Adak Island on a whim

The welcome message for visitors. I was lucky, I had two days of wonderful weather, and one that was so-so. That sort of ratio is generally unheard of in the birthplace of winds.


There were rumours of Whooper Swans and perhaps an odd raptor on Adak Island, halfway out along the Aleutian chain to Attu, so less loaded with Asian rarities, but whole lot easier to get to. There was, and has been a relative lull in winter rarities in the lower 48 this first month of the year, so I figured time for an adventure.

The bad news is that I didn’t connect with any swans, and only had poorly seen flyovers by either one or two separate smaller-than-peregrine raptors. Can’t really say much more about those two sightings – one near the National Forest, and the other near Clam Lagoon, except that they were enormously disappointing, and were followed up by considerable search.

But wow! What an experience. Its not my first time on Adak, but it blows me away each time – usually both metaphorically and physically – but this time the weather was wonderfully sunny and calm for the first two days of my three days of bird search. The basic strategy was to drive, drive, drive – just keep searching all the accessible places likely to produce birds. All of the lakes were frozen, so the swan-search was limited to Clam Lagoon, and the hope of busting them feeding somewhere – maybe along the ever-thawed creeks coming down the mountains.

Will tell a bit of the story with photos, as I’m hoping my thrice cancelled flight is going to happen in next hour.


Accomodation on the island is a little rough. But I did get to choose which bunk to sleep on. I chose the lower one, so any unintended fall would be minimised.


The vehicles and accomodation, in reality, is quite good. Book with Little Michael’s Outfitters and Tours.


The Aleutian chain of islands is basically an irruptive chain of spectacular mountains – usually clad in white.


The place is overrun with Bald Eagles I counted over 100 in one day.


My fingers froze by the time I figured out how to get this shot.



Didn’t expect Canvasbacks on Adak.


A commune of Sanderlings


This Peregrine Falcon was not in good shape. Apparently there were especially wild conditions on the island a week earlier, which may have knocked some of the birds out of the picture, or sent them packing. Maybe that’s the story with the small group of Whooper Swans that had been seen just a couple of weeks before my visit.


Female Bufflehead


Kazillions of Glaucous-winged Gulls on the island, yet unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything dark upper-wings.


Clam Lagoon royalty – Emperor Geese.