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Alaska Rare Bird Alert » Blog Archive » RBA St. Paul Island August 20th-26th: PIN-TAILED SNIPE, WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, TEREK SANDPIPER

RBA St. Paul Island August 20th-26th: PIN-TAILED SNIPE, WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, TEREK SANDPIPER


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Hello Birders, this is the St. Paul Island rare bird alert for the week of August 20th-26th, 2012, sponsored by St. Paul Island Tour. The following sequence of sightings is in taxonomic order; an asterisk denotes a species of less than annual occurrence or one of particular note.
 
2012 Species Count: 132

Weekly Species Count: 69

Birds Mentioned:

 

TUNDRA SWAN (ssp. columbianus)

Steller’s Eider

White-winged Scoter

RED-THROATED LOON

**MOTTLED PETREL

Short-tailed Shearwater

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel

*DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT

***WHITE-TAILED EAGLE

Pacific Golden-Plover

LESSER SAND-PLOVER

**TEREK SANDPIPER

GRAY-TAILED TATTLER

WOOD SANDPIPER

Western Sandpiper

RED-NECKED STINT

*LITTLE STINT

Baird’s Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER

Rock Sandpiper (ssp. couesi and tschuktschorum)

BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER

RUFF

Long-billed Dowitcher

***PIN-TAILED SNIPE

Red Phalarope

Sabine’s Gull

Herring Gull (ssp. smithsonianus and vegae)

THAYER’S GULL

Slaty-backed Gull

Arctic Tern

Pomarine Jaeger

Parasitic Jaeger

Long-tailed Jaeger

**VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW

Bank Swallow

*BLUETHROAT

Northern Wheatear

Common Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

 

WEATHER

 

Light-moderate west and southwest winds dominated early in the week in the aftermath of the strong low pressure system which passed by late last week along with patchy fog and occasional rain.  The middle of the week saw similar wind patterns with patchy fog most days and some sun as we were sandwiched between high pressure along the Aleutians and a strong low well to our north.  A weak low brought southern winds, fog, and rain with it from the Aleutians over the weekend though it had moved on by the time the week ended.

 

WATERFOWL

 

The low numbers of waterfowl continued this week with the continuing TUNDRA SWAN which moved between several of the island’s lakes this week still present while a Steller’s Eider appeared in Gorbatch Bay on the 26th and two White-winged Scoters at Marunich on the 25th were the first duck migrants noted this fall.

 

MOTTLED PETREL

 

This week was all about the MOTTLED PETREL flight on the 20th and especially on the 21st.  To give some perspective over the past 3 decades a total of 39 Mottled Petrels have been seen from shore on 4 occasions (including a single bird earlier this year) in the Pribilof Islands, this does not include the 5 seen on the 19th which are part of the same event.  However, after the strong western storm which moved through on the 18th a mass of petrels seems to have been pushed into the region which became very obvious starting on the 20th.  Thick fog meant only birds near shore were detected but on the 20th while seawatching from Reef Point a minimum of 125 were seen over a several hour period, outnumbering both Short-tailed Shearwater and for much of the time, Northern Fulmar.  On the 21st a slightly more distant fog bank allowed for better viewing though throughout the morning only Short-tailed Shearwaters were seen, and then the first petrel was noted about 3 p.m.  From that point on the numbers built and rate of the movement increased to a peak of nearly 80/minute at one point.  This movement continued until at least 9:30 or 10 p.m. that evening and when counting the birds seen (2,800+) and the minimum extrapolation for the periods during the flight when an observer was not present puts the total number at more than 3,500.  An utterly remarkable and unexpected show which was likely hampered by reduced visibility and re-writes the history of that species from St. Paul Island.  Another 2 Mottled Petrels were noted on the 25th which are likely remnants from this movement.

 

SEABIRDS & GULLS

 

Not including the Mottled Petrel flights the best bird of the week was a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT that was noted on Webster Lake on the 22nd while the two RED-THROATED LOONS and adult THAYER’S GULL continued through the end of the week.  Short-tailed Shearwaters had the their two largest movements this year on the 21st and 26th with 15,000+ noted on each day while Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels were present daily but in counts less than 5 each day.  A scattering of Herring Gulls were seen throughout the week with both “American” and “Vega” types noted while a couple Slaty-backed Gulls were also seen around the island.  A couple Arctic Terns continued after last week’s storm along with small numbers of Sabine’s Gulls as well as all 3 jaegers.

 

SHOREBIRDS

 

Late August is shorebird central on St. Paul and after the storm late last week that was no truer than this period with 23 species detected including 3 new species for the year.  The biggest highlights were the continuing PIN-TAILED SNIPE which was re-found on the 21st and the TEREK SANDPIPER which continued through the 26th after arriving late last week.  There were 1-2 LITTLE STINTS continuing all week with 1-2 birds in the Antone area and another (same?) bird noted at Tsamanna on the 24th; RED-NECKED STINTS continued in small numbers through the 26th with a couple juveniles and a single adult noted at various locations with suitable habitat.  Other shorebirds from the Asian side of the Bering Sea this week included a RUFF at Marunich on the 20th and another on the 26th at Town Marsh, a LESSER SAND-PLOVER at Northeast Point from the 23rd-25th, the continuing WOOD SANDPIPER near town through the 26th and another sporadically at Northeast Point from the 21st-24th, small numbers of GRAY-TAILED TATTLERS throughout the week at scattered locations, and up to 35 SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS at many of the island’s wetlands.  New species for the season this week were found along the High Cliffs in the form of a Baird’s Sandpiper on the 22nd and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER on the 21st which continued through the 26th.  Other regularly occurring species noted this week included up to 25 Pacific Golden-Plovers, up to 24 Western Sandpipers, up to 22 Pectoral Sandpipers, 1-2 non-Pribilof Rock Sandpipers, and 3 Long-billed Dowitchers.

 

LANDBIRDS & PASSERINES

 

The WHITE-TAILED EAGLE continued this week and the re-appearance by the juvenile VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW at Marunich on the 22nd highlighted this week’s landbirds.  A BLUETHROAT found at Antone Slough on the 20th and 22nd provides only the 9th Pribilof record while a strong showing of Northern Wheatears produced birds across the island, likely involving 5-7 total individuals.  A pair of Bank Swallows was seen at Marunich on the 21st while single Hoary and Common Redpolls were seen this week.

 

Regularly occurring species currently present on the island:

 

Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal (ssp. crecca)

King Eider

Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck

Northern Fulmar

Red-faced Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant

Semipalmated Plover

Wandering Tattler

Ruddy Turnstone

Least Sandpiper
Rock Sandpiper (ssp. ptilocnemis)

Red-necked Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Red-legged Kittiwake
Glaucous-winged Gull

Common Murre
Thick-billed Murre
Pigeon Guillemot

Ancient Murrelet

Parakeet Auklet

Least Auklet

Crested Auklet

Horned Puffin
Tufted Puffin

Pacific Wren (ssp. alascensis)
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (ssp. umbrina)

This is Scott Schuette, Doug Gochfeld, and Ryan O’Donnell, the 2012 St. Paul Island Tour guides, wishing you good birding. For more information about St. Paul Island or to make travel arrangements visit our website http://www.alaskabirding.com or call 1-877-424-5637.

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