Aaron Lang and his Wilderness Birding Adventures tour group found a Baikal Teal (Code 4) shortly after arriving at Gambell, AK on Aug 31. The past decade has seen an increase in sightings of this species from the Aleutians during fall migration, but this is the first record for Gambell and St. Lawrence Island.
Lang’s group found the teal in the “northeast corner marsh”. Paul Lehman reports that it tried to avoid birders by swimming through vegetation in shallow water rather than flying, which gave birders good photo opportunities. The photo above shows not only the pale spot at the base of the bill, a key field mark, but also a green speculum with a buffy leading edge, a field mark that is usually more difficult to see.
Other birds of interest at Gambell the past several days have included several Red-throated Pipits and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and two Willow Warblers. Gambell has had about 15 Willow Warbler records, so given that, it’s current Code 5 checklist code should be bumped up to Code 4.
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