#ABArare - Tundra Bean-Goose, Eurasian Bullfinch - Alaska
by Nate Swick
Ryan O'Donnell, guiding for St. Paul Island Tours and birding on the complete opposite side of the continent from many of the other recent exciting reports, has discovered and photographed a pair of East Asian goodies on St. Paul Island in the Pribloff Islands, western Alaska. Bith an ABA Code 3 Tundra Bean-Goose on 5/12 and an ABA Code 4 Eurasian Bullfinch on 5/14 have passed his way of late. This is the seventh record of the Tundra Bean-Goose for St. Paul, and the earliest record for this species. As for the Bullfinch, it's the first spring record for the Pribloffs.
According to Ryan, the goose was on English Bay at the south end of the island, first flushed at the base of Zapadni Point near where it meets Zapadni Beach. It circled out over English Bay, went at least as far as the far side of English Bay on Tolstoi Point, where it may have landed, before returning to its original location within 20 minutes or so.
Tundra Bean-Goose is a casual vagrant to western Alaska, with most records in the spring. Many Alaska sightings can only be assigned to bean-goose species because the former Bean Goose sightings were not identified to subspecies at the time. The AOU split Bean Goose into two species, Taiga and Tundra Bean-Goose in 2007 in their annual supplement. The committee made the split based on an article in Dutch Birding by Sangster and Oreel (1996).
The Eurasian Bullfinch was seen in Town on 5/12, and relocated on the 14th.
The first ABA-area record of Eurasian Bullfinch came from the Yukon River at Nulato in January 1867. They are primarily recorded in the spring in the western Aleutians. It is one of six members of the Pyrrhula genus, is common and a well known garden bird in its breeding area. It is a Palearctic breeder from the British Isles to Japan wintering in Europe south to the Mediterranean region, North Africa, the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, South Korea, and southern Japan.
St Paul Island is accessible by air via several Alaskan airports, notably Anchorage, on Penair Airlines.
For more information on rare birds being seen on the Pribloffs, see the Alaska Birding listserv for regular reports from Ryan and other guiding on the island this spring.