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.

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

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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

 

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