It keeps getting better…
Temp in the 40s, rain, rain, rain, East wind 35-40 mph.
With the east winds, we decided ti check Kuluk Bay first thing in the morning to see what had been blown in overnight. The answer — nothing.
We checked feeders, then started driving up towards White Alice in case the hawk showed itself. Just as we turned back towards town, we got a call from the Sitka birders that they had a different-looking goose with some Cackling Geese on the end of the airport runway. We put the pedal-to-the-metal and raced to their location. On the way, they radioed again that they believed it to be a Bean Goose — either species of which would be a lifer for us.
We saw their truck by the side of the road and quickly spotted the small flock of geese. Sure enough, it was a Bean Goose. We weren’t sure whether Tundra or Taiga, but took photos and savored the moment. Our first impression was Taiga, but we new we would have to do some research back at the apartment before deciding which one it was.
After looking at information and photos online and consulting with other birders, we settled on Tundra Bean Goose.
The High Lonesome group also arrived and got to see it.
We proceeded up to Contractor’s Camp Marsh and found a Reeve!
We called the other groups to let them know. We then went out to Lake Andrew. Nothing new there. As we were returning, we got a call from Sitka that they had found the Reeve and three other shorebirds. As we raced there, we got a call from High Lonesome that the other birds were Wood Sandpipers. We arrived at the marsh and quickly got to see them. There were now six Wood Sandpipers!
These were the first we had seen since 2011, and the most we had seen since our first trip in 2005. Both the Reeve and Wood Sandpipers were lifers for Sitka!
After catching our breath, we headed up to Clam Lagoon. There were still 8 godwits and one Dunlin. At Shotgun Lake, one of the female Smews was in the little outlet pond actively feeding and much closer than previous sightings.
We continued around Clam Lagoon. At the Seawall, we spotted Short-tailed Shearwaters far offshore. There was nothing new on Lake Shirley.
As we continued down the east shore of Clam Lagoon, there were hundreds of gulls sitting and flying around the flats. There were also dozens of Arctic and Aleutian Terns giving us great views. As I scanned the flocks of gulls, I found a Common Black-headed Gull.
In addition to all of this, the Sitka contingent reported a Gyrfalcon at the marsh!
Our trip list s now 55.
What a day!