Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another highlight reel day

Harlequin Ducks from St. Paul Island, AK

Yesterday was pretty darn good but today had little to no drop-off in the bird department. The definite highlight was an early Harlequin Duck which flew along the point and took a quick breather in the rip current off the tip before heading on south about 8:30 this morning. Less than an hour later as I watched a juvenile Parasitic Jaeger attempt to grab a struggling warbler making its way across the lake I noticed a bird weaving its way through the wave troughs, it was another Red-necked Phalarope, the bird eventually lost me when it stayed below the wave peaks for too long to predict where it would re-appear. All-in-all not a bad hour to be standing out there.

Total bird numbers were down slightly from yesterday but the species diversity was actually better today thanks to a couple new diving ducks for the season. First-of-seasons (FOS) included a pair of Ring-necked Ducks in the company of several Greater Scaup and a quartet of Black Scoters that flew past a little before noon, add to that 3 separate White-winged Scoters and a single Surf Scoter about 1 p.m. and today constituted my first scoter sweep for the season. While diving duck numbers continue to increase, about 75 birds seen today could be lumped into that designation, dabbler numbers dropped off a bit more with a few teal, wigeons, and pintails adding some variety. On the overall waterbird front Red-necked Grebe continued to show strongly with 1665 counted while Canada Goose was again in second place as the skeins of geese eventually totaled 483 today. Greater Scaup made its way into the top three for the first time with 47. Loon numbers were a bit down from yesterday when just 33 Commons and 3 Red-throateds could be located flying past.

Almost surprisingly given there abundance so far this fall only one jaeger was seen today, the aforementioned Parasitic, and shorebirds were again in short supply with 2 American Golden-Plovers joining the handful of Sanderlings still on the beach.

The woods continue to produce small numbers of birds with my FOS Scarlet Tanager and Fox Sparrows seen this afternoon while Golden-crowned Kinglets and Palm Warblers were the dominant passerines on the point while small numbers of warblers are still joining the mixed-species flocks (including a few Cape Mays, Blackpolls, and Bay-breasteds). The point still has its flock of open land birds which now contains 44 Horned Larks, 5 Lapland Longspurs, and a few American Pipits while a few raptors still make an occasional appearance to dine on the many passerine migrants caught out in the open.

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