Slaty-backed Gull in Unalaska
- September 30th, 2012
This afternoon I birded along the coast out to Humpy Cove and walked through some of the grassy flats and willows. The Emperor Geese are still slowly arriving, but not in big numbers yet. I counted maybe twenty along the beach and on the reef in front of town. Seven Northern Pintails, also near the reef and later winging towards the lake, were a big surprise of the day; the most I've ever counted here. 90 Black Scoters are the first arrivals of fall, along with one lone White-winged Scoter. 4 Common Loons, still in breeding plumage were fishing off Little Priest Rock along with 17 Red-necked Grebes, also first of fall. Along the road to Summer Bay, on the big black sea rocks near Gold Creek, I spent some time looking at all three species of cormorant sitting right next to each other, Double-crested, Pelagic and Red-faced. The numbers of Glaucous-winged Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes is astounding right now, in the thousands. Out at Humpy Cove, on a reef was one exciting Slaty-backed Gull, and I think this is the same bird I saw a couple of days ago on the reef in town. This evening, it was back in town again, very dark-backed compared to the GWGU but about the same size. I noted partial dark banding on the tail and a white leading edge to the wings, somewhat clear in the photos I took. The fall colors are brilliant now and I walked through some of the marshes and flats hoping to flush something unusual ( like a Short-eared Owl...) No luck, but it was good to still see dozens upon dozens of Lapland Longspurs, moving and feeding together in flocks. Savannah Sparrow numbers are thinning noticably now. I was cheered to see three Pacific Wrens, after last winter's hardship on them, and I heard an American Dipper in the creek at Humpy Cove. Last but not least, there's been a Townsend's Warbler in the spruce trees outside the radio station for the last few days, likely the same bird I saw up Captain's Bay on September 13th. A good day of birding!
- October 1, 2013Pouring down rain, blowing SE but nothing stops the gulls when fish are in the river. This evening, in Town Creek, a single very dark Slaty-backed Gull was feeding among the paler Glaucous-winged Gulls. By rolling down the window I got a few shots without even getting wet! ( but I'm still figuring out how to post photos here...)SuziSuzi GolodoffAleutian Birding and Natural HistoryP.O. Box 11Unalaska, Alaska 99685(907) 581-1359(907) 391-2345