The Wandering Tattler is an uncommon migrant on St. Paul Island and our group was fortunate to get some excellent looks at this species. The photo below was made during one of our seawatch outings. Initially the Wandering Tattler was spotted from our cliff top vantage point and it appeared to be resting among the rocks. One of the birders in my group pointed out a reasonably safe pathway to the bottom of the cliffs.
Seeing, comparing and photographing kittwakes on St. Paul Island was another of the highlights for me on this trip. Especially when you consider that St. Paul Island is one of the few places in the world where you can view red-legged kittiwakes. Our local bird tour guides provided us with excellent viewing opportunities of both red-legged kittiwakes and black-legged kittiwakes on nesting grounds as well as fly pasts during our seawatches. Seeing and observing both species side by side gave me ample time to compare and contrast each species.
Seawatching on Saint Paul Island proved to be an exciting and educational activity for me. I enjoyed the challenge of identifying species flying past our birding group as we stood near the edge of the cliffs in the hopes of catching a glimpse of shearwaters, jaegers and alcids, as well as other species types.
One of the highlights of my trip to Saint Paul Island in Alaska was observing and photographing the cliff-nesting species. In today’s blog, I’ll cover some of the alcids, including: Common Murre, Thick-billed Murre, Parakeet Auklet, Least Auklet, Horned Puffin and Tufted Puffin.
Saint Paul Island’s reputation as a major birding hotspot is well earned. The potential to see rare vagrants is very real, although it is somewhat dependent upon weather patterns during or just prior to your visit. For example, storms or winds coming from the west may bring Asian vagrants. One of the major highlights of my trip was locating and photographing the Oriental Cuckoo, an accidental species according to a checklist of Birds of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. The legend defines Accidental to mean usually only one or two observations have been recorded in this region.
St. Paul Island is one of several islands that make up the Pribilof Islands. It is considered to be one of the best birding hotspots in North America, if not the best. The Red-legged Kittiwake’s distribution is limited to just four localities in the Bering Sea, one of them being the Pribilof Islands (source: Audubon). Many of the rare bird alerts come from St.
It’s always a good day whenever you add a new species to your life list. In my case, I was fortunate to add two birds to my life list, namely Sedge Wren and Willow Flycatcher. Both species were found in the same vicinity and around the same time, however, the photos made were significantly impacted by the different quality of light available.