shotgun Lake, 09/14/12

The five-hour time shift is hard to adjust to, but each day gets easier. We usually get fully adjusted to it the day before we head home…

Looking forward to tomorrow.