Sunday, September 19, 2021

Temp in the low 50s, Mostly Cloudy, Wind NW 10-15 mph

Quite a change from the past two days. Sunny, mild wind.

But, still no new birds.

The only birds of note were a flock of Cackling Geese flying over. I hadn’t seen (or heard) any in several days.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, Adak, September 19, 2021

I ended with 53 species (two shy of average).

The best bird from an Adak perspective was Least Sandpiper. First fall record for Adak.

The best bird from my perspective was the Lesser Sand-Plover, which stayed a week and was most cooperative.

The stint, Gray-tailed Tattler, Wood Sandpipers, and Ruff rounded out the highlights.

My Adak Year List was 79 (below average), but I was only here three weeks instead of four.

My trip home was interesting…

The flight to Adak was an hour late, as was my arrival in Anchorage. But no problem, I had a 5-hour layover there.

When the Flight to Chicago should have been boarding, they announced there was a maintenance issue. It turned out the water system wasn’t working.

So after an hour, they switched us to another plane and we left for Chicago about an hour late.

The thing is, I only had a 1-hour connection in Chicago.

Well, I missed my connection, but was immediately booked on the next flight to Philly that was about to board!

It too was running late — which was the saving grace this time.

So I arrived in Philly only about an hour-and-a-half later than I had planned.

I went down to the baggage claim expecting to NOT find my luggage, but amazingly, they had managed to get my bag re-tagged and on to this flight!

So all’s well that ends well.

I will leave you with two videos.

Ravens and eagles playing in the wind.

High surf at the Seawall.

I will be back next May.

Coda: The earlier version of the posts for this trip listed a Little Stint. It now appears to have been a Red-necked Stint. Therefore, I went back and edited those posts.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Wait! Why aren’t I flying from Anchorage to Chicago right now?

The Adak/Anchorage flight got cancelled. That’s why!

So I arrived a day late and am leaving a day late…

Temp in the high 40s, overcast, rain, rain, rain, wind N 25-35 mph, gusting to 50 (hence the flight cancellation).

I tried to go birding in the rain, with little success. Everything was hunkered down, although I did see the Sanderling flock huddled against piles of seaweed at Clam Lagoon. Also, a flock of a dozen or so Rock Sandpipers were feeding there as well.

No sign of the plover or stint, but they may have been out of view around the bend of the peninsula.

The overnight winds were from the SE and E, bringing in shearwaters to Kuluk Bay again this morning. But not in the numbers from a few days ago.

A travel note: Once I got the notification that the flight was cancelled, I went to the airport and they told me a makeup flight was scheduled for tomorrow and I was already re-booked on it.

For reasons I won’t go into, all three legs of my trip were booked separately, so I had to call Alaska Airlines and American Airlines to reschedule those flights.

The Alaska representative, re-booked me on the same Anchorage/Chicago flight one day later – and even the same seat!

When I called American, the recording said there was a long wait and they could call me back. I opted for that and an hour-or-so later, they called.

When I gave the rep my situation, he was ready to help, but then saw that I already had checked-in for the Chicago?Philadelphia flight (ever prompt I am!). Well, that caused a problem because he didn’t know how to un-checkin a passenger! He had to consult with a supervisor. After holding for about 20 minutes, he finally got it resolved, started to book me on the same flight the next day, AND THEN THE POWER WENT OUT!

On Adak, when the power goes out, everything goes out – phone and internet.

The power returned about a half-hour later. I waited to see if he would try to call me back, but didn’t get any calls for 15 minutes, so I called American again, left my number and waited.

After 45 minutes, they called back and a new rep quickly resolved my situation and got me booked.

So what should have taken less than half-hour to rebook, took two-plus hours.

I went back out birding in mid-afternoon, but it was still blowing and raining. By the time I got around to the Seawall, the rain stopped and I had hope of walking the peninsula when I got back around.

Not to be. By the time I got back to the peninsula, the rain started again.

So, no new birds today. Tomorrow is supposed to be much less windy and no rain, so I should be able to get a few hours of birding in before getting my luggage to the airport, etc.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Temp in the high 40s, overcast, rain starting at 10 AM, Wind light and variable becoming SE 15-25 MPH

The day dawned with no wind or precipitation, and a high ceiling. The smoke from Mount Sitkin was easy to see.

Mount Sitkin, September 17, 2021

I checked the High School Willows, Warbler Willows, and the National Forest for passerines, but only found locals.

At Clam Lagoon, a light drizzle had started, but I slogged out the peninsula anyway. No birds.

The weather deteriorated quickly from that point, with the wind and rain both increasing.

At the Seawall, as I was eating lunch and watching (ironically) a feeding-frenzy of gulls, kittiwakes, murres, etc., a jaeger flew in to the fray, then flew over me towards the lagoon.

Parasitic Jaeger, Seawall, September 17, 2021
Parasitic Jaeger, Seawall, September 17, 2021

I saw two Sea Lions there as well.

The weather got too bad, so I headed back to the house and took a nap.

Feeling refreshed, I ventured out into the storm once more.

At the Airport Creek bridge, hundreds of Short-tailed Shearwaters were swirling in and out of the mist.

At Clam Lagoon, I could see the Sanderling flock out on the peninsula hunkered down against clumps of seaweed, etc. I did not see the plover or stint. Doesn’t mean they weren’t there…

At the Seawall again, two Short-tailed Shearwaters joined the various feeding-frenzies, but the large flocks of shearwaters had not been blown in close to shore. It was too hazy to see very far out.

That was it for the day.

Going home tomorrow.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Temp in the 50s, partly cloudy, wind WNW 10-25 mph diminishing as the day went on.

I walked the marsh edge of Clam Lagoon this morning, but only found one Pectoral Sandpiper.

Out on the peninsula, the Lesser Sand-Plover and Red-necked Stint continue. And they were joined by the Sanderling flock. I got a bit of a rush when I saw a dark-colored bird in with the Sanderlings, but it was just a late-molting bird.

Sanderlings, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2021

By the time I had made it to the Seawall, the Sanderlings had flown over to Goose Rocks and Cormorant Rocks.

Sanderlings and Glaucous-winged Gulls, Goose Rocks, September 16, 2021
Sanderlings, Cormorant Rocks, September 16, 2021

While scanning the distant shearwaters, I saw an all-dark albatross which I presume to be a Black-footed. It was too didn’t to get any more details than that.

Down by Candlestick Bridge, the Harbor Seals were sunning themselves.

Harbor Seals, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2021

On the way back up the east side of the lagoon, I spied the Peregrine soaring over the bluff. I got out to take photos and it soon got into a set-to with a Glaucous-winged Gull.

Peregrine Falcon and Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2021
Peregrine Falcon and Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2021
Peregrine Falcon and Glaucous-winged Gull, Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2021

The weather forecast is atrocious for tomorrow into Saturday – rain all day, little wind. The little wind part is okay, but the rain will make it difficult birding.

So I grabbed an early dinner and went back out to take advantage of today’s nice weather.

At the Sweeper Channel, a Common Teal was taking a nap with some Rock Sandpipers.

Common Teal and Rock Sandpipers, Sweeper Channel, September 16, 2021

The feeder at the Adak National Forest had an unwelcome visitor.

Norway Rat, Adak National Forest, September 16, 2021

Gray-crowned Rosy-finches were at the Blue Building feeder area.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Blue Building, September 16, 2021

And finally, I got a better photo of some of the Common Teal feeding out in Clam Lagoon late in the day.

Common Teal, feeding late in Clam Lagoon, September 16, 2021

One-and-a-half days to go. It doesn’t look promising, but hope springs eternal…

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light drizzle, Wind WSW 15-25 mph, gusting to 40 mph

Gabi and Michelle left today, so I have three solo-birding days left.

They were fun to be with and we found a lot of good birds (lifers, year birds, and state birds).

The stint and plover were still here this morning, as were the flock of Sanderlings.

Late this afternoon, only the stint showed itself out on the peninsula (but that doesn’t mean much).

I picked up some distant Laysan Albatrosses once the visibility cleared off the Seawall this afternoon, but that was the only new trip bird today.

Sorry, no pics…

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Temp in the 50s, rain in the morning, intermittent showers in the afternoon, Wind SE to SW 15-25 mph

In the past, strong overnight easterly winds have frequently pushed flocks of shearwaters into Kuluk Bay in the morning.

Today was no exception.

There were thousands of Short-tailed Shearwaters swirling about, in and out of the mist.

They were still just a little too far out with poor viewing conditions for Gabi to count them as a lifer.

So we headed up to the Seawall where I hoped the same phenomena was taking place.

Unfortunately, it was not. We scanned near and far, but no stiff-wings.

But then, out of nowhere, a shearwater flew in all by its lonesome and gave us both terrific looks as it flew back in forth in front of us between us and Goose Rocks.

Gabi got her lifer!

We worked our way back around and Gabi suggested going to Lake Andrew and then the back road via Shotgun Lake. As we drove down the paved section of road, I suggested driving up a small side road that went up to a building where I have gotten a few birds over the years.

As we turned onto that road a tattler flew off from the roadside to behind us.

We got out and refound it.

It was a Gray-tailed Tattler (the only tattler expected in the fall).

Gray-tailed Tattler, on the road to Lake Andrew, September 14, 2021

Another lifer for Gabi!

When we ran into Michelle a little while later, we told her about the tattler and she went there and refound it. It was a year bird and an Alaska bird for her!

We didn’t find any other new birds for the day, but the Lesser Sand-Plover and Red-necked Stint were still at the Lagoon, as well as 18 Sanderling.

Later, I went back up to the lagoon and saw the Common Teal flock that hides most of the day but comes out to feed in late afternoon and early morning. I counted 224!

My trip list is 52.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Temp in the 50s, partly cloudy, wind W 5-10 mph

Here are three happy campers ready to start their day.

Gabi, Michelle, and me, September 13, 2021

Both plovers and the stint are still here.

At Sweeper Cove this morning, we found Ancient Murrelets, which were a year-bird for Michelle, who is doing an Alaska Big Year.

We also had a Common Loon.

We walked the marsh edge this morning and did not find a Sharp-tail or Ruff, but we did have a Common Snipe! A lifer for Gabi! Plus a Pectoral sandpiper.

Common Snipe, Clam Lagoon, September 13, 2021

At the Seawall, Michelle scoped the horizon and saw the parade of Short-tailed Shearwaters going by as well as a Laysan Albatross — both year-birds.

Mount Sitkin has been active recently and is producing a steady emission of smoke (on the left side of this photo).

Mount Sitkin, September 13, 2021

When we got back around to the south end of the lagoon, there were 6 Emperor Geese there.

Emperor Geese, Clam Lagoon, September 13, 2021

My trip list is up to 50. Average for my September trips is 55, so I am on pace.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Temp in the 50s, Mostly cloudy, intermittent rain in the morning, wind WNW 15-25 mph lessening late in the afternoon

The action still centers around Clam Lagoon. Michelle found a Pacific Golden-Plover there today and the Lesser Sand-Plover and Red-necked stint are still here (as are the Western Sandpipers).

Pacific Golden-Plover, Red-necked Stint, Lesser Sand-Plover, Clam Lagoon, September 12, 2021

We finally tracked down a Snow Bunting for the trip list. And Michelle (who was birding alone for much of the day) also found a Sharp-taiiled Sandpiper on the East Side Ponds.

That’s it for today. I’m spent…

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Temp in the 50s, Overcast and rainy in the morning, partly cloudy in the afternoon, Wind WSW 15-25 mph

A glorious sunrise this morning.

But it quickly turned to rain, but ended just as the flight arrived. And the ending rain produced the first rainbow of the trip.

I worked my way up north again as usual. Nothing new.

At Clam Lagoon, I scanned the near portion of the peninsula and found the shorebird flocks intact. Westerns, Plover, Stint, Sanderlings.

I continued around the lagoon and spotted a light-morph Parasitic Jaeger near Candlestick Bridge.

Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, September 11, 2021
Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, September 11, 2021
Parasitic Jaeger, Clam Lagoon, September 11, 2021

When I came back around the lagoon to the peninsula viewing spot, the shorebirds were nowhere to be seen!

I continued into town and to the airport to meet Gabi and Michelle.

After getting their gear and food stowed, we headed up to the lagoon for what we hoped would be a look at some lifers.

We went straight to the peninsula viewing area, but did not see any shorebirds.

So we left my car there, hopped into Michelle’s SUV and drove down to the South Lookout from which we went out onto the flats to walk the marsh edge. No one had walked the edge since Wednesday, so I was hoping the Sharp-tail and Ruff might still be there.

No such luck. However, we did find a Pectoral Sandpiper — a trip bird for me.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 11, 2021
Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 11, 2021

We finished the marsh edge and set out to the peninsula. Just past the bend, we found them. Only one Sanderling, but all the rest were there and gave good looks for all.

Lesser Sand-Plover, Clam Lagoon, September 11, 2021

Both the plover and stint were lifers for both Gabi and Michelle. A great start to their trip!

As on previous days, the we were delighted to see the birds up close. They didn’t get within 5 feet like yesterday, but maybe 10-15 feet! What a great experience.

We continued around the lagoon. At the Seawall, Michelle picked out a Thick-billed Murre. They occur here regularly, but I don’t search through the hundreds of Common Murres out here to find them. So it was a nice addition to my trip list. Also, it was the first one that I have seen out here that was within photo range.

Thick-billed Murre, Seawall,, September 11, 2021

This was a lifer for Gabi and a semi-lifer for Michelle, as her previous bird was not very satisfactory.

Here I am walking the marsh edge.

Frank walking along the Clam Lagoon Marsh Edge, September 11, 2021

And here I am with Michelle looking at the shorebird flock on the peninsula.

Michelle (left) and me on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, September 11, 2021.

There are supposed to be stronger westerly winds tonight and tomorrow, so hope springs eternal…

Friday, September 10, 2021

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, wind WSW 15-20 mph

Not a single shorebird on the Clam Lagoon Peninsula this morning!

But wait! There’s more!

The Rock Sandpipers are now in their resplendent winter plumage.

Rock Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, September 10, 2021

The first time I saw one like this, I thought it was a Purple Sandpiper…

After checking the usual spots this morning, I made it up to Clam Lagoon around 10:30. I headed out to the peninsula only to be greeted with no birds!

So I continued around the lagoon, hit all of the usual spots, finding nothing new.

Eventually I made it back up to the lagoon around 3 PM, but I was totally beat. So I set my timer to 20 minutes and took a nap.

Aah, that felt better!

I grabbed my camera and trundled back out the peninsula. I got out past the bend. No birds.

I started to walk back when in flew a small flock of shorebirds. It was 5 Westerns and the Red-necked Stint.

Then a few more. Then a few more, until we were back to the Western flock of 12.

I looked up and then saw that the Sanderlings had also flown in, but were farther up the shoreline.

As yesterday, the Westerns couldn’t care less that I was there and again walked right up to me.

The Westerns moved around a bit, occasionally flying 20-30 yards to a new feeding spot and then maybe back again. As I was observing them, I noticed that the stint was a “picker” and the Westerns were “probers.” The stint would occasionally probe and the Westerns would occasionally pick, but more often than not, the Westerns probed and the stint picked.

I then heard a different call note as another bird flew in.

A Mongolian Plover! (I know, I know, it’s Lesser Sand-Plover, but Mongolian sounds SO much better).

Lesser Sand-Plover, Clam Lagoon, September 10, 2021
Lesser Sand-Plover, Clam Lagoon, September 10, 2021

Yes, these are pictures of the same bird. One with the light behind me and the other with the light behind the bird! I have a similar set of photos of a Hudsonian Godwit near home. One photo is brown, the other gray. Totally due to lighting.

Not a bad way to end the day.

Gabi and Michelle arrive tomorrow. More eyes and ears…