Sunday, May 19, 2013

We are here to serve…

Mid-40s, pouring rain, 20-25 mph S winds. The sun made brief appearances in the afternoon, but the rain continued off and on throughout the day.

We birded the usual spots around Sweeper Cove and Creek, then headed up to the Airport Ponds and found a flock of Aleutian Terns–our first for this trip.

At the Elfin Forest, we found an unwelcome visitor on the feeder.

Norway Rat on feeder at Elfin Forest, May 19, 2013

At Clam Lagoon we counted 41 godwits through the rain and fog. At Shotgun Lake, we had 28 Buffleheads, which was a high count of any waterfowl we have ever had on that body of water. Later in the day, we only had a pair of Eurasian Wigeon there.

On the east side of the lagoon we had both Arctic and Aleutian terns. Along the Seawall, we had a flock of 15 Ruddy Turnstones–our first for the trip.

Ruddy Turnstone, Clam Lagoon Seawall, May 19, 2013

We also had two Pacific Loons (we had another at Sweeper Cove later in the day).

At the Seawall Breaches, a small flock of Common Eider were close to shore.

Common Eider, Seawall Breaches, May 19, 2013

Common Eider, Seawall Breaches, May 19, 2013

Zugunruhe Bird Tours (Ie. John Pushock) runs the only tours to Attu currently. This year he is running two trips–one starting today and the other starting May 26. The boat (the Puck Uk) arrived last night and John arrived on the plane this afternoon along with several members of his tour group. Four others arrived with us on Thursday and birded Adak for a few days before getting on the boat for Attu. This morning one of the other tour groups on the island took the Puck Uk out for auklets and had a very successful excursion, getting all of the expected species (Whiskered, Crested, Least, Parakeet, and Cassin’s auklets and more).

We had hoped the Pine Siskins would hang around until John got here, as he needed them for his Adak list. Unfortunately, we had checked the feeder five times today with no success, and none of the other groups had seen them today.

We met John at the airport, had a nice chat, wished him well on his Attu trip, and headed down to the pier to say goodby to the other birders leaving on the trip..We then headed back to our dwelling, and went by he siskin feeder. Lo and behold! Siskin #1 was there! Barb dropped me off there to keep my eye on it and then went to find John. He had just arrived at the boat, so he climbed into the truck and they raced back to the feeder. A minute before they arrived, a pair of eagles swooped low over the feeder, causing all of the birds to flush. But just as they pulled up, the birds returned, including the siskin.

As we said, “We are here to serve!”