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U.S.A. - ALASKA: GAMBELL
23 August - 2 October 2002
by Paul Lehman
The following is a summary of the species noted at Gambell, Saint
Lawrence Island, Alaska between 23 August and 2 October 2002.
Between 23 and 28 August I was leading my annual WINGS tour, assisted
this year by George Armistead (Philadelphia). I took the group
back to Nome on the 28th and then returned to Gambell on the 30th, with
George remaining at Gambell. He departed on 2 September, and
after that I was alone except for a brief visit by Bob Dodelson (New
Jersey) on 10-11 September and then was joined by David Sonneborn
(Alaska) and Dona Coates (Kentucky) between 14 and 23 September.
The autumn of 2002 was spectacular for rarities.
Incredible. Fabulous. Asian highlights included first North
American records of Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Lesser
Whitethroat (Sylvia carruca), and Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa
striata), the second record of Yellow-browed Warbler, the third record
of Tree Pipit, the first northern Bering Sea and Alaska fall record of
Reed Bunting, the second or third Alaska fall record of Bean Goose,
“Kamchatka” Mew Gull, Oriental Cuckoo, Sky Lark, five flava Horned
Larks, four Dusky Warblers, three Siberian Accentors, and two Little
Buntings. From the North American mainland came Warbling Vireo
(second Bering Sea record), Magnolia Warbler (c. third Bering Sea
record), MacGillivray’s Warbler (first Bering Sea record), lutescens
Orange-crowned Warbler, three Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and two Chipping
Sparrows, plus more regularly occurring species, including an
impressive total of six species of North American wood-warblers.
Also seen was a group of seven McKay’s Buntings.
Asian shorebirds were below average, with a single Mongolian Plover,
five Gray-tailed Tattlers, two Red-necked Stints, and a pathetically
low total of only four Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. One
possible/partial explanation for the mediocre shorebird turnout was the
fact that it was a relatively dry summer, so seasonal wetlands and rain
pools near town were in shorter supply than normal. Seabird
numbers and variety after the end of August, though still interesting,
were the lowest I had seen on any visit. Perhaps the south and
southwesterly winds (see below) were a major cause (as was the early
fledging of many alcids)—so the weather (i.e., wind) that was good for
Asian strays was poor for seawatching. Certainly the best counts
of seabirds during September were made, as usual, during moderate winds
with a northerly component—particularly needed for seeing large numbers
of Short-tailed Shearwaters.
Details (descriptions) of the better rarities make up a separate
document. I was able to video a large percent of this year’s rare
birds, and have made a highlight videotape.
Birding effort was concentrated in the “Near,” “Far,” and “Circular”
Boneyards, in the “Old Town” area north of the runway, and in and
around the Point (=“Northwest Cape”). These places each received
about two, sometimes three, visits per day, depending on weather and
birding conditions. As in past years, the far and circular
boneyards did best at attracting rarities, followed by the near
boneyard third, and Old Town a distant fourth. In the past, I
thought these differences may have been the result of varying
disturbance levels, but now I think the far and circular boneyards do
best because they are located right up against 600-foot-tall Sevuokuk
Mountain, and passerines coming in off the ocean may drop out at that
point rather than try to fly up and over the mountain to uncertain
habitats beyond. The dump, nearby sewage “pond” (not very good in
2002), and “North Beach” (ditto) were also visited most days.
Seabirding efforts varied greatly from day to day depending on what was
going on there and elsewhere; thus variation in seabird counts from day
to day need to be taken with at least a grain of salt. In
general, seawatching after August involved only a couple hours first
thing each morning (when autumn seabird diversity appears to be
highest). Visits to the bottom end of the lake were made most
(but not all) days through early September, but only very infrequently
after that. This area, although it was sometimes mildly
interesting and did produce a few rarities, was never really good or
excellent. We rented a Honda four-wheeler during the WINGS tour,
but not thereafter, so then paid for the occasional ride from local
residents all during September, particularly from lodge employee
Hansen. Overall, even with one or a couple other birders present
to help check areas, I believe that many areas receive incomplete
coverage. Who knows how many furtive species or especially those
that remain only briefly (see below) I/we ended up missing
altogether. My guess is that when I am alone I find only about
two-thirds of the rarities present in and around town, mostly the
result of a not-insignificant percent of these birds remaining in the
area for only a short time.
Compared to my long stays in 1999 and 2001, the autumn of 2002
weather-wise had more winds from between the west and south, with much
less of a NNE dominance that occurred in 1999, or the greater
variability of 2001. The weather this year throughout much of
Alaska was mild for much of September, with hard-freezes not occurring
even in the northern interior of the state until very late in the
month. The mild conditions on the mainland translated to slightly
above-normal daytime temperatures at Gambell (remember the inescapable
Bering Sea influence!) during September, with night-time temps very
rarely falling below a balmy 39 degrees and daytime temps usually in
the 40s, even reaching 50-52 degrees several days. There were
very few major storms, but several weather fronts did pass through at
just the right time: moderate rain for at least several hours late at
night through an hour or two after dawn, resulting in some good
passerine fallouts and some great rarities, with either W or SW winds
(e.g., 8 September) or E winds (e.g., 15 and 22 September).
Other fallouts of rarities coincided with moderate W and SW (less often
S) winds and at least a low (around 500 feet) ceiling (e.g., 29-30
August). But of course some rarities turned up in just about any
weather, and some Asian birds were found on days with light easterlies,
and some North American mainland vagrants were found during light
westerlies. Summarizing some of the better “mini-fallouts” is as
follows: 29-30 August produced the continuing Willow Warbler and Reed
Bunting plus new Dusky Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, and Siberian
Accentor; 8 September produced Lesser Whitethroat, Dusky Warbler,
Siberian Accentor, and 2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes; 15 September saw the
arrival of 8 Arctic Warblers, 2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes, 2 Yellow
Wagtails, and 2 japonicus pipits; and 22 September was “mainland day”
with Warbling Vireo, 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, lutescens Orange-crowned
Warbler, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, and Savannah Sparrow.
The Siberian (Chukotsk Peninsula) mountains and the low mountains on
the southwestern part of Saint Lawrence Island got their first coating
of snow on 17-18 September, but this all soon melted. Some flakes
fell in Gambell, mixed with rain, the last several days I was present,
but it amounted to nothing (temps were still around 38-40
degrees). Day-by-day weather conditions are found at the end of
this report. Weather data at Gambell can be accessed easily from
the automated weather station at the runway by calling 907-985-5733, or
by listening to the same recording on an FM radio station (forgot the
station number); also, Gambell temperature and wind are given hourly on
“KNOM” (AM) out of Nome.
The numbers of most trans-Beringian landbird migrants during late
August and early September were reasonable, but not as good for most
species as in the 1990s. Arctic Warblers and Red-throated Pipits
were in good numbers this year, but Bluethroats were below
average. The overall trend for several of these species appears
to be negative at Gambell. But it should be stated that I have
never arrived any earlier than 20 August, so I clearly miss a fairly
substantial part of that migration, particularly involving early
migrants such as Yellow Wagtail. By arriving so late in the
month, I also clearly miss a fair chunk of the shorebird migration.
As in previous visits, many of the migrant passerines—both Asian
species and even many of the North American mainland wanderers—behaved
like Asian species and were decidedly flighty or furtive. Also, a
few of the goodies in the far and circular boneyards clearly would go
up onto the lower and mid- slopes of adjoining Sevuokuk Mountain and
largely disappear for periods of time. Most new rarities were not
found until the PM, consistent with other years.
It also was obvious, as in last year, that a number of the rarities
that turn up do so only for a few minutes, an hour, or a few
hours. A majority of the goodies noted in this report as being
present on only one day were, in fact, present (or at least find-able)
for only two hours or less. Most Asian birds remain for extended
periods. But North American warblers appear to be particularly
brief in their stays. Whether these birds are just moving around
locally during the day, or are ranging much farther afield, is
Also apparent is that a few rarities may move from the near to the far
boneyard or may disappear for multiple days and then reappear, making
it difficult to determine if one or more individuals are
involved. For example, this problem occurred in 2001 with a
Siberian Accentor, “Red” Fox Sparrow, and Little Bunting, and this year
it involved the Willow Warbler, Tree Pipit, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and
During autumn, Gambell has remained essentially unexplored by birders
during the first three weeks of August and after the first few days of
October. As stated earlier, the former period is probably good
for shorebirds, trans-Beringian migrants, and a few early landbird
rarities. The latter period likely produces only a small number
of passerines, but what does show up is probably pretty
interesting! Local residents report seeing “strange-looking
little birds” in the boneyards, in Old Town, or trying to seek shelter
in buildings (such as at more primitive “camps” elsewhere on the
island) from time to time during the latter fall (October+). Who
knows what is turning up during these periods…
Observers’ initials used: GLA- George L. Armistead, DC- Dona
Coates, BD- Bob Dodelson, PEL- Paul E. Lehman, DWS- David
W. Sonneborn, WINGS- Wings tour (Paul Lehman and George
RED-THROATED LOON: total of only 4 between 24 Aug- 27 Sep was somewhat
fewer than normal.
ARCTIC LOON: none again this year, with now still only one bird seen by
me in four years (on 22 Sep 1999), surprising given how regular they
are here in spring. Do they take a different route or come later
PACIFIC LOON: total of 188 between 24 Aug- 1 Oct was fewer than normal.
YELLOW-BILLED LOON: total of 46 between 24 Aug- 1 Oct, with only 8 of
these before 25 Sep, and then 16 birds on both 27 and 28 Sep
each. Peak counts in 1999 and 2001 were also made on 28
Sep. As in other years, almost all birds in alternate plumage
(only one in basic plumage, 8-10 Sep) and seen flying from W or SW to E
RED-NECKED GREBE: sightings on 17-18 Sep and 24 Sep could easily have
involved just one bird. This species has now occurred in the
Point area four falls in a row.
NORTHERN FULMAR: up to 75/day during August, including a rare
dark-morph bird on 23 Aug (north of normal), then only 1 to 4/day seen
sporadically after that, with none after 19 Sep.
SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER: typically huge numbers present, although the
truly large counts were made less frequently than normal, probably the
result of the lack of strong north winds most days. Peak numbers
in late Aug were up to 150,000/day, quickly increasing in early Sep to
a high count of 600,000 on 7 Sep (video), then dropping to a max.
of 400,000/day in mid-Sep and 50,000/day in late Sep.
PELAGIC CORMORANT: as in past years, numbers increased later in season,
with up to 85/day, except for 250 on 27 Sep and 200 on 28 Sep; these
latter two counts made up mostly of mid-sized migrant flocks flying
south at moderate height.
BEAN GOOSE: 1 flew by the Point from W to E on 7 Sep (PEL). This
may be only the second or third fall record for the state. See
EMPEROR GOOSE: according to local residents, our arrival on 23 Aug just
missed the main out-migration in late August by a couple days, a time
during which the first strong north winds of the season had
blown. We had only 1 bird on 28 Aug and 22 on 31 Aug.
SNOW GOOSE: a flock of 20 on 17 Sep was the only sighting and was fewer
than normal; according to local residents who hunt this species on the
southern and eastern parts of the island, this species arrived somewhat
late this year, but by the latter part of Sep many thousands were
present, as is typical.
"BLACK" BRANT: total of 119 seen on five dates between 27 Aug and 28
Sep. Somewhat unusual was one on Troutman Lake, 28 Aug.
EURASIAN WIGEON: the third year in a row with small flock(s) past the
Point, with 2 birds seen on 18 Sep.
NORTHERN PINTAIL: total of 144 seen between 23 Aug and 29 Sep, with
most seen in late Aug and early Sep.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL: total of 14 seen from 23 Aug- 21 Sep, with up to 6
birds remaining for most of this period (video). All birds were
in eclipse/female plumage but were probably ìEurasianî
Green-wingeds based on the boldness of the white borders to the
speculum and on distributional grounds.
STELLER’S EIDER: total of 80 seen 24 Aug- 2 Oct, with a one-day high
count of 18 on 28 Aug.
SPECTACLED EIDER: total of 39 seen 24 Aug- 28 Sep, with only 3 seen
before 7 Sep, the date of the one-day high count of 14. Unusual
was the single bird that remained on Troutman Lake from 19-25 Sep
KING EIDER: total of c. 610 seen between 23 Aug and 1 Oct, with a
high one-day count of 90 on 26 Sep. Amount of duplication
probably fairly low but must occur to some degree.
COMMON EIDER: as in previous years, numbers low early in period, with
only 5 seen before mid-Sep, then increasing in late Sep, with 107 seen
in all, but the highest one-day count being only 13 birds. Some
HARLEQUIN DUCK: seen daily, with most counts between 6 and 20 birds;
large amounts of duplication likely from day to day; highest one-day
count was 46 on 13 Sep.
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER: 2 on 31 Aug.
BLACK SCOTER: 2 on 31 Aug.
LONG-TAILED DUCK: total of only 32 seen, 25 Aug- 27 Sep. Larger
numbers occur later in the season, according to local residents, and
the species even over-winters locally in leads in the pack-ice.
Somewhat unusual were 2 birds on Troutman Lake on 16 Sep.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER: this species is surprisingly scarce here in
early fall, and this year actually produced more than normal, with 8 on
28 Sep and 1 on 30 Sep.
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK: up to 3 present daily along the slopes of Sevuokuk
Mtn., from our arrival on 23 Aug through 18 Sep (video), were likely a
locally nesting family group.
GYRFALCON: total of three birds: 1 on 1-2 Sep, 1 from 14-21 Sep
(video), and 1 on 19 Sep.
PEREGRINE FALCON: 1 on 25 Sep was probably fairly late for this
latitude (?); previous late date was 15 Sep (2000).
SANDHILL CRANE: flock of 12 on 18 Sep were the only ones seen this year.
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER: total of 139 between 23 Aug and 2 Oct, with a
one-day high count of 34 on 29 Aug. Fewer than in past years
present on a daily basis around Old Town and the near boneyard.
The last adult was seen on the early date of 27 Aug. A late
influx of 11 birds were seen on 1 Oct (video), with 5 still present
when I departed the next day.
MONGOLIAN PLOVER: 1 juv on 31 Aug (PEL).
WANDERING TATTLER: 1 on 25 August. As in past years, this seems
to be the dominant tattler in Aug, but all tattler records in Sep have
been of Gray-taileds.
GRAY-TAILED TATTLER: total of 5 juvs seen and heard as follows: 1 on 31
Aug (GLA), 2 from 1-4 Sep (PEL video, GLA), 1 on 2 Sep (PEL video), and
1 on 7 Sep (PEL).
WHIMBREL: 1 hudsonicus on 1 Sep (PEL video, GLA) was only my second for
Gambell. There are several other local records.
SANDERLING: 2 juvs on 29 Aug (GLA); rare but annual.
RUDDY TURNSTONE: 4 on 25 Aug were the only ones seen, a low total.
WESTERN SANDPIPER: total of 37 from 23-30 Aug was a mediocre total and
an early departure.
RED-NECKED STINT: up to 2 juvs from 24-26 Aug (WINGS, PEL video).
PECTORAL SANDPIPER: total of only 31 between 24 Aug- 24 Sep was a very
low total. Previous years recorded from 150-375 individuals.
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER: a very poor year for this species as well, with
only 4 juvs seen as follows: 1 on 9 Sep, up to 2 from15-17 Sep, 1 on 18
Sep. Past years have averaged some 45 birds.
ROCK SANDPIPER: a mediocre year for this species, with up to 11 /day
seen in late Aug and early Sep, but then none seen around town after 7
Sep, but 5 at the first headlands to the south on 16 Sep.
DUNLIN: a low total of c. 50 seen 23 Aug- 8 Sep.
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER: a low total of 17 seen 25 Aug- 16 Sep.
SNIPE SP.: 1 briefly seen on 11 Sep (BD).
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE: total of 9 seen 24-29 Aug. Typical to have
all birds gone by early Sep.
RED PHALAROPE: following spectacular concentrations present in 1999 and
2001, this year was very poor for this species, with a total of only 21
birds seen 23 Aug- 26 Sep.
POMARINE JAEGER: total of 200 seen 25 Aug- 30 Sep. The highest
one-day count was 60 on 7 Sep. The first juvenile appeared 22
Sep. A flight of 35 birds on 25 Sep, of which 90 percent were
adults, was unusual for that late a date.
PARASITIC JAEGER: total of c. 70 between 24 Aug and 18 Sep, with
a one-day high count of 22 on 27 Aug. Several birds lingered in
the Point area for extended periods.
LONG-TAILED JAEGER: total of 17 adults this year, with 1 on 26 Aug, a
record one-day count of 15 on 27 Aug, and a slightly late bird on 10
Sep. As seems typical, no juveniles were seen.
ìKAMCHATKAî MEW GULL: one juvenile from 24-27 August
(WINGS, PEL video). This bird frequented the afternoon gull roost
along the northeast shore of Troutman Lake. See separate
details. This is the second fall record, the first being another
juvenile at the same spot in late August 1997.
HERRING GULL: one adult smithsonianus on 9 Sep (PEL). See
separate details. There were also a couple probable
immatures. Very rare visitor, though exact status uncertain.
"VEGA" HERRING GULL: counts during late August and early September were
25-40/day, with a one-day high count of 60 on 1 Sep; then smaller
numbers of 10-25 day into late Sep, and only 4-7/day after 28 Sep.
SLATY-BACKED GULL: seen about half the days, 23 Aug- 2 Oct, with a
season total of 10 birds and no more than 3 in a day; several birds
remained for extended periods of time.
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL: record numbers present this year. Previous
years had high one-day counts around 12-14 birds. This year, late
Aug and early Sep were typical, with less than 10/day. But then
31 were counted flying N past the Point into brisk N winds on 7 Sep,
and 74 were counted heading S into SW winds on 10 Sep (PEL video),
which must be a record count for the northern Bering Sea (?).
About 90 percent of the birds were juveniles. Numbers were still
15-20/day from 26 Sep- 2 Oct, when I departed.
GLAUCOUS GULL: up to 150-200 seen most days, with a high count of 250
on 1 Sep. Numbers were lower after early Sep, with maximum counts
around 100/day, except for 150 on 27 Sep. These numbers are lower
SABINE’S GULL: none seen...
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE: up to 500/day throughout the period, with the
maximum count being 600 on 1 Oct. The first juveniles appeared 6
Sep and quickly became fairly numerous.
ARCTIC TERN: none seen...
ALCIDS: alcid numbers this year dropped off earlier than in other
years, indicative of either an early or a poor nesting season.
The former is the probable reason, as I heard from a biologist that
alcids were ahead of schedule this year at Little Diomede Island.
In past years at least the puffins were still coming to the cliffs when
I departed at the beginning of Oct, but this year even they were mostly
finished by the third week of Sep.
COMMON MURRE: up to 10,000/day during late Aug, 4000/day in early Sep,
then quickly dropped off after 11 Sep to 10-15 from 14-16 Sep, only
single digits on 17-18 Sep, and single individuals on 22 and 27 Sep.
THICK-BILLED MURRE: up to 1500/day during late Aug, then up to 300/day
through 5 Sep, but only 1 or 2 every few days after 7 Sep through 29
BLACK GUILLEMOT: none seen...
PIGEON GUILLEMOT: up to 120/day during late Aug and early Sep, then
only up to 40/day after that, except for days with stronger north winds
when 145 seen 18 Sep and 156 seen 26 Sep, all flying north into the
wind, as in 2001.
KITTLITZ’S MURRELET: 1 on 26 Sep. Rare visitor, with one or two
seen every other year; this bird also possibly late at this latitude?
ANCIENT MURRELET: 1 on 9 Sep and 4 on 10 Sep; this species is proving
to be a rare but annual fall visitor from the south in very small
PARAKEET AUKLET: up to 1000/day in late August, quickly dropped off
near the end of the month, with only single digits the first week of
Sep and none seen thereafter except for 1 on 18 Sep.
LEAST AUKLET: departed nesting sites early this year, with only up to
70/day during late Aug and the only bird seen after 28 Aug being 1 on
27 Sep. Although many birds probably head south during Sep, there
are probably also many remaining locally offshore into the late fall,
far more than this very low total indicates; numbers appear from shore
in late fall if wind conditions appropriate, which they were not this
year. Unlike last year, juveniles did not linger in the Point
CRESTED AUKLET: also departed nesting sites early this year.
Although up to 300,000/day seen in late Aug, numbers dropped off
rapidly after that, with maximum counts in early Sep not exceeding
5000, and only single birds seen sporadically from mid-Sep onwards,
except for 40 on 18 Sep and 30 on 21 Sep. As in Least Auklet,
numbers of this species probably remain locally offshore later into the
fall but are seen from shore only during stronger north winds, which
were very rare this year. Also unlike last year, juveniles did
not regularly frequent the Point area.
HORNED PUFFIN: up to 4000/day through early Sep, up to 100/day through
mid-Sep, but only fewer than 10/day through 24 Sep and none seen after
that, which is an early departure. More non-breeding plumaged
birds seen passing the Point beginning in early Sep than in past years.
TUFTED PUFFIN: as with Horned Puffin, this species appeared to finish
nesting early this year, with up to 800/day through early Sep, then up
to 100/day during mid-Sep, and only single digits after that through 29
Sep. More immatures, sub-adults, and otherwise
non-breeding-plumaged birds seen this year passing the Point than in
ORIENTAL CUCKOO: 1 hepatic-morph in both near and far boneyards on 15
Sep (DWS, PEL video, DC). See separate details. Second fall
record for Gambell.
SNOWY OWL: 3 present at bottom end of lake 30 Sep- 1 Oct (video).
According to local residents, this species is found regularly in the
Gambell area most years in late fall and winter.
SHORT-EARED OWL: 1 on 15 Sep (PEL, DWS). Rare migrant; I had seen
only one previously.
WARBLING VIREO: 1 in far boneyard on 22 Sep (PEL video, DC). See
separate details. This is only the second Bering Sea record, with
one previous fall record from Wales.
COMMON RAVEN: seen daily, with up to 15/day early on, then numbers
increasing as the season progressed, and a high count of 27 on 28 Sep.
SKY LARK: 1 in Old Town on 28 Sep (PEL video) for the second fall
record. See separate details.
HORNED LARK: 1 of Asian race flava at bottom end of lake on 1 Sep (GLA,
PEL video) and 4 flava together near runway on 13 Sep (PEL
video). See separate details. There are at least a couple
previous fall records of this race.
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET: 3 on 22 Sep (PEL video, DC) arrived that day with
a number of other mainland strays. My only other RCKIs at Gambell
were two birds in 1999.
WILLOW WARBLER: 1 from 25-30 Aug was the first North American record
(PEL video, WINGS, GLA ph., Stavros Christodoulides ph.). Seen in
near boneyard on 25 Aug, 2/3 way down east side of Troutman Lake on 26
Aug, and in circular boneyard on 29-30 Aug, so at least one bird
present. See separate details.
DUSKY WARBLER: total of four seen as follows: 1 in far boneyard on
29-30 Aug (GLA, PEL), 1 in near boneyard 8-10 Sep (PEL, BD), 1 in far
boneyard 8-9 Sep (PEL video), and one in near boneyard 19 Sep (PEL, DC,
DWS). See separate details.
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER: 1 in circular boneyard 30 Aug (GLA ph., PEL
video) was the second record for North America. See separate
ARCTIC WARBLER: a good year for this species, with a total of 74 for
the season, with a total of 66 from 23 Aug- 11 Sep, including a record
one-day total of 29 on 23 Aug, and then a record-late flight of 8 new
birds on 15 Sep and 1 remaining record-late on 16 Sep.
LESSER WHITETHROAT: 1 in far boneyard 8-9 Sep (PEL video) for a first
North American record. See separate details, including comments
on subspecies involved.
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER: 1 in circular boneyard 14 Sep (PEL video, DWS ph.)
for a first North American record. See separate details.
BLUETHROAT: a poor year for this species, with only 5 between 31 Aug-
NORTHERN WHEATEAR: a mediocre year, with a total of 43 birds between 23
Aug- 9 Sep, with a one-day high count of 17 on 28 Aug; and an
additional record-late bird on 17 Sep.
GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH: total of 9 seen between 23 Aug- 15 Sep.
SIBERIAN ACCENTOR: total of three birds as follows: 1 (early) in far
and circular boneyards 29-31 Aug (GLA ph., PEL video), 1 (early) in far
and circular boneyards 8-9 Sep (PEL video), and 1 in near boneyard 1
Oct (PEL video). See separate details. There are two
previous fall records.
YELLOW WAGTAIL: total of 88 between 23 Aug- 15 Sep, with a one-day high
count of 50 on 24 Aug.
TREE PIPIT: 1 in near boneyard 21 Sep (PEL video, DWS ph., DC) was the
third North American record; 1 there 27 Sep (PEL video) was thought to
probably be the same bird. See separate details.
RED-THROATED PIPIT: a fairly good year for this species, with a total
of 29 between 23 Aug- 15 Sep (video). At least several birds were
present daily though 11 Sep, and the one-day high counts were 13 on 25
Aug and 12 on 5 Sep.
AMERICAN PIPIT: total of 17 pacificus-types between 23 Aug- 15 Sep,
with several birds present daily for extended periods.
“JAPONICUS” PIPIT: a good year for japonicus pipits, with a total of 7
birds seen 23 Aug- 17 Sep (video), with multiple birds present daily
for extended periods and a one-day high count of 4 on 27 Aug. See
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER: 1 celata in far boneyard on 13 Sep (PEL video)
and, even more unusual, 1 lutescens in far boneyard on 22 Sep
(PEL). There are about five previous fall records of celata since
1999, and one previous lutescens in 2001. See separate details.
YELLOW WARBLER: 1 in far boneyard on 19 Sep (PEL video, DWS, DC).
There are about five previous fall records; this bird is the
latest. See separate details.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER: 1 in circular and far boneyards on 21 Sep (PEL, DWS,
DC) is the first Gambell record, and about the third for the Bering Sea
region. See separate details.
YELLOW-RUMPED (MYRTLE) WARBLER: 1 in far boneyard on 22 Sep (PEL video,
DC) is my third for Gambell; there are several other records as well.
MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER: 1 in near boneyard on 26 Sep (PEL video) and 1
in far boneyard on 29 Sep (PEL) were thought to probably involve the
same individual. First Gambell record, and first for the Bering
Sea region. See separate details.
WILSON’S WARBLER: 1 (female) in far boneyard on 31 Aug (PEL, GLA) and 1
(male) in near boneyard on 5 Sep (PEL) are my first for Gambell, but
there are several previous fall records (i.e., three in 2000).
CHIPPING SPARROW: 1 in far boneyard 14 Sep (PEL, DWS) and another (juv)
there on 30 Sep (PEL video) were, surprisingly, already my fourth and
fifth for Gambell in the fall, all since 1998. See separate
SAVANNAH SPARROW: a low total of only 3 birds seen: 1 on 25 Aug, 1 on 5
Sep, and 1 from 22-26 Sep.
"SOOTY" FOX SPARROW: 1 on 1 Sep (PEL video, GLA) and 1 on 29 Sep (PEL
video). This subspecies continues to be recorded more frequently
at Gambell than the ìmore expected "Red" Fox Sparrow. In
addition there was a somewhat problematic Fox Sparrow on 25 Sep (PEL
video) which seemed somewhat more intermediate in several characters
between "Sooty" and "Red" but was present in exactly the same place and
behaving the same way as the more typical Sooty seen four days
later. See video.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW: 1 (imm) on 24 Sep.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW: 1 (imm) on 30 Sep (PEL video).
LAPLAND LONGSPUR: numbers from late Aug- early Sep were up to 300/day,
with 450 on 28 Aug, then up to 150/day through mid-Sep, and up to
15/day during late Sep; the last birds (2) were seen on 29 Sep.
LITTLE BUNTING: 1 in far boneyard on 10-11 Sep (PEL, BD) and another
there from 30 Sep- 2 Oct (when I departed) (PEL video). There are
now some six fall records for Gambell since 1993. See separate
REED BUNTING: 1 in circular boneyard (and briefly nearby) from 28-30
Aug (GLA ph., PEL video). This establishes the first northern
Bering Sea record and the first for fall in Alaska. See separate
SNOW BUNTING: up to 350/day from late Aug- early Sep, then up to 50/day
through 19 Sep, but fewer than 5-10/day (and sporadic) after that until
a flock of up to 30 birds arrived on 30 Sep- 1 Oct, but only 2 seen 2
Oct. This is a more major drop-off in numbers late in the season
than in previous years. At around 9PM on 7 Sep, during a
beautiful, calm, clear evening, 50 Snow Buntings got up and flew NNW,
gaining great height, and headed toward Siberia. On 1 Oct, most
of the flock of 30 got up in the early afternoon and headed out to sea
to the west/southwest; not sure if they kept going or not.
MCKAY’S BUNTING: 1 present near far and circular boneyards on 30 Aug
(PEL video, GLA) was early, and then a record 7 (with at least two
other McKay’s or McKay’s X Snow hybrids) arrived with the migrant Snow
Bunting flock in Old Town on 30 Sep- 1 Oct (PEL video); at least two of
the birds were adult males.
REDPOLLS: redpolls were present continuously during the period, from
fewer than 5/day in late Aug to up to 15/day in early Sep to up to
40/day after that. The majority were Commons early on (max
one-day count of 20 on 8 Sep), with Hoaries dominating after 15 Sep
(max one-day counts were 30 on 19 Sep and 25 on 30 Sep). There
were also unidentified redpolls (especially juveniles and some
intermediate-looking birds) totaling up to 10/day.
For wind speed and temperature, if the numbers decline, so did the
wind/temp that day.
23 Aug: W – SW 5-10, pt cloudy, 45-49 F
24 Aug: S 10-17, moderate overcast, 43-48 F
25 Aug: SW – SSW 12-18, overcast, 46-50 F
26 Aug: S 10-15, overcast, 46-48 F
27 Aug: SW 14-17, AM overcast, PM pt cloudy, 46 F
28 Aug: W 0-7, sunny, 43-52 F
29 Aug: SW 25, high overcast, 42-50 F
30 Aug: SSW – WSW 12-0, mostly overcast, occasional fog/drizzle, 46-50
31 Aug: N 19-3, AM overcast, PM pt cloudy, 43-51 F
1 Sep: S 10-18, AM pt cloudy, PM overcast, 44-48 F
2 Sep: S 18-22, overcast, 48-51 F
3 Sep: E 18-30, AM rain, PM sprinkles, 47-48 F
4 Sep: ESE – S 20-14, AM showers, PM overcast, 48-52 F
5 Sep: E 14 – N 5 – W 15, overcast, scattered showers, 47-52 F
6 Sep: WSW – N – NNW 15-10, AM rain, PM overcast, 48-46 F
7 Sep: N 24-30 – NNW 14-20 – W 2-5, fair, 43-49 F
8 Sep: SW 15-18 – WNW 20-10, dawn moderate rain, PM pt cloudy, 45-48 F
9 Sep: W – SW 12-17, bright sunshine, 45-48 F
10 Sep: SW – NW 12-18, AM overcast, mid-day rain, PM pt cloudy, 44-48 F
11 Sep: NNE 11-21, fair, 39-41 F
12 Sep: N 24-36, pt cloudy, 38-41 F
13 Sep: N – NNW 16-6, pt cloudy – fair, 36-43 F
14 Sep: var 0-5 – S 5-15, AM pt cloudy, PM scattered showers, 42-45 F
15 Sep: ESE – NE 10-16, overnight rain, AM overcast, PM pt cloudy,
16 Sep: NE – N 15-5, pt cloudy – fair, 42-46 F
17 Sep: N 10-25, AM pt cloudy, PM cloudy, showers, 42-39 F
18 Sep: N 20-28 – NNW 15-10, pt cloudy, 37-41 F
19 Sep: NW 6 – var clockwise 0-5 – S 5-8, clear, 39-45 F
20 Sep: SW 13-16, overcast, 43-46 F
21 Sep: SW 10-0 – calm, AM overcast, light showers, PM pt cloudy, 44-48
22 Sep: NE 6-18, AM overcast, PM pt cloudy, 40-42 F
23 Sep: NE – NNE 14-20, pt to mostly cloudy, 39-44 F
24 Sep: ESE – SSE 4-10, Am overcast, patchy fog, PM pt cloudy, 44-46 F
25 Sep: ENE – NE –ENE 14-22, overcast, 44-46 F
26 Sep: NE 16-32, AM rain, PM sprinkles, 45 F
27 Sep: N – NNW 14-22, overcast, light showers, 43-45 F
28 Sep: S – W – WSW 0-12, mostly to pt cloudy, 40-44 F
29 Sep: var 0-8 – WNW 14-18, pt cloudy, 39-44 F
30 Sep: W 7-12, pt cloudy, 39-43 F
1 Oct: W 6-14, pt cloudy, 39-41 F
2 Oct: W – WSW 8-12, pt cloudy, 39-42 F