Friday, September 18, 2015

What’s the definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome…

Partly sunny, temp in the 50s, occasional light shower, NW wind, 10-20 mph.

No lifers or new Adak birds today, but still interesting.

We started out filling feeders and checking Sweeper Cove and the channel and creek. At the channel, a Pelagic Cormorant was actively fishing and came up with what (to us) appears to be an eel.

Pelagic Cormorant (with eel), Sweeper Channel, Sept 18, 2015.

Pelagic Cormorant (with eel), Sweeper Channel, Sept 18, 2015.

There was nothing on the Airport Ponds. We went up to Haven Lake and found 11 Eurasian Wigeon and two Greater Scaup. Lake Andrew was void, but up at the Adak National Forest, a pair of Pacific Wrens graced us with their constant activity.

At the Palisades Overlook, a Gyrfalcon playing with a Common raven entertained us. When we got to Clam Lagoon — side note: The south lookout at Clam Lagoon, since we have been coming up here in 2005, consisted of a small break in the weeds enabling a view of the flats. Just west of that spot, there is an interpretive sign about Emperor Geese that was hidden by uncontrolled vegetation. Well — now that has all changed! The area around the sign has been cleared and a nice pulloff space has been created for viewing the flats. Cheers to the FWS! — we spotted an adult Peregrine Falcon out on the flats.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

As we turned around to continue around the lagoon, another falcon soared into view. It was a Gyrfalcon. The Peregrine rose up to play/fight with it. Then two more falcons appeared! It appeared that there were two Gyrfalcons and two Peregrines playing overhead all at once. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Gyrfalcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Gyrfalcon, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Every fall, the Common Teal (Eurasian race of the Green-winged Teal) gather in flocks and hide out in a series of long narrow ponds parallel to the road on the west side of the lagoon. So each year I make one effort to see if any odd ducks are hiding with them. Since, as soon as they see me, they burst into flight and away to the next pond, my strategy is to take as many photos of the flock in flight and analyze them later. I have done this for multiple years now, and it has never yielded anything other than Common Teal…

Common Teal, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.

Common Teal, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2015.a

At the northern end of Clam Lagoon, we saw our first Rock Sandpipers of the trip. At the Breaches, as I walked out to the shoreline, there was a feeding frenzy of gulls, alcids, cormorants, and kittiwakes going on just offshore. I took some photos and, while wondering to myself what the object of the frenzy was — leftovers from an Orca kill?? — I scanned the bay for more birds and — lo and behold — an Orca surfaced briefly and disappeared as quickly! Only our second Orca in all of these years.

At the Seawall, we had a flock of 20 Ruddy Turnstones. As we came back around, I walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, but found no shorebirds. At Contractor’s Camp Marsh, a short walk flushed a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Our trip list stands at 30.