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Alaska Rare Bird Alert » Blog Archive » RBA St. Paul Island September 8th-14th: SOLITARY SNIPE!!!, Dusky Warbler, Merlin

RBA St. Paul Island September 8th-14th: SOLITARY SNIPE!!!, Dusky Warbler, Merlin


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RBA
* Alaska
* St. Paul Island, Pribilofs
* September 14, 2008
* AKSPI 08.09.14

Hello Birders, this is the St. Paul Island rare bird alert for the week of September 8th - 14th, 2008 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.

Birds Mentioned:

Greater White-fronted Goose

EMPEROR GOOSE

Brant

Eurasian Wigeon

American Wigeon

Northern Shoveler

Pacific Loon

Short-tailed Shearwater

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel

***MERLIN

Pacific Golden-Plover

*WOOD SANDPIPER

GRAY-TAILED TATTLER

Bar-tailed Godwit

Western Sandpiper

*RED-NECKED STINT

**LITTLE STINT

Pectoral Sandpiper

SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER

Long-billed Dowitcher

*****SOLITARY SNIPE*****

Red Phalarope

Herring Gull (ssp. smithsonianus)

Slaty-backed Gull

Sabine’s Gull

Parasitic Jaeger

**BELTED KINGFISHER

Bank Swallow

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET

***DUSKY WARBLER

*ARCTIC WARBLER (ssp. kennicotti)

*GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH

Hermit Thrush

*WHITE WAGTAIL (ssp. ocularis)

RED-THROATED PIPIT

American Pipit (ssp. pacificus)

American Pipit (ssp. japonicus)

Orange-crowned Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

**CHIPPING SPARROW

Fox Sparrow (ssp. unalaschensis)

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco (ssp. hyemalis group)

Common Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

This week saw the first real push of fall migrants with a healthy dose of American birds starting early in the week on a low pressure spinning out from Bristol Bay. The system controlled our weather all week with most days seeing moderate to strong north, north-northwest, or north-northeast winds with consistent light precipitation and patchy fog. Of course in all of this was the discovery of North America’s first Solitary Snipe, a bird which is more at home in the Himalayas than on the coast and was completely unexpected as a vagrant to the Bering Sea, and the Pribilof’s second Dusky Warbler, both of which are decidedly Asian in nature.

WATERFOWL

Geese continued to move through in moderate numbers as the week progressed. Sightings included a single Greater White-fronted Goose at Webster Lake from the 10th through the 13th, 3 Brant flying along the coast at Barrabaras Pond in addition to the continuing bird at Little Polovina Lake on the 8th, and up to 6 EMPEROR GEESE on the 8th and 9th at scattered locations around the island. Small numbers of ducks showed up this week with a single Northern Shoveler at Webster Lake from the 9th on, a Eurasian Wigeon at Tonki Point on the 11th and 13th, and a pair of American Wigeons flying past East Landing with Northern Pintails on the 12th.

SEABIRDS & GULLS

Small numbers of Slaty-backed and American Herring Gulls continue among the more common large gulls this week with a noticeable influx of Glaucous Gulls mid-week as well. A Sabine’s Gull was seen off of East Landing on the 12th along with the first Pigeon Guillemot in nearly a month. The only jaeger seen this week was a Parasitic on the 11th at English Bay.

The first loon in a few weeks was provided by a Pacific Loon at the Webster seawatch on the 14th. The first Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel since August 1st was seen at East Landing mid-week while large numbers of Short-tailed Shearwaters seen from Southwest Point on 11th in addition to smaller numbers from most other island promontories throughout the week.

SHOREBIRDS

The star of this fall and the year (so far) was provided on the 10th when an evening visit to Hutchinson Hill was rewarded with North America’s first SOLITARY SNIPE which was first found in the parking spot at the cut on Hutchinson Hill and was subsequently observed and poorly photographed on the road leading to Hutchinson Hill. The bird could not be found in the following days despite diligent searching of the accessible areas within the seal rookery unfortunately leaving this as a spectacular one-day wonder.

Less exciting though still special in their own right was a juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER that was found in Barrabaras Pond on the 13th and the continuing LITTLE STINT which was last seen near Marunich on North Beach on the 9th. The RED-NECKED STINT continued at Antone Slough through the 8th while small numbers of GRAY-TAILED TATTLERS were also seen this week. This week started with small numbers of SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS on the island but as the winds picked up mid-week so did the numbers with a high count of 75-80 birds spread across the island on the 12th.

Regularly occurring shorebirds continue to be present in moderate numbers with Pacific Golden-Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Red Phalarope in the largest numbers while small numbers of Western Sandpipers continue to show up. Also seen this week was a lone Bar-tailed Godwit along the High Bluffs on the 10th.

LANDBIRDS & PASSERINES

The first of the final two highlights of the week came in the form of the Pribilof’s second MERLIN in town on the 8th which was subsequently seen in town and along the southern edge of the island until the 12th. The original highlight on the 10th for nearly an hour until the cut at Hutchinson Hill was checked was the Pribilof’s second DUSKY WARBLER which was located in the celery patch along the southwest edge of Webster Lake on the 10th and was re-found on the 13th.

Providing the fourth Pribilof record was a juvenile CHIPPING SPARROW that was found along the road just south of the Webster House on the 11th while last week’s BELTED KINGFISHER continued until at least the 9th around Icehouse Lake and the Salt Lagoon.

Trans-Beringia migrants were more common than usual this week with an ARCTIC WARBLER along the road next to Zapadni Ravine from the 8th-10th, a WHITE WAGTAIL along the shore at Marunich on the 9th, up to 5-10 RED-THROATED PIPITS daily, small numbers of japonicus American Pipits, and additional GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES pushing the season’s total to 14.

American passerines began showing up in much larger numbers this week with the most common being American Pipit, Wilson’s Warbler, and Golden-crowned Sparrow each represented by more than 5 individuals, also found in multiples included White-crowned Sparrow with 4 individuals scattered across the island and Dark-eyed Junco with 3 birds all found around Northeast Point.

Also seen this week included a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and a Sooty Fox Sparrow in the celery patch along the southwest side of Webster Lake, an Orange-crowned Warbler in the celery patch along Antone Slough, a Hermit Thrush in the central crab pots, and a Bank Swallow at the Webster seawatch. Both redpolls continued this week in both the quarry and at Lake Hill.

Regularly occurring species currently present on the island:

Northern Pintail
Green-winged (and Common) Teal
King Eider

Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Northern Fulmar
Red-faced Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Wandering Tattler

Ruddy Turnstone

Rock Sandpiper (ssp. ptilocnemis)
Red-necked Phalarope
Herring Gull (ssp. vegae)

Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull

Black-legged Kittiwake
Red-legged Kittiwake
Common Murre
Thick-billed Murre
Pigeon Guillemot

Parakeet Auklet
Horned Puffin

Tufted Puffin
Common Raven

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

For tour information or to make travel arrangements visit our website http://www.alaskabirding.com or call 1-877-424-5637. This is Scott Schuette (sschuette01@hotmail.com), Dave Porter, and Gavin Bieber the 2008 St. Paul Island Tour guides, wishing you good birding.

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