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Alaska Rare Bird Alert » Blog Archive » RBA St. Paul Island October 1st-7th: PINE BUNTING, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Townsend’s Warbler

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RBA St. Paul Island October 1st-7th: PINE BUNTING, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Townsend’s Warbler


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Hello Birders, this is the St. Paul Island rare bird alert for the week of October 1st-7th, 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: 155

2012 Fall Species Count: 117

Weekly Species Count: 71

Birds Mentioned:

 

Greater White-fronted Goose

SNOW GOOSE

Brant (ssp. nigricans)

Eurasian Wigeon

Northern Shoveler

Steller’s Eider

White-winged Scoter

Black Scoter

Bufflehead

Red-breasted Merganser

Pacific Loon

Yellow-billed Loon

Horned Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

*MOTTLED PETREL

Short-tailed Shearwater

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel

**LEACH’S STORM-PETREL

Pacific Golden-Plover

Sanderling

Western Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER

Dunlin

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson’s Snipe

Red Phalarope

Herring Gull (ssp. vegae and smithsonianus)

Slaty-backed Gull

Pomarine Jaeger

PEREGRINE FALCON (ssp. tundrius)

*RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET

HERMIT THRUSH

*AMERICAN ROBIN

RED-THROATED PIPIT

American Pipit (ssp. pacificus)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (ssp. coronata)

*TOWNSEND’S WARBLER

Fox Sparrow (ssp. unalaschcensis)

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco (ssp. hyemalis)

***PINE BUNTING

BRAMBLING

Common Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

 

WEATHER

 

This week’s weather was all about close misses with two separate promising systems passing through the area but only grazing the Pribilofs or taking an unorthodox and not all-together birdy route to the islands.  A weak low passed to the northwest of the Pribilofs late last week and through the first day or two of this week however it never quite made it to the islands and as such we were left with moderately strong south winds and not much else while a much more powerful low pressure system entered the picture on the 3rd.  This remnant of a Super Typhoon which plowed through Japan earlier in the week took a strange path by skirting south of the Aleutians and then abruptly turning due north on the 3rd and passing directly over the Pribilofs along its way to the Chukchi Sea, providing western winds for a period but ultimately not from where we hope for.  As we left on the 7th a strong high pressure flow from the northeast was working its way into the islands with strong winds and rain bidding us adieu from the Bering Sea for the year.  As we have all left for the season this will be the final post for the year, barring unforeseen circumstances, so enjoy your winter and we will return to inform you of the goings on at St. Paul Island next May.

 

WATERFOWL

 

This week’s waterfowl highlight was a very rare-for-the-fall SNOW GOOSE sighting which involved three young birds flying over on the 6th.  The long-staying Greater White-fronted Goose and Brant at Northeast continued through the 2nd while two additional Brant were seen on the Salt Lagoon on the 5th and 6th.  Duck numbers continued to improve through the week with 6-10 Eurasian Wigeons daily, a Northern Shoveler all week, 1-3 Steller’s Eiders on most days, a couple White-winged Scoters on the 2nd and 6th, a flock of 20 Black Scoters at Northeast Point on the 4th, the season’s first Bufflehead on the 5th, and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers on the 2nd and 3rd at Big Lake.

 

SEABIRDS & GULLS

 

Well, another unprecedented seabird event happened this year on the island and this time it involved the first LEACH’S STORM-PETRELS recorded from land in the Pribilofs.  There were previous reports from boats in the vicinity but they had never been seen from shore previously.  That all changed on October 4th when a single bird was located at East Landing and then off-and-on through the remainder of the afternoon birds were seen moving into and out of the slick there with a final tally of perhaps 45+ birds.  This movement was clearly due to the passage of a powerful low which pushed directly north from the Aleutians near Dutch Harbor into the Pribilofs that day.  Also recorded for a remarkable third(!) time this year were MOTTLED PETRELS with 5+ seen on the afternoon of the 4th during the storm-petrel flight.  Other tubenoses were noticeably absent much of the time with only small numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters seen on most days and a few Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels with the majority (7+) being on the 4th.  Loons and grebes continued in good numbers with 2-7 Pacific Loons seen each day and single Yellow-billed Loons on two days this week while Red-necked Grebes continued in small numbers (2-3 per day) and a strong push of Horned Grebes for the fall early in the week accounted for the 6 seen on the 2nd and smaller numbers on other days.  Herring Gull numbers began to pick up this week with 10+ on the 3rd representing both “American” and “Vega” Herring Gulls while a small, but consistent number of Slaty-backed Gulls were seen daily.

 

SHOREBIRDS

 

Shorebird numbers declined dramatically this week with almost no new arrivals and most of the birds present being gone by the 7th.  SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER numbers held solid at 2-4 each day through the 6th while Pectoral Sandpipers were present in numbers of 1-5 each day as well.  A Dunlin and Sanderling were present on the 2nd with two additional Sanderlings seen on the 5th providing some diversity, the only Western Sandpiper was a continuing bird in the Antone area through the 1st.  Long-billed Dowitchers and Pacific Golden-Plovers were the most common land-based shorebirds this week with 1-12 daily of the former and 2-39 of the latter each day.  Wilson’s Snipe was seen on the 3rd and 5th while large Red Phalarope numbers were still present this week, peaking at 750-1000 on the 4th and 5th.

 

LANDBIRDS & PASSERINES

 

PINE BUNTING!!!  That sentence pretty much speaks for itself with the discovery of a male PINE BUNTING near Southwest Point on the 2nd likely taking the top spot as best bird of the fall.  This represents the 3rd North American record and 1st Western Hemisphere record with the previous two occurrences being on Attu in late fall in the late 80s/early 90s.  The bird was seen subsequently on the 4th in the same area but was not seen afterwards.  The only other sightings of interest from the west were the ever increasing numbers of BRAMBLINGS present on the island which peaked on the 6th with at least 23 birds comprised of two scattered singles and a flock of 21 birds at Polovina Hill.  Noteworthy American vagrants included a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET on the 5th, an AMERICAN ROBIN first found on the 2nd and present through the 7th, and a small contingent of TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS with 2 found on the 6th and another individual located on the 7th.  Other species located this week included 2+ PEREGRINE FALCONS seen erratically across the island all week, a HERMIT THRUSH on the 3rd, a very late RED-THROATED PIPIT on the 5th at Hutchinson Hill, and a cooperative “Myrtle” Yellow-rumped Warbler on the 7th.  More commonplace species from the Alaskan mainland seen this week included American Pipits on the 2nd and 5th, “Sooty” Fox Sparrows on the 1st and 5th, a White-crowned Sparrow on the 1st, Golden-crowned Sparrows on the 1st and 2nd, 1-2 Dark-eyed Juncos seen nearly every day of the week, and small numbers of both Redpolls.

 

Regularly occurring species currently present on the island:

 

Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal (ssp. crecca)

Greater Scaup

King Eider

Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck

Northern Fulmar

Red-faced Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant

Wandering Tattler

Ruddy Turnstone
Rock Sandpiper (ssp. ptilocnemis)

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

Glaucous Gull

Common Murre
Thick-billed Murre
Pigeon Guillemot

Ancient Murrelet

Crested Auklet

Horned Puffin
Tufted Puffin

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

This is Scott Schuette and Doug Gochfeld, 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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