North American Birds

VOLUME 69 No1 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/629070

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N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 138 Alaska the latest of six prior Alaska records. In a year with above-average sea surface temperatures, the season's pelagic highlights came mostly from land-based observers at Middleton Island in the n. Gulf of Alaska. Mottled Petrels were noted off Middleton on six days between 17 Aug and 2 Oct, with an hour peak count of 400 on 19 Sep (LHD, NRH, CWW). The peak Bering Sea Mot - tled count reached 311 at St. Paul Island 12 Sep (St. Paul Tour). At Middleton Island, Pink-foot - ed Shearwaters were seen more regularly than in past years, with 1-3 seen per day on 15 days of the season (11 Aug–16 Oct) and a high count of 15 from 1 Sep (LHD, NRH, CWW). Single Pink-footeds were also observed off Kodiak 21 Aug (ph. JM, RAM) and 9 Sep (JBA). Excep - tional numbers of Flesh-footed Shearwaters ap- peared in the Gulf of Alaska, where Middleton observations included regular sightings of 1-10 birds 14 Aug–14 Oct, with unprecedented peak estimates of 100 birds 26 Sep, 60 on 27 Sep, and 36 on 7 Sep (ph. NRH, LHD, CWW). High counts there were typically 1-3 birds; this year's observations drastically alter the species' status in Alaska waters. Manx Shearwaters continued to be located in nearshore shearwater feeding focks off Middleton Island, with 1-2 found on seven days 16 Aug–16 Sep and a high count of 3 from 1 Sep (LHD, NRH, CWW). On the heels of an unprecedented northward pulse that brought Brown Boobies off Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, 2 Brown Boobies were docu - mented in Alaska. A single was photographed 294 km se. of Kodiak (ph. JS) and a second bird landed on a fshing vessel off Kruzof Island near Sitka 29 Oct (fde MRG), a bird that was captured and was sent to a bird rescue center in California 18 Nov. The previous lone Alaska Brown Booby report was an ad. that landed on a vessel on the Bering Sea 13 Jul 2000. Because the specimen was identifed as the tropical Pacif - ic subspecies plotus (fde DDG), which occurs in the Hawaiian Islands, that record was not added to the Alaska Checklist. For a second consecu - by a group of taverneri types 9 Oct–1 Nov (St. Paul Tour). Sixteen minima Cackling Geese near Kodiak 8-22 Nov (RAM) were the latest for the Region this season. The only Wood Duck this season was a female at Petersburg 9-14 Nov (TO, ph. RBB, ELY). A single Gadwall was rare for the Bering Sea and a frst for the season at St. Paul Island 3-17 Oct (St. Paul Tour). The highest Eur - asian Wigeon counts were of 66 at St. Paul Island 14 Oct (St. Paul Tour), 11 for the season at Middleton Island, with a peak of 6 there 11 Oct (LHD, NRH, CWW), and 6 off Homer Spit 26 Oct (AJL). St. Paul Is - land observers tallied a fall record 21 American Wigeons 4 Oct (St. Paul Tour). Unusual Blue- winged Teal accounts included a very late and rare fall bird in Anchorage 22 Oct (SS), 2 late birds at Wrangell 26 Oct (BHD), and up to 8 at Middleton Island for the season 1 Sep–14 Oct (LHD, NJR, CWW). Cinnamon Teal made a better-than-average showing in Southeast, with 3 at Gustavus 24 Aug (BPP) and one at Juneau 28 Sep (GBV). Although this species is a rare spring migrant in the Region, there are few fall records. A Garganey at St. Paul 15 Sep–1 Oct was the Pribilofs' ffth in fall and latest for the site by nearly a month (ph. St. Paul Tour). Rare fall Aythya for the Bering Sea included a Com - mon Pochard at St. Paul 11-17 Oct, the frst ever in fall there, and 5, then 4 Ring-necked Ducks 5-7 & 8-17 Oct, a new high Pribilofs count (St. Paul Tour). Additional extralimital Ring-necked Duck reports included rare Aleutian birds, one at Shemya Island 10-14 Oct (DS) and 3 at Adak Island 17-19 Nov (Wilderness Birding). A fe - male Tufted Duck documented at Kodiak 15-19 Nov (ph. RAM) was the frst there since 2009; the species has turned up periodically there. Middleton Island's second Hooded Merganser, a male present 11 Oct (LHD, NRH, CWW), and a single at Anchorage 27 Sep (DMT) were the this season's most extralimitals fnds, while a peak count of 88 Ring-neckeds near Juneau 12 Oct (BAA) represented the largest aggregation. A lone drake Ruddy Duck that spent 18 Aug– 21 Sep (ph. LHD, NRH, CWW) on freshwater ponds on Middleton Island was an island frst, rare for South-coastal Alaska, and the season's only report. An estimated 80 Red-throated Loons spread out along several km off the w. coast of the Beardslee Islands 11 Nov and another 50 in Beardslee Entrance the next day (NKD) rep - resented new high counts for both the Glacier Bay area and all of Southeast. An imm. Eared Grebe surprised observers at Middleton Island 7 Oct (CWW, LHD, NRH) for an island frst and Thede Tobish –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– F all 2014 ended up with a remarkable tally of rarities, low bird numbers overall, few concentrations of regular passage mi - grants, and few late dates. Weather conditions likely played a role in all cases. Given the cool weather across the Region and the slow start to the breeding season, there was anecdotal infor - mation suggesting inconsistent nesting success. A strong North Pacifc high-pressure block and fewer storms overall resulted in the few notable systems moving and dissipating into the eastern Bering Sea and southwestern Mainland. And the last part of the season found a strong continen - tal high-pressure area bringing very cold condi- tions across most of the Mainland. Otherwise, the Gulf of Alaska continued a warming trend noted in spring, with above-average sea surface temperatures remaining widespread into Octo - ber or later. Southeast stayed mild and wetter than usual for the season. Given the weather and low storm count, the place to be this year was on one of the island hotspots. Indeed, rari - ties were the norm at St. Paul, St. Lawrence, and Middleton Islands, and all three localities pro - duced superlative lists of rare and extralimital species. Within the rarity highlights, passerines from both east and west won the prize. The remnants of Super Typhoon Nuri swept through the western Aleutians and into the Bering Sea in early November. The cyclone re-intensifed as it moved northeastward past Japan and im - pacted western Alaska for over a week, in the process hitting the lowest pressure reading ever for the Bering Sea (924 mb). While too late in the season to impact much of the fall migration, observers at Unalaska found some exciting birds there following the storm. WATERFOWL THROUGH FALCONS An unidentifed bean-goose at Gambell 16 Sep (ph. PEL) was the season's lone report. For the frst time at St. Paul Island, non-Aleutian Cack - ling Geese were detected in the fall, with at least one noted there 19 Sep–13 Oct, followed Autumn 2014's northward irruption of Brown Boobies along the Pacifc Coast brought two birds to Alaskan waters. This individual was seen at sea southeast of Kodiak Island 28 Octo- ber, followed the next day by one near Sitka. These constitute Alaska' s frst records. Photograph by Justin Smith.

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