Monday, May 17, 2021

The day started with a bang… and got better!

Temps in the 40s, mostly cloudy, winds light NNE

As I was loading up the truck this morning, Sam told me that yesterday he had seen what he was pretty certain were a pair of Garganey! They had flushed from Sweeper Creek and quickly disappeared, providing only a quick view and no photo-op.

So this morning I headed to the Airport Channel (a good place for birds like this to hide out) and, lo and behold, as I pulled into the road that runs by the channel, two ducks exploded out and also quickly disappeared! I saw them well enough to identify them as Garganeys, but again, no photo-op.

I searched all of the nearby ponds and streams for the next hour or so, to no avail. Maybe they will appear again and sit still long enough for a photo. We will all keep looking.

The last Garganey sighting on Adak was in September 2007.

We are starting to see some activity at the feeders. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches are showing up. That is a positive sign (it has been 20 months since the local birds have seen birdseed!).

At Clam Lagoon, the Brant is still present. And the (or a) Bar-tailed Godwit reappeared, as well as the Sanderling.

Also, the Black-headed Gull is still hanging around.

By the time I got to the Seawall, it was time for lunch, so I watched the bayside as I was eating. A Steller’s Sea Lion swam by and there were numerous loons — mostly Pacific — but at least one Arctic.

Arctic Loon, Seawall, May 17, 2021

After lunch, I decided to scan the horizon for stiff-wings and was rewarded with at least one Layson Albatross and many Short-tailed Shearwaters.

As I was scanning for more, I saw a flock of dickey-birds (that’s a technical term!) flying in off the bay towards me. They were too far out to identify in the scope, but they flew with a bouncing motion like finches. As they got closer, I lost them in the scope and tried to relocate them with my binoculars. No luck.

So there is a flock of finches of indeterminate identification roaming the island. Redpolls? Brambling?

I continued around Clam Lagoon, stopping as usual at Lake Shirley. This year, Lake Shirley has been a bust! The few ducks that are using it fly away as soon as a vehicle rounds the bluff from the Seawall. Many of the other waterfowl here seem extra-jumpy this year, which is surprising, as there were few hunters here over the winter. Go figure…

Also, there have been no Tufted Ducks. Since 2005, we have had only two May trips without Tufteds (2012 and 2013), so it is unusual not to see any.

As I was driving down the east side of the lagoon, a Pluvialis plover flew by with white rump. The only Pluvialis with a white rump is Black-bellied, and there are only a handful of records on Adak! But, yes it was!

Number 155 for my Adak list!

Black-bellied Plover, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2021
Black-bellied Plover, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2021
Black-bellied Plover, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2021
Black-bellied Plover, Clam Lagoon, May 17, 2021

Not a bad day…

The trip list is 50.