Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 43 of 73

Alaska's Vagrant Hotspots 42 Birder's Guide to Travel | April 2018 during the fall. Structures in and around town—like chain- link fences, antennas, and, most famously, tall stacks of crab pots—have also hosted good numbers of Asiatic strays. During spring, birders can expect to see a good number of Asiatic shorebirds and, with great luck, some passerines. In addition to the aforemen- tioned species that are fairly regular at all three sites, St. Paul Island is an excellent place for Common Sandpiper, Com- mon Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, and Long-toed Stint. The best time to look for va- grant passerines is during the last week of May and first two weeks of June. Birders can hope for Eurasian Skylark, Siberian Rubythroat, Eyebrowed Thrush, Gray Wagtail, Brambling, Common Rosefinch, and Hawfinch. Some exceptional species that have been found during that time have included Rufous-tailed Robin and Oriental Greenfinch. It is also possible to encounter Common and Oriental cuck - oos. Both species were present simulta- neously during a recent spring. Of the three islands, St. Paul has re- ceived the most extensive late spring and summer coverage by birders, and several exceptional rarities have been re- corded during the last two weeks of June and even into July when there are usu- ally no birders on Adak or in Gambell. Rare swifts, swallows, and flycatchers are often more likely during late June. It is important to note that this additional coverage adds to the overall numbers of Asiatic vagrants for each spring season, and birders staying longer on Adak or in Gambell would almost certainly add species in those locales, too. Fall birding has really taken off on St. Paul Island in the past decade and has proven to be very successful, pro- ducing four first ABA records. The is- land's variety of hotspots offer exciting days of vagrant hunting. In addition to the aforementioned first ABA records, excellent finds have included Brown Shrike, Middendorf's Grasshopper- Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Taiga Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Accentor, and many more. The potential on St. Paul Island seems nearly limitless, and each season adds new spe- cies to the island's list. PenAir has four departures per week from Anchorage to St. Paul Island, a three-hour flight. It is important to note that flights to St. Paul Island have weight restrictions, making it advisable to wear needed layers of clothing on the plane, carry optical equipment in a carry-on, and pack as light as possible. St. Paul Island Tours has been operating birding and photography tours on the island for several decades and is the best option for visiting birders. It is also possible to book a hotel room at the King Eider Inn and rent a vehicle independently. A top to bottom: n Common Greenshank. Photo © Stephan Lorenz n Jack Snipe. Photo © Stephan Lorenz n A stream on Adak Island. Photo © Stephan Lorenz

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