Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Last Day on Attu, June 6: A Goal Achieved

All the bikes had been transported via the outrigger to the Pu-uk last evening.  We took the outrigger to the old Attour Base and hiked around the base of Weston Mountain, scanning for swifts as we also looked for other birds.  Isaac found a Rustic Bunting, which prompted many people to climb up higher.  I finally heard a Rock Ptarmigan calling from up the mountain.  Funny how we missed them until the final day.  We took the mountain side around Big Lake to the South Beach area.  I stayed low rather than climbing high, because my ankle was hurting while walking. It had become swollen and my boots were rubbing during walking.  Biking had provided relief as did the frozen cold packs that Nicole had provided for the past two nights.  We did not find the Needletail, but as all avid birders, know, we had to try.  We continued to False Krasni Point.  On the way, we saw a Glaucous-winged Gull nip in to take a Mallard chick and fly off to either eat it or feed it to its own young.  The hen Mallard and the rest of the chicks kept swimming almost as if nothing had happened.  Such is Nature.  I photographed flowers on the way.  We ate lunch up on the bluff at False Krasni Point.  The Captain joined us for the hike.  We got binocular view close looks at the wreckage of a Coast Guard plane.  The crash occurred in the '80's.  To see this, a clear day is needed.  When we were at South Beach before during this trip, the low hanging clouds and  mist obscured the view for most of the time.  We returned to the old Attour Base to add our names and our ABA and Alaska Lists to the walls.  I photographed my name and previous ABA area list from my visit in 1988.  We also photographed the new list for this trip.  Jess got a photo of me beside the new ABA number of 803 after this part of the trip.  See photos. 
Still on the Wall after 25 Years!
Zoomed In

We took the outrigger back to the Puk-uk and headed to Alexai Beach to walk Alexai Point one more time before we leave for Adak.  As we departed Casco Cove, I took a few goodbye photos of the Casco Cove area, showing the old Attour base in the distance.
Good-bye to Casco Cove
Good-bye to Old Attour Lower (left) and Upper (right) Bases
We headed on to Alexai birding Casco Cove and Massacre Bay on the way.  We landed at Alexai Beach.  Isaac took a group to Gilbert Ridge to look for a last minute rarity or the Common Sandpiper, which not everyone in the whole group had seen.  John and our group checked for Smew.  They were not a home.  No Wood Sandpiper either.  John saw a Eurasian Wigeon.  We walked out to the point.   John found a Bar-tailed Godwit.  There are still some birds around to see!  As we headed toward the pick-up point for the Puk-uk, John found an Emperor Goose sitting on the rocks at a distance and got the scope on it.  I had the honorary first look at number 500 for the year!   Great job, John!  Everyone got a look at this bird in the scope.  A few minutes after John found the bird, Isaac called us to report it.  His group had just returned from Gilbert Ridge without finding anything of note.

We headed to the pick-up point.  While we were waiting, the fog started to roll in obscuring Alexai Point.  Seemed like a fitting departure note for Attu.  Jess had split off for some photography and while we waited for him to return to the pick-up spot, a Fork-tailed Petrel was seen right along the beach by Jess and eventually close behind the boat.  It must have followed the fog bank in.   When everyone was aboard, we departed east for Adak.  Captain Choate built in enough time to stop to see the spectacle at dusk at Sirius Point on Kiska and to have daylight on our final pass through Little Taniga Strait to see and photograph Whiskered Auklets. 

Emperor Goose raises the total to 500, which was what I hoped to reach on the Attu trip.

See photos below.

Fog Rolls in Awaiting Pick-up, Alexai Beach 
Fog Continues Rolling In

Our Ride Awaits

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