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10323Gambell: RED-legged Kittiwake, miscellanea

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  • Paul Lehman
    Aug 19, 2014
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      On Tuesday afternoon the 19th here at Gambell, we (Barrett Pierce and I)
      were doing a bit of seawatching and photographing the scads of
      mixed-alcid flocks flying by when a second-cycle RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKE
      came flying by right in front of us. This is the first fall record for
      Gambell, and the only other record from shore here, ever, is of a single
      late-spring bird perhaps some 15-20 years ago. We are well north, of
      course, from the species' normal range in the southern Bering and
      Aleutians. However, a recent telemetry study of Red-leggeds breeding on
      the Pribilofs has shown that some number of birds head NORTH in very
      late fall and are found in offshore waters in the northern Bering only a
      bit to the south and west of here in Nov/Dec, and then those birds head
      southwest to off s. Kamchatka where they spend Jan/Feb, before returning
      east to the Pribilofs in early spring. Pretty amazing.

      In other news we have now had a total of 4 juvenile COMMON RINGED
      PLOVERS the past several days, and today we had a high count of 22 WHITE
      WAGTAILS (including a single flock of 12), the highest count since the
      early 1990s. The first several juvenile SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS of the
      season (early by a few days) arrived on the 17th, a single juvenile
      RED-NECKED STINT (rare but annual) turned up, and several all-time early
      arrival dates have been set (no surprise given I arrived earlier than
      normal!!) including those for "Black" Brant and Black Scoter. The only
      AK mainland stray so far has been a single ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (rare
      but annual in fall)--not a good showing so far. It is still a few days
      "too early" for the start of typical Asian landbird potential.

      The Red-legged Kittiwake was my #231 for Gambell, but my reign as Grand
      Poo-ba on the offshore Bering Sea islands is about to end, as Scott
      Schuette down on St. Paul just got his #229 there yesterday (a Red
      Knot)--so the clock is ticking.....loudly.

      --Paul Lehman
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