Birding Alaska: Gambell I Checklist (2010)

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST

  • ANSERIFORMES: Anatidae
    Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons One fly-over on the first day in Gambell was the only sighting of this species.
    Emperor Goose Chen canagica Uncommon migrant at Gambell, we had a total of 7 birds fly over at the Point on two days during the tour.

    Snow Goose Chen caerulescens Uncommon migrant in the Bering Sea area, we had a single individual fly over the Boneyard in the afternoon of 25 May 2010.
    Brant Branta bernicla Single individuals were noted near the Point or flying over the Near Boneyard on 25-29 May 2010.

    Canada Goose Branta canadensis parvipes Ten were at Westchester Lagoon on our first evening out in Anchorage before we departed for Gambell.
    Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus A total of 5 were seen on three consecutive days while at Gambell, with several fly-overs and others at the Lower Marsh.

    Gadwall Anas strepera Two were seen at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
    American Wigeon Anas americana Six were seen at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May
    2010 before we headed to dinner.

    Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Approximately ten were seen at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.

    Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Twelve at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 were the only ones noted for the tour.

    Northern Pintail Anas acuta Fairly common migrant in Anchorage as well as in Gambell, with several or more seen on each day of the trip. A high count of ten at the South Marsh and along the Point on 27 May 2010.
    American Green-winged Teal Anas crecca carolinensis Fairly common migrant, we had four at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 and a high of eight at the South Marsh on 28 May 2010.
    Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris Two at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 were to only ones recorded on the tour.
    Greater Scaup Aythya marila Common at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010, we were also able to see two fly-by individuals on 28 May 2010 while on Gambell.
    Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis In direct comparison with the former species, we were able to study ten at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 before we departed for dinner.
    Steller’s Eider Polysticta stelleri A USFWS Threatened species, we were treated to great views of up to eight individuals while at Gambell. Most of the birds were fly-bys, but we also were able to see two birds on the water at the Point on 26 May 2010.
    Spectacled Eider Somateria fischeri Yet another species of special concern for the USFWS, we were fortunate to see up to three at the Point on 27 May 2010. This has got to be one of the most spectacular and specialized of the duck species to be found in North America, and we were blessed with good views.
    King Eider Somateria spectabilis Fairly common to common while at the Point on most days, with a high of 70 seen on 28 May 2010 in only a few hours of viewing. Many of the birds that we noted were immature males as they flew past us fairly close to shore.
    Common Eider Somateria mollissima Fairly common passage migrant seen off of the Point on all days, with a high of 12 seen on a brief watch on 27 May 2010.
    Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus Uncommon to fairly common at the Point on the visits that we had there. We recorded a high of 10 birds on 28 May 2010.
    White-winged Scoter Melanitta fusca Rare migrant at the Point, with several seen on the tour. Although we were looking for the ultra-rare M. f. stejnegerifrom Asia, and were unsuccessful in that attempt, all participants were able to get good views of the North American M. f. deglandi as fly-bys
    Black Scoter Melanitta nigra One seen at the Point on 25 May 2010.
    Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis Common in the Gambell area during spring migration, we recorded nearly 75 per day while spending time at the Point. Seeing this species in full breeding plumage was a treat, as most of us from the Lower 48 only get to see this species in basic plumage during the winter.
    Bufflehead Bucephala albeola One was seen at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 for the only sighting of the trip.
    Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula A total of six birds were at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.
    Barrow’s Goldeneye Bucephala islandica One was outside the hotel at Lake Hood on the afternoon of 23 May 2010, which several participants and a leader observed.
    Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator Two were seen flying by the Point at Gambell on the morning of 28 May 2010.
  • GAVIIFORMES: Gaviidae
    Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata One was at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010, and two more were at Gambell at the Point on 26 & 28 May 2010.
    Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica Rare this spring, as, as many or most of the birds were still to the south while at Gambell. We had one or two daily while watching at the Point.
    Common Loon Gavia immer One sighting for the trip, with a lone individual flying by the Point on 25 May 2010.
    Yellow-billed Loon Gavia adamsii A lifer for some participants, we had between 2 and 5 daily while birding at the Point.
  • PODICIPEDIFORMES: Podicipedidae
    Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus Two were seen at Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage on 23 May 2010.
    Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena Up to twenty were at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010, affording all some crippling views from close range.
  • PROCELLARIIFORMES: Procellariidae
    Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis A spectacular pelagic species, we recorded them daily at the Point, with a high of at least 25 individuals.
  • PELECANIFORMES: Phalacrocoracidae
    Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus One fly-by at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 was the sole sighting for the trip.
    Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus Common throughout our stay in Gambell, we saw up to 100 passing at the point or loafing in the waters near the Alcid Cliffs daily.
  • CICONIIFORMES: Ardeidae
    Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias Quite rare this far north, one flew over us at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010. A good bird for the Alaska list!
  • FALCONIFORMES: Accipitridae
    Osprey Pandion haliaetus One flew by us while birding at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
    Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus We observed two birds flying over the open ocean to the west of us while at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010. Several other participants reported one at Lake Hood on the morning of 24 May 2010.
    Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus Two pairs were in residence along the cliffs to the southeast of Gambell, which we saw well on a daily basis in that area..
  • GRUIFORMES: Gruidae
    Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis Fairly common passage migrant, we were able to see this species nearly daily at Gambell as the over-wintering birds from North America flew over us to breeding areas in the Russian Far East.
  • CHARADRIIFORMES
    • Charadriidae
      Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola Annual but rare at Gambell, we recorded one at the South Marsh on 28 May 2010.
      Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva Fairly common at Gambell, we recorded them nearly daily at the South Marsh or flying over while we scoured the boneyards. A high of 16 were noted on 24 May 2010.
      Lesser Sand-Plover Charadrius mongolus A spectacular find, we were able to view a female through scopes on both 24 & 25 May 2010 while at the South Marsh. No doubt one of the highlights of the tour, we all were able to study this bird at leisure for nearly ½ hour.
      Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula A great find of an irregular breeder in the local area, were were able to see up to three daily throughout the trip, with sightings on 24 May through 28 May 2010.
      Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus Fairly common summer breeder and passage migrant to the Gambell area, we were able to see up to ten individuals daily while on the tour.
      Killdeer Charadrius vociferous One was at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010, where is recorded annually.
    • Scolopacidae
      Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius A total of seven were recorded at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
      Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca Two were at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
      Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia Certainly one of the best birds of the tour, we had an obliging individual at the South March in scope views for nearly ½ hour on 24 May 2010.
      Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes A total of six were seen at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
      Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola One individual discovered on 25 May 2010 at the South Marsh remained and was seen daily until 28 May 2010.
      Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus One was seen flying over at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 heading to the tidal flats to the west.
      Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica Up to five were at the Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 before we went to dinner at Orso’s. Truly a beautiful bird.
      Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla One was located at the South Marsh on 26 May 2010, where considered rare as a passage migrant.
      Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri Fairly common passage migrant, we had between one and 8 daily while in Gambell, primarily at the South marsh.
      Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla Uncommon as a passage migrant we had up to two daily while in Gambell, all at the South marsh.
      Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos Fairly common passage migrant and uncommon breeders in the area, we recorded up to 25 daily while in Gambell, mostly at the South Marsh.
      Rock Sandpiper Calidris ptilocnemis tschuktschorum Two were seen nearly daily at the South Marsh.
      Dunlin Calidris alpine Common passage migrant and breeder, we recorded up to twenty daily while at Gambell, primarily at the South Marsh.
      Ruff Philomachus pugnax Casual in the spring, we had two females (Reeves) in the South Marsh on 28 March 2010. These birds were very cooperative, and we ended up walking away from them before they flushed.
      Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus One was on the small island at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 just before dinner.
      Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus Up to six birds seen daily while in Gambell, primarily at the South Marsh where they presumably breed.
      Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago A great find and a very cooperative bird, we had one in the Near Boneyard daily from 24 – 27 May 2010. This species is considered to be casual at St. Lawrence Island, and to have the bird around for portions of four consecutive days was a treat. It is more buffy-colored overall than our Wilson’s Snipe, with a broader white edge to the secondaries which we saw well while in flight.
      Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus Fairly common passage migrant to Gambell at this time, we recorded a high of six at the South Marsh on two occasions.
    • Laridae
      Bonaparte’s Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia A total of eight were seen while at Westchester Lagoon before dinner on the evening of 23 May 2010.
      Mew Gull Larus canus Common at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010, we estimated that we saw 40+ in the hour or two we were there.
      American Herring Gull Larus argentatus smithsonianus Common at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010 and again at Lake Hood on the following morning.
      Vega Herring Gull Larus argentatus vegae Common while at Gambell, we recorded them daily along the beaches, at the Seawatch site and near the Alcid Cliffs. This darker-mantled subspecies may be evaluated for a potential split in the future.
      Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens Seen only on the first evening at Westchester Lagoon, we observed at least four in the area.
      Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus Common to abundant while in Gambell, we saw at least 25 per day while not really covering the coastal areas, and at least 200 individuals on some days where we were along the coast for extended periods.
      Sabine’s Gull Xema sabini Uncommon passage migrant, we saw two at the Seawatch site at the Point on 28 May 2010 and another single the following day before departure.
      Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla Common to abundant passage migrant throughout our stay. Several hundred were recorded on several days at the Seawatch site, with some flocks of over 30 individuals being seen.
      Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea Common at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010, we observed a minimum of 20 in about one hour of searching.
    • Stercorariidae
      Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus Uncommon while in Gambell, we saw single individuals on three days, primarily at the South Marsh.
      Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus Uncommon passage migrant in Gambell, we saw up to two on four of the days we were there.
    • Alcidae
      Common Murre Uria aalge Abundant passage migrant while in Gambell, we saw thousands passing the Point daily and while at the Alcid Cliffs.
      Thick-billed Murre Uria lomvia Thousands seen daily as they flew past the Point and at the Alcid Cliffs. Wonderful comparisons were to be had with the previous species.
      Black Guillemot Cepphus grille Uncommon passage migrant while in Gambell, we recorded them on four of the days that we spent any time at the Point. An added plus was that we were able to closely study several flying by in direct comparison with the following species.
      Pigeon Guillemot Cepphus columba Common along the coast, at the Point, and at the Alcid Cliffs daily, we saw at least 100 individuals on 28 May 2010 at the latter site.
      Parakeet Auklet Aethia psittacula Abundant while at Gambell, we recorded numbers in the thousands while birding at the Seawatch site and at the Alcid Cliffs.
      Least Auklet Aethia pusilla Abundant while at Gambell, we recorded numbers in the thousands while birding at the Seawatch site and at the Alcid Cliffs.
      Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella Abundant while at Gambell, we recorded numbers in the thousands while birding at the Seawatch site and at the Alcid Cliffs.
      Horned Puffin Fratercula corniculata A late arriving migrant (relatively), we saw one on our last day at the Point.
      Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata Common while in Gambell, we recorded up to 200 in one day while birding along the coast and at the Seawatch site.
  • COLUMBIFORMES: Columbidae
    Rock Pigeon Columba livia While not particularly exciting, we did record 12 individuals on the drive from the hotel to Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010 for the only sighting of this species for the trip.
  • STRIGIFORMES: Strigidae
    Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus One seen flying over the Near Boneyard on the late afternoon of 27 May 2010 was the only sighting for the tour.
  • CORACIIFORMES: Alcedinidae
    Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon One was frequenting Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010 for the only sighting of the tour.
  • PASSERIFORMES
    • Corvidae
      Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia A total of seven were seen while at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
      Common Raven Corvus corax Seen daily while in Anchorage and in Gambell, we recorded a high of seventeen on 25 May 2010 in and near the dump and beach area while in Gambell.
    • Hirundinidae
      Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor Several hundred were seen flying and foraging over and around Westchester Lagoon and Lake Hood at the beginning of the tour.
      Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina Approximately ten were seen around Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.
      Bank Swallow Riparia riparia A single individual was seen foraging over Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010 before dinner.
      Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota Two were seen foraging over Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010 for the sole sighting of the trip.
      Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Slightly out of range, two were seen foraging over Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.
    • Paridae
      Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus A total of four were recorded around Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.
    • Turdidae
      Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Fairly elusive, given that a large number breed in mainland Alaska, we found this species nearly daily while in Gambell, with a high of three observed on 25 May 2010.
      Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus One heard singing while at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010. With strong east and northerly winds favoring North American overshoots, we had one individual arrive at Gambell at the Near Boneyard on 26 May 2010 and this bird was seen into the late evening of 27 May 2010.
      American Robin Turdus migratorius At least twenty were seen and heard calling/singing around Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
    • Sturnidae
      European Starling Sturnus vulgaris While it cannot be considered to be truly exciting, we did record about ten individuals on the drive to Westchester Lagoon and in Anchorage on the evening of 23 May 2010.
    • Motacillidae
      Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis Uncommon passage migrant and breeder at Gambell, we observed between one and eight daily while on St. Lawrence Island, many of them as fly-overs or at the Near Marsh to the east of town.
      White Wagtail Motacilla alba Seen daily while in Gambell, we recorded between two and six in a variety of habitats.
      Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus Rare but annual migrant to Gambell, this species proved to be elusive during our stay. While we were able to record it on four days with a high of two on one day, many in the tour only got brief looks at a distant bird or a bird flying away after it was announced. A preferred site seemed to be at the Near Marsh and along the road to the east of the lake.
      American Pipit Anthus rubescens pacificus We had one individual seen and then flying over the South Marsh on 27 May 2010.
    • Parulidae
      Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata Seen and heard singing around Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010, these were the only individuals for the tour.
      “Myrtle” Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata coronata Up to seven were seen and heard at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
      Wilson’s Warbler Wilsonia pusilla Up to four were seen and heard at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
    • Emberizidae
      American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea Two dapper individuals were at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis Eight individuals were judged to be seen and heard while at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.“Sooty” Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca unalaschensisTwo birds were heard singing or seen while at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.

      Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia One was heard singing while at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.

      Lincoln’s Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii Up to a total of six individuals were seen or heard during out brief stay at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.

      White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys Up to fifteen individuals were seen or heard while at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.

      Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis Two were seen and heard singing while at Westchester Lagoon on the evening of 23 May 2010.

      Lapland Longspur Calcarius lapponicus Our constant companion while in Gambell, this species was common and seen on every day. A high of at least 100 were noted on several days. Spectacular plumage and a great song while we scoured the boneyards and marshes for the other rarities to be found.

      Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica A tremendous find, we had fair to great looks at a male and a female during our stay at Gambell. They were extremely elusive, and we had to really work for them, but when getting a view in the clear, it was all worth it.

      Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis Common while on Gambell during the entire tour, we were able to see at least fifty per day.

    • Icteridae
      Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus A great find while at Westchester Lagoon, we were able to study one while perched on the island on 23 May 2010.
    • Fringillidae
      Brambling Fringilla montifringilla A very obliging set of two to three graced our binoculars while at Gambell, and all go to get some incredible views of at least one on 26-27 May 2010.
      Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea We observed a total of ten while in Anchorage at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010, and we also saw several in Gambell on the tour.
      Hoary Redpoll Acanthis hornemanni The most common redpoll species while in Gambell, we observed between six and twelve daily during our daily forays into the field.
      Pine Siskin Spinus pinus A total of three were seen or heard while birding at Westchester Lagoon on 23 May 2010.
  • MAMMAL SPECIES
    Saint Lawrence Island (Nelson’s) Collard Lemming Dicrostonyx nelsoniCommon while in Gambell, they were scurrying around the boneyards in high numbers and were favorite target practice for the Siberian Yupik youth.
    Arctic Ground Squirrel Urocitellus parryii Common resident on the slopes to the east of town, we were able to observe up to ten daily while on birding trips away from town.
    Gray Whale Eschrichtius robustus We observed this species off of the Point on four of the six days that we were there. A high of six were seen on 27 May 2010.
    Orca Orcinus orca A few fortunate tour participants were able to see up to three individuals on 28 May 2010 while observing seabirds at the Seawatch site.

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