Monday, May 19, 2014

Our mantra on Adak is “Bad weather, good birds.” Or maybe not…

Temp in the 40s, sunny afternoon, moderate east to northeast winds.

We checked on the swan this morning and it was still there.

It was high tide at Clam Lagoon, so we came back to town and did Sweeper Cove, creek, etc. There were still three Tufted Ducks on the Airport Ponds.

We headed back up to Contractor’s Camp Marsh, but had no shorebirds.

The various feeders now have activity at them. We hope this will attract passing Asian vagrants.

At Shotgun Lake, the male Tufted Duck was back.

Tufted Duck, Shotgun Lake, May 19, 2014.

Tufted Duck, Shotgun Lake, May 19, 2014.

Also at Shotgun were several scaup, including a male Lesser Scaup. Aaron’s group had seen Lesser Scaup a few days ago on Clam Lagoon, so we were on the lookout. This was a new bird for our Adak list (#130).

Male Lesser Scaup with female Greater Scaup, Shotgun Lake, May 19, 2014.

Male Lesser Scaup with female Greater Scaup, Shotgun Lake, May 19, 2014.

We continued around to the seawall. At the Breaches, Frank had five Black Scoters. Down near Goose Rocks, Barb spotted a flock of Cackling Geese way out in Sitkin Sound. There were 17 — same as the number that flew over yesterday. It is odd seeing geese out on the ocean.

As we were continuing our way down towards Candlestick Bridge, we got a call from James (who was now leading Aaron’s tour group, as Aaron had to leave for another trip) that there was a Wandering Tattler back at the Clam Lagoon Ponds. We quickly doubled back and got nice looks.

Wandering Tattler, Clam Lagoon Ponds, May 19, 2014.

Wandering Tattler, Clam Lagoon Ponds, May 19, 2014.

We mentioned to James that we were on our way up to Zeto Point in order to check out Lake Ronnie. Being new to Adak, he asked to follow us. They followed us up the road to Zeto. We walked up to the bluff overlooking Lake Ronnie. I quickly noted a male Tufted Duck among the several Greater Scaup. Then James called out “female Smew!” Although it was far out and the heat waves were terrible, everyone got to see it. It was a lifer for most of the tour group and our third on Adak.

Since it was a lifer for most of them, they decided to try to walk down the slope to the lake to get a better view. We left them there and drove back around to Lake Shirley, expecting the birds would flush from the lake on their approach and just might settle on Lake Shirley. I warned them that it was almost impossible to approach Lake Ronnie unseen, but they decided to try anyway. After a while, we saw their van approaching us. They had decided it might be easier (and wiser) to approach the lake from this end. So in they went.

We listened to their chatter on the radio. We saw some ducks flush out over the intervening ridge, but they were too backlit to identify with any certainty. However, one smaller one split off and flew high and northwest. Shortly after, we heard them say they could see the flock of ducks on the lake, but the Smew was not among them.

We decided to head for Shotgun Lake (one of the two spots we had seen Smew in the past), but it wasn’t there. We also checked the Airport Pond, to no avail.

Maybe we will find it again tomorrow in better viewing conditions.

Our trip list stands at 54. Not bad for a fair day’s birding.