While I tried to take in as much of the scenery as I could during this trip it was clear that this was a birding trip. We did not often stop for pretty views, but we did stop a lot for birds. We didn't always stop long enough for everyone to get out of the van. With nine of us in a full-sized passenger van, it took a while to get everyone out, then back in. If you were unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of the van from whatever critter we had spotted you were just outta luck. If you were trying to take photos and were stuck in the back, like I was on this first day, you had to shoot through the window, which was tinted and often mud-splattered.
At any rate, I kept a list of the birds I saw on this trip, which ended up being six shy of what the group saw--or at least a majority of the group. If five or more people saw the bird, it counted. All in all, on that first day, I identified 35 birds, 21 of which were new to me. I ended up with 66 new birds on this trip, which is 22% of all birds on my life list. (I am at 299.) So here is a list of the 35 birds I saw along Council Road, with photos of a handful of them. While I got photos of most of the birds, many were poor, and good only as proof of having seen the bird. (Asterisks denote new species.)
|Common Eider pair near Point Nome, Norton Sound.|
|Red-throated Loons near Safety Sound|
|Pacific Loon on nest in a pond across Council Road from the Last Train to Nowhere.|
|Semipalmated Sandpiper on a hunk of the Last Train to Nowhere. (Note partially webbed toes, hence semi-palmated.)|
|Western Sandpiper, shot through the van window. (Note rusty bit above eyebrow.)|
|Red-neck Phalarope in shallow pond behind the Last Train to Nowhere.|
|Parasitic Jaeger looking for lunch near Safety Sound. (Note ice on the sound, as seen from the air in photo from previous post.)|
|Mew Gulls on nest. Markings on primaries are a good indicator of this species.|
|Glaucous Gull. (Note lack of markings on wings.)|
|Orange-crowned warbler. I might have seen one of these in Lansing last year but never got a positive ID.|
|Orange-crowned warbler showing a bit of its orange crown. We had pulled off onto a rutted two track to eat lunch when we spotted this fellow.|
|Lapland Longspur. I had seen these birds before, in the fall at Sleeping Bear Dunes, but had never seen them in breeding plumage. They were all over the place in the Nome area.|
|Hoary Redpoll. I'd seen Common Redpoll but not their close cousin.|
Next: We travel the Teller Road to the Inupiat village of Teller.