Saturday, September 28, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, Wind SW 5-15 mph

Our final day.

We added Yellow-billed Loon to the Trip List.

At least three Short-tailed Shearwaters were still hanging out in Kuluk Bay near the Palisades Overlook.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Kuluk Bay, September 28, 2019

I did not walk out on Clam Lagoon and we did not see the Marsh Sandpiper from shore.

It was a good trip, but not great.

We added one new bird to our Adak list – Greater Yellowlegs.

We had five Asian strays – Red-necked Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Brambling, and Gray-tailed Tattler.

The Short-tailed Shearwaters hanging out in Kuluk Bay for most of the trip was fun.

Although the Marsh Sandpiper was not new for us, it was only our second and I got great photos.

The Marine invasion that we were so concerned about never happened.

Our trip home was uneventful.

Final Trip List was 56 (Average = 54). Final Year List was 85 (average = 82.5 – love that half-bird!)

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

We will be back.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, winds SW 10-20 mph

The Gray-tailed Tattler was still down at Sweeper Channel this morning, along with two Ruddy Turnstones. We also had 19 turnstones at the Landing Lights.

A new trip bird was Thick-billed Murre up at the Seawall. We also had five Emperor Geese there.

The Marsh Sandpiper is still here as well as a bunch of Pectoral and Sharp-tailed sandpipers. Here is our parting shot of the Marsh.

Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 27, 2019

We also had a flock of TEN Rock Ptarmigans. The most we have seen in over a year!

But the theme of the day was aerial gymnastics!

At the Water Tower Bluff at the north end of town, eagles, ravens and Peregrines were cavorting in the strong updrafts caused by the southwest winds striking the cliff face.

Two Peregrine Falcons and a Bald Eagle, Adak, September 27, 2019
Two Common Ravens, one bald Eagle, and two Peregrine Falcons, Adak, September 27, 2019
Two Bald Eagles and a Common Raven, Adak, September 27, 2019
Two Bald Eagles and a Common Raven, Adak, September 27, 2019

Then, up at Lake Shirley, a Peregrine Falcon and a Common Raven were going at it!

Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019
Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019
Peregrine Falcon and Common Raven, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019
Peregrine Falcon, Lake Shirley, September 27, 2019. VICTORY!

Later, we found this bird on the airport runway.

Peregrine Falcon, Airport (the closed runway!), September 27, 2019

And finally, our mandatory Bald Eagle photo…

Bald Eagles, Sweeper Channel, September 27, 2019

Trip List is 55. Year List is 84.

We leave around 5 PM Adak time tomorrow and expect to be home around 5 PM on Sunday.

I will post our last day’s blog Monday morning.

Today’s eBird list is at:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, wind SW 10-20 mph

Even though the winds were from the wrong direction (south) yesterday, the storm apparently put down some new birds for us.

Nothing new at the feeders, but when we went down to Sweeper Channel, we found a Gray-tailed Tattler (our fourth fall sighting).

Gray-tailed Tattler, Sweeper Channel, September 26, 2019
Gray-tailed Tattler, Sweeper Channel, September 26, 2019

At Clam Lagoon, more shorebirds came in since yesterday. I had two Sharp-tailed and at least ten Pectoral Sandpipers, as well as the Marsh Sandpiper.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 26, 2019

The Sanderling flock has grown to 32.

At the Seawall, it was every man (and woman) for himself!

Harlequin Ducks, Seawall, September 26, 2019

After dinner, I went back out and had five Pacific Golden-Plovers along the roadside near Landing Lights. Three of these birds still had remnants of breeding plumage, making them different from the birds we saw a few days ago. I didn’t get photos of those three — it was too dark!.

Pacific Golden-Plovers, near Landing Lights, September 26, 2019

At the Marsh, I flushed a snipe again and, as usual, was unable to identify it or get photos.

The Trip List is 54, Year List is 84

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Temp in the 40s, A ray of sunshine early, then rain all day, Wind SSW 15-30 mph

Now that’s Adak weather!

Hardly any birds today, the constant rain and howling winds saw to that.

A brief rainbow when we first ventured out this morning.

Rainbow on Adak, September 25, 2019

Then the rains came!

Even the birds off the Seawall who are used to stormy seas were few and far between.

The plane arrived in spite of the weather and Bob and Steve departed this evening. Although they did not see a lot of Asian rarities, they will be among the elite few who have seen Marsh Sandpiper in North America!

We will be on our own the next few days.

Our eBird list (all 23 species!) is at:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Temp in the 40s, sunny, Wind WSW 10-15 mph

As usual, the first thing we do is check the Seal Drive feeder. There was nothing new, but the seed was low, so we pulled in and reseeded it. Then we continued on the road that circles behind the feeder location back towards the main road. As we turned the corner, a flock of longspurs flushed. Not unusual, but one had a big white rump! Thankfully, the flock landed in the next driveway and we got good looks at them. There were TWO Bramblings with them!

Two Bramblings (and a tail-end view of a Lapland Longspur), Adak, September 24, 2019
Brambling, Adak, September 24, 2019
Brambling, Adak, September 24, 2019

This was a Year Bird, as we missed the one that was seen by others on our spring trip.

After checking some usual spots, we headed up to Clam Lagoon, where we had arranged to meet Bob and Steve to walk the flats. When we told them about the Bramblings, they headed back to town to look for them (unfortunately, they did not succeed). So I walked the flats alone.

I had four Pectoral Sandpipers (2 flushed, 2 did not) and the Marsh Sandpiper.

Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 24, 2019. Note the white up the back.

Also out on the flats was a flock of eight Sanderlings.

When we got around to the Seawall, there were another two-dozen Sanderlings sitting on Cormorant Rocks.

Also at the Seawall, the Red-necked Grebe numbers jumped from 3 the past week to more than two-dozen!

Short-tailed Shearwaters were passing by out at the horizon and we had one Laysan Albatross as well.

We are seeing more Greater Scaup and Northern Pintails. Not sure if some are migrating already or they are just concentrating more where we are birding.

Finally, here is a picture of one of the Song Sparrows that always follows/leads me out as I walk out on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula.

Song Sparrow, Clam Lagoon, September 24, 2019

This brings our Trip List to 53 and our Year List to 83.

Bob and Steve leave tomorrow.

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Temp in the 40s, sunny, wind NW 5-10 mph

We woke up to Mount Moffet topped in a dusting of snow. It was melted by mid-afternoon, but the new snow on Mount Sitkin (1800 ft higher) remained.

Mount Moffet, Sept 23, 2019

We went down to Finger Creek where the salmon run seems about done and smaller than usual. We didn’t find anything new there, but on the way back we found a Gyrfalcon at the Hilltop Quarry, sitting on the same pinnacle that we saw one on in June.

Gyrfalcon, Hilltop Quarry, Sept 23, 2019

When we got back to town, we heard from Bob and Steve that they went to the clinic and got diagnosed with a bad sprain (NOT broken!). So he is still in pain, but relieved.

We had two Aleutian Cackling Geese fly over and land at the airport (NOT a good idea!).

Aleutian Cackling Geese, Airport, Sept 23, 2019

At Contractors Camp Marsh, we kicked out a flock of 6 either Pectoral or Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. They flew off into the central part of the marsh. We couldn’t get a good enough look at them or get them in the camera.

Then five Pacific Golden-Plovers flew out. But they landed nearby.

Pacific Golden-Plovers, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019
Pacific Golden-Plover, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019
Pacific Golden-Plovers, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019
Pacific Golden-Plovers, Contractors Camp Marsh, Sept 23, 2019

I also flushed a snipe, but could not determine the species.

At least one Short-tailed Shearwater continues in Kuluk Bay.

A marine biologist, who was out here to monitor sea mammals while the Marines were playing, confirmed that we were seeing a (or several) Minke Whale(s).

Our Trip List is up to 51 (54 is average). No change to the Year List.

Today’s eBird checklist is at:

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, very occasional light shower, Winds NW 5-15 mph

We started the day giving Bob and Steve the fifty-cent tour of Adak. We didn’t find anything new, but saw the usual suspects.

We then headed up to Clam Lagoon to try again for the Marsh Sandpiper.

By the way, I didn’t mention last night that as they were walking through the marsh to get to where the sandpiper was last seen, Bob slipped on a log while trying to cross a stream and sprained/broke(?) his left ankle! However, he persevered and continued down the half-mile or so to where the ducks flushed, taking the sandpiper with them.

So, this morning, Steve and I walked out on the flats (low tide) to try to see the sandpiper and hoped that it would be in a position for Bob to see it from shore with the scope.

YES! Steve had an up-close-and-personal look and Bob got a satisfactory look with the scope.

The bird was still there when we left.

We believe this is only the ninth record for North America (and our second)!

Remarkably, the Short-tailed Shearwaters continue in Kuluk Bay – even in this sunny, balmy weather. We have never seen anything like it. They are not real close, but close enough for the photo from two days ago.

The only other bird of note today was an Oldsquaw (so sue me!), down off the Sweeper Cove breakwall. When we left here in June, there was one hanging out at the Seawall. We assume this is the same bird, as there are previous records of lone birds spending the summer here.

Long-tailed Duck, Sweeper Cove Breakwall, September 22, 2019

This brings our Trip List to 48. The Year List remains at 82.

Today’s eBird list is at:

Saturday, Septembr 21, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, dry in the morning, steady rain from noon to 3 PM, then more rain after 3:45 PM!, Wind E 5-15 mph

Despite the good morning weather, we didn’t find anything new.

We did however, see the whale that has been hanging around closer up – although we did not see anymore of it than before. It was in Sweeper Cove. We saw it as we were driving out the breakwall.

We believe it is a Minke Whale. If there are any whale experts out there, please feel free to correct us.

Minke Whale?, Sweeper Cove, September 21, 2019

We didn’t see any shorebirds at Contractors Camp Marsh. The rainfall before we arrived must have been way above normal, as we have never seen the marsh flooded as deep as it is now. As mentioned yesterday, the main road is under 6 inches of water. The area where we had the Spotted Redshank last year is a lake. Usually, half of this would be dry.

Contractors Camp Marsh (Redshank Drive), September 21, 2019
Contractors Camp Marsh, September 21, 2019
Contractors Camp Marsh, September 21, 2019

At Candlestick Bridge, we saw a Peregrine Falcon chasing a Kittiwake and was soon joined by a second Peregrine. The two falcons soon gave up the chase and flew off in different directions – as did the Kittiwake… We later saw a Peregrine harassing the teal flock on Clam Lagoon.

At the Seawall, there were three Emperor Geese out on Goose Rocks (for which it is named!).

Several Short-tailed Shearwaters are still hanging around. We saw several fly in front of the hovercraft as it was leaving late this afternoon (see below).

The Marsh Sandpiper is still here.

On today’s flight, Bob and Steve Bossert arrived to add two more sets of eyes to help find more birds. It was pouring rain when they arrived, but I led them up to Clam Lagoon and showed them where I last saw the sandpiper this afternoon and then left them go for it.

Being late in the afternoon, the resident flock of several hundred Common Teal (and others) were out feeding in the area of the sandpiper and apparently flushed as Bob and Steve got nearer, and took the sandpiper with them. They saw what they believe was the bird, but will try again tomorrow morning in better conditions – and without the excitable teal flock to interfere!

We had two Rock Ptarmigan today, the most we have had this trip.

There were 12 Black Scoters off the Palisades Overlook.

The Sanderling flock was on the east side of Clam Lagoon this afternoon.

The Marines are leaving. No grand invasion (bad weather — such wimps!). According to news reports, there were 3000 marines aboard that assault ship! That would have been an interesting experience to watch. As it was, there was absolutely no infringement on our birding activity while they were here.

Here are a few shots of one of the hovercrafts going out to the mothership. The amount of spray it generates all but obscures it as it gets going.

Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership (note the other hovercraft still on the beach).
Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership (Note the other hovercraft still on the beach)
Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership
Marine hovercraft leaving NavFac Beach, heading out to the mothership. Take our word for it…

No change to the Trip or Year lists

Today’s eBird list is at:

The weather is supposed to get nicer the next few days.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, wind NW turning to SW 5-15 mph

A sunny day on Adak!

We were greeted by a sun-bathed Mount Moffet this morning.

Mount Moffet, September 20, 2019

Out on Kuluk Bay, I saw two Cackling Geese.

At the Landing Lights, there were four turnstones and three Rock Sandpipers.

There was nothing new at the Forest, Warbler Willows, or the Thrush Feeder, so we headed into Contractors Camp Marsh.

Because of the heavy rains, the main road that runs east/west through the marsh has been flooded with 6-8 inches. So we were reluctant to drive it. Instead, we drove up to the flooded part and I got out to walk up the flooded road.

Just as I started into the deepest part, two shorebirds (one large, one small) flushed from nearby and flew around the corner of an old building foundation. I walked up on the foundation and Barb drove up near it and then joined me.

When I initially saw them, I recognized the smaller bird as a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and the larger one appeared to be a Tringa. I said “Here we go again!”

However, when I got a good look at the bird, it sure looked like a Greater Yellowlegs! They were in heavy migration back home just before we left for here. We are VERY familiar with them.

Well, I was right and the bird with it was a Sharp-tailed!

Greater Yellowlegs, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 20, 2019
Greater Yellowlegs, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 20, 2019
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (left) and Greater Yellowlegs, Contractors Camp Marsh, September 20, 2019

The yellowlegs is only the fifth record for Adak – all in September or October. And, of course, a new Adak bird for us.

The Short-tailed Shearwaters continue to hang around in Kuluk Bay and we also had one sitting on the water and fishing near Goose Rocks on the Seawall.

Short-tailed Shearwaters, Palisades Overlook, September 20, 2019

At the Breaches, I had a Pacific Loon.

At the Seawall, there were still 3 Horned Grebes and 3 Red-necked Grebes, as well as a pair (male/female) of White-winged Scoters.

I walked the Clam Lagoon Peninsula and Marsh edge today, but only got three Pectoral Sandpipers for my effort. No Marsh Sandpiper.

We are finally seeing more wrens – probably due to the nice weather today.

Pacific Wren, Seawall, September 20, 2019

Last night, after dinner, the sun came out, so we went up to Clam Lagoon to see if anything dropped in. Well, by the time we got up there, it started to rain again! However, we did witness a large number of waterfowl feeding up near the West Lookout. There were several hundred, mostly Common Teal, but also some Pintails and Mallards. The interesting thing is we have seen a lot of Northern Pintails since we got here, but they have all been females or young. But with this flock were several adult males! Go figure…

As I said, it was raining, the lighting was terrible, so we didn’t spend a lot of time scoping through the flock for oddballs.

Since tonight was fair and sunny, we again went up after dinner to spend some time looking through the flock for who-knows-what. However, they did not cooperate. Instead, they stayed down in the southwest corner (poor lighting and distant).

But, when we first arrived, we scanned the peninsula, and there were eight Sanderlings! We had not seen any earlier in the day.

Then, while vainly scanning the distant, backlit flock of ducks, the Marsh Sandpiper walked out of the reeds behind them. So it is still here after all!

Two more birders are arriving tomorrow, so it looks good for them.

The Marine invasion never took place. They were loading up the hovercraft for departure this evening.

Their mother-ship finally ventured near enough to shore for us to see it (but still not close).

Marines’ Mothership with chopper approaching for landing.

Our Trip List is 47 and the Year List is 82.

Our eBird list is at:

Its supposed to rain tomorrow…

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Temp in the 40s, overcast, rain much of the day, wind N 10-15 mph

Last May, we noticed a dearth of Rock Ptarmigan. Lisa (F&WS) informed us that the berry crop was very low last winter and ptarmigan survival rates were poor. The paucity remains, as we have only seen three ptarmigan since we arrived. Normally in the fall, we frequently see family groups of 6-10 at a time! Apparently the breeding season did not go well either.

Also, there seem to be fewer Pacific Wrens around. In fall, we usually see them almost everywhere – trees, bushes, Seawall, etc., what with all of the young scattered about. But this year we have only seen a few.

There are at least two Peregrine Falcons here – one in town and at least one at Clam Lagoon (possibly two up there).

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2019

At clam Lagoon, in addition to seeing the Marsh Sandpiper again, I got a photo of just a few of the Common Teal that apparently had a successful breeding season…

Common Teal (as the Brits call them!), Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2019

At the Seawall, a couple of Stellar’s Sea Lions watched us carefully.

Stellar’s Sea Lion, Seawall, September 19, 2019

Short-tailed Shearwaters continue to fish in Kuluk Bay. About a dozen have been there the past few days.

As we stopped on the hill above the NavFac Beach (to see what the Marines were up to), a flock of Aleutian Cackling Geese flew over.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, NavFac Beach, September 19, 2019

Today’s Marine activities included bringing a number of vehicles and supplies ashore using hovercraft.

Marine Hovercraft, NavFac Beach, September 19, 2019. Note the size of the Marines on the right one…

The invasion was delayed again due to weather.

Two Septembers ago, we ran into a crab boat captain (Mark), who was very friendly, asked us what we were doing (this was out near Clam Lagoon) and told us about his crab fishing, etc. (this time of year he fishes for Brown Crab – the sweetest crab meat). After conversing awhile, he asked if we would like a couple of crab! We were going home in two days, so we couldn’t take them with us, but we said we (meaning Barb) could eat one here. So he invited us down to his boat where he cooked one up for us! We took it back to the house and Barb feasted for two days!

Last year, we missed him, but this year the Early Dawn (his boat) pulled in as we were down at Sweeper Cove looking for gulls, etc. Again, he offered us a crab. And here it is!

Again, he cooked it for us and Barb ate some for dinner tonight.

Crab! It’s what’s for dinner!

The Trip List is 45. No change to the Year List.

Today’s eBird checklist is at: