This time of year also means the arrival of some interesting species. I often that kid that being here on St. Paul Island during the fall will ruin certain species for you. Of course, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek but here's what I'm getting at. You see, I wasn't raised in this part of the country. I spent most of my formative birding years in the Midwest where, not surprisingly, SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS are essentially nonexistent. This Code 3 species, after all, doesn't breed here in North America and if it shows up in the L48, it almost always receives attention (which is how I saw my first one 4 years ago in California). Then cue coming to St. Paul Island. Not only are migrant SPTS present (yes, that's the code), they can be downright abundant in the fall. The first couple you see are amazing and, you know, the next couple are pretty cool too. But then fast forward a month. What if you see them every single day? And what if you see 50+ some days? Because that's what happens here.
Right now, in mid-September, the numbers of SPTS are starting to peak. Although we "only" had ~45 today from only 2 different wetlands, I'm sure there are more than 100 on the island currently. Here's a view of a small flock of SPTS (with a dowitcher thrown in for good measure) on Rocky Lake:
So yes, by the time we leave here in the fall, we'll be thoroughly jaded in terms of Sharp-tailed excitement levels. But still, and I try to remind myself of this from time to time, it's not only sharp-tailed, it's also sharp looking:
Although these were the first EMGO seen this year on St. Paul Island (we missed them this spring), I checked my records from last fall on eBird and I had them on 12 different days. So yes, I think we'll be seeing more of these unique geese in the coming 5 weeks.
Another new arrival yesterday was this lone BAR-TAILED GODWIT that Ash and I found on the shore of Big Lake after 10 PM last night. With the ISO cranked unusually high, I was at least able to capture proof of its identity instead of seeing a dark blob in the shadows and wondering if it was a Black-tailed:
I should add, as I close, that there have been some interesting sightings pop up just this evening. The biggest news is that Alison, Gavin, and the WINGS group found a PURPLE FINCH tonight representing the 1st ever record for the Pribilofs. Although Ashley and I zoomed out there immediately, the bird had already moved on. Bummer.
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