Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Temps in the 50s, mostly cloudy, Wind calm building to SW 5-15 mph in the afternoon

Weather, Sept 26, 2023

Near the Sweeper Cove Jetty, a young Common Murre kept calling. I first learned this call a few years ago up at the Seawall. I heard this call, which sounds like a shorebird, but all I could see nearby were a couple of Common Murres. I played the Common Murre call on my phone, but it was just the grr sound. So I kept scouring the shoreline for this mysterious shorebird. I finally saw the young murre open its mouth as I heard the call. I then searched for murre calls in my list of Asian bird calls and found a young murre call, which was it! Mystery solved.

Common Murre, near Sweeper Cove, Sept 26, 2023

I checked Sweeper Channel next. As yesterday, there were about a dozen teal and a few wigeon. I checked them thoroughly for the Baikal. No luck.

I had to return to the house and when I got back to Sweeper, Aaron was there. And, amazingly, he did not have the Baikal or any other new duck! History did not repeat…

At the Kuluk Bay Seaweed Patch, I had two Emperor Geese and a Common Loon.

There was nothing new at Warbler Willows or the National Forest.

I walked Clam Lagoon and, halfway up, a duck flushed from the edge. I snapped a few photos of it in flight — not identifying it.

When I downloaded the photos to the computer this evening, it turns out it was the Garganey!

Garganey, Clam Lagoon, Sept 26, 2023

Notice the two broad white wing stripes and the white line over the eye.

I also had the usual Sharp-tailed and Pectoral sandpipers and a couple of snipe.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 26, 2023

At Andrew Lake, a few eagles were having a meeting.

Bald Eagles, Andrew Lake, Sept 26, 2023

Up at the Breaches, I had both a Common and a Yellow-billed Loon. As usual, the Yellow-billed was distant.

Yellow-billed Loon, the Breaches, Sept 26, 2023

After not seeing a single falcon yesterday, I saw a Peregrine at Clam Lagoon today and then when I got back around to the Blue Building Feeder, the Merlin popped in.

Merlin, near Blue Building Feeder, Sept 26, 2023

Each fall, I see a number of immature Red-faced Cormorants with white around the base of their bills. Here are two images, the first from 2006 and the other from two days ago.

Red-faced Cormorant, Clam Lagoon, Sept 14, 2006
Red-faced Cormorant, Clam Lagoon, Sept 26, 2023

This appears to be normal for young Red-faced, yet the only field guide that shows this is the Easy Asia guide! I don’t understand why it is not illustrated more. It appears to be diagnostic…

On another note, Mount Sitkin — the active volcano 30 miles east of Adak — is growing a dome, which indicates a coming eruption.

Mount Sitkin, May, 2022
Mount Sitkin, Sept 26, 2023

Notice the central “bump.” It is now higher than the peak to the left. And the white there is gases coming from the volcano.

The Trip List is 61 and the Annual List is 84.

You can see today’s eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150842541

Aaron’ group leave tomorrow.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Temps in the 50s, mostly cloudy, Wind WNW 5-15 mph

Weather, Sept 25, 2023

Aaron, the Adak Magician, pulls another duck out of his hat!

I had checked Sweeper Channel early and had a dozen teal and a few wigeon. I checked through them thoroughly (they weren’t very far up the channel) and they all flew off when I drove up the dike. I left there and headed up towards the Marsh.

Just as I was arriving there, I got a call from Aaron that he had a Baikal teal at Sweeper Channel!!!

I raced back and discovered about two dozen teal, several Mallards and more wigeon — and a Baikal Teal! This was obviously a different flock than I had earlier.

In any case, another Adak bird for me. Here is a poor, but identifiable photo. Notice the white spot just behind the bill.

Baikal Teal, Sweeper Channel, Sept 25, 2023

It was pretty far up the channel, so after everyone got satisfactory views, several of us walked up the dike in hopes of closer photos. I got the above photo about halfway up and then everything flew. I did not get a flight photo, but Aaron did, showing the distinctive upper wing pattern

This was a Lifer for me that did not increase my life list.

Back in 2010, we had scheduled a trip to southeast Arizona. A Baikal Teal had been found in Phoenix, so we made a side trip up there to see it. Although we questioned its provenance, the state records committee accepted it, so we put it on our list. I was never really comfortable with that, so I am now dropping that sighting from my list and replacing it with this one.

Other than that bird, I had another Laysan Albatross and a few Short-tailed Shearwaters off the Seawall.

And 9 Black Scoters of Navfac Beach.

Black Scoters, Navfac Beach, Sept 25, 2023

While walking back from taking the above photo, I noticed that the Seaside Ragworts were in seed.

Seaside Ragwort, Navfac Beach, Sept 25, 2023

The seed head is very similar to a Dandelion’s.

My trip list is 59 and the annual list is 84.

You can see today’s eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150779532

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Temps in the 50s, light rain in the morning, mostly cloudy in the afternoon, Wind S 5-10 in the morning, switching to W 10-15 in the afternoon.

Weather, Sept 24, 2023

The Brambling is still hanging out at the High School Willows and Spruces.

I added a Common Loon at the Seawall to the trip list.

And the Pacific Golden-Plover continues to hang out on the road near the Breaches.

But the best news of the day happened when I approached The Marsh this morning. Aaron was there and told me they had just seen the Merlin and were scanning for it.

I drove up one side of the marsh while they drove up the center. When we met, I suggested that if I were a Merlin, I would be over at the Thrush Feeder (which is nearby).

We scanned over there and, sure enough, it was sitting on the fence near the feeder.

I raced over there and this is the result.

Merlin, Thrush feeder, Sept 24, 2023
Merlin, Thrush feeder, Sept 24, 2023

This was a new Adak bird for me — number 161!

The Trip List is now 58 and the Annual List is 83.

My highest fall trip was 63 in 2014 and my highest Annual List was 94 in 2013.

You can see today’s eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150706887

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Temps in the 50s, mostly cloudy, wind W 5-15 mph

Weather, Sept 23, 2023

Not many photo ops today, but a couple of good birds.

I went down to Finger Creek first thing this morning. Didn’t have anything new.

On the way back I stopped at the South Quarry where there were numerous Snow Buntings flitting about. I had stopped here on the 17th and had none. Then on the 19th there were a couple.

While I was sitting there enjoying the show, Aaron pulled up and informed me that they just had a Merlin at the North quarry (chasing Snow Buntings!). He said it flew off in this direction.

Merlin would be an Adak bird for me. Alas, I did not relocate it.

Also at the North quarry, on Lake Leone, one of the Tufted Ducks was present.

Back up in town, I saw the Gyrfalcon, but it vanished before I could grab the camera and jump out of the car.

Gerry and Linda left today. Aaron’s group will be here until Wednesday.

I worked my way up to Clam Lagoon and, just as Aaron’s group arrived, realized I had left my radio at the house. So I raced back to town, got the radio, and sped back up to the lagoon.

No sooner had I re-established radio-contact than Aaron told me they were looking at a Steller’s Eider!

I had one here before, but what a great trip bird it would be.

I went to their location (South Lookout) and saw it in the scope. I later measured the distance on a map. It was 1235 feet away. With heat waves! I never would have picked it out myself.

When I got around to the east side of the lagoon, I looked for it again (a little closer) but could not find it.

I will leave you today with a photo of the Adak Geyser. They call it Old Not Faithful, as it is totally unpredictable and I never had a photo-op before.

Or maybe it is just a broken water pipe down by Finger Bay…

The trip List is 56! and The Year List is 82.

You can see today’s eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150609995

Friday, September 22, 2023

Temps in the 50s, mostly cloudy, wind w 10-15 mph

Whoops! I forgot to take my weather photo this morning…

What a great day on Adak! Not a record-buster, but lots of good birds.

First, I joined Aaron and his group walking the Lagoon marsh edge. We had the usual Pecs and Sharp-tails.

When we got down to the southwest corner, we saw one or two teal fly into the creek that feeds the lagoon there.

Aaron and I decided to walk up the creek and see what else was there.

No sooner had we started than a large flock of teal exploded from up ahead — including the Garganey!

Garganey, Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2023
Garganey, Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2023

Late yesterday afternoon, Aaron had TWO Garganeys at Contractor’s Marsh! I could not relocate them today.

Later in the morning, I ate lunch at the National Forest. While I was there, the Yellow Warbler popped out (and right back in!).

I went back to town and at the High School Willows, I spotted the Brambling.

Brambling, near the High School Spruces, Sept 22, 2023

It flew from the willows down to the road and then up to the spruces and then back to the willows.

I headed back up to Clam Lagoon. While looking at some Black-legged Kittiwakes on the lagoon, I heard Cackling Geese going over.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2023

On the way to the Seawall, a Pacific Golden-Plover flew across the road and disappeared.

I was hoping to find the Greater scaup flock on Lake Shirley, as they weren’t on the lagoon. Aaron had seen a Lesser Scaup in the flock which I wanted to add to my trip list.

They were not there, so I drove up to Lake Ronnie, where waterfowl from Lake Shirley often go to rest and get away from hunters, etc.

On the way up the road, I found three Common Redpolls.

Common Redpoll, near Lake Smith, Sept 22, 2023

There were only Mallards and Pintails on Lake Ronnie.

However, on the way back past Lake Shirley, the scaup flock had arrived — along with the two Tufted Ducks and the Lesser Scaup.

The plover reappeared were I had last seen it. It flew down to the lagoon shoreline, where I got a photo.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2023

It was now late afternoon, so I went home, had dinner and then decided to go back out.

I went back up to Clam Lagoon to scope the feeding teal flock in hopes of seeing the Garganey not in flight. Unfortunately, the flock was not out tonight.

As I drove up the west side of the lagoon, I ran into Aaron who informed me that they just had a Skylark!

He gave me directions and off I went.

I found the bird!

Eurasian Skylark, northwest of Clam Lagoon, Sept 22, 2023

This bird looked very different from the one I had last September. Mine was an adult, this bird appears to be an immature.

Here is last year’s bird.

Eurasian Skylark, Clam Lagoon, Sept 29, 2022

So my trip list exploded to 54 and my Year List to 81. My average Fall list is only 51…

You can see today’s eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150530817

Great day!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Tempos in the 50s (got up to 60!), rain early, partly sunny afternoon, wind west 15-25 diminishing as the day went on.

Weather, Sept 21, 2023

The Emperor Geese were still at Clam Lagoon today.

As I was going around Clam Lagoon, Aaron told me he had two Tufted Ducks with a flock of Greater Scaup out on the lagoon earlier.

When I got to Lake Shirley, the flock had moved over there.

Tufted Duck, Lake Shirley, Sept 21, 2023

At the Seawall, I had an adult Common Murre with a not-quite-full-grown young.

Common Murres, Seawall,, Sept 21, 2023. Note the smaller size and shorter bill on the young bird.

However, the most exciting thing of the day was when I first approached the Adak National Forest. I saw a yellow bird dive into the spruces. At first, I wasn’t sure I had actually seen “yellow.” Lighting can play tricks on you.

But I waited patiently and after about 25 minutes out popped a Yellow Warbler! It was very uncooperative for photos, but I persisted.

This is only the second record for Adak and only the third for the Western Aleutians (Attu).

Yellow Warbler, Adak National Forest, Sept 21, 2023
Yellow Warbler, Adak National Forest, Sept 21, 2023
Yellow Warbler, Adak National Forest, Sept 21, 2023

This obviously is a new bird for my Adak list. Number 160!

When I ran into Aaron, I informed him bout the warbler and his group got to see it later today.

Later in the Afternoon, Aaron had a Brambling near the High School Spruces.

I went up to Clam Lagoon this evening and spent 45 minutes scouring the flock of teal having their evening repast. No Garganey…

I close with the Annual Mandatory Rainbow photo.

Rainbow, Sept 21, 2023

-My Trip List is 47 and Year List is 79.

You can see my eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150453187

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Temps in the 50s, partly sunny, Wind East light

Weather, Sept 20, 2023

Just like yesterday, there were many Short-tailed Shearwaters in Kuluk Bay at dawn. I managed to pick out a Black-footed Albatross among them.

All of the feeders are active now, with mostly Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches and a few Song Sparrows.

At the Thrush Feeder, a couple of eagles were patiently waiting their turn…

Bald Eagles, Thrush Feeder, Sept 20, 2023

The feeder is lower right.

At Clam Lagoon, I had two Peregrines cavorting overhead. The only shorebirds were three Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.

I went around to the Seawall and down to Candlestick Bridge, but found nothing new.

On the way back on the Seawall two American Pipits were in the middle of the road. American is still the only pipit I have seen on Adak.

American Pipit, Seawall, Sept 20, 2023
American Pipit, Seawall, Sept 20, 2023

Then, up at the north end of Clam Lagoon, I saw a different bird on the side of the road. It turned out to be a Common Redpoll (feeding on False Dandelions).

Common Redpoll, Clam Lagoon, Sept 20, 2023

So I added three birds to my Adak Year List (BF albatross, pipit, and redpoll), which now stands at 78.

My trip List is 44.

You can see my ebird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150379674

Aaron Lang’s group arrived this afternoon and, down at Sweeper Cove, they had a flock of Emperor Geese fly over.

A strong storm system is forecast to come through tonight. Fingers crossed…

Addendum: It is 9:15 pm and I just got back from Clam Lagoon. At 8:28, I got an email from Aaron that they just had a Garganey at Clam Lagoon (with the evening-feeding flock of Common Teal). See previous posts about this behavior.

Also, the Emperor Geese flock had put down up there.

So I jumped in the car and raced up before it got too dark. Unfortunately, the teal flock had gone to roost, but the geese were still there. Another trip bird.

I will try for the Garganey tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Temps in the 50s, Mostly cloudy, intermittent rain, wind NW 15-20 increasing to 20-30 mph

Weather, Sept 19, 2023

When we checked Kuluk Bay this morning, we found a 1000 or so Short-tailed Shearwaters swirling around the bay, but heading out. When we later got up to the Palisades Overlook, we could see them streaming by Zeto Point in a continuous, endless line. With a few Laysan Albatross thrown in.

At Sweeper Cove, I fund a Horned Puffin to add to the trip list.

We headed down to Finger Bay, but it started raining as we arrived, so we turned around and headed back. Up at the South Quarry, the rain let up and we found a flock of Snow Buntings.

As we were watching them, a Peregrine swooped in and started chasing them. It was not successful as we watched.

The Peregrine was an Adak Year Bird for me. I had Gyrfalcon back in May, but no Peregrine.

I later caught up with it again at Contractors Marsh vicinity.

Peregrine Falcon, near Airport Creek, Sept 19, 2023

After the falcon departed, Gerry spotted a flock of Aleutian Cackling Geese flying over. I had heard some earlier in the day, but couldn’t spot them.

We headed up to Clam Lagoon and when we got to the Peninsula parking spot, the two Western Sandpipers were out on the flats. But flew off shortly after I identified them.

On the other side of the lagoon, I walked out to The Breaches and found 2 Ruddy Turnstones and a dozen Rock Sandpipers, and a Black Oystercatcher.

Black Oystercatcher, The Breaches, Sept 19, 2023

When we were returning around the north end of the lagoon, I spotted the Turnstones on the north shoreline.

Ruddy Turnstone, Clam Lagoon, Sept 19, 2023

The pair at The Breaches had flown off while I was there, so I assume these were the same birds.

Gerry and Linda decided to head back to town, while I birded around some more. Gerry had strained his back a few days ago and was not up for a full days’ birding.

At Contractors Marsh (hereinafter, The Marsh) I had three Pectoral Sandpipers flush from a little wet area on the side of the road.

Down at Sweeper Cove, a winter-plumaged Pigeon Guillemot showed off.

Pigeon Guillemot, Sweeper Cove, Sept 19, 2023

My eBird checklist can be seen at: https://ebird.org/checklist/S150309448

The Trip List stands at 41 and the Year’s list is at 75.

Aaron Lang arrives tomorrow with a group from Wilderness Adventures. I hope I find something in the morning to start their trip off with a bang.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Temps in the 50s, overcast and rain until mid-afternoon, partly sunny afterwards, Wind SW 15 mph

Weather, Sept 18, 2023

The feeders are getting active with local birds. That’s a first step…

I had a couple of Ancient Murrelets near Sweeper Cove this morning.

The rain and wind made birding difficult for most of the morning and early afternoon.

As it started to lighten up I was at the Seawall and had a Red-throated Loon. This seems to be rather early and I suspect it was the same one I had on my last day here in the Spring (May 31). This is not a very good photo, but you can just make out the red throat.

Red-throated Loon, Seawall, Sept 18, 2023

The number of Red-necked Grebes keeps growing at the Seawall. Today I had 13.

This Common Murre was rather close in.

Common Murre, Seawall, Sept 18, 2023

It started to rain some more and, as I came back around to where the peninsula is, a large flock of waterfowl was near that shoreline.

As I pulled in to look them over, half of the flock flew off (but only 75 yards or so). As they flew off, two shorebirds flew in to take their place. A pair of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers in the classic juvenile plumage — red cap, orange breast, bold white line behind the eye.

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Clam Lagoon, Sept 18, 2023

I scoured the waterfowl flock (especially the teal) hoping to find something different. To no avail. Just Mallards, Pintails, Common Teal, and Common Eiders.

By the time I got back to town, the rain had stopped and the sun was out.

I made a pit stop at the house, then got gas for the car and headed back up to Warbler Willows and Adak National Forest. No luck at either location, but I updated my photo of Adak National Forest.

Adak National Forest, Sept 18, 2023

To top off the day, I took my mandatory eagle photo. This time a pair of young-uns.

Bald Eagles, Contractor’s Marsh, Sept 18, 2023

The trip list is 33. No new year birds.

My eBird list is at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150243409

Sunday, September 7, 2023

Temps in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional drizzle, Wind WSW 10-15 mph

Weather, Adak, Sept 17, 2023

A few nice birds today, but no rarities.

No birds at any of the feeders yet.

There were four Black Oystercatchers on one of the rocky islands off Sweeper Cove.

I had both species of Murre in Sweeper Cove.

There are a lot of curious young Pacific Wrens around this time of year.

Pacific Wren, Adak National Forest, Sept 17, 2023

Up at the Palisades Overlook, I found 3 Black Scoters ad 25 White-winged Scoters.

Up at Clam Lagoon, I walked the penisula and marsh edge. There was nothing on the peninsula, but the marsh edge produced a few birds.

First was a pair of Western Sandpipers.

Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 17, 2023
Western Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, Sept 17, 2023

They flew off and were joined by a third peep (identity unknown).

A little farther up the edge I flushed a Pectoral and a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper together.

At the north end of the lagoon, I found a Northern Shoveler (not a common bird on Adak).

Northern Shoveler, Clam Lagoon, Sept 17, 2023

Back down at Sweeper Channel, the tide was going out and there were 10 Rock Sandpipers there, doing their best Purple Sandpiper impersonations…

Rock Sandpipers, Sweeper Channel, Sept 17, 2023

I had three Common Ravens today (up from two in May).

And spotted my first Black-legged Kittiwakes for the trip.

I had 28 Bald Eagles today, way up from last year. It looks that they are recovering from whatever crashed their population here the past few years.

The trip list stands at 31.

I added 4 birds to my Adak Year’s list which now stands at 74 (Western, Pectoral, and Sharp-tailed sandpipers and Black-legged Kittiwake).

You can see my daily eBird list at https://ebird.org/checklist/S150170818