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Alaska Rare Bird Alert » Blog Archive » RBA St. Paul Island October 13th-17th: Dusky Thrush, Rustic Bunting, Common Pochard

RBA St. Paul Island October 13th-17th: Dusky Thrush, Rustic Bunting, Common Pochard


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Hello Birders, this is the St. Paul Island bird report for the week of October 13th-17th, 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.
 
***This will be the final St. Paul Island report for 2014 as the guides left the island on the 17th, reports will resume in mid-May 2015 when we return***

2014 Species Count: 178
2014 Fall Species Count: 137
Weekly Species Count: 71
 
Birds Mentioned:
 
Emperor Goose
Brant
Cackling Goose (ssp. leucopareia and minima)
TUNDRA SWAN (ssp. bewickii and columbianus)
*GADWALL
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
*COMMON POCHARD
*RING-NECKED DUCK
Greater Scaup
LESSER SCAUP
Steller’s Eider
King Eider
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
RED-THROATED LOON
Pacific Loon
COMMON LOON
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Short-tailed Shearwater
BALD EAGLE
Pacific Golden-Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER
Dunlin
Rock Sandpiper (ssp. tschuktschorum)
Pectoral Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Red Phalarope
Pomarine Jaeger
MEW GULL (ssp. brachyrhynchus)
Herring Gull (ssp. vegae and smithsonianus)
THAYER’S GULL
SLATY-BACKED GULL
Glaucous Gull
Snowy Owl
**DUSKY THRUSH (ssp. eunomus)
American Pipit (ssp. japonicus)
MCKAY’S BUNTING
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (ssp. hyemalis and oreganus)
*RUSTIC BUNTING
*RUSTY BLACKBIRD
BRAMBLING
Common Redpoll
 
WEATHER
 
Weather early this week could be best described as wintery with regular snow and other solid precipitation on most days, light but increasingly chilly winds, and temperatures that barely reached 40 degrees.  A weak low passed to the south of the islands on the 16th providing increasingly strong east and then north winds on the 16th and 17th while the 13th-15th saw only light north or east winds below 15 MPH.  Most mornings included a dusting of snow and thin ice on freshwater ponds and lakes as winter’s grip was clearly being tightened.
 
WATERFOWL
 
As has been the case of late this was the most productive category of birds with 24 species seen this week.  The continuing highlight was the COMMON POCHARD which remained through the 17th while the Gadwall and four RING-NECKED DUCKS also held on through the departure date.  Eurasian Wigeon numbers really built up this week with 66+ (!) noted on the 14th and 50+ remaining through the 17th while American Wigeon numbers dropped to two to six seen daily.  Steller’s Eiders continued to increase along with other sea ducks, peaking at 13 on the 15th, while scoter numbers increased to daily highs of 86+ n the 13th for White-wingeds and 117+ on the 15th for Blacks.  King Eider numbers remained lower than average with a high of 85 on the 16th while Buffleheads peaked at 10+ on the 13th and 14th, up to six Common Goldeneyes were seen daily, single Red-breasted Mergansers were seen on the 13th and 16th, and Greater Scaup numbers were between four and seven daily all week.  Some ducks began to show signs of leaving the islands with Mallard numbers dropping from eight on the 13th to none by the 16th while Northern Shovelers also dropped from six on the 13th to none on the 16th, a single LESSER SCAUP continued to be seen daily all week.  An Emperor Goose on the 13th was the only sighting this week while up to five Brant were noted most days, a group of four small Cackling-type Geese were seen daily with a larger group of 18 “Aleutian” Cackling Geese seen on the 17th, and the seven TUNDRA SWANS continued through at least the 16th.
 
SEABIRDS & GULLS
 
Loon numbers remained high through the 15th with single RED-THROATEDS on the 13th and 15th, one to three COMMONS daily from the 13th-15th, and a high count of 37+ Pacifics on the 15th, though no individuals were noted after that date.  Grebe numbers also peaked around the 15th, though they continued to be noted until the 17th, with a daily high of 17+ Horneds on the 14th and 11+ Red-neckeds on the 15th.  A MEW GULL (possibly a second individual) was seen on the 16th and 17th while a young THAYER’S GULL was noted on the 13th and one to two SLATY-BACKED GULLS were seen on the 13th, 14th, and 16th.  A few Short-tailed Shearwaters and one Pomarine Jaeger were seen on the 13th while a few Herring and Glaucous Gulls were seen almost daily through the 17th.
 
SHOREBIRDS
 
Lingering shorebirds continued to be found on the island through departure with a weekly high counts of 11 Pacific Golden-Plovers on the 13th, 30+ Ruddy Turnstones on the 13th, 14+ SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS on the 13th, three Dunlin on the 13th, 18 “non-Pribilof” Rock Sandpipers on the 17th, three Pectoral Sandpipers on the 14th, three Long-billed Dowitchers on the 13th, and 500+ Red Phalaropes on the 15th.
 
LANDBIRDS & PASSERINES
 
The week’s highlight came early with a juvenile DUSKY THRUSH found on the 13th, becoming only the 3rd Pribilof record and 1st fall record.  Also of note on the 13th was a RUSTIC BUNTING which is the first seen since 2011 and 4th fall record for the Pribilofs.  The RUSTY BLACKBIRD remained through the 13th while a trio of BRAMBLINGS was noted again on the 13th as well.  Single MCKAY’S BUNTINGS were seen on the 14th and 15th, it is difficult to say if they were the same or different individuals, while a “Siberian” American Pipit was seen on the 13th and last week’s Snowy Owl remained through the 13th.  A White-crowned Sparrow was found on the 15th, a “Slate-colored” Dark-eyed Junco remained to the 13th while a locally rarer “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco was seen on the 16th and 17th, and the Savannah Sparrow from last week was noted on the 13th.  Up to three BALD EAGLES were on the island this week with two adults seen simultaneously and the continuing sub-adult bird still present with the final sighting of Common Redpolls being three on the 13th.
 
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)
Black-legged Kittiwake
Glaucous-winged Gull
Common Murre
Thick-billed Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Ancient Murrelet
Least 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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