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…