Saturday, September 30, 2023

What did I say about finding birds blown in by yesterday’s winds?

Temp in the low 50s, mostly cloudy, Wind N 5-15 mph

Weather, Sept 30, 2023

I got my luggage to the airport before 9 AM, then went out birding. I had to be back at the airport around 12:30, so no time to waste.

Nothing new at the High School or Warbler Willows.

I pulled up to the Adak National Forest, opened my window and started pishing (hoping the Yellow Warbler was still there).

Instead, out popped a Ruby-crowned Kinglet! A first for Adak! And me…

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Adak National Forest, Sept 30, 2023

I guess I will be going home in a good mood today!

A few minutes later, the Yellow Warbler also popped out.

Yellow Warbler, Adak National Forest, Sept 30, 2023

I then headed up to Clam Lagoon. I didn’t have time to walk the marsh edge, but a quick walk out the peninsula would be okay. I hadn’t seen a single shorebird on the peninsula this trip (very unusual), but I am a glutton for punishment…

About halfway out, a small plover (Semipalmated size) flew in.

I immediately got my hopes up. First, I have never seen a Semipalmated Plover later than Sept 13. Next, this bird had a REALLY broad breastband. Could it be a Common Ringed Plover?


Common Ringed Plover, Clam Lagoon, Sept 30, 2023
Common Ringed Plover, Clam Lagoon, Sept 30, 2023
Common Ringed Plover, Clam Lagoon, Sept 30, 2023

Note: No eye-ring (Semipalmated Plovers have eye-rings in all plumages). The black on the lores goes all the way down to the base of the gape (On semis it does not go down that far). There is webbing only between the two outer toes (Semis have webbing between all of the toes).

A Lifer!. The second record for Adak.

I am going home a VERY happy camper!

The Trip List ended at 67 and the Annual List at 88.

You can see today’s eBird list at

And the eBird Trip List at

What a great trip!

Every trip out here is different.

There was a great lack of shorebirds (but the plover made up for that!).

The Baikal Teal and Garganeys were exceptional.

And dickey-birds were good.

I added one-and-a-half lifers (Common Ringed Plover and Baikal Teal)

I added 5 (YES 5!) birds to my Adak list (Baikal Teal, Common Ringed Plover, Merlin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Yellow Warbler). I am now at 166!!

I added one new species to the Adak List (Ruby-crowned Kinglet)

I leave you with a parting view of Clam Lagoon. I can almost see the plover waving goodbye to me…

Clam Lagoon, Sept 30, 2023

Back in May 24…

Friday, September 29, 2023

What a loverly day on Adak…

Temp 50, overcast, intermittent rain, wind ENE 25-30 mph

Weather, Sept 29, 2023

Hard birding.

Even many of the eagles stayed grounded!

Longspurs were hard to come by.

But a few highlights.

I had a Common Snipe at the Marsh.

Two young Horned Puffins at Sweeper Cove (too far for photos).

I had bemoaned the lack of kittiwakes other than at the Loran Station. Well not today!

I counted at least 155 in Sweeper Cove.

Black-legged Kittiwakes, Sweeper Cove, Sept 29, 2023

In lieu of birds, here are some scenes from today.

Clam Lagoon, Sept 29, 2023
Kuluk Bay, Sept 29, 2023

Here are some pictures of the eroding road at Clam Lagoon.

As you can see, the roadbed is undercut by several feet on both sides. I hope they fix this before my next trip.

The Trip List remains at 65 and the Annual List at 86.

Today’s eBird list can be seen at

The eBird Trip Report can be seen at

I leave tomorrow, so my next post will not be until Monday morning or Sunday night, depending on how tired I am.

Weather conditions will be much better tomorrow, so maybe I will get lucky and find something that today’s winds blew in… But not much birding time tomorrow (only a few hours).

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Temps in the lower 50s, overcast, wind calm becoming NW 5-0 mph

Weather, Sept 28, 2023

Aaron mentioned that he had an American Wigeon on Palisades Lake a few days ago. I had seen that flock of Wigeon (5), but didn’t pay attention to them.

The flock was back on the lake today and the American was still with them.

I spotted two Crested Auklets at the Kuluk Bay Seaweed Patch. I have had Cresteds in the fall in the past. It is the only auklet that I have seen semi-regularly from Adak without a boat trip.

The Airport Ditch can host shorebirds when the water level is down and today I found a Pectoral Sandpiper there.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Airport Ditch, Sept 28, 2023

On Sept 18, I had an adult Red-throated Loon at the Seawall. Last week, Aaron had an immature Red-throated Loon (I forget where). Today I had both birds together on Clam Lagoon.

Red-throated Loon (adult left and immature), Clam Lagoon, Sept 28, 2023

I did not go over to the Seawall today. Or Lake Shirley. Or the Breaches…

This is why.

Clam Lagoon has a road that circles it. This is terrific for birders, as it gives viewing access to all parts of the lagoon plus the Breaches, Seawall, Lake Shirley, Lake Ronnie, the east side of the lagoon, and Zeto Point.

These are all vital birding areas.

Unfortunately, a dozen or so years ago, some of the timbers holding up Candlestick Bridge (which crosses the inlet at the south end of the lagoon) collapsed, leading to the closure of the bridge. So, to bird Clam Lagoon, you have to drive up the west shore, across the north shore and down the east shore. Then reverse…

This is not necessarily bad. It gives you two shots at each location along the way.

At the north end of the lagoon, there are several feeder streams. These cross the road via pipes below the road.

In the last few years, the fill around two of those pipes has been eroding away, leaving just one lane to get over those pipes.

At the second one you come to, the road is gone on the north side of the road. I noticed this trip that a sinkhole had developed on the south side of this crossing.

Yesterday, I made the unfortunate (or fortunate) decision to look at the crossing to see how bad it was.

It is BAD!

The road is undercut from both sides by several feet. This is a gravel road, by the way.

I have no idea why this road has not collapsed. There is nothing supporting the existing edges. The fill must have been packed so firmly that it still is holding together like concrete.

However, I have sworn off driving across this pipe.

It is going to collapse when the next vehicle crosses, or the tenth, or the fiftieth. I can’t say which, but I am not going to be it.

I have notified the locals about how bad this is and recruited the other birder/hunter/fishermen/tourists hosts/guides to lobby the local officials to get these pipes repaired. They certainly don’t want one of their customers crashing through one of these crossings!

I understand that they have the materials, just some bureaucratic holdup has prevented the repairs up till now.

So for today and the next few days, I will not be going over to the Seawall, etc.

Suffice it to say, if these pipes do not get fixed by next May, I will not be coming back. I don’t see much point to birding on Adak if I can’t get to these vital birding spots.

On a lighter note, here is a closer look at the “geyser” on a lower-flow day…

Also, I had a Harbor Porpoise at Sweeper Cove today. I had one there a few years ago. Same circumstances. I saw it breech a couple of times. Grabbed the camera. Never saw it again…

This is the only sea mammal I have seen this trip other than otters and seals.

The Trip List is now 65 and the Annual List is 86.

You can see today’s eBird list at

And the eBird Trip List at

One more full day of birding…

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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

Weather, Sept 27, 2023

Nothing new at Sweeper Channel, so I went up to the High School Willows/Spruces. I had a flock of Snow Buntings there.

Snow Bunting, High School Spruces, Sept 27, 2023

An hour later, Aaron came by there and had 5 Brambling! This has been the story of this last week. I would bird a spot and find nothing significant. Then Aaron would come by and find something good!

I came back later and found three of them.

Brambling, near High School Willows, Sept 27, 2023

The Black Scoter flock off Navfac Beach has grown to 14.

Although I complain about my experiences out at the Loran Station, I continue to go out there at least once each trip just because… Today, I decided to go out there to get Tufted Puffin, which I had missed so far this trip. Mission accomplished. I also had one Laysan Albatross fly by (distantly). No other pelagic birds.

I have been wondering why I was seeing so few Black-legged Kittiwakes off the Seawall and the Palisades. It turns out they were all up at the Loran station. There were hundreds. I don’t know why they aren’t frequenting the other parts of the island.

After dinner, I went back up to Clam Lagoon to see if the teal were doing their evening feeding, but the tide was still too low.

However, I finally found the Sanderling flock that Gerry and Linda had seen last week.

Sanderling (and a Glaucous-winged Gull), Clam Lagoon, Sept 27, 2023

Aaron’s group left today, so I am the only birder here. I leave on Saturday.

The Trip List is 63 and the Annual List is 85.

You can see today’s eBird list at

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

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

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

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

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

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