The flight to Gambell yesterday was a little bit intimidating. Not because I was traveling by myself, it’s the 3rd trip this year for goodness sakes, but even though the flight left at 9:00 AM it was pitch dark. To make matters worse when we tried to land in Savoonga, a snow squall kept us from landing initially. But by the time I landed on Gambell, my nerves had settled. It was now finally dawn (at 10:15 AM). After checking in with Hanson, renting an ATV and getting my warm cloths on, it felt like old home week.
The Oriental Turtle Dove did not come easy. This is a big dove, even larger than Eurasian Collard Doves, and yo’d think it would be pretty easy to find. More than once, a queasy feeling came over. What if the bird was gone, or one of the Yupiks shot it? After a couple of hours of searching, Hanson’s brother, Clarence, sauntered up and said he had found fresh tracks of the bird in the snow which he showed to me. The snow had fallen early Saturday morning so the dove was still here and alive.
I took a break for lunch
and then checked out the far boneyards where I found a Golden-crowned Kinglet, but soon returned to search again for the turtle dove. There was another interesting bird of note in the near Boneyards, a bunting of some sorts that I had first seen around 11:00 AM so I concentrated on photographing it. Eventually, Clarence joined me and we worked the Near Boneyard slowly, tracking the bird. Suddenly the turtle dove flew up in front of us. It was awesome. Here are several photographs.
So now about this bunting/finch. I’m not certain on the identification of this but here are five photographs. It’s wiser to get the photos out to the birding community than wait (I think)
I have my thoughts as to what this might be, but for now if you’ve got experience in Eurasian birds, I welcome your ideas.