Friday, July 16, 2010

MA - Hudsonian Godwit - 07/11

Hudsonian Godwit. South Beach, Chatham. MA. July 11th, 2010.

Saw about 5 Hudsonian Godwits during my day at South Beach. Blair Nikula also picked out a Marbled Godwit feeding with Hudsonians at extreme high tide. This lone bird gave the closest views.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MA - Saltmarsh Sparrows - 07/11

Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodrammus caudacutus) - juvenile, South Beach, Chatham, MA. July 11th, 2010.

Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodrammus caudacutus) - adult, South Beach, Chatham, MA. July 11th, 2010.

Finally made it out to South Beach in Chatham after many years of wanting to go back. I think August 2005 was my last visit. As usual, it was a great experience with hundreds of close feeding shorebirds at high tide.

In the marshes I came across a family of Saltmarsh Sparrows which allowed good, close views. The recently fledged juveniles were especially interesting showing nice tawny-buff tones combined with moderate streaking on the breast sides and flanks.
I was also fortunate to run into Blair Nikula and benefit from his experience. Blair has an entire web page dedicated to visiting South Beach, highly recommend for anyone planning a trip to New England's premier shore-birding site. Here's the link;


Monday, July 5, 2010

AK - Bar-tailed Godwits and Bristle-thighed Curlews - 06/20

Bar-tailed Godwits (L. l. baueri) - Nome, Alaska, June 20th, 2010.

Pale rump and upper tail distinctive.

Bristle-thighed Curlews - Nome, Alaska, June 20th, 2010.

So we were fortunate indeed to have a perfect morning for our attempt at seeing Bristle-thighed Curlews in Nome. My recollection from previous years suggested that we might have a wet, mosquito-ridden hike up Coffee Dome before we met with success, but this was far from true. The day was beautiful, a real stunner, cool and crisp with a light breeze keeping the mosquitoes at bay. As soon as we arrived, a Bristle-thighed Curlew could be heard from the road, a bird which we eventually tracked down along with numerous (Hudsonian) Whimbrels. Perhaps we didn't need to do the infamous hike up Coffee Dome but having driven so far on dirt roads (72 miles) we made the effort anyway. Not only did we find more Bristle-thighed Curlews but we were richly rewarded with a pair of Bar-tailed Godwits on territory, my first at this particular locality. We also shared the slopes with nearly 40 Long-tailed Jaegers and several American Golden Plovers. With Grizzly and Moose in the area too, if proved to be a stellar morning in the field, a day which evolved to be one of the best of the whole tour.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

AK - Kenai murrelets

Kittlitz's Murrelet - near Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords NP, AK. June 13th, 2010.

Kittlitz's Murrelets - near Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords NP, AK. June 13th, 2010. Striking white outer tail sides in flight (and pale nape).

Ancient Murrelets. Kenai Fjords National Park, AK. June 13th, 2010.

Marbled Murrelet. Seward Harbor, Kenai Peninsula, AK. June 13th, 2010.

Rhinoceros Auklets - Kenai Fjords National Park, AK. June 13th, 2010.

Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords NP, AK. June 13th, 2010.

Another highlight of the Birdfinders' Alaska trip. A full day out on the Kenai Fjords culminating at Aialik Glacier and close-up views of Kittlitz's Murrelets. We felt extremely fortunate to have a perfect day when many preceding cruises had been canceled due to high seas and poor weather.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

AK - grouse

Spruce Grouse chick - Eagle River, Alaska, June 26th, 2010.

Spruce Grouse - Female, Eagle River, Alaska, June 26th, 2010.

Willow Ptarmigan - Nome, Alaska, June 20th, 2010.

Rock Ptarmigan - Arctic Valley, Alaska, June 11th, 2010.

Gamebirds, though often aloof, featured on our Alaska trip with the best show of
Willow Ptarmigans that I've experienced. The Rock Ptarmigan was seen on a pre-tour hike in Arctic Valley near Eagle River with Val Miller and Scott Surner, a bird which never made it onto the overall tour list.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

AK - Arctic Warbler - 06/17

Arctic Warbler - Denali Highway, Alaska. June 17th, 2010.

Arctic Warblers
seemed to be plentiful along the Denali Highway and at a couple of spots in Nome. The race concerned is P. b. kennicotti breeding in Western Alaska.
Always a treat to watch any phylloscopus warbler in North America!


AK - Bristle-thighed Curlew - 06/20

Bristle-thighed Curlew - displaying, digi-bin shot (using Leica 8 x 42 bins and Canon Powershot A590) taken from Coffee Dome, Nome, Alaska. June 20th, 2010. Click to enlarge the image.

This year we had no problem finding Bristle-thighed Curlews in Nome. As we arrived to start the hike up Coffee Dome a male was already displaying and vocalizing over the road! In the event we needn't have done the hike but it was well worth it with a surprise near the top - more to come in a future post.