03 September 2014

Danger... there's a rubythroat around.

This post will be about birds.  But if you aren't used to that by now, there's no sense in warning you of the danger.

So, it's come down to the final 6 weeks of the season here on St. Paul Island.  Traditionally, this is a great time for rarities and some evidence of that was when Doug found a SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT yesterday in the crab pots (you can see his picture here).  Sadly, no one else relocated it but it's helpful to know that there is one skulking around somewhere (thankfully, I connected with this species this spring).

We also found a very rare BLACKPOLL WARBLER in a celery patch near Zapadni Beach.  It turned skulky and most people missed it but luckily Scott managed to relocate it.  Here's Doug's photo (I was on a nearby ridge, failing to photograph it).

Shorebirds are still of interest to us even though the peak diversity has since past us.  Besides the ROCK SANDPIPERS and RUDDY TURNSTONES, the most common shorebird we see on wetlands these days are SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS.  In fact, we had a few just on random roads this morning (yes, in the road).  It's not a sharp picture but here is one showing just how bright and rufousy they can be:
They will sometimes join the turnstones and sandpipers on the kelp line of various beaches as well.  Here's one from the beach kelp at Tonki Point:
And it's not uncommon to flush them from moist, dense wetlands too.  If so, you can try your hand at flight photography (of which I mostly fail):
Speaking of shorebirds, we were cruising along Big Lake last night when two tattlers flushed from the shoreline.  We rolled down the window just in time to hear the distinctive "tuwee tuwee" call of GRAY-TAILED TATTLER.  We stopped and subsequently spied them:
I know you've probably had your fill of tattler identification tips on this blog lately but I can't help myself; check out the pale supercilium that stretches behind the eye and the clean white flanks: 
As the fall progresses, we should see more and more species of ducks around.  All summer we've been "stuck" with NORTHERN PINTAIL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and LONG-TAILED DUCKS on inland wetlands.  However, things started to change when this NORTHERN SHOVELER decided to stick around on Weather Bureau Lake for a couple of days.  It's not a great flight shot but it does the trick:
Oh yes, fear not, the LAPLAND LONGSPURS are still here in full force.  If you drive roads to SW Point, Marunich, or NE Point, you're almost certain to see hundreds.  However, there is coming a time when they'll mostly clear out (yay!) which will help us locate odd birds flushing from roadsides.  Until then... here's one perched on a celery head:
Today at Marunich, there were banded RED-FACED CORMORANTS roosting on some shoreline.  The FWS does some banding here on the island so this probably isn't a big deal.  Still, it's fun to see how many banded birds you can find and see if you can make out the code.  I managed pictures of at least three different birds.  First #303:
... and #141:
That's all for now.  Perhaps my next post will have news of a mega!