In the last few days a number of great birds have been discovered in Alaska, mostly on the Bering Sea islands but also on the mainland. In lieu of individual posts for each great bird, here’s a quick run-down of recent notables from the Last Frontier.
While it’s expected that a few red-letter rarities are going to turn up on the Aleutians or in the Bering Sea every year, Asian strays on mainland Alaska are not appreciably more common there than they are elsewhere on the continent. That’s why it was such a shock that a Terek Sandpiper (ABA Code 3) was found by Frank Clemons near Anchorage late last week. The species has been seen those western islands a number of times, and a remarkable 8 times just in Anchorage. There are also mainland ABA records of this bizarre sandpiper from British Columbia, California, Massachusetts, and Virginia, as well as a record from Baja California in Mexico. It was present for several days and a great number of birders from Alaska and beyond were able to see it.
On Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, birders had a great run at the beginning of this week, with Gavin Beiber finding Common House-Martin (4). Later, Rich Hoyer Dusky Thrush (4), and a “Siberian” Common Chiffchaff (5) (pictured below).
Gambell has become the most reliable place in the ABA Area to find Common Chiffchaff. This is at least the fourth record for the island since the ABA’s first was documented in June 2012, not including a Phylloscopus on St Lawrence Sept-Oct 2011 that has not been accepted but was also a likely chiffchaff. St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs also had one in September 2014.
And speaking of the Pribilofs, a few good birds have been seen on St. Paul Island as well, most notably a recent Siberian Rubythroat (4), and a stunning male at that.
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