Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Temps in the 40s, mostly sunny, Wind SE 10-20 mph

Weather, May 31, 2023

I had two birds of note on this final day of this trip.

One was a Common Raven — only the fourth that I’ve seen this trip.

The other was a gull that I could not identify.

I found it on NavFac Beach. It looked darker than the other gulls. But lighting can do that up here. However, when it turned, it was still dark.

It was Glaucous-winged sized, but had a darker mantle and black primary tips. However, it wasn’t as dark as a Slaty-backed or a Vega sup-species of Herring Gull.

I went down to the beach and got photos. No one else was able to find it later.

I sent the photos to Isaac Helmericks (my go-to Adak guy!) and he said “I would say it is a Glaucous-winged hybrid. The wing tips are not dark enough for a pure Herring/Vega and it’s not a Slaty-backed.  Seen birds like this on Attu. I don’t think one can really know if they are hybrids with Slaty or Vega.”

So I guess I got a half-species for the trip list?

Hybrid Gull, NavFac Beach, May 31, 2023
Hybrid Gull, NavFac Beach, May 31, 2023
Hybrid Gull, NavFac Beach, May 31, 2023

The highlight of this trip was the pod of Orcas!

No lifers, but several semi-lifers. Great photos of Tufted Duck and Red-throated Loon.

There were few shorebirds. No stints. No Sanderlings.

So, although my total Trip List 69 (and a half!) was above average, it was because of getting many common and uncommon species, rather than rarities.

Today‛s eBird list can be seen at

I will be back September 17 to Oct 1, 2023.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, foggy in the morning, Wind variable 5-10 mph

Weather, May 30, 2023

And a bonus sunrise.

Sunrise over the runway, May 30, 2023

Only one new bird today, but Bramblings and Hawfinches continue to be seen.

I saw the Yellow-billed Loon again at the Kelp Bed off of Bayshore.

There are plenty of terns about — both Arctic and Aleutian.

An Arctic Tern at Clam Lagoon.

Arctic Tern, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2023

This eagle was dining on a dead Sea Otter.

Bald Eagle eating a Sea Otter, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2023

I started dismantling the feeders this afternoon for storage. As I was heading back to town with two of them, I ran into Allen (who is out here mainly photographing birds) and he told me he had seen a Red-throated Loon up at the north end of Clam Lagoon (he showed me a distant, but identifiable photo).

So I decided to get back to town, unload the feeders and come back up and take as much time as needed to see this loon (I needed it for the trip list).

No sooner had I returned than I spotted the loon — AND IT WAS CLOSE TO SHORE! All of the other Red-throateds that I have seen out here were always distant.

This one was very cooperative.

Red-throated Loon, Clam Lagoon, May 30, 2023

That put my Trip List at 69.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

I (and all of the other birders on the island) leave tomorrow.

So I won’t be posting my wrap-up blog until sometime Friday.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, sunnier in the afternoon, Wind WNW 5-15 mph

Weather, May 29, 2023

No new birds today.

Up at Andrew Lake, in the lee of the wind, the mosquitos were trying to get me…

Mosquitos trying to get me…

They are normally not a problem because of the windy conditions here, but can be a nuisance if you get into a sheltered spot.

In the late afternoon, I went down to the Naval Admin Building and the Brambling there was sitting in the tree singing (?) his little heart out. The Brambling song is just a buzzy trill.

Brambling singing, Naval admin Bldg, May 29, 2023

Here is a video of the poor little fella. With all of the Bramblings on Adak right now, this guy chose the one location without any others!

The Trip List is still 68.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

One-and-a-half days to go…

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, occasional fine drizzle, Wind W 10-20 mph

Weather, May 28, 2023

A better day than yesterday. Two trip birds and some great photos of a couple “rarish” birds.

I went up to the Marsh to look for the Reeve and met Rick’s group there.

We walked into the area where it had last been seen and quickly found one (maybe two) Wood Sandpipers.

Shortly thereafter, I spotted the Reeve. This was a lifer for two of Rick’s group!

Reeve, Contractors Marsh, May 28, 2023

I then worked my way over to Andrew Lake where I found one of the Tufted Ducks — in full sunlight and CLOSE!

Tufted Duck, Lake Andrew, May 28, 2023

My best shot ever of my favorite duck.

I then headed north and did Clam Lagoon. The wind was fierce today and birds were just hanging on out on the flats. The only shorebirds I had were two Pacific Golden-Plovers.

No other notable birds up there.

By late afternoon, I had arrived back in town and found a very cooperative Brambling at the Naval Administration Building (remember where Sam was putting out seed when he spotted the Eye-browed Thrush!).

Brambling, Naval Admin Bldg, May 28, 2023

I then decided to do a late afternoon trip to Finger Bay and creek.

On the way, I stopped at the North Quarry to check the creek for tattlers and Lake Leone for waterfowl. I did not see any tattlers on the way in and the lake had only gulls.

On the way out, I stopped at the creek again and, as I lowered my window, I heard a tattler call and fly away. I didn’t see it, but figured it hadn’t gone far.

Sure enough, I found it just above the dam.

Wandering Tattler, North Quarry, May 28, 2023

So a nice day!

The Trip List is 68 — one above average (of course every time I get above average, it raises the average…).

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Temps in the 40s, mostly cloudy, more sun in the late afternoon, occasional light shower, Wind WNW 10-20 mph

Weather, May 27, 2023

On all of my trips to Adak there are always a few days when I do not add any new birds to the trip list.

Today was such a day (not that there weren’t any candidates around…).

I spent some time this morning watching the Andrew Lake feeder.

All I saw were 2 longspurs, 2 rosy-finches, a Snow Bunting, and 1 Brambling.

I did a lot of “slow” birding around Lake Andrew, the Marsh, etc., but found no new birds.

At the Marina I photographed this Pigeon Guillemot. Most of the guillemots are in breeding plumage already, but about 10 to 20 percent still have some winter plumage (like this guy).

Pigeon Guillemot, Marina, May 27, 2023

I saved the Lagoon for later in the day when it was low tide.

In the afternoon, I bid farewell to Steve and welcomed the McQuades and four fellow birders. I gave them the info on the rarities around, then headed for Clam Lagoon.

Up at the Seawall, Goose Rocks was covered with Common Eider, et al.

Goose Rocks covered with eiders, cormorants, and gulls, May 27, 2023

The three Pacific Golden-Plovers were still on the East Side Flats and one Bar-tailed Godwit was seen by Rick’s group.

On the way back to town, the McQuades radioed that they had a Reeve at the Marsh. I briefly joined them, but it had flown way off into the marsh where I don’t like to go.

I also heard from Sam that he had a Redpoll on the road to Warbler Willows.

So there were at least two potential trip birds here today.

Speaking of ravens…

On my first day here, I saw two Common Ravens. Then a few days later, I saw another one. That’s it!

I usually see half-a-dozen a day!

Apparently whatever decimated the eagle population here (bird flu is suspected) did the same for the ravens.

Although not a rarity, they were always fun to watch playing in the wind. They looked like they really enjoyed the aerial acrobatics.

I hope they don’t completely disappear from the island. The eagles appear to be holding their own now.

The Trip List is stuck at 66.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

Friday, May 26, 2023

Temp in the 40s, mostly cloudy, occasional light drizzle, Wind NW 10-20 mph

Weather, May 26, 2023

Although I added five birds to my trip list today, none of them were speaking Russian — or Chinese or Lao or any other Asian language — unfortunately.

But it was an interesting day.

I did my standard Sweeper Cove and Channel check in the morning and was pleased to count 13 phalaropes in Phalarope Cove — a new high.

Here is a nice shot of one not in the water.

Red-necked Phalarope, Andrew Lake, May 26, 2023

I went by the Kuluk Drive feeder and saw one of the Hawfinches.

Hawfinch, Adak, May 26, 2023

I decided to spend some time at Andrew Lake watching the seed I threw out yesterday in hopes the Brambling/bunting flock would find it.

No luck on that score, but as I traversed the road along the lake, a flock of four geese plopped down right in front of me (You’ll hear more about plopping-down birds later).

They were three Cackling Geese and one Greater White-fronted Goose. The White-fronted was only my 4th sighting out here, so that was a good bird.

The Cacklings were also interesting as two of them had the traditional white neck band while the other one appeared slightly smaller and had no neck band. Two Aleutians and one non?

3 Cackling Geese (left) and a Greater White-fronted Goose, Lake Andrew, May 26, 2023

I mentioned the Caribou tracks yesterday. Well apparently one of them did not get past a hunter’s bullet. I found a fresh gut pile there.

Caribou gut pile, Andrew Lake, May 26, 2023

I also took a splendid photo of a Lapland Longspur — another abundant species on the island that I tend to overlook.

Lapland Longspur, Andrew Lake, May 26, 2023

On my first foray up to Clam Lagoon, I saw this nice pair of Marbled Murrelets. They are all paired up at this time.

Marbled Murrelets, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2023

I also thought this guy looked cute.

Sea Otter, Clam Lagoon, May 26, 2023

I went back to town for a pit stop and lunch and then went back up to Clam Lagoon.

Up til now, the visibility off the Seawall has been terrible. So there was no use trying a seawatch. But today was different. So I set myself up looking seaward, focused my scope just short of the horizon, and with 5 seconds had a Laysan Albatross and a Short-tailed Shearwater! I only spent about 20 minutes there, but ended up with 15 albatross, 1 shearwater, and a Gyrfalcon (hunting the bay).

Not bad…

Sam caught up to me just as I was finishing. I continued down the east shore of the lagoon to Candlestick Bridge. Sam arrived a few minutes later.

Sam and Steve walked down to the beach as I turned around to return around the lagoon.

Halfway up the flats, I spotted to shorebirds that had not been there when either I or Sam drove by a few minutes earlier. They were Bar-tailed Godwits. Two males. The one that had been seen this past week was a female.

As I was sitting there, a rain squall blew in. I waited it out and was rewarded with two Pacific Golden-Plovers. I have had other days like this where birds com down to the flats during rain squalls.

It was getting late (for me), so I decided I would go back to town, shower, have dinner and then come back up to see what other birds had fallen out of the sky!

I radioed Sam about the birds and left.

I ran into Rick’s crew on the way back and gave them the info.

On my way back up to the Lagoon, I stopped at the Airport Creek Bridge (I ALWAYS stop there!) and found my first Ruddy Turnstone for the trip.

I ran into Rick’s group again as they were leaving the lagoon. They said the godwits and plovers flew off shortly after the arrived to see them

I continued on anyway.

I finally arrived once again at the east shore flats.

No shorebirds.

But, once again, a rain squall cam through, and in the middle of it I saw to shorebirds plop down. They were the godwits! Then a few minutes later, three golden-plovers plopped down!

So I upped my Pacific Golden-Plover total for the day by one.

Unfortunately, no more strays showed up.

Obviously, birds are on the move. More coming tomorrow…

My Trip List is 66 (one shy of my May average)

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Temp in the 40s, overcast, light drizzle much of the day, Wind SW 10-20 mph

Whoops! I forgot to take the weather photo this morning.

Well, the Russians haven’t made it here yet. Maybe tomorrow…

Low tide was not going to be until 4:30 this afternoon and the high tide was extra high because of the southerly winds pushing it into Clam Lagoon, so I decided to concentrate on the southern half of our birding area until this afternoon.

I ran into Rick’s group and gave them a brief tour of the Airport Ponds and Contractors Marsh. I led them to a spot in the marsh where snipe have been readily heard and seen and, as we got out of the vehicles, the Wood Sandpiper flushed from nearby. I let them chase it down and I went on my way. They got great looks after I left.

I went over to Lake Andrew and threw some seed on the ground near where the Bramblings and bunting have been hanging out. Hopefully, that will lure the Rustic Bunting into view.

While there, I spotted some Caribou hoofprints.

Caribou Hoofprint, Andrew Lake, May 25, 2023

As mentoined a few days ago, seeing Caribou in the north half of the island in other than winter is highly unusual.

After lunch, I started towards Clam Lagoon. I stopped on Bayshore Highway to check the kelp bed off shore and spotted a loon. It was a Yellow-billed. I can’t tell you on how many trips other birders spotted Yellow-bills, but we didn’t. So it was nice to see one myself. You can barely pick out the yellow bill in this very distant photo (easily seen in the scope, however).

Yellow-billed Loon, off Bayshore Highway, May 25, 2023

On the way up to Lake Ronnie, I took this photo of a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. They are so abundant out here, you forget to notice how colorful they are.

Red-breasted Merganser, Smith Lake, May 25, 2023

At Lake Ronnie, I finally ran into the Lesser Scaup that had been reported last week.

When I was out with Steve Carroll the other morning, he pointed out a local island called Battleship Rock. I didn’t know that before.

Battleship Rock, May 25, 2023

When I originally had driven the Seawall and gone past Lake Shirley, there were no birds of note. But on the return trip, the ducks had returned to Lake Shirley and brought a Tufted Duck with them!

Then, at the Seawall, I found one Arctic and four Pacific loons and a Steller’s Sea Lion!

The thrush has not been seen in two days.

The Trip List is 61 (May average is 67)

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Temp in the 40s, overcast, rain, Wind SW 10-20 mph

Weather, May 24, 2023

It looks like the heaviest rain passed south of us, but it was still raining lightly all day. The wind has picked up and is coming from the Southwest, which is ideal for Asian strays. The winds are forecast to be SW to NW to SW for most of this following week, so things are looking promising.

I only picked up one species today — Emperor Goose — out on Goose Rocks!

It was a lifer for Steve and some of the new birders that arrived today.

I had another Brambling at the High School Spruces. They’re everywhere!

This morning, I joined Ivan as we searched for the Rustic Bunting he found yesterday. In the constant rain and wind, it was no fun — and no success. Ivan also had a Least Sandpiper near there. We did not relocate that either.

Maybe tomorrow, between rain showers, conditions will be better for finding the bunting.

The ponds adjacent to Lake Andrew are great places for Red-necked Phalaropes.

Red-necked Phalaropes, Andrew Lake, May 24, 2023

After that, I did my usual rounds and got to the airport just after two to bid farewell to Ivan and welcome the new batch of birders.

The house they are staying in is very near to where the Hawfinches are coming to a feeder. As we drove up to their place, we passed the Hawfinch feeder and they saw several flying around!

They were most interested in the Rustic Bunting, so I took them up there and we searched in vain. We did see a flock of six Brambling, but no bunting.

Some of them also needed the Emperor Goose, so I took them up there and, luckily, it was still there.

I then took them back to town and showed them where the Eye-browed Thrush had been hanging out and I then abandoned them to their own devices and quit for the day.

My Trip List is 59.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at Not a very long list today. Conditions were terrible.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Well at least their birds…

Temp in the 40s, overcast, showers starting late afternoon, wind SW 5 mph, increasing as the day went on.

Weather, May 23, 2023

There is a strong storm system coming from Russia that is starting to hit us tonight. It should bring some interesting birds…

If you read last night’s blog, I listed a Common(?) Gull. We have now changed it to Short-billed and I have updated yesterday’s blog and eBird list.

The gull was still present earlier today, but I did not see it when I went back up to Clam Lagoon this evening.

The other good news is that the Eye-browed Thrush appears to be settling in. There is a junk pile in town that it is favoring and it was seen there several times today. And I finally got a good photo.

Eye-browed Thrush, Adak, May 23, 2023

Here is the mandatory annual eagle closeup. An eagle overlooking the palisades…

Bald Eagle, Palisades Overlook, May 23, 2023

I went up to North Lake and while I didn’t see any birds, I did get a panoramic view of Clam Lagoon.

View of Clam Lagoon from North Lake. The Seawall is on the left, Candlestick Bridge is far center, and the Peninsula is on the right. May 23, 2023

At Clam Lagoon, the Bar-tailed Godwit and Short-billed Gull were still present.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2023

Both yesterday and today, there were Red-necked Phalaropes in Phalarope Cove (in Sweeper Cove). I had named this cove as such because of this very behavior — gathering in this spot. However, the last few years, I had not seen any phalaropes in the cove! It is nice they are gathering there again. Here is one from near Lake Shirley today.

Red-necked Phalarope, Lake Shirley, May 23, 2023

Most of the Sea Otters have pups right now.

Sea Otter with Pup, Clam Lagoon, May 23, 2023

Sam and Steve had a flock of 8 Bramblings at Andrew Lake this afternoon (and a possible thrush)!

On a very different note, Sam and Steve found the skull of a Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel out near Candlestick Bridge. We assume it was left there by a jaeger.

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel head, May 23, 2023
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel head, May 23, 2023

The Trip List is 58 (67 is average for my May trips)

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

Monday, May 22, 2023

Temp in the 40s, overcast, Wind NNE light

Weather, May 22, 2023

I took Steve Carroll (my landlord on Adak) out birding this morning to give him a taste of what we birders do all day up here.

We didn’t see anything rare, but he got nice looks at a lot of common birds (a number of which he hadn’t known about). He thoroughly enjoyed it and I enjoyed his glee at seeing the birds up close and personal.

After that, I went on my usual foray.

At the Kuluk Drive feeder, I finally saw more than one Hawfinch. Three flew in, but immediately left. So no pics.

On the Seawall, I had both Arctic and Pacific loons together again. But this time they stayed for a photos.

Arctic (left) and Pacific loons, Seawall, May 22, 2023

Shortly after seeing these loons, Ivan called and said he had 5 Pacific Golden-Plovers and a Short-billed Gull on the east side flats.

I got down there in a minute and eventually found them.

The gull was out on the flats, so I ambled down and walked out to get flight photos (essential for separation of the various Common/Short-billed Gull species and subspecies).

After viewing the photos I took, we all thought it was a Common Gull (the Eurasian version of the North American Short-billed Gull — once all lumped under Mew Gull). However, there are other birders more skilled in gull identification than we are. So I sent the photos and asked their opinions.

After review by Isaac, Aaron, and David, we have agreed it is a Short-billed.

Short-billed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023
Short-billed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023
Short-billed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023
Short-billed Gull, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023
Short-billed Gull, Underside of wing, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023

Here are two of the plovers.

Pacific Golden-Plovers, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023

And their tracks…

Pacific Golden-Plover tracks, Clam Lagoon, May 22, 2023

On the way back to town, I stopped at the Marsh and had two more Pacific Golden-Plovers. They were at the usual spot on Redshank Drive.

I then went up to two little wet areas just on the south side of the “White Building.” This has been a favorite spot of mine over the years, in that I can drive right up to it and scan it without leaving the car (using the car as a blind). I have had Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, snipe, Ruff, plovers, etc. here. This is where Sam had the Wood Sandpiper yesterday.

Well… Today the Wood was back!

Wood Sandpiper, Contractors Marsh, May 22, 2023

At Sweeper Channel, one of the more colorful versions of Rock sandpiper was present.

Rock Sandpiper, Sweeper Channel, May 22, 2023

I then got another call from Ivan saying he had relocated the Eye-browed Thrush! I raced over there, to no avail. The bird was being as skittish as ever. Ivan got a distant, so-so photo, but better than mine. We could not find the bird again.

The Trip List is 56.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at