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Alaska Rare Bird Alert » Blog Archive » RBA St. Paul Island September 15th-21st: WOOD WARBLER, Taiga Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail

RBA St. Paul Island September 15th-21st: WOOD WARBLER, Taiga Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail


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Hello Birders, this is the St. Paul Island bird report for the week of September 15th-21st, 2014, 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.
 
2014 Species Count: 157
2014 Fall Species Count: 109
Weekly Species Count: 95
 
Birds Mentioned:
 
Emperor Goose
Brant
Cackling Goose (ssp. leucopareia and minima)
TUNDRA SWAN (ssp. bewickii and columbianus)
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
**GARGANEY
Greater Scaup
King Eider
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Pacific Loon
COMMON LOON
Yellow-billed Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Short-tailed Shearwater
**NORTHERN HARRIER
BALD EAGLE
Pacific Golden-Plover
LESSER SAND-PLOVER
GRAY-TAILED TATTLER
Wandering Tattler
Whimbrel (ssp. hudsonicus)
Ruddy Turnstone
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER
Sanderling
Dunlin
Rock Sandpiper (ssp. tschuktschorum)
Pectoral Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
**JACK SNIPE
COMMON SNIPE
Red Phalarope
Parasitic Jaeger
Herring Gull (ssp. vegae and smithsonianus)
*THAYER’S GULL
SLATY-BACKED GULL
Glaucous Gull
PEREGRINE FALCON (ssp. tundrius and pealei)
*SKY LARK
**HORNED LARK (ssp. flava)
***WOOD WARBLER
**DUSKY WARBLER
**RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL
**TAIGA FLYCATCHER
GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH
*SWAINSON’S THRUSH
AMERICAN ROBIN
**SIBERIAN ACCENTOR
*OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT
RED-THROATED PIPIT
American Pipit (ssp. japonicus and pacificus)
Orange-crowned Warbler (ssp. lutescens)
Yellow Warbler
**BLACKPOLL WARBLER
Yellow-rumped Warbler (ssp. hooveri)
Wilson’s Warbler
*CHIPPING SPARROW
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow (Sooty and iliaca)
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
BRAMBLING
Common Redpoll
Hoary Redpoll
 
WEATHER
 
The major cyclonic storm from last week had mostly passed by the Bering Sea as this week began with light rain from Monday (the 15th) through Friday (the 19th) and cloudy skies most days.  Temperatures remained above average with highs in the low-mid 50s and lows in the mid-40s most days.  There was no real system to speak of this week with a steady barometric pressure each day early in the week and rising pressure late in the week.  Winds were a bit variable all week with light conditions on Monday and Tuesday from the SW and then the N, increasingly strong N/NW winds from late Wednesday into Friday peaking on Thursday night in the 25-35 MPH range, and then slackening winds from the N-E-SE through the rest of the week into Sunday.
 
WATERFOWL
 
The duck find of this year occurred on the 15th when a female-type GARGANEY was located late in the evening providing the 11th Pribilof record and first St. Paul record since 1998.  Fall duck migration also began to pick up this week with up to four Mallards present after the 16th, five to seven Northern Shovelers around starting to on the 16th, a Greater Scaup arrived on the 20th, two Black Scoters on the 16th, and up to seven daily White-winged Scoters this week.  Wigeons began to arrive on the 17th with one to eight Americans and one to 11 Eurasians daily through the rest of the week.  A trio of Emperor Geese were seen on the 17th with two seen on the 18th and 21st while Brant were scattered around the island all week being seen in daily numbers of two to seven.  A small flock of four “Aleutian” Cackling Geese appeared on the 18th with 15 found on the 19th through the rest of the week that included at least 12 “Aleutian” birds, one “minima” bird, and a couple unknowns.  The six TUNDRA SWANS remain on the island this week with daily King Eider sightings peaking at 45 on the 16th.
 
SEABIRDS & GULLS
 
The first Yellow-billed Loon of the fall was seen on the 21st, the first COMMON LOONS (2) of the fall were seen on the 15th, while single Pacific Loons were noted on the 16th, 18th, and 20th.  Grebes also began to appear in better numbers with several Red-neckeds seen on the 16th and 20th and three Horneds noted on the 20th.  Large gull numbers continue to increase with an adult THAYER’S seen on the 16th, one to three SLATY-BACKED GULLS seen daily, a scattering of Herring Gulls seen each day, and a few Glaucous Gulls noted daily.  Small numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters were recorded most days while a single Parasitic Jaeger was found on the 20th.
 
SHOREBIRDS
 
Overall arrivals were generally limited this week though species like Pacific Golden-Plover (high count of 45+ on the 19th), SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER (high count of 88+ on 16th), and Long-billed Dowitcher (high count of 48+ on the 19th) remained in good numbers through the week.  The clear highlight remains the JACK SNIPE(S) which continue to be found on a daily basis through the week with the first confirmation of two birds made on the 21st.  Also of interest was a continuing LESSER SAND-PLOVER through the 16th, single GRAY-TAILED TATTLERS on the 16th, 19th, and 20th, and a couple COMMON SNIPES which were seen from the 16th-20th.  More typical migrants this week included small numbers of Wandering Tattlers daily, a lingering Whimbrel on the 16th, ever smaller numbers of Ruddy Turnstones with 100-125 daily being the maximum, a growing flock of Sanderlings which went from one on the 19th to 12 on the 21st, a single Dunlin on the 20th, a scattering of “non-Pribilof” Rock Sandpipers throughout the week, relatively small numbers of Pectoral Sandpipers with a daily high count of 26+ on the 20th, daily sightings of two to seven Western Sandpipers, and some Red Phalaropes hanging around the coast and a few of the freshwater lakes.
 
LANDBIRDS & PASSERINES
 
Well this is going to be a long write-up, as this week was likely the most diverse group of rare (especially Asian) passerines I have ever had on St. Paul at one time.  But we will begin with the rarest and go from there.
 
The standout of this week’s group was a WOOD WARBLER found on the 20th and still present on the 21st which provides the 5th North American record of that species (it is the 2nd Pribilof record) equaling the earlier Siberian Chiffchaff in overall rarity.  But that was just the tip of the iceberg as other outstanding species found this week included RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL (seen from the 17th-19th providing the 6th Pribilof record), TAIGA FLYCATCHER (seen from the 18th-21st providing the 6th Pribilof record), DUSKY WARBLER (seen on the 19th providing the 3rd Pribilof record), and SIBERIAN ACCENTOR (seen on the 21st providing the 7th Pribilof record).  Of course other not-quite-so-rare species were also seen including two SKY LARKS on the 20th and 21st, daily OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS with a high count of three in one day and a total of perhaps eight for the week, and many BRAMBLINGS with the single day high being 50 (!) on the 19th with perhaps 55-65 individuals seen over the course of the week.  Also of great local interest and from Asia though admittedly not as spectacular a find was a HORNED LARK of the subspecies flava on the 21st which is only the 4th record of that subspecies and 5th overall record for the species from the Pribilofs.  The only RED-THROATED PIPITS seen this week were two birds on the 15th and two birds on the 21st.
 
From the American side this week there were still many highlights though clearly not quite as spectacular as from the other side of the Bering Sea.  Of greatest interest was the 4th Pribilof record of BLACKPOLL WARBLER (and second this fall) on the 17th while a NORTHERN HARRIER found on the 19th was only the 6th Pribilof record.  Other species seen this week which are of notable occurrence in the islands were a SWAINSON’S THRUSH on the 15th (9th Pribilof record), AMERICAN ROBIN on the 21st (20th Pribilof record), and CHIPPING SPARROW on the 15th (the 12th or so Pribilof record).  More typical migrants were also plentiful including PEREGRINE FALCON (two or three birds on the 15th, 20th and 21st), GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (three birds from the 16th-21st), American Pipit (seen daily though mostly japonicus birds were seen with two or three present by the 21st), Orange-crowned Warbler on the 20th, Yellow Warbler on the 15th-17th and 20th, Yellow-rumped Warbler on the 17th-18th and 21st, Wilson’s Warbler on the 16th, Savannah Sparrow (a record high count of 19 on the 15th with diminishing numbers through the rest of the week), Fox Sparrow (daily with a high of 6+ on the 15th including one iliaca bird), Golden-crowned Sparrow (daily high of 19 on the 15th with a few present at week’s end), Dark-eyed Junco on the 21st, and increasing numbers of redpolls with 20+ Commons present at the end of the week and a few Hoaries seen on the 19th and 20th.  The two BALD EAGLES continued as of this week as well.
 
Breeding or resident species present on/around the island:
 
Northern Pintail
Green-winged (and Common) Teal
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Northern Fulmar
Red-faced Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Rock Sandpiper (ssp. ptilocnemis)
Least Sandpiper
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, Cory Gregory, and Doug Gochfeld, the 2014 St. Paul Island Tour guides, wishing you good birding. For tour information or to make travel arrangements visit our website http://www.alaskabirding.com or call 1-877-424-5637.

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