May 26 – Anchorage Birding

It was a busy day, doing all the stuff that needed doing between trips. I did take time to go to Potter Marsh this morning, where I was surprised to see both a Killdeer and a Short-eared Owl as I walked the boardwalk. No new year-birds, however.

I then went to the Chester Creek Trail south-west of Westchester Lagoon, where the Franklin’s Gulls that were first found at Ship Creek a few days ago were again spotted last night by Tim Stevenson. I was delighted to find that there were still two FRANKLIN’S GULLS far out on the edge of the mudflats initially near a Bonaparte’s Gull, allowing a handy comparison of their sizes and back color, and I could see the very distinct white eye crescents of the Franklin’s Gulls and the lack of similar crescents on the Bonaparte’s Gull. Other local birders came along and confirmed that I was indeed looking at the Franklin’s Gulls should I have had any doubt about it. Below is the least crummy of my generally crummy photos of the distant Franklin’s Gulls in which at least the face markings can be seen if one works at it.


The local Anchorage birders were also delighted to see that there was a Black Oystercatcher on the beach, a rarity for this area.

After that, I went back to my non-birding tasks, including packing for my Gambell-Nome trips that begin tomorrow morning. I am definitely looking forward to them!

216 bird species so far

May 26 – Bird Pictures from St. Paul

In this post I am showing a selection, in no particular order, of some of my favorite bird pictures and/or pictures of my favorite birds from St. Paul a couple of days ago (when I was unable to post my pictures).

Puffins – Horned and Tufted





Murres – Common and Thick-billed




Auklets – Crested



Kittiwakes – Red-legged and Black-legged



Red-faced Cormorants


Wood Sandpiper


Common Greenshank


Stints, Long-toed



Curlew Sandpiper



In my next post I will show a few pictures of scenes and people on the St. Paul Island trip.


May 25 – Last Day of Spring Visit to St. Paul Island

I am home in Anchorage. With a lot of experimentation, it turned out that the camera ScanDisc card seems to be damaged which was the reason I could not download my pictures. So, we went to the late-open store, bought new cards and a card-reader. Although the old card when in my camera or my husband’s camera could not be read, it could be read when the new card-reader was inserted in the computer USB port. So I am able to post some pictures today and will as soon as possible try to post a few more from St. Paul Island.

I did not add any new birds today for my big year, but it was a good day with additional views of the cliff-nesting birds (puffins, murres, auklets, Red-faced Cormorants), Pacific Wrens as well as the Lapland Longspurs, Rock Sandpipers, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches.IMG_1589A




We some time today at fur seal overlooks, since some of the males are beginning to come to land.



One of our drives today was blocked by a huge herd of reindeer extending across the road and on both sides of the road.


Shortly before it was time to board the plane, we went back to Hutchinson Hill where yesterday’s Siberian Rubythroat and Northern Wheatear had been seen. I did not (again) get pictures of the rubythroat. Yesterday’s wheatear pictures are better than what I was able to get today so one of them is posted here.


Tomorrow will be laundry, client work, chores, and packing for the Gambell-Nome trip that starts the next day. A nutty birder’s work is never done.

215 species so far

May 24 – St. Paul Island Day 3, More Special Birds

Again, I cannot load any photos to my tablet so no pictures of today’s birding to post. It was a wonderful day although for the first half of it I thought that I would not add any new year-birds. I knew I had seen all the expected ones and then some out here in the first two wonderful days.

But this afternoon as we did a sweep of Hutchinson Hill, things suddenly got better. As someone called out a NORTHERN WHEATEAR, I looked around, saw it, and then had no time for a picture because someone called out SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT. I had expected that I would see a Wheatear this year, probably in Nome. I did not expect a Rubythroat particularly in spring. Once we all saw the latter, we sat down to await the other birding bus on the island so they could have a chance at these birds and we would not disturb them. While we waited, the Wheatear, which had disappeared while we all got on the Rubythroat, reappeared and allowed a few photos. Hopefully I will be able to post them later.

After that I thought the excitement was over and settled down to routine birding the various sites with the group. After another delicious supper we went to the spot (Polovina Point) where we had unsuccessfully searched earlier this week where a Curlew Sandpiper had been seen before we arrived on the island. To my amazement, leader Stephan Lorenz spotted the bird out in the kelp-covered puddle area below us and got us all on the CURLEW SANDPIPER. Again, I do have pictures to be posted eventually.

Tomorrow is my last day on St. Paul until fall migration time.

215 species so far

May 23 – Second Great Day on St. Paul Island

Well, apparently I am not able to download pictures to my notebook and therefore I will not be able to post pictures until either I get home or I figure out what the problem is.

It was a great day today and I did take many pictures. I did not think it was possible but I added even more birds to my year list today than yesterday. In order seen they were: PARAKEET AUKLET (hundreds), LEAST AUKLET (maybe 25), KING EIDER (2), HORNED PUFFIN (15), THICK-BILLED MURRE (10), COMMON SANDPIPER (2), RED PHALAROPE (1), and GLAUCOUS GULL (1). We also had a Brambling, numerous sightings of Wood Sandpipers and Long-toed Stints, Northern Fulmars, Tufted Puffins, Pacific Wrens, as well as a few sightings of the Common Greenshank and the Bar-tailed Godwit, and of course the usual ducks and passerines (Snow Bunting, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Lapland Longspur) and Rock Sandpipers.

212 species so far

May 22 – St. Paul Island, Wonderful First Day

St. Paul Island was inundated with a planeful of birders today, of which I am one. After lugging our gear to our rooms we headed out in three vans to try to find some very wanted shorebirds that had been seen on the island. It was a bit windy but no rain today. Nice. Today I rode in a van with Scott Schuette, the Tour Director for St. Paul Island Tours.



Although birds were my main goal (as usual), I was glad to see some of the island’s reindeer.


Our first stop was a marsh behind Weather Bureau Lake where it did not take us long to find the previously reported multiple WOOD SANDPIPERS and a couple of LONG-TOED STINTS. So far I haven’t gotten acceptable photos of either species although I have seen both well through binoculars and spotting scope. At and around the lake itself were many RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, an island specialty which we should see on the nesting cliffs tomorrow.

After a very delicious supper, we went back out to Salt Lagoon where we had a single SLATY-BACKED GULL, and a very cooperative COMMON GREENSHANK working the edge of the lake and a very photogenic LESSER SAND-PLOVER on the mudflats. Three of these new birds (the Stint, Greenshank and Sand-Plover) were birds that I have not seen before in Alaska and were very exciting additions to my year list.

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In addition to the new year birds, other birds seen today included a single Bar-tailed Godwit, Snow Buntings, and the common Lapland Longspurs and Rock Sandpipers.

Tomorrow I expect to get sightings and photos of many of the birds that nest on St. Paul’s cliffs.

204 species so far


May 21 – Kenai Area

Because I arrived just before midnight in Anchorage just now and because I am leaving tomorrow morning for St. Paul, this will be a short post.

I went on two field trips this morning and explored a few areas this afternoon in the Kenai/Soldotna area. Both field trips were north of Kenai and north of Nikisi, and were mostly woodland walks. My new birds for the day were Northern Waterthrush and Swainson’s Thrush (no picture yet).

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I want to thank four people especially who made the festival possible and special: Connie & Ken Tarbox and Bev and George Kirsch. Their work on hospitality, planning, field-trip leading and I am sure many other things that I know nothing about is much appreciated by me and I am sure by others who attended the festival.



198 species so far

May 20 – Drive from Anchorage to Kenai

Before I left Anchorage this morning I tried to find the Blue-winged Teal that has been seen in Anchorage. It was raining gently and visibility was fine, but no teal. After about an hour I decided it was time to get on the road to Kenai.

Along the way I stopped periodically to listen for birds, and eventually I found a YELLOW WARBLER. I will try to get a picture eventually, maybe tomorrow. I also saw a stunning pair of Common Loons on a lake along the highway.

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When I got to the Kenai area, I went to the Kasilof Beach field trip of the Kenai Birding Festival to watch the shorebirds come closer as the tide got higher. Most of them were Dunlins and Western Sandpipers, but there were also a few Short-billed Dowitchers and Hudsonian Godwits, a Whimbrel, a couple of SANDERLINGS, and finally a Marbled Godwit. It is always good to see a bird more than once during the year that not so long ago I was worried about seeing once.


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Tomorrow I will go on a couple of morning field trips through wooded and shore areas, and in the afternoon I will probably go back to the Kasilof area for shorebirds.

196 species so far


May 19 – Adak, 5th and Last Day

This trip has been a great trip. I especially want to thank Aaron Lang and Scott Hauser, our leaders from Wilderness Birding Adventures, who provided birding expertise and leadership, as well as fun, to make this trip great. And special thanks to Robin, Aaron’s wife, who fed us so wonderfully.

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Today we explored many of the same areas where we had gone earlier in the week, getting much better views of Aleutian Terns, more views (and sometimes pictures) of Semipalmated Plovers, Ruffs, Common Snipe, Marbled and Ancient Murrelets, as well of the more common birds such as Green-winged Teal (mostly Eurasian crecca), and Rock Sandpipers.

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Toward the end of the day we drove up to an overlook where we could better see the layout of the town and surroundings.


I am now back in Anchorage. Tomorrow I drive to Kenai to be part of, and speak at, the Kenai Birding Festival. I very much enjoyed my time there at last year’s festival and expect to enjoy it this year too.

194 species so far