Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 5 on Attu, Back to Gilbert Ridge via Alexai, June 2

We went back to Gilbert Ridge by landing at Alexai Beach first.   We checked Smew pond but the Smew seemed to be missing.   The whole group walked the beach starting on the north and walking around the point.  We were hoping to find more shorebirds, but it was probably too late in the year.  The shorebird migration usually occurs earlier.  So far, we found mostly Asian, migrant passerine (small land bird) species and only a few shorebirds, but were missing Asian shorebird rarities, like Red-necked Stint, Little Stint and Long-toed Stint.  We found a Ruddy Turnstone on the rocks on the way the way to the point, which was a bit of a surprise.  Isaac Helmericks found a Whimbrel (variagatus), an Asian sub-species of the North American Whimbrel with a white streaked rump, not a new bird for the year for me, a sub-species but nice to see.  The Whimbrel was not a very cooperative bird and seemed to disappear in the rocks along the peninsular.  Jess took a group to Henderson Marsh via Brambling Bluff.  The Puk-uk took them to the vicinity of Massacre Beach to save time, while the rest of us with John Puschock and Isaac Helmericks hiked Gilbert Ridge toward Massacre Beach.  We walked up on the low bluff on Alexai and flushed the Whimbrel.  John and Isaac contacted Jess's group and they came back and joined us so their group could also see the Whimbrel.  Isaac found the Wood Sandpiper again in the same pond.  We returned to Smew Pond and found the two Smew again, and then continued to hike Gilbert Ridge toward Massacre Beach.  Jess contacted us by radio.  He found a McKay's Bunting briefly by the first pier from Massacre Beach, but if flew off and disappeared, after singing in the area near a male and female Snow Bunting.  McKay's Bunting would be a new bird for the year for me.  We had another Yellow Wagtail that John picked up as it flew by the first part of the group and then landed near the beach for the latter part of the group.  John also had a brief view of an Emperor Goose that flew toward Massacre Beach.  He was the only one in the group to see it.  Emperor Goose is a bird that I need for the year.   Jess also reported a Pacific Loon (a new bird for me) near the first pier, and a snipe presumed to be a Common Snipe (also a new bird for me) in Henderson Marsh, that Nancy and Jill kicked up along the trail.  Jess heard it giving its ground call.  Things were happening but not for me.  When we arrived at Massacre Beach, we walked to the first pier to look for the McKay's Bunting, but did not find it.  Jess and his group were there.  Jill said there was a loon in the bay near the pier with white patches on the sides.  Everyone reacted, because that's a field marks for an Arctic Loon!  We found it, and it was indeed an Arctic Loon, a new bird for the year for me, and a late day addition to preserve my record of getting at least one new bird for the year every day of this trip.  See photo showing the white "wheel well" along the flanks and the bolder black and shite stripes on the neck than Pacific Loon.
Arctic Loon
We stayed there for a while enjoying the Arctic Loon in breeding plumage, a really rare bird for most of North America, that is more common in Asia and Europe.  Gradually the group was being transferred to the Puk-uk now anchored near Massacre Beach.  See photo showing the outrigger returning to the Puk-uk.  Just before the last group left for the Puk-uk, the male and female Snow Bunting appeared but there was no McKay's Bunting to be seen.  Scenery photos below.

Arctic Loon raises the total to 495.

Gilbert Ridge from Alexai
Into the Mist to Gilbert Ridge from Alexai

Waterfall, Gilbert Ridge


Waterfall, Gilbert Ridge



Waterfall, Gilbert Ridge
Jay at Waterfall
Back to the Puk-uk

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