This bird is sooo special that no matter the number for me, it deserves its own blog-post. I was standing in one of the boneyards, not far from our guide, when Aaron’s walkie-talkie crackled inaudibly. The leader from another group was trying to alert us to something unusual on Gambell’s Troutman Lake shore. Aaron asked for a repeated message and “Middendorff’s” came through clearly. His eyes widened and he beckoned our scattered group to hustle over. Admittedly, I was not familiar with this one. I thought Middendorff’s might be a sparrow.
Aaron had hitched a trailer to his ATV for moments like this. Walking was not an option as the bird was two miles away and not likely to hang around. We piled on and raced down the airport runway towards the distant assembled group. While riding his ATV along the shoreline, their leader had miraculously stumbled upon the very secretive, code 4, Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler! Endemic to Asia, these birds prefer to remain concealed in dense vegetation.
When we arrived, one of our gang politely asked if this stout vagrant could slip away through the grass bordering the shoreline without our noticing. Their other leader responded emphatically, ”NO! It’s as big as a (expletive) eagle”. An exaggeration of course, but he was right. And we photographers were astounded and pleased.
Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler (#799)