Saturday, May 15, 2021

Nemesis no more!

Temp in the 40s, overcast to partly sunny, NW wind 15-20 mph

Getting Here

If you are not interested in my travel perambulations, just scroll down to Now for the Birds.

Nineteen months since I have been here! Just a few things have happened in that time… A bittersweet return, to say the least.

The usual flights that I would take to get here were changed because of the pandemic, so instead of flying out of Phillie at 6 am on Friday and arriving in Anchorage at 1 pm, I left at 5 pm on Thursday and arrived just after midnight. So I had all day Friday to bird and shop. However, the Adak flight has changed as well. It used to leave at 2:30 pm and arrive around 4:30. Now it leaves at 9:30 am, stops in Cold Bay, and arrives on Adak around 12;30 pm.

So there was no time to bird Anchorage this morning, but more tme to bird on Adak after arriving (but less on the day leaving Adak). I will elaborate on other travel issues in a later blog (on one of those boring days…).

Now for the Birds

In Anchorage on Friday, Dave Sonneborn graciously offered to take me chicken hunting again (with a camera, not a gun) as he did two years ago (unsuccessfully, last time). We again went up to Glen Alps, walked down the trail to the power line trail and started walking and scanning the open patches near and far. A few hundred yards down the trail he found a nice male not more than twenty yards off the trail! This is the only native chicken I still needed for the ABA area, so Thank You, David! Barb and I had tried for this bird many times, but just failed to connect.

Willow Ptarmigan (male), Glen Alps, May 14, 2021. About to pluck some buds off his namesake.

As I was photographing this bird, a female stepped out from behind a nearby bush and joined him.

Willow Ptarmigan (female), Glen Alps, May 14, 2021.

We stopped by Potter marsh and then Dave had other things on his agenda for the day, so he dropped me off back at the hotel. I went and did my food shopping, then decided to go up to Arctic Valley. We had always gone up there in the early morning, so I thought it might be a different experience in the afternoon. Nope!

However, I got a nice shot of an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Orange-crowned Warbler, Arctic Valley, May 14, 2021

But the highlight was an addition to my Alaska Mammal list. A Porcupine!

Porcupine, Arctic Valley, May 14, 2021

I didn’t have anything out of the ordinary the rest of the day, got back to the hotel, had dinner, and fell exhausted into bed.

Got up the next morning and headed to the airport. Met two birders (Sam and Steve) with whom I had been in email touch with, as well as the Hi-Lonesome tour group.

Sam and Steve are staying in Unit D of the same 4-plex as I am. So I offered to give them the 50-cent tour.

We headed out and filled feeders around town (this means scattering birdseed on various driveways, etc).

We went by Sweeper Cove and then Sweeper Channel. At the channel, the usual Rock Sandpipers were in full display. This was a lifer for Steve!

Rock Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 15, 2021

We went by the Airport Ponds, and Contractors Marsh but didn’t see anything of note. As we approached the Thrush Feeder, Sam pointed out a Sandhill Crane in a nearby field! Not a rarity, but uncommon on Adak.

Sandhill Crane, near the Thrush Feeder, May 15, 2021

When we got to Clam Lagoon, we stopped at the South Lookout and Sam spotted a Brant! That was only the fourth one I have seen out here.

Brant, Clam Lagoon, May 15, 2021

There were the usual assortment of ducks, including one American Green-winged Teal.

Out on the Penninsula was a lone Sandering. And a lone Bar-tailed Godwit was out in the middle of the flats,.

Highlights at the Seawall included two Long-tailed Ducks, Pacific and Common loon, Arctic Tern, and Horned Grebe. A pair of American Wigeon down near Candlestick Bridge topped of the list (the majority of Wigeon out here are Eurasian).

Not a ‘Stop the presses!” kind of start, but satisfying non-the-less.

Looking forward to a full day tomorrow.