Last night I made the toughest decision of my Big Year. It was not made easily. I decided NOT to chase the Dusky Thrush in Anchorage. Please let me explain. The last several days on Adak have been rather uneventful. I’ve scanned through the ducks at Clam Lagoon a dozen times hoping for a Smew, Common Pochard or Spot-billed Duck. I’ve driven up to Andrew Lake at least ten times hoping against hope that the swans might be there, but I had little confidence in this. I’ve also checked all of the small evergreen stands near Adak for finches or buntings. In fact on Wednesday, I was rewarded with a Pine Grosbeak, which is apparently a 1stsighting not only for Adak, but for the Central Aleutian Islands. I also found a Pine Siskin as well which is casual on Adak.
Heck, I would have been happy with just a Hawfinch. Then yesterday at 1:00 PM things got very interesting. Isaac Helmericks called from work with two bits of news. One of his coworkers had just spotted twelve Whooper Swans flying over town headed south towards Finger Bay and the Dusky Thrush had been relocated in Anchorage.
I decided right then that if we saw the swans then I’d delay my flight out of Anchorage and try for the Dusky Thrush on Friday. There was a chance I could parley these two additional year birds together with a Great Skua, Hooded Crane and Nutting’s Flycatcher and end the year at 746. If I chose to skip Christmas altogether there was probably even time to add the Miami area White-cheeked Pintail currently being reported on e-bird as #747 (just to compare apples to apples with Sandy Komito’s White-cheeked Pintail in 1998). Anyway Isaac rushed over, grabbed me and we sped off in his truck to franticly search Finger Bay and the surrounding waters…but no dice. After I checked in with my luggage and with two hours to spare before my flight, I ventured out for a final hail Mary and searched everywhere for the swans one more time.
When I arrived in Anchorage I consulted with White Keys. After several painful minutes, I decided to continue with my plans. So I’m on a plane bound for Anchorage where I’ll catch a red-eye to Seattle then a morning flight home to Denver. I’ll celebrate Christmas with Linda and friends in Colorado, then leave Monday morning for Hatteras. Seven days on Adak just sucked too much time out of the remainder of my Big Year.
I wish to thank Isaac and Crystal Helmericks (and cute little Rhianna) of Aleutian Outfitters for their hospiltality.