Shishmaref Rarity

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I spied with my eyes and ears three Black-capped Chickadees. Although not a rare species to Alaska, I have only documented 2 individuals during the spring. To have seen three this fall and this late in the year was very amazing to me. Still seeing Glaucous and Herring Gulls as well as Dunlin, Pacific Golden Plovers, Dowitchers, etc.

Kowpak Trip

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Our family went up the coast to Kowpak Lagoon area to pick salmon berries (aka cloud berries) and although I was spending time with berries I did pay attention to what birds I could identify through sight or sound. There were many Savannah Sparrows and Lapland Longspurs flying near the cabin as well as Mew Gulls, Glaucous Gulls, and Arctic Terns. I did see a flock of about 10 WHIMBREL, which were the most I have ever seen of those. My father-in-law commented that they used to make soup with them when he was younger. There were also many golden-plovers flying around, I assume they were Americans because I have only identified AGPL’s up the coast. There were also many ducks and geese including Canada and Emperor Geese, Common Eiders, and Northern Pintail.

The one bird I would have loved to have seen and identified was the tell tale call of a Bristle-thigh. I wish I could have seen and photographed one to positively ID it.

There were many Lapland Longspurs and Sandhill Cranes gathering on the Serpentine River Estuary in recent trips and many golden plovers and Black Turnstones here on the island. Hoping to spot a Slaty-backed Gull and some others “new” species for the year soon.

No. 84

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So this one’s not as fun to count and maybe shouldn’t count but I’m just documenting species seen around here so here it goes.

After setting our fish net a couple days ago, we drove the boat down to third channel and back on the way there and back there were a couple SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS barely holding their heads above water. They were looking pretty sickly and probably near death.

Are there six more species out there to be counted for 90 species this year?

Serpentine River Trip

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My wife and I took her sister up to the Serpentine River to look for molted Northern Pintail, which are called izza here and are hunted as they are fairly easy to catch when they can be found, not one could be found at all tonight.

But two new species to report for the year. Along the main river I found a RED-NECKED GREBE. For some reason, I usually see one a year always around the same area this year was no exception although a slightly different location just down river from where I normally find them.

The biggest surprise were a few NORTHERN SHRIKE up a tributary known as Middle Fork. I had been told by one individual a couple years ago that they had seen shrike so it was nice to confirm that individual’s specie sighting. These make 82 and 83 on the year and the shrike put me closer to 110 documented species in this area.

Also of note were many young Anseriformes with several Tundra Swan cygnets and many Canadian and Greater White-fronted Geese goslings.

While I have been cutting fish at the beach lately mixed in with the kittiwakes, Glaucous Gulls, and jaegers have been a few Herring Gulls, which may be Vega gulls. If I had time to stop cutting to take photos I would but alas too much work to be done putting up the fish. Great close-ups of these birds though.

Kougaruk River Trip 2

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Our family boated over to the Kougaruk River 13 miles to the east of Shishmaref to look for izza. Izza are flightless Northern Pintail caused when they drop all their primary wing feathers at one time, which does not allow them to fly. We only saw flying pintails this trip. Many different species of birds though and one new raptor for the year in a NORTHERN HARRIER that flew up over a hill along the river. Also of interest were many young Greater White-fronted Goslings along the main river.  Identified species were:

Red-throated Loon
Sandhill Crane
Tundra Swan
Greater White-fronted Goose (many young goslings)
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-necked Phalarope
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson’s Snipe
Black Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Pomarine Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger
Glaucous Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Sabine’s Gull
Arctic Tern
Willow Ptarmigan
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Savannah Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
Hoary Redpoll

Serpentine Trip

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Two more species found along the Serpentine River. BANK SWALLOWS were helping us out by catching some of the many mosquitoes along the river bank. And near the mouth of Tunu (North Fork) there were three AMERICAN WIGEON feeding in a pond.

A pretty windy night and possibly a couple thousand Kittiwakes were taking shelter and loafing in ponds and the river. Many of the same species seen as the past trip to the river.

Also of note were three little cute Semipalmated Sandpiper chicks near our cabin. Their parents were trying hard to lure us away from the nest pretending to be injured and giving us the broken wing dance. I did get some photographs of a chick and the parents.

Up the Coast Trip

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Our family took Bobby (dental) and Mamie (classroom aide) for a ride up the coastline to get some firewood for our cabin during berry picking time. One new species to document to our area and for the year.

While out in the pack ice there were several THICK-BILLED MURRE. Although its a new species for my list, I am sure its not a new species, just one I finally ran into.

Also identified were Red-throated Loons, Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Tundra Swans, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Sandhill Cranes, Glaucous Gulls, Arctic Terns, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Parasitic Jaegers, Common Murres, Dunlin, Western Sandpipers, Savannah Sparrows, and Lapland Longspurs.

This makes the 78th species I have documented this year and 6th new species bringing me ever closer to my annual goal of 80 species and all before July.

Looking at my list of birds I haven’t seen I should easily get four more species (Northern Harrier, Red Phalarope, Peregrine Falcon, and Slaty-backed Gull) either in the next few weeks or during the fall migration.

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