2017 Seabird Report Card

The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge has prepared a “report card” on seabird breeding success in 2017:

 

Additional observations were provided by John Piatt, Karl Stoltzfus, and Victoria Winne:

(From John Piatt, 10-17-17)
Preliminary results. The usual caveat applies: Results may change a little with more complete analysis. 
 
1) USGS studied two colonies (Gull and Chisik/Duck islands) in Cook Inlet, and two species: Common Murre and Black-legged Kittiwake  
2) Things started out looking better this summer. Counts of both species were up. Things started out looking better this summer, and more nests were initiated than last year (which was a total failure). 
3) At Chisik Island, west side of Cook Inlet, kittiwakes abandoned nests early, and appeared to produce zero chicks. In contrast to last year, murres started off attending nests, and early on we saw at least 11 nests with eggs in one location. However, by mid-August all murres had abandoned breeding efforts, and appeared to produce zero chicks. This suggests much reduced food availability again in 2017. 
4) At Gull Island, east side of Cook Inlet, things were somewhat better, but not back to normal. About 22% of kittiwake pairs produced a chick this year, compared to 1% in 2016, and 46% on average in the 1990s. We don’t have final estimate for murres yet, but many eggs and several chicks were observed this year, compared to few eggs (all predated by GWGU) and zero chicks last year.  This suggests reduced food availability in 2017 but not as bad as in 2016.
5) At both colonies, the timing of breeding was quite a bit later than usual, and breeding was much less synchronized than usual. These are also indicators of changing and/or reduced food supplies. 
 
From Karl Stolzfus (10-20-17)
I did see a fair number of chicks on both Gull Island and 60′ Rock. I am not sure how many made it into the water but I did count about 50 murres with a chick on one trip that I had to Bear Cove so at least some made it. I think it has been about 3 years since they had any sort of nesting success in Kachemak Bay and the first time in about 30 years that murres attempted to nest on 60′ Rock. 
 
From Victoria Winne (10-18-17)
The birds seemed to do very well this year, with far less to almost no harassing by eagles, especially in mid-season. It was interesting to note a ‘new’ and dense grouping of murres on 60ft.
Most of the other species had left by the first week in September, with the murres remaining, still feeding their young – evident by the number still on the main murre rock, and birds with fish in their mouths.
Unfortunately, that is when our season pretty much finishes, with just sporadic visits to G.Island, and it was distressing to see eagles returning right about then. It is impossible to say whether the eagles managed to spook them off right at the end, thus exposing the almost fledged chicks to predation.
I did witness one lone eagle a few weeks earlier spooking all the kittiwakes, and watched in admiration as the murres tenaciously held their ground, so hold out hope that they managed to hold on.

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival: Checklist of species seen

The 2016 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival took place May 12-15. The attached checklist shows the species seen during the festival- 140 species were seen over the four festival days.

This list has been compiled from the Checklist of Birds of Kachemak Bay (April 2002) with some revisions (April 2005). Like the original checklist, it covers the Anchor River drainage, the watersheds draining into Kachemak Bay including Kachemak Bay State Park and the Bay itself between Anchor Point and Point Pogibshi. It features species and their historical likelihood of occurrence in the spring only, i.e., those birds likely to be seen during the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, which has taken place on the first or second weekend of May since 1993.
 

Kenai Birding Festival

KENAI BIRDING FESTIVAL

MAY 19-22 Thursday through Sunday

Go to http://www.kenaibirdfest.com for a printable schedule of events and festival brochure.

 

This year Lynn Barber is our featured keynote speaker. Lynn previously did a North America Big Year and presently is doing an Alaska Big Year.

 

Kenai River Float Trip Thursday May 19th

Five drift boats, each with local birding guide. Starts at Skilak Lake and ends at Bing’s Landing. Sixty plus bird species annually recorded on this trip with 100 cumulative species tallied. This very popular trip runs the mighty and beautiful Kenai River during the quiet but very “birdy” spring season. $150/person.

 

Kasilof River Float Trip Friday May 20th

New this year! One raft with birding guide will venture down the Kasilof River. This trip starts in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge and ends at the Sterling Highway Bridge. This smaller river that drains Tustumena Lake is perfect for a slower more intimate float with birds at close range. $100 per person.

Float trips include a hearty lunch. Participants assemble at 7 AM and trips conclude between 2 to 4 PM. Bathroom facilities are limited to the starting and ending points.

Register for the Kenai River Float Trips now. Call the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce at 262-9814 to reserve your spot! All float trip proceeds go to sustaining the festival. All other festival events are absolutely free. The float trips are personally my favorite events to guide. If you haven’t been on one then you really haven’t birded the Kenai Peninsula. They are highly recommended if you love birding and enjoy getting off the beaten birding path. 

 

Toby Burke Kenai, AK

Crane Count Days–Please Help!

The Cranewatch folks would like people to volunteer to count cranes seen on the following dates:

August 27th, September 2nd, and September 8th between the hours of 6:00 am and 11:00 pm.

To submit a report, email reports@cranewatch.org or call and leave a message at 235-6262. 

Information needed for each day: Number of cranes: number of adults, number of colts, and the number of cranes with attached transmitters. Date and time and location.

For more information, contact Nina Faust 235-6262.

 

Crane Count Days

 

The Cranewatch folks would like people to volunteer to count cranes seen on the following dates:

August 27th, September 2nd, and  September 8th between the hours of 6:00 am and 11:00 pm.

To submit a report, email reports@cranewatch.org or call and leave a message at 235-6262. For more information, contact Nina Faust 235-6262. Information needed for each day: Number of cranes: number of adults, number of colts, and the number of cranes with attached transmitters. Date and time and location.

Festival Bird Report/Updates

Kachemak Bay/Homer Festival Bird Report: 5-10-15

Updates DAILY on Kachemak Bay Birders' website home page http://kachemakbaybirders.org/

 

(birds were seen 5-9-15 unless otherwise noted.)

Mariner Park Lagoon (Lighthouse Village)–

RED KNOT seen from about 7:45 pm at the evening Viewing Station!!

 

42 species seen from platform Saturday morning!!

 

 

 

5-9 (morning):PARASITIC JAEGER, ALEUTIAN and ARCTIC TERN, VI

OLET-GREEN SWALLOW, NORTHERN SHOVELER, BLACK BELLIED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, DOWITCHER, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST SANDPIPER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, SANDHILL CRANES, FOX SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO, ROCK PIGEON, AMERICAN ROBIN, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL, MALLARD, BALD EAGLE, HERRING GULL. Out on the water to the west: COMMON EIDER, WHITE-WINGED, SURF and BLACK SCOTERS, HARLEQUIN DUCK, PIGEON GUILLIMOT, COMMON and PACIFIC LOON, RED-NECKED GREBE, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE. Later in the day: NORTHERN HARRIER.

 

Mud Bay

EMPEROR GOOSE a little south of this area on the morning of the 9thand it was seen later in the afternoon in Mud Bay across on the little spit to the east. Reports said it was with a group of about 4 BRANT. (Earlier seen in the Green Timbers/Louie's Lagoon area—where to check if it's not near Mud Bay.) Also SANDERLINGS, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, LEAST SANDPIPERS, DUNLIN, BLACK-BELLIED and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, DOWITCHERS sp., SANDHILL CRANES, BONAPARTE'S GULLS, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS.

 

Mud Bay Trail

MALLARD, NORTHERN PIINTAIL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, WESTERN SANDPIPER, DUNLIN, BALD EAGLE, NORTHWESTERN CROW, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, AMERICAN ROBIN, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, FOX SPARROW, BLACK-CAPPED and BOREAL CHICKADEES.

Beluga Lake

NORTHERN HARRIER, AMERICAN PIPITS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, TRUMPETER SWANS, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, TREE SWALLOW, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, VARIED THRUSH.

 

Beluga Slough/Bishop's Beach

SAVANNAH SPARROW, WHIMBREL, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, AMERICAN PIPITS, LAPLAND LONGSPUR, EURASIAN WIGEON, SANDHILL CRANES,MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL, AMERICAN WIGEON, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, CANADA GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, MEW GULL, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS, DOWITCHER sp.,AMERICAN ROBIN, BALD EAGLE, NORTHWESTERN CROW, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE.

 

Out on the Bay

COMMON EIDERS, BLACK TURNSTONES, RUDDY TURNSTONES, SURFBIRDS, ALEUTIAN TERNS, ARCTIC TERNS, BRANT, YELLOW-BILLED LOON, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE.

 

Around town

SPRUCE GROUSE out East Skyline Drive. PACIFIC WREN on the Calvin and Coyle Trail.

 

Bay Crest Hill area (overlook coming into Homer)

THREE-TOED WOODPECKER near the Bay Crest Greenhouse. Please let us know if you see this bird!

 

Anchor River

PARASITIC JAEGER, LONG-TAILED JAEGER, WHIMBREL, MARBLED GODWIT,GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, MALLARD, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, GREATER SCAUP, COMMON EIDER (~24), BLACK, SURF, and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, AMERICN WIGEON, GREATER SCAUP, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON MERGANSER, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, PACIFIC and COMMON LOON, HORNED and RED-NECKED GREBE, PELAGIC CORMORANT,, SANDHIILL CRANE, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, DUNLIN, WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, WILSON'S SNIPE, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, BONAPARTE'S GULL, MEW, HERRING and GLAUCOUS GULL, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, COMMON MURRE, PIGEON GUILLEMOT, NORTHWESTERN CROW, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, AMERICAN ROBIN, SAVANNAH, SONG and FOX SPARROWS.

 

REPORT SIGHTINGS;

Lani Raymond 399-9477, lani67@alaska.net, or peep@islandsandocean.org

 

 

Kachemak Bay/Homer Festival Bird Report: 5-8-15

(Update: 5-8-15 at 6:00 pm)

BAR-TAILED GODWIT flying back and forth over the spit between Harbor Masters
and Frosty Bear boardwalk about 8:30 am this morning (5-8-15)

EMPEROR GOOSE seen in the Louie's Lagoon and Green Timbers area ~ 4:00 pm.
(was documented with photo)

Updates DAILY on Kachemak Bay Birders' website home page http://kachemakbaybirders.org/

SEEN ON 5-7 UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

Mariner Park Lagoon (Lighthouse Village)

WHIMBRELS, BLACK BELLIED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, DOWITCHER, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST SANDPIPER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, SANDHILL CRANES, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, FOX SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, AMERICAN ROBIN, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL, MALLARD, BALD EAGLE, COMMON RAVEN. Many hundreds of COMMON MURRE seen out to the west flying in skeins, traveling north, enormous numbers of them!

Mud Bay

MARBLED GODWITS, WHIMBRELS,~2000 WESTERN SANDPIPERS(2/3) and DUNLIN (1/3), LEAST SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED SAMDPIPER, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS. An interesting observation of some COMMON RAVENS that were down with the sandpipers while they were feeding.

Beluga Lake

NORTHERN HARRIER, AMERICAN PIPITS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, TRUMPETER SWAN, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, TREE SWALLOW, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, VARIED THRUSH

Beluga Slough

(Possible, as yet unconfirmed) EURASIAN TEAL. AMERICAN PIPITS, EURASIAN WIGEON, SANDHILL CRANES

Out on the Bay

ALEUTIAN TERNS, ARCTIC TERNS, BRANT, YELLOW-BILLED LOON, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE.

Bay Crest Hill area (overlook coming into Homer)

THREE-TOED WOODPECKER near the Bay Crest Greenhouse.

 

REPORT SIGHTINGS;

Lani Raymond 399-9477, lani67@alaska.net, or peep@islandsandocean.org

 

 

 

Kachemak Bay/Homer Festival Bird Report: 5-7-15

Updates DAILY on Kachemak Bay Birders' website home page http://kachemakbaybirders.org/

 

SEEN ON 5-6 UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

Mud Bay/Mariner Park Lagoon (Lighthouse Village)

MARBLED GODWIT, WHIMBRELS, PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS, BLACK BELLIED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, DOWITCHER, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, YELLOWLEGS sp., PEREGRINE FALCON, MERLIN.

 

End of the Spit

WANDERING TATTLERS, RUDDY and BLACK TURNSTONES, SURFBIRDS on the jetty at the Harbor mouth (~600 and a few Turnstones were mixed in with them.)

 

Louie's Lagoon/Green Timbers (mid-spit area)

SURFBIRDS (~500 seen at a different time from those on the Harbor Jetty so could have been the same group. Also both had the Turnstones mixed in with them. WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS, DUNLIN, BLACK-BELLIED and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, MERLIN.

 

Beluga Slough

WHIMBREL, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, DOWITCHER sp., EURASIAN WIGEON, SANDHILIL CRANES.

 

Anchor Point

Large numbers (many hundreds, maybe a thousand flying by!!) of RED-NECKED PHALAROPE out over the water. SPOTTED SANDPIPER, LEAST SANDPIPER, WESTERN SANDPIPER PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, WHIMBREL, DUNLIN, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. Also GADWAL, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, CACKLING GEESE, NORTHERN HARRIER, possible PEREGRINE FALCON, LAPLAND LONGSPURS.

 

Out on the Bay

Possible OSPREY between Gull Is and 60 Foot Rock (4-30). RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. BLACK TURNSTONES on Gull Is and in Eldred Passage (5-5). TUFTED PUFFIN on Gull Island (5-3). Large groups of SURFBIRDS on Gull Island.

 

 

Kachemak Bay/Homer Festival Bird Report: 5-6-15

Updates on Kachemak Bay Birders' website home page http://kachemakbaybirders.org/

 

Mud Bay/Mariner Park Lagoon (Lighthouse Village)

PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS, BLACK BELLIED PLOVERS, DOWITCHER sp., “peeps” (Western, Least, Semipalmated Sandpipers) ~250 on (5-4)

End of the Spit

SURFBIRDS on the jetty at the Harbor mouth (~200 on 5-5)

Beluga Slough

Bishop's Beach (5-4) LEAST SANDPIPERS

Out on the Bay

Possible OSPREY between Gull Is and 60 Foot Rock (4-30). RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. BLACK TURNSTONES on Gull Is and in Eldred Passage (5-5). TUFTED PUFFIN on Gull Island (5-3). Large groups of SURFBIRDS on Gull Island.

In/around town

20 miles out East End Rd: Harlan’s Hawk (Several previous reports in Fernwood area ~7 miles out)

Anchor Point

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, WHIMBREL, DUNLIN, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (5-5)

 

KACHEMAK BAY BIRDERS’ REGULAR MEETING–DON’T MISS IT!

The Kachemak Bay Birders next monthly meeting will be on Monday, August 25th
at 4:30 pm in the Auditorium at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.
 
Possible Agenda items include World Shorebird Day (Sept 6th), injured bird
response, information on Martin Renner's Ornithology class, the COASST
program, and planning for the year. (Additions to the Agenda can always be
made at the beginning of meetings.)
 
For more information, contact Lani Raymond: lani67@alaska.net, (399-9477).

Migrational Unrest

Cranes in Homer: 8-18-14

 

Nina Faust reports "The colts are fledging and the non-breeding flocks are returning to the area and gathering. Please send reports of flock locations, time, date, number and how many of them were colts. Enjoy them, migration is less than four weeks away. “ Call 235-6262 or reports@cranewatch.org

 

The flocks are moving around with migrational unrest, and the families are beginning to join the flocks. Nina said the crane numbers are about the same as last year according to her information. She knows of 11 colts for sure that have now fledged.

 

The expected departure date for the cranes is around September 10-15th. They wait until the pressure and winds are just right then leave in groups, but often some families with late-fledging colts stay a while longer.

 

Check out these interesting videos.

 

Lesser Sandhill Crane Flight Training” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hf8Yzu17o8

Lesser Sandhill Cranes: A Tale of Lynx Stalking” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B09PJsxm3e8&feature=em-share_video_user

 

Open post
mysterywithband.jpg

The Mystery of the Dark, Banded Bird

In early June, David Hanson, a Texas birder, took some photos from inside Spit Sisters of an odd, black bird. He had been on trips up here before and he knew that this was not a usual sighting out on the spit. He showed the photos to several birders who were quite perplexed as to what it was and thus began our quest to discover just what in the heck this bird was?

 

Early on it was suggested that it was only a wet, bedraggled Song Sparrow but the bill seemed wrong and also the size. Gary Lyon measured the shingles in the photo and found that the exposed shingle was 6 inches so the bird was accurately measured at 8-9 inches long. 

 

mysterywithband.jpg

 

The bird had a yellow band on one leg which we thought meant that it had been a caged bird since wild birds are banded also with a metallic band. At one point we thought that a yellow band meant that it was from Peru but later found out that yellow bands mean Peru only if they’re shorebirds.

 

The other clues that it had been a caged bird were that the feathers were rumpled and unkempt and the tail was quite bedraggled. And, according to Martin Renner, that the lower mandible was shorter than the upper one.

 

It was singing so that meant a male no doubt. Unfortunately Dave had been inside the busy, noisy Spit Sisters restaurant when this was happening so he couldn’t hear the song at all.

 

 

mysterysinging.jpg

 

 

We contacted Cornell and they had several folks look at the photos and decided that it was probably a Red-winged Blackbird. This based on the physiology and the fact that they are in Alaska. I wanted to say BUT, IT HAD BEEN CAGED so could have come from anywhere, couldn’t it? Could it be a Melodious Blackbird or Scrub Blackbird, however unlikely?

 

We tried to track down a bona fide Icterid specialist but could not find one. There must be one out there somewhere? And through this time we advertised and promised absolute “unlimited fame” to anyone who would ID this bird with certainty.

 

Recently we discovered an interesting website called WhatBird where you post a photo plus information and lots of folks look and hopefully respond. Our post got over 480 viewings but few useful responses. They suggested possibly Melodious Blackbird which is from Central America but gave no real evidence. What happens on this site is that your post gets buried deeper and deeper if no one responds, so I wrote some little additions to my post and so we’d get back on Page One for a while. I did my best! It was mind boggling, but maybe comforting, to see how many people had birds they couldn’t identify! (Gee, it wasn’t just us!!)

 

So here we are, nearly two months after the original sighting. Our conjecture is that it’s a Red-winged Blackbird. But we will always wonder why it had the yellow band, why someone would have had it in a cage, and whatever happened to it?

 

Maybe “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

 

 

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