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

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:

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

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

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Temp in the 50s, mostly sunny, light West wind

Not a great start!

My flight from Philly to Chicago was slightly early

Most of the time, his flight flies across southern Pennsylvania, but today it took the northern route and we flew over Presque Isle State Park.

The Chicago/Anchorage flight was about an hour late. Then my rental car was not ready when I arrived and I had to wait another half-hour or so for that.

I got to the hotel, unpacked some things and headed out to shop for food for Adak. However, my Garmin GPS went on the fritz and I had to use my phone instead. But since I didn’t have a mount for it (unlike the Garmin), I had to be constantly looking down to see the directions. Not a good way to drive.

I managed to get the shopping done, but had no time to go out birding. I was meeting fellow Pennsylvania birders Gerry and Linda Kruth for dinner. They are joining me on the island for a week.

We had a nice dinner and I went back to the hotel and crashed (not the car — me!).

Saturday’s flight to Adak arrived a little early.

On the way in, we got a wonderful look at Mt Sitkin (the active volcano about 30 miles east of Adak).

We got to our rental houses, unpacked the essentials and put away our food and headed out to do some birding.

Not much to report.

It was balmy, and we didn’t find any birds of note. Along the way we erected four bird feeders.

I showed Gerry and Linda some of the locations and we walked out the Clam Lagoon Peninsula. No shorebirds…

Only 16 species, all expected.

You can see my eBird checklist at

We will be doing a much more thorough search tomorrow.

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