Looking for Vagrants at Hutchinsons Hill, the northernmost tip of the island of St. Paul, resulted in a perfect male Siberian Rubythroat on the 24th of May 2016. A group of 10 birders travelled to the Pribilofs with High Lonesome and we had already exiting observations with great adventure with great leaders and excellent organization. When we arrived in Hutchinsons Hill, we first walked in line along the hill. But besides an Arctic Fox and the abundant Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) and Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), we did not see something. Suddenly, our leader shouted out: “ Siberian Rubythroat”, and again “ Siberian Rubythroat”. Immediately the group was highly alerted. The 2nd leader had to push a bit for discipline because everybody wanted to get perfect views and – even more important – excellent photos. Finally the Siberian Rubythroat could be pinned-down in a combination of green vegetation – probably sellery – and dried grass. The views in the scope were short but striking. Then the bird flew away. Without hope, we started sitting and wait for more vagrants to come. After a while, someone got a glimpse on a brownish bird, which turned out to be a Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe). We congratulated each other. Two short observations of perfect vagrants. Before celebration came to the peak, a dark-brown bird with a white eye-stripe was seen again. Hey, this was the Siberian Rubythroat again. This time, the bird passed the hill, where we were all sitting in only a few meters distance and landed behind some rocks with beautiful yellow lichen. After a while it was seen, 20 meters away from the site, where it disappeared. It turned to be difficult to fix the scope on the standing bird. Constantly hopping and running, it could make its way in the stony and grassy area with remarkable speed. Finally the bird stayed for some seconds in quite a distance, turning around and showing its beautiful ruby throat to us. What a beauty!
Although we knew, that there are reports of Siberian Rubythroat from East landing, we did not expect this bird on the northernmost tip of the island. Certainly one of the megas of this very productive trip. There were some complaints that the bird should have showed better. But this is not a Zoo – of course and if you really need the bird to see close-up, you better go for sites of the regular migration channel. An excellent recommendation is Happy Island in the Yellow Sea of China, where this nice shot was taken.
St. Paul, die biggest island of the Pribilofs, is more or less in the middle of nowhere in the Bering Sea. The Island has been a mecca for ABA birders for over 25 years. Although conditions were originally quite rustic they are now very decent. A variety of tour companies lead trips to Gambell and because of the very complicated logistics I would suggest this is certainly the easiest, most comfortable way to bird St. Paul. The island has one hotel, the King Eider Hotel right besides the airfield. If you want to stay here it’s best to book a tour package or book the hotel very early because it’s mostly booked out during end of May and in June. Although you might see most of the island specialties in walking distance from the village, sometimes long hikes are necessary! Much more time-effective it is to use a car. I travelled to the Pribilofs as well as Nome and Gambell this spring with High Lonesome and it was a great adventure with great leaders and excellent organization and support. Accommodation and meals were great – especially considering the location. Birding Alaska is always a bit of a crap shoot given the weather and off beat locations. Stories of delayed planes, baggage on the next plane for days and people being stranded in various places abound.
St. Paul Island is not only a perfect vagrant trap but also the best place in Alaska to see most of the Alcids except the Whiskered Auklet. Specially mentioned should be the breeding colonies of seabirds on cliffs – called bluffs – on the southern edge of the island. These cliffs are sometimes remarkable low albeit steep and host an excellent variety of Auklets and Puffins. St Paul and its seabirds breeding colonies really can compete with the breeding colonies of seabirds in Norway on Runde or Hornöya (Hornøya).
In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Palearctic, Bird-lens.com has undertaken targeted travel to near and distant bird areas. This is to be able to do anything to provide excellent images of the birds of the Western Palearctic. The results in images even of rare Western Palearctic birds are very good. Very nice images bird-lens.com could bring back home among others from Europe from Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark), from Holland, from England, Poland, Austria, France, Portugal, Spain and of course from Germany.
The beautiful image of the blog was shot on Happy Island/ China not far from Bejing. It is only a first impression of what you will find in behind the rider “Picture Shop” very soon. Simply contact bird-lens.com if you need an image of a bird before the newest pictures are online.