Thursday, September 25, 2014

Highs and lows…

As usual, we headed down to Sweeper Cove to start the day. As we pulled up on the Cormorant Jetty, five small dark alcids flew in and settled on the water long enough for Frank to get them in the scope and identify them as Parakeet Auklets! Another lifer – for Frank at least.

The rest of the usual areas produced nothing new, but after packing and taking our luggage to the airport, another stop at the Sweeper Cove Breakwater gave us more looks at Crested Auklet, as one of the pair from yesterday (we presume) was still feeding there!

We drove up near Contractor’s Marsh and, as we headed back towards the Airport Ponds Road, we spotted a flock of dickey-birds flitting about the multiple fences surrounding a former munitions building. They were Common Redpolls – 15 of them! That is the largest number of non-native passerines we have ever seen on the island.

Common Redpoll, near Contractor's Marsh, Sept 25, 2014.

Common Redpoll, near Contractor’s Marsh, Sept 25, 2014.

The plane arrived on time, and although it left a little late, it arrived in Anchorage in plenty of time for our flight to Chicago (OH NO!). The Anchorage/Chicago flight started on a high point with the Aurora Borealis putting on a show. This was also a lifer for Frank, as Barb had seen them when she had spent some time in Canada many moons ago.

We were due in to Chicago around 8:30 am Friday. About 7 am, the pilot informed us we were going to Minneapolis instead due to a fire at the O’hare Control Tower. So we landed, we got off of the plane and got booked on another flight to Philadelphia via Charlotte. Of course, that flight wasn’t leaving until 1:45 pm! So, after spending six hours in Minneapolis, two hours in Charlotte and two more flights, we finally arrived in Philly around 11 pm (10 hours late!). Shockingly, our luggage had also made it to Philly on another flight! So although we were totally wiped out, we had all of our stuff and arrived home safely.

This was a great trip. Frank had five lifers, Barb had three (because she had gotten the auklets previously). We had a record 63 species. We had the fourth North American record of Wood Warbler (since then, St Paul has had two more!). The disappointing aspect of our trip was shorebirds. We had only 10 species, compared to 17 last year. And only two were Asian – Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. And the shorebird numbers were low. We usually run into numerous Pectorals throughout the island in remarkably small wet spots. But not this year (although it was very wet with a lot of standing water).

But other than that, the trip was very satisfying.

We will return.