This is a very brief look back at last week’s Gambell blur. I want to get to sleep at a descent hour tonight, as tomorrow begins the five-day Searcher pelagic birding trip out of San Diego. I’m in Irvine tonight after chasing the much-appreciated Common Ringed Plover that showed up yesterday, an hour or so north of San Diego. More about the Plover at bottom of this short blog. After Uber-ing my way to Irvine from LAX last night, and to the Plover-gig this morning (my Australian drivers licence expired last week and I’m sweating on arrival of new one, as the rental car guys won’t cooperate in the mean time), I spent most of the day continuing in efforts to organise a four-day Hawaiian pelagic trip in mid October. This trip could yield totally insane results, but I seem to be stuck with only five brave participants – me included, and need for one more to share the big cost of getting a vessel out into those good waters.
I think of Gambell with a certain amount of fear and loathing, not having had the best of times there in 2016, spending six weeks adding only a very few species due to poorly oriented winds that refused to blow vagrants in from the Asian migratory flyway to the east. There were other distressing circumstances that fall that wouldn’t be an issue this time – but still…
I’d initially organised a Gambell Old Town ‘house’, but on presentation, and after a group of kids just walked in through the unlatchable door, I moved into the Lodge. Not cheap, but with doors, toilets, showers, and heating, there really wasn’t any choice.
I hope to add more to this blog when I get a chance. Maybe while I’m out at sea during the coming week. But one thing that deserves to be mentioned now is the help I received from my California birding bud Michael Woodruff. My only communications from Gambell were via a dinky $90 phone with the GCI network that is used in remote Alaska (only?). For help with ID on so many occasions, I used the phone to take very poor photographs of very poor images on the back of my camera. Sometimes the replies were way embarrassing, but Michael never complained. Of course the Jokim’s Razor theorem, or however it its spelt, kicked my arse all over the island, as my Pechora Pipits became Red-throated Pipits, and very strange waders became Dunlins. I won’t embarass myself any further than that, but gawd I had an awesome list of rarities from time to time during the week.