Yesterday we worked the lagoons and open fresh water hard for ducks and the Whooper Swans. All we were able to turn up was a Tufted Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon and an American Green-winged Teal. Isaac is very competent on his waterfowl identification. He actually grew up on the Colville River Delta with waterfowl as pets. Last night he showed me his photos of both the Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese that he’s seen on the island. We also studied some of Isaac’s photos of Common Pochard photos. I’d have to say that Adak is now the best place in North America to search for Asian waterfowl.
Yesterday afternoon the FAA chartered a twin engine plane to send out both a technician and a certified weather monitor (he actually lives on Adak, but was off island in Anchorage. Watching the plane taxi in on the runway was a happy sight for me. I was happy to be leaving Adak, but I didn’t like the idea of leaving Adak empty handed. Well, thinks have changed and I’m now stuck on Adak till Thursday afternoon. I was pretty down when Isaac gave me the news this morning. But while discussing my situation with my brother Tom, he brightened up my day by reminding me that if I left Adak with zero birds, I’m a gonner anyways. He was right; no sense in crying over spilled milk.
This afternoon my mood brightened even more. I finally was able to see a Whiskered Auklet. On Friday with the winds blowing out of the east and into Kuluk Bay, I was certain that I’d seen a dark auklet. But it wasn’t possible to rule out Crested or Cassin’s Auklets, though Whiskered is certainly the default species here in Adak during the winter, in fact the only auklet that Isaac’s every seen in December or January. Today the weather conditions were perfect, for sea watching. The sun was behind my back, the waves in Kulak Bay were down and there was zero wind. I was able to easily identify Common Murres and Pigeon Guillemots from almost twice the distance as was possible earlier in the week. After about ½ an hour of scanning I saw a small black alcid way out and too far to ID. Soon after that I was watching two flying Pigeon Guillemots going right when a flying Whiskered Auklet flew into the same field of view. Bingo! Number 741. Now to find those swans.