May 3 – White-winged Crossbill, Caspian Tern and More – Ketchikan

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I flew back to Juneau tonight and will bird some more in Juneau tomorrow and Thursday morning.

166 species so far this year

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