Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, occasional light shower, Wind South 15-20 mph.

Here is the chick-pic for the trip…

Rock Ptarmigan, Adak, September 21, 2022

The Tufted Duck is still here (not surprised…).

On the walk out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula, I found this octopus.

Octopus, Clam Lagoon, September 21, 2022

I picked up Black Oystercatcher and White-winged Scoter at the Seawall.

The Pectoral Sandpiper that I had there yesterday was at the same spot today.

A Red-faced Cormorant came close enough for a photo.

Red-faced Cormorant, Seawall, September 21, 2022

I had a bit of excitement at Janet’s Cove (on the Seawall) today.

I had just pulled in when I heard a loud call with which I was unfamiliar (There are a lot of calls in that category!).

So I pulled out my phone, and set Merlin to record. For those of you who may not know what Merlin is, it is an app from Cornell that records bird calls and tries to identify them (mostly successfully).

As soon as it recorded this mystery call, it flashed on the screen “Common Ringed Plover!!!” (without the exclamation points)

A very rare bird in the Aleutians There is one record for Adak and one was seen on St.Paul a few weeks ago.

So I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car and worked my way down towards the beach. Not only couldn’t I find a plover, there were no shorebirds at all.

The bird was still calling out in front of me, but I had gotten to the edge of the beach and the only birds in front of me were a couple of Common Murres — an adult and a young-un.

I could not tell if they were making the sounds. I heard the typical ‘grunt/moan’ call several times, but never saw either bird open its beak to make any sound.

Nevertheless, the only answer was the murres.

The apps on my phone just had the standard murre calls, nothing like what I heard.

When I got back to the house, I went to eBird and brought up Common Murre recordings.

I finally found one whose sonogram looked similar to the Merlin recording.

It was a juvenile Common Murre!

I assume it is some kind of begging call.

This reminds me of last year when I was walking along a wooded trail near home and turned on Merlin to see what I was missing and it brought up White-winged Scoter!

Merlin is terrific, but you have to confirm visually what is making the call.

So, a learning experience, rather than a mega-bird…

Later on, I decided to take a drive up to White Alice. I hadn’t seen any Snow Buntings yet and that is a good place to get them.

No luck on the buntings, but on a pond just before White Alice, I found three Greater Scaup — two adults and one somewhat-downy young. It must have been a very late nesting.

Downy Greater Scaup with two adults. It must have been a very late nesting.

Just a side note. I have had Mallards and Northern Pintails with young in May up here.

The trip list is 43.

My eBird list can be seen at

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, almost calm at dawn, growing to South wind 20-25 mph by sunset

Too nice…

Sunrise, September 20, 2022

I have been out to the Loran Station with winds from every direction and have never had much luck (at least compared to the stories I hear from other birders about all of the close pelagics streaming by!).

So I decided I would try on a day with no wind.

Same result. Although I did pick up a Black-footed Albatross.

But everything was way out — no closer than the birds I see at the Seawall.

Oh well…

When I got back to the lagoon, Aaron told me they had a Brambling out on the peninsula. So I hoofed it out there and, of course, no Brambling! Unlike the rare birds I find (which stay put so the other birders can come and see them) the birds Aaron’s group find don’t stick around for my arrival!

In addition to the albatross, the highlights of my day were a Pine Siskin at the National Forest and three Sanderlings on the lagoon.

The Sanderlings are important because in the past, flocks of Sanderlings (is three a flock?) usually attracted other shorebird passers-by.

We will see over the next few days.

It is often the case this time of year that Pectoral Sandpipers are common on the island and can pop up almost anywhere.

This one was on the side of the road at the Seawall.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Seawall, September 20, 2022

Another abundant bird this time of year is immature Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches. Very different-looking than the colorful adults.

This one was at the Seawall.

Young Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Seawall, September 20, 2022

The trip list is 41.

My daily eBird list can be seen at

Heavy rain and wind expected tonight. Maybe it will knock something out of the sky for us…

Monday, September 19, 2022

I got one right!

Temp in the 50s, partly sunny, occasional (very) light shower in the morning, Wind WNW 5-10 mph

I decided to do Finger Creek this morning, to look for tattlers, etc.

No luck on the tattlers, but at the North Quarry, on Lake Leone, I found a Tufted Duck! This is awfully early for this species, so I suspect that the lingering Tufted Duck I had in the spring, lingered on…

Distant, but identifiable photo.

Tufted Duck (left) with two Greater Scaup, Lake Leone, September 19, 2022

I radioed Aaron about it and his group came down and saw it. A lifer for one of them.

I checked numerous spots (at a leisurely pace), but found nothing new.

I met up again with Aaron at Haven Lake around noon. He was taking his group back for lunch, while I headed up towards Clam Lagoon. I was going to walk the peninsula, while they were later going to walk the marsh edge.

I walked out the peninsula and three quarters of the way out spotted a peep hiding behind a rock.

Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022

As I approached, it flew over to an exposed sand island and then let me photograph it to my heart’s content.

I wasn’t sure at first (with my history of misidentifying stints), but thought it might be a Little Stint.

I took a lot of photos, then headed back to the car. Once there, I reviewed the photos and convinced myself that it was indeed a Little Stint.

I got on the radio to call Aaron and, amazingly, they had just crested the hill coming down to the lagoon and were within range.

They arrived at my location in a few minutes and we walked back out the peninsula.

The bird was still there and Aaron confirmed my identification.

It was a lifer for most of the group, including Aaron Bowman, the co-leader!

Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022
Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022
Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022. Note bold white ‘V’ on back.
Little Stint, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022. Note black scapulars and tertials.

I finally got one right…

The bird was most cooperative and they all got umpteen photos.

They went to walk the marsh edge while I continued elsewhere.

Further up the lagoon, I found a Pelagic Cormorant that was unusually close. Most of the cormorants up here are wary.

An unusually close Pelagic Cormorant, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022.

I found nothing else of note, but on the way back down the lagoon, Aaron radioed me that they had seen another (or the same) Little Stint at the south end of the marsh edge. However, all the birds in the area were flushed by a patrolling Peregrine, so there was no way to determine if this was the same bird or not.

The Peregrine soared over me as I was receiving this news.

Peregrine Falcon, Clam Lagoon, September 19, 2022

So, a good day for all.

The trip list is 39.

You can see the eBird list at

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Temp in the 50s, mostly cloudy, rain at dawn, occasional very light sprinkles later, Wind WSW 5 mph

No rarities, but lots of photo ops…

The usual alcids were in and near Sweeper Cove: murres, murrelets, puffins, guilemots, etc.

Kuluk Bay (and later, the Seawall) had tons of alcids way out. I don’t care much about looking a dots, so I concentrate on the closer birds. If I really tried, I could triple (or more) all of my alcid counts on eBird.

No birds at the town feeders so far.

Had a few Rock Sandpipers at Sweeper Channel. Here’s a photo from later in the day.

Rock Sandpiper, Landing Lights Jetty, September 18, 2022

When I got to Contractor’s Camp Marsh, Aaron’s group was already there. While they walked the marsh, I checked the Thrush Feeder and other nearby areas.

The Thrush Feeder was alive with activity, with many Rosy-finches, Longspurs, and Song Sparrows feeding away.

On the fence nearby, were two Pine Siskins. If you read my bog from May, you already know that siskins have been wintering on Adak in recent years. Well, this year they stayed and nested! So no surprise to see these two today.

Pine Siskins, near Thrush Feeder, September 18, 2022

Aaron’s group had both Common and Wilson’s snipe and a Wood Sandpiper in the marsh.

Neither Warbler Willows nor Adak National Forest produced any birds.

At Clam Lagoon, I walked out the peninsula and then down the marsh edge.

Nothing on the peninsula, but the marsh edge was active.

There were at least four Long-billed Dowitchers, two Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and an unknown number of Pectoral Sandpipers (I’m guessing six).

The birds were constantly flushing (although I was trying to avoid that) and circling around, some landing behind me, some in front. So it was difficult to keep track of the actual numbers.

Long-billed Dowitchers, Clam Lagoon, September 18, 2022
Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 18, 2022
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (left) and Pectoral Sandpiper, Clam Lagoon, September 18, 2022

Also, Aaron’ group spotted a Pacific Golden-Plover on the flats, but I missed it.

At the Breaches, there were three Ruddy Turnstones.

Ruddy Turnstone, The Breaches, September 18, 2022

At the Seawall, I found two Horned Grebes (a species I missed in May) as well as several Red-necked Grebes. There was a steady stream of hundreds and hundreds of Short-tailed Shearwaters going by (scope-birds), but I couldn’t pick out any albatross.

There were several flocks of Common Eider in various plumages.

Common Eider, Seawall, September 18, 2022

A Pacific Wren looked angrily at me…

Aleutian Pacific Wren, Seawall, September 18, 2022

A flock (one of three today) of Aleutian Cackling Geese flew over.

Aleutian Cackling Geese, Seawall, September 18, 2022

There were Eurasian Wigeon, Greater Scaup, and Northern Pintails on Lake Shirley

The east shore of the lagoon was the same as the other side: gulls and ducks.

Up at the Blue Building, a Peregrine Falcon zipped by. No activity at that feeder, yet.

Heading back towards town I found a skate washed up on the beach at Landing Lights./

Skate, Landing Lights Beach, September 18, 2022

And a Song Sparrow posed nicely.

Aleutian Song Sparrow, Adak, September 18, 2022

Winds have been westerly since we arrived and are forecast to be so the rest of the week. That should bring in some new birds.

My trip list is 36.

My day’s list is at

Friday and Saturday, September 16 & 17, 2022

Temp in the 50s, partly cloudy, wind WSW 15 mph

The flights on Friday were early. I got my rental car, checked in to the hotel and then went food shopping.

I then did a little birding. Just the usual suspects, but a couple of nice photos.

Sandhill Cranes, Audubon Bench, Anchorage, Sept 16, 2022
A sleepy Greater Yellowlegs, Audubon Bench, Anchorage, Sept 16, 2022

Saturday morning, I got up early in a race to be first up the Arctic Valley Road in hopes of finding a grouse or ptarmigan out on the road.

I got there just before “first light,” so it was still pretty dark.

As I drove past the golf course at the bottom of the road, I noticed a cop in a patrol car sitting off the roadside. I continued driving slowly up the mountain and about halfway up, I saw headlights coming up from behind me. So I pulled off to let the car go by, but instead it pulled up next to me. It was the cop (rather curious about this slow-moving car in the dark…).

He asked me what was happening and I flashed my binos (as all good birders do) and explained my mission of being first up the road looking for grouse, etc. Not only did he buy that, but he said “Okay, I will turn around instead of going to the top.”

I have had a number of birder/cop interactions over the years — most of them positive.

I am adding this one to that positive list.

I didn’t see any chickens, but I had several Varied Thrushes feeding on the road in the dark. It was so dark, this was the best my camera could do.

Varied Thrush, Arctic Valley, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2022

Nothing else of note, but I had some Common Mergansers down on Ship Creek.

Common Mergansers, Ship Creek, Anchorage, Sept 17, 2022

I went to the airport and met Aaron Lang who is leading a Wilderness Adventures tour out here this week. Two leaders and six birders.

The flight left on time, but was fighting strong headwinds all the way resulting in a late arrival. It then took an hour to get our luggage (don’t get me started!).

So it was after 4 pm before I got out to do any birding.

Unfortunately, the typhoon that passed through here Thursday and Friday did NOT leave the trees (what few there are) dripping with Asian vagrants.

So it looks like we will have to find our rarities the hard way, as usual…

I had a flock of 6 Ruddy Turnstones at Clam Lagoon and Aaron reported some Laysan Albatrosses and Short-tailed Shearwaters out in Kuluk Bay, but that was about it.

We both started putting seed out at the various feeders.

We will have a more through and leisurely pace tomorrow.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Temp in the 40s, partly sunny, light NE wind

There were only 28 godwits here today. I only saw Bar-tailed.

After several days of little birdlife at the Seawall, today I found Pacific, Arctic, and Common loon!

But the best bird was a Crested Auklet. With the 60X scope, I could see the crest, orange bill, and dark gray belly, but it was a little too far for details with the camera. Although, you can see the crest.

Crested Auklet, Seawall, June 4, 2022

I have had immature Crested Auklets in the fall in Sweeper Cove, but this is the first one in breeding plumage that I have seen from shore.

This made the trip list 68, one more than average. Of course, each time I get more than average, I up the average!

You can see today’s list at

And the total Trip Report at

All of my flights left early, but I arrive without my checked luggage. This is the first time that has happened to my except for cancelled/re-booked flights.

The trip was a good one (it is only great when I get a lifer).

I I have never been on the island for two weeks without a single day of westerly winds! No W, no SW, no NW, no NNW, no SSW, etc.

Yet, we had some good birds in spite of the nice weather.

Semi-lifers included a female Black-tailed Godwit, black-backed variety of White Wagtail, and a spring Gray-tailed Tattler.

Birds of note included the Black-tailed Godwits, black-backed variety of White Wagtail, both Gray-tailed and Wandering tattler, up to 10 Bramblings, Pine Siskins, Crested Auklet, Tundra Swan, Barrow’s Goldeneye, all of the Short-eared Owl sightings, and Least Sandpiper.

And to top off the trip, another Short-eared Owl posed for my final photo of the trip.

Short-eared Owl, Clam Lagoon, June 4, 2022

I will be back on Adak September 17 to Oct 1, 2022.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Temp in the 40s, overcast til late afternoon, then partly sunny, rain til 9 am then again from noon to 5:30 pm, winds SE 5-10 mph

Try as I might, I couldn’t find one more bird to get me over my spring average of 67.

Maybe tomorrow.

Only 28 godwits today. All Bar-tailed.

A Brambling was at the Seal Drive feeder this evening.

Late Common Goldeneye and American Wigeon were the only waterfowl of interest.

This ptarmigan posed so nicely, I just had to include his pic.

Rock Ptarmigan, Adak, June 3, 2022

I fly out tomorrow at 3 PM and expect to get home late afternoon on Sunday.

My wrap-up trip post will be done Monday morning, eastern time.

Today’s list can be seen at

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Temp in the 40s. partly sunny in the AM, overcast in the PM, Wind light East

I designated this to be my “slow” day.

I would drive 5 mph instead of 15, and linger longer at each stop. Just to see if it made any difference.

No so much…


Being here only in May and September slants my impression of Adak’s birdlife.

When I arrived a week-and-a-half ago, I was excited (maybe that’s too strong a word) about there being 4 Pine Siskins here.

Well, I just learned from Lisa (the refuge manager here) that flocks of Pine Siskins have been wintering regularly on Adak for a number of years now! But they usually depart before birders start arriving in May.

So siskins on Adak aren’t rare, just the timing.

And there are both males and females here. At least one has set up territory over at the High School Spruces.

So we may be adding a new breeding bird to the island.

Two were still visiting my feeder today.

I found the Tufted Duck today, after missing it yesterday. Here is a nice comparison shot with a Greater Scaup. You can figure out which is which…

Tufted Duck and Greater Scaup, Airport Ponds, June 2, 2022

The godwits are all still here. They were on Clam Lagoon this morning and Palisades Beach in the afternoon.

There is a pond just across the road from the West Lookout at Clam Lagoon.

This morning, there was one of the Common Mergansers there.

Common Merganser, near Clam Lagoon, June 2, 2022

When I came by this afternoon, a female Greater Scaup unexpectedly allowed me to get its photo.

Greater Scaup, near Clam Lagoon, June 2, 2022

Most of the waterfowl up here fly when you get within 100 yards. They are so pursued by hunters all winter that they are REALLY jumpy!

Also, pretty much all of the scaup are paired up now. So this lone female out on the Clam Lagoon flats caught my eye at first. It then flew over to this pond where I got the photo.

Three Buffleheads on Shotgun Lake are a bit late.

The Mount Sitkin volcano (30 miles east of Adak) has been active the past couple of years. It is now building a new lava dome (the black area), as can be seen in these comparison photos.

Mount Sitkin, May 22, 2016
Mount Sitkin, June 2, 2022

The trip list is stuck on 67.

Today’s total list can be seen at

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Now this is more like Adak weather…

Temp in the 40s, rain all day, Wind ESE 15-30 mph

It poured all night, and kept raining today. There were very brief moments of respite, with emphasis on brief!

I didn’t take a single photo today.

There were 34 Bar-tailed Godwits and two Black-tailed still here

At least two Pine Siskins remain.

The only bird I added for the trip was a Gyrfalcon up at Clam Lagoon.

Here is a nice tern photo from a few days ago.

Aleutian Tern, Clam Lagoon, May 25, 2022

The gang of five left today, so I will be the lone birder on the island for the remainder of my trip (I leave on Saturday).

They were very pleased with their trip. At least one of them got 30 lifers!

Five happy Godwit-watchers at Clam Lagoon (from left to right – Steve, Bo, Dave, David, & Tammy)

The trip list is now 67, which is average for my May trips. Two-and-a-half days to go.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The weather is a-changin…

Temp in the 40s, overcast, rain starting around 6 pm, Wind SE 10-20 mph

It is feeling more like Adak again. Rain and wind and cold.

Unfortunately, the wind is still going to be easterly for the rest of my stay here.

However, the worsening weather might still blow in some interesting birds.

The Tufted Duck is still on the Airport Ponds.

And the godwits are all still here.

I spoke too soon about the Bramblings having left, I found one this morning.

Brambling, near Seal Drive Feeder, May 31, 2022

And at least two siskins are still here.

There were two late Common Goldeneyes on Lake Shirley, and the other guys had a flock of Aleutian Cackling Geese fly over.

No other birds stood out as new.

Speaking of bird seed…

Some earlier group had brought bird seed out that had a lot of red millet in it. It is still on the feeders. Not even the rats or ravens will eat it!

If you are thinking about a trip to Adak, PLEASE don’t bring seed with Red millet in it!

The trip list remains at 66.

Today’s totals van be viewed at