St. Paul Island RBA: July 23rd-29th, 2012
- Hello Birders, this is the St. Paul Island rare bird alert for the week of July 23rd�July 29th, 2012, 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.
2012 Species Count: 120
Weekly Species Count: 49
TUNDRA SWAN (ssp. columbianus)
Whimbrel (ssp. variegatus)
Rock Sandpiper (non-Pribilof)
The weather this week continued to improve from a bird migration perspective with two low pressure systems passing through or near the Pribilofs and another on the horizon as the week came to a close. A weak low that passed north along the western edge of the Bering Sea produced a strong southerly flow, with associated winds, early in the week and later in the week a moderate low pressure system originating near the Commander Islands passed directly overhead with strong westerlies. In addition there has been ample rain this week with measureable precip on 5 days including over a half inch on the 29th, of course there has also been plenty of fog as well.
The most unique waterfowl sighting of the week was a female Greater Scaup on the wetlands at Tonki Point with 9 ducklings on the 24th which appears to be the first documentation of nesting of the species in the Pribilofs. The only other waterfowl species of note were the continuing TUNDRA SWAN through the 29th and Steller�s Eider through the 26th.
SEABIRDS & GULLS
An event occurred on the 24th and 25th which seems to involve the largest movement of Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels documented from land at St. Paul Island. Throughout the 24th numbers built during strong southerly winds with a total of 111 seen feeding at one time at East Landing in addition to a moderate movement of birds passing by which accounted for 200-300 birds total, but then they broke loose on the 25th. Early in the morning the numbers were similar to the previous day but then they began to build as the strong southerlies continued, by 11 a.m. there were at least 196 birds present at East Landing and by 1 p.m. that number had climbed to over 300 all the while birds were moving into, out of, and behind the grouping just offshore leading to an estimation of at least 800-1000 total birds for the day. To put this in perspective the previous high count was 150 from June 2009. The 24th also saw a decent movement of Short-tailed Shearwaters with in excess of 1,500 seen (mostly from East Landing) while a few Arctic Terns were also noted passing over the course of the 24th and 25th from East Landing. The pair of RED-THROATED LOONS which were seen intermittently during June and July were again noted at Webster Lake on the 26th while the Slaty-backed Gull was seen again on the 23rd and 29th and both Long-tailed and Parasitic Jaegers were seen regularly with multiple Long-taileds seen most days.
Without a doubt the bird of the week was a PIN-TAILED SNIPE seen in flight at Marunich on the 28th and not re-located until July 31st. Views in the field and photos taken of the bird during the original sighting were not conclusive but the bird was calling diagnostically on the second occasion it was seen leaving no doubt as to its identity. This is a first record for the Pribilof Islands, the first record away from Attu in North American, and apparently the 5th or 6th record overall. The other shorebird highlight of the week was the first SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS of the fall when 1-2 were seen in flight over Marunich and Novastoshna on the 29th. Of note were two other species of Asian origin seen late this week including a �Siberian� Whimbrel on the 28th at Bogoslof Hill and GRAY-TAILED TATTLERS on the 24th and 29th. American species arriving or continuing included the Pectoral Sandpiper in Town Marsh through the 29th, the Long-billed Dowitcher at Town Marsh through the 25th, a non-Pribilof Rock Sandpiper (likely of the subspecies couesii) on the 28th at Marunich, the Wilson�s Snipe at Tim�s Pond through the 29th, and a large movement of Red Phalaropes throughout the week with over 6000 on the 24th, 3800 on the 25th, and 3900 on the 28th.
LANDBIRDS & PASSERINES
Well I can finally change my tune a bit this week with the return of an old friend, the WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, which was seen along the north coast of the island on the 24th and 26th after a nearly 5 week absence. In other news there were 2 Common Redpolls seen on the 29th in the interior of the island.
Regularly occurring species currently present on the island:
Green-winged Teal (ssp. crecca and carolinensis)
Rock Sandpiper (ssp. ptilocnemis)
Pacific Wren (ssp. alascensis)
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (ssp. umbrina)
This is Scott Schuette, Doug Gochfeld, and Ryan O�Donnell, the 2012 St. Paul Island Tour guides, wishing you good birding. For tour information or to make travel arrangements visit our website http://www.alaskabirding.com<http://www.alaskabirding.com/> or call 1-877-424-5637.
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