Pintail Snipe on a remote US-Island in the northern Pacific/ Alaska

SpiessbekassineGambell, a small village on the north-western tip of the remote St. Lawrence Island is an outstanding outpost not only for North American Birders. A short trip with only a few days with High Lonesome yielded all sorts of good birds, both Asian and North American origin.

During a 6-day trip guided by the tour operator High Lonesome a group of mainly US-birders was amazed by the impressive but regular bird migration along the shore of the island to the Bering Sea further north. An almost as important feature was the possibility to catch-up with maybe the best vagrants sightings of the spring 2016.

There had been some very good Asian species this spring. Far outstanding was the Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura), which was finally only identified by checking the images shot and discussing sighting and sound impressions in the group. First reviews from experts for ID-confirmations turned out to be positive.

The snipe was flushed at close distance in the so-called Far Boneyard, flew low and a very short distance on first flush and then flew farther and higher on second flush, always from dry ground, although bird flew high it circled back around, we were not able to flush it a third time the bird called once, not particularly sharp like Common/Wilson’s but also not particularly wheezy (fairly short and quiet call). The images of the bird show a coloration very buffy overall and no white trailing edge to the secondaries. Photos obtained in flight – as the one of the blog – showed Wilson’s Snipe like underwing pattern, complete lack of trailing edge, toes projecting well beyond tail, short-looking bill and overall buffy appearance with buffy panel in upperwing. Photos of a bird taken the previous day in the same area on the ground also show a Pin-tailed Snipe.

Additional nice sightings of Asian origin in the last few days of May and the first few days in June could be made of 1 Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus), several Rufous-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), several Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), 1 Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) and 1 Eyebrowed Thrush (Turdus obscurus). With this list, the several Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava)are not much more but an add-on.

Some better North American waifs could be detected in that time as well. Not name but a few are White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera), Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) and American Pipit (Anthus rubescens). Sighting of a Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) and of some Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) might reveal the arrival of breeding species for that remote island.

There has also been a slug of good birds farther to the south at the Pribilofs, also with excellent photos. These included birds like Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), Mongolian Plover (Charadrius mongolus), several Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), some Long-toed Stint (Calidris subminuta), 1 Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope) and Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe).

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