Saturday, October 20, 2012

Arctic? Tern

My dad and I visited Muskegon County today and found an interesting Sterna tern at Pere Marquette Park. I'm under the impression this looks like a juvenile Arctic Tern. That said, I've only seen one juvenile Arctic Tern.

Note: Small, thin bill, white secondaries, very limited dark outer webs to outer retrix. Deeply forked tail.

Note: Very white underwing, extremely limited black on outer retrix.

Note: Very small, thin bill and rounded head.

Lighting was very tough but with back-lighting, the transparent secondaries and inner primaries were evident, although I couldn't get this in a picture. To my eye, everything looks good for an Arctic Tern and I'm struggling to find any pro-Common Tern features. Comments appreciated.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sparrows and Warblers

The Robin seems to have taken off (or died), but new birds continue to arrive here in Gambell. The storm that produced some nice SW/SE winds is over and dropped some more goodies, mostly from the mainland. However, another Brambling joined the group now totaling 3 birds in the near boneyard.

In addition, a Wilson's Warbler was discovered in old town on 10/5, a species that somewhat regularly strays to Gambell. It continued on 10/6.

Also on 10/5 was a red Fox Sparrow in the near boneyard near the runway. On 10/6, a Dark-eyed Junco appeared in old town, the first for the year in Gambell. A juvenile White-crowned Sparrow was seen among the bones in old town.

The winds have now switched to the north and it looks like they will remain there for the rest of my stay. There still may be a few goodies kicking around and I'll continue to work the boneyards at least once a day. I leave on the morning of 10/12 and get to Michigan on 10/13.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Robin Continues

I was able to re-find the now Siberian Blue Robin today, although it required my almost stepping on it. Once flushed it is extremely cooperative and easy to follow, but the initial flushing is tough!

Anyway, I paid close attention to the tail shivering. The bird essentially NEVER quit shivering the tail (and sometimes wings) the entire time I watched it. When hiding in the wormwood, when out in the open on the dirt, after being flushed and landing, the tail was constantly "shivering". I'm not sure how much shivering Rufous-tailed Robin does, but there is no way it could top what the bird was doing today.

Here is another picture from today. Tough to get good photos when the lighting is this bad.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Robin...

People a lot more knowledgeable about Rufous-tailed/Siberian Blue Robin are questioning the identification of the Gambell Robin. I'm posting additional pictures for reference, and some of my field notes as well:

- I never saw a BRIGHT red tail on the many times the bird flushed. It appeared brown, but when sitting the rump had some rufous, the same color as the rufous on the wings.

- The bird frequently fluttered its tail/wings. This was especially apparent when I went back the second time to take more photos. When the bird skulked away, it hunched over and ducked its head while running. It reminded me of the ammodramus sparrows when running away.

- I was shocked at how small this bird appeared from the Catharus thrushes I am used to seeing.

- The bird was very active, moving quickly and making short flights. It did not seem particularly shy and often perched in the open and on rims of holes or bones, as apparent in my photos.

Below are some of the photos I took of the bird. I have more if needed. All taken 10/2/2012. The bird was not present 10/3.

I'd love to hear comments on this bird from those with experience. They can be sent to