16 July 2014

These questions three

It’s mid-July, one of the quietest parts of the summer here on St. Paul Island.  Most of the species have chicks or fully-fledged young by now and that makes for some interesting birding.  For example, a check of Antone Slough yielded young of two shorebird species.  First, however, this adult LEAST SANDPIPER acted as the bridge-keeper near the plank bridge.  I was not afraid. 
A little later on, I saw a young LEAST SANDPIPER running about.  I guessed it wasn’t able to fly yet but alas, it jumped up and few away when I continued on my route.  Here's a distant pic of the little guy:
LEAST SANDPIPERS aren’t abundant breeders here; they’re fairly uncommon.  However, a much more common breeding shorebird is the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE.  Antone Slough also provided me with a quick glimpse of one of these striking chicks swimming for cover:
I ventured up to Marunich, a beach on the north side of the island, to see what shorebirds were feeding on the kelp.  As expected, ROCK SANDPIPERS dominated the scene; hundreds were milling about.  Here’s a view of our local umbrina subspecies:
However, this nearby ROCK SANDPIPER caught my attention:
It was a touch smaller and much darker overall (compare this to the previous bird).  This is likely from one of the rarer subspecies that DOESN’T breed on St. Paul.

A little farther down the beach I found a RED-NECKED STINT feeding on the kelp (just like I did there on 5 June):
This makes it my 5th day so far on St. Paul with a RED-NECKED STINT.  This bird is a touch paler than the stint we had at Pumphouse Lake a couple of days ago and so probably a different bird.

An obvious indicator that shorebird migration is well underway are the RUDDY TURNSTONES which still are piling onto the beaches at Marunich.   I had 100+ there on my last visit.
The best shorebird habitat right now continues to be at Pumphouse Lake.  For example, up to 7 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS are present which is pretty notable.  Also, the adult SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER is still present (9th day now).  Yesterday, the LESSER SAND-PLOVER made a quick appearance there as well although it left before some of us arrived.

In case you’re following the facial hair saga, I’m still waiting on my lifer Gray-tailed Tattler but it literally can happen any day now.  I did have two WANDERING TATTLERS today though; one at Southwest Point and another at Antone Lake/Wall.  I wasn’t the only keen pair of eyes at Southwest Point though.  The HARBOR SEALS, which are common there, are pretty distinctive from a distance; big eyes, pale gray coloring, and periscoping-style of looking about:
Switching gears, I also spent some time around RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKES today, mainly at Weather Bureau Lake and Tonki Point.  I took this photo to illustrate how the mantle color differs between the two species of kittiwakes; you’ll see the mantle is a touch darker on the bird in front compared to the three behind it:
This digiscoped photo also shows the darker mantle of RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKES:
As per the norm, I’ll close with a flower picture.  This particular one is called a Brook Saxifrage.  Peculiar little thing with the red stems and small white flowers... and yet it's still a small wonder I managed to ID it:
Anyway, hopefully my next post will have some high-caliber rarity crushage.