Jerry Koerner had told me that I could come by as early as 5 am if I wanted to keep trying for the White-winged Crossbill. So I was there just after 5:30. His beautiful yard was still hosting about 15 species hopping, singing, eating and entertaining me – especially the Varied Thrushes, Pine Siskins, and Golden-crowned, White-crowned, Fox, Savannah and Lincoln’s Sparrows and Eurasian Collared-Doves. I only planned to stay a little over an hour as I was going to meet Steve Heinl to look for other birds. Just before 7 am as I was beginning to prepare to leave, a very red bird flew into the very pink cherry blossoms. It was the WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, which then dove to the ground behind the flowering bushes and disappeared. I didn’t dare leave the shelter of the porch for fear I would scare all the birds, so I waited impatiently. The impatience paid off, and the crossbill finally hopped into view, eating seeds as it approached. With delight I photographed it and then told Jerry that his wonderful bird had arrived.
It was time for me to head out but on the way back to downtown Ketchikan some 20 miles away, I spotted shorebirds at Mud Bight and did a U-turn. There among the Least Sandpipers was a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER.
I hurried on and with Steve birded other north-of-town areas. We had two SPOTTED SANDPIPERS near Whipple Creek (I believe) and WILSON’S WARBLER near the Higgins School. Also near the school were Least and Western Sandpipers, a large flock of Savannah Sparrows, many robins, a Lapland Longspur, a Red-breasted Sapsucker (finally seen and not just heard), and an American Pipit.
About noon we were joined by Andy Piston and birded some sites south of town. In addition to the usual birds of the area we had a couple of flyover goose flocks, Greater White-fronted and Snow. At one of the usual gull-roost areas, were surprised to see a CASPIAN TERN land amid the gulls, a bird that I figured was going to be difficult to get this year. Clearly Andy was happy to see the tern too, or maybe he was just rejoicing in my rejoicing.
I flew back to Juneau tonight and will bird some more in Juneau tomorrow and Thursday morning.
166 species so far this year