May 6 – Birding in the Rain in Gustavus

Even Nat Drumheller thought it was more rainy-nasty out than it should be and he lives and birds in Gustavus. Yesterday after my flight from rainy Juneau (picture below) landed in rainy Gustavus, although I did make myself wander down to the shore in the rain to look for shorebirds at sites that Nat had told me about, I did not find any shorebirds to add to my year-list.

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My main goal in coming to Gustavus, however, was Barred Owl and I spent over 6 hours not seeing or hearing one at the site where they have nested in previous years and where they are periodically heard. Sort of hidden in the picture below is the snag where they have nested in years past and possibly are currently nesting, however you can’t prove it by me. Although Nat heard one short sound from them in the wee hours after I had finally retired to the Annie Mae lodge around midnight, no owls were heard or seen by either of us today as we valiantly birded some more in the driving rain.

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My birding trip to Gustavus was saved by Nat’s helping me see a SEMIPALMATED SANDPPER among the many Least and Western Sandpipers that scurried about in the blowing downpour. Although we nearly gave up birding a couple of times rather than attempt slogging into the wind and rain, we continued to check possible owl spots and birded the shore and ponds. Finally on a shore hike, we found two wet WHIMBRELS. Instead of letting up, the rain and wind just grew, which made my flight back to Juneau on the little 5-passenger plane one of the bumpiest that I have been on. But the pilot got us to Juneau and to Juneau’s rain without problem.

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I did do some birding in Juneau this afternoon and evening. The rain actually stopped every now and then and the sun was seen. The only bird of note was a breeding plumaged Horned Grebe. I understand that it is getting late for them to still be here.

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Tomorrow midday, after some morning birding, I fly back to Anchorage and try to dry out a bit after a week of rainy birding, and of course, bird some more.

168 species so far

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