Our second day in Gambell and I added Red-throated Pipit–#735! That was my only new bird but there was more bird activity in general on the island.
The day started off with a light drizzle for our seawatch but at least the wind had dropped from 25 mph to about 15.…
There was a constant stream of birds. Crested Auklets flying by in the thousands, Pelagic Cormorants, Horned Puffins and Short-tailed Shearwaters in the hundreds. Today we had a Gray Whale about 50′ offshore.
After a few hours of seawatch, we lined up and did the traditional walk through the bone yard. The purpose is to spread out and try and flush birds out of the vegetation, which is extremely lush this year.
This vegetation is the only plant life that you see in town. The entire Yupik village of about 700 is a bleak expanse of gravel and rock.
As in Attu, it is startling to be somewhere with no trees.
The Yupik people have inhabited St. Lawrence Island for over 2,000 years. Birding groups come here in spring and fall and wander these grounds in search of Asian vagrants. I’m sure that to the Native population, our obsessions and daily rituals while looking for birds, seem very odd.
We are granted a fairly wide berth to bird in their midst, as long as we stay in the permitted areas. The rocky cliffs are good habitat but they are also the site of the burial grounds. Because of the permafrost, the caskets are above ground and it can be a bit jarring to see.
After a long day, our routine is to relax in the common space in the house, while Aaron and James make our dinners. All of our food came on the plane with us and it has been great. Believe me, walking in this gravel makes you hungry!
The forecast for birding looks better for the weekend. Here’s hoping something rare shows up.