|Massacre Beach and Puk-uk from Gilbert Ridge|
We walked Gilbert Ridge and right away Jess found a male and female Brambling soon after the start. We followed them for awhile as they flew toward Alexai and up into the cliffs of Gilbert Ridge. We found more Bramblings during the morning and the rest of the day. Gray-crowned Rosy-finches showed up on the rocks along Gilbert Ridge just as Jess said they would. We got excellent close looks at the rosy finches as the feed on the rocks. See photo.
At lunch I noticed a large loon offshore and called attention to it. Jess looked at it and called it a Yellow-billed Loon. I got on the scope but it dove and disappeared before I could see it in the scope. I did not count it as a new species for the year. However, now that I am home, I found a photograph that I took of some small alcids along Gilbert Ridge that has an apparent Yellow-throated Loon in it. I was not aware of this photo while on the trip. One photo is sharp enough that the profile looks like an identifiable Yellow-billed Loon. Yellow-billed Loon was seen nearby in Massacre Bay by the one week trip prior to our trip. I will solicit opinions from our trip leaders and let you know the outcome in later postings. At some point, Jim Brown, an MD who works with Olaf Danielson, found a another Brambling, which was very cooperative to photos. See photos.
|Brambling by jay|
|Brambling by Jess|
Incidentally, Olaf Danielson runs a business that provides emergency room doctors to hospitals. I told Olaf that as a nude Big Year birder and an MD, he is an unconventional man in a very conventional business....but that is not news to him. He apparently revels in that role. Kudus to Olaf!
After lunch, we continued along Gilbert Ridge toward Alexai. Jess found a small flycatcher, which was a Dark-sided Flycatcher, a Life Bird for me. We first thought that it might be a Gray-streaked Flycatcher, but later developments and good photos proved that is was a Dark-sided Flycatcher. The bird was streaked but the streaking was smudged on the sides giving it a vested look somewhat like an Olive-sided Flycatcher. The primary extension was long but later when we looked at photos at the end of the day, not too long. We consulted the National Geographic Guide and Birds of East Asia by Mark Brazil. There is some lack of clarity between pictures and text, but we got it sorted out. See my photos of Dark-sided Flycatcher showing a less distinct loral spot and slightly shorter primary extension than the Gray-streaked Flycatcher. Compare to later photograph.
|Dark-sided Flycatcher both by Jay|
|Common Cuckoo both by Jess|
|Rock Sandpiper by Jay|
|Smew by Jay|
a Wood Sandpiper in the reeds at the east end of the pond from which Jess first flushed it. We all carefully walked around the pond to not flush the Wood Sandpiper, a new year bird for me, and
everyone got a look through the scopes available. I saw the light supercillium, the very mottled back and yellow legs, as it feed and walked slowly through the reeds. Isaac also discovered another Siberian Rubythroat nearby. After all of this, we sat down for a snack and contacted the Puk-uk, and told them we would be out birding until late. They would move the Puk-uk to Alexai point, and Jake Schmutzler would
|Smews by Jess|
As we walked east along the low bluff above the beach, Jess yelled curlew, and John looked up and identified a Far Eastern Curlew flying over with an extremely long bill, mostly brown color, heavily streaked below and without the cinnamon colors of Long-billed curlew, which would be extremely rare on Attu anyway. There was no white on the rump and back, eliminating Eurasian Curlew. Everyone got good looks at the Far Eastern Curlew, a new bird for the year for me. After the curlew and after Jake delivered the additional sandwiches and more water, we lost several participants, who needed the rest and retuned to the Puk-uk with Jake on the outrigger. The rest of us continued out Alexai carefully to look at another pond, where we found a drake and hen Eurasian Wigeon, not a new bird for the year for me but nice to see in breeding plumage. As some of the group with John continued around the point on the beach, Isaac and Jess reported another flycatcher up on the low bluffs. We all joined them. This one proved to be Gray-streaked Flycatcher. The streaking was more crisp and distinct with no smudging along the sides, the loral spot was more distinct and the primary extension was very long on this flycatcher. Looking at photos later on the boat and shown in this post, the longer primary extension and crisp streaking and more distinct loral spot makes it a Gray-streaked Flycatcher, a Life Bird for me. I saw the much longer primary extension on this flycatcher as it sat up near a Brambling.
|Gray-streaked Flycatcher (right), Brambling (left) by Jess|
|Gray-streaked Flycatcher by Isaac|
Rustic Bunting, Gray Wagtail, Dark-sided Flycatcher, Common Cuckoo, Smew, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Rock Sandpiper, Far Eastern Curlew, and Gray-streaked Flycatcher bring the year total to 488 with three new Life Birds making my ABA area Life List 803!
|Coast Guard Station from Gilbert Ridge|
|Jay pursuing Gray-crowned Rosy Finch|
|Lunch on Gilbert Ridge and Ladder to Heaven|
|Aggatu Island from Alexai Point|