Sunday, July 29, 2007

Red-legged Kittiwake, St Paul Island, Alaska, June 2007

St Paul, one of the Pribilof Islands, is the place to go to see Red-legged Kittiwake. Whilst we knew we were likely to see a whole range of alcids – Least Auklet, Parakeet Auklet, Crested Auklet, Tufted Puffin and Horned Puffin, Thick-billed Murre – it was the prospect of the Red-legs that took us there. The resident birders assured us that there were occasions when the weather was good; sunny and warm. Unfortunately the three days we spent on the island were windy, cold and occasionally wet.  

The first Red-legs we saw were flying out of the rain at Southwest Point. The largest colonies were less accessible in the poor weather and so we watched them on the cliffs at Zapadni Point. They were roosting in with Black-legged Kittiwakes – the larger head and shorter bill were obvious in direct comparison. The two species came in to bathe at one of the freshwater pools by the airstrip – here it was the darker mantle and red legs that stood out.

An unexpected bonus was Ancient Murrelet. Over the past few years they have bred in amongst the boulders of the piers around the harbour. When I arrived at the quay there were four close in; they drifted out and were joined by others till there was a small raft of 16.


Posted by Martin
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