Sunday, September 15, 2019

Temp in the 50s, overcast, occasional light rain, wind variable 5-15 mph

The weather systems in the north Pacific and Bering Sea are moving rapidly west to east – unlike the stationary weather patterns of this past May. We anticipated that this would bring better birds.

We were not wrong…

We started the day with our usual routine around Sweeper Cove and creek, etc. We started seeding some bird feeders.

Our first good bird of the trip was a Peregrine Falcon over the Sandy Bluff (we didn’t have one this past May).

At the Landing Lights, we had a Ruddy Turnstone and a Rock Sandpiper.

While scanning the bay at Palisades Overlook, an Orca surfaced right in my scope’s field! Of course, it then went under and made VERY brief surfacings over the next 15 minutes or so. Never got a photo! We also saw a couple of Black Oystercatchers there.

We headed up towards Clam Lagoon, checking on willows and trees along the way. We didn’t see any new passerines, but Kuluk Bay provided alcids, scoters, eiders, etc.

At Clam Lagoon, I decided to walk the marsh edge and the peninsula.

A Young Glaucous-winged Gull was standing near the edge of the marsh displaying its pristine plumage.

Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019

The edge netted three Pectoral Sandpipers, one Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and a Marsh Sandpiper!

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019
Marsh Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019
Marsh Sandpiper , Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019
Marsh Sandpiper , Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019

Out on the peninsula, I spotted three peeps. Two were obviously Western Sandpipers, but the third looked different – shorter bill, plumage differences, etc. I thought the third bird was a Red-necked Stint, but as anyone who follows this blog knows, I struggle with these guys! So, once we got home, I sent photos to Isaac, who confirmed my initial identification. Thanks Isaac!!

Western Sandpiper (left) and Red-necked Stint, Clam Lagoon, Sept 15, 2019

The Seawall had both Red-necked and Horned Grebes (we missed Red-necked in May), and a Pacific Loon. We also had a flock of 18 Ruddy Turnstones there.

On both Lake Shirley and the lagoon were a lot of waterfowl. Just the usual suspects, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallards, Norther Pintails, Common Teal, Greater Scaup, and Red-breasted Mergansers.

An interesting find was a mother merganser with one VERY young offsping. Not only are the typical merganser families much larger, but to have this young a bird was unusually late in the season. The following is not a great photo, but it does show what I’m talking about.

Red-breasted Merganser with young, East Side Ponds, Sept 15, 2019

We had only 70 species on our May trip, but we have already added seven to that list for our year list!

Not a bad start.

Our eBird list for today is at