Saturday, November 8, 2014

Alaska Birds, Day Three

 Alaska 2014 continued:

Our third day in Alaska's Seward Peninsula was another grey, dreary day. We got some sun in the afternoon, up along Pilgrim Hot Springs Road, but otherwise it was drab, which made for difficult conditions to photograph in. My images from day three are less than impressive. It doesn't help that the diopter wheel that adjusts the focus of the eyepiece on my camera is located in a place where it is easily, inadvertently turned. This means that when I'm manually focusing (which I nearly always am with birds) the focus is going to be off, as nearly all of the shots early in the day were. It's very frustrating and I think a piece of tape or some glue is in order. Fortunately I figured it our before we saw the Bristle-thighed Curlew (see previous post).

The other issue is that many of these birds are very small and were at a great enough distance from the road that they're tiny in the images. All of these are cropped as much as I dared. In any case it was overall a good day for species numbers--I saw 38 species total, ten of which were new to me (as denoted with an asterisk).

American Wigeon
Wilson's Snipe 
Red-throated Loon
Red-breasted Merganser
Glaucous Gull
Harlequin Duck
Greater Scaup*

Canada Goose
Cackling Goose
Wilson's warbler*

Wilson's Warbler. He was singing and singing about 30 feet from the road.
We will see another of these little guys in a future post.

Fox Sparrow
Wandering Tattler*

Wandering Tattler. This was one of my target birds and I was thrilled to see one. Driving down the road this bird flew in front of the van. Bill hit the brakes while I watched where it went, which was behind us on the opposite side of a creek. Bill backed the van up and I managed to get a few fuzzy shots before the bird took off again. So glad I was in the front seat!

Common Redpoll
Gray-cheeked Thrush*
Long-tailed Duck
Mew Gull
American Golden Plover

American Golden Plover. We saw this bird on day two but I like this shot better than the ones I got that day. I like how this also shows some of the tundra habitat.

Rock Ptarmigan

Rock Ptarmigan. Another bird we saw on day two but I like this shot better. Shot through Bill's open window.
Rough-Legged Hawk* (I'd seen one in captivity but never in the wild.)
Bristle-Thighed Curlew*

Bristle-thighed Curlew. I know I did a whole post on this bird, but I have bragging rights!
Northern Harrier
Black Scoter*

Black Scoter.  Horrible picture but it shows the bird's red bill.

Yellow Wagtail*

Yellow Wagtail. I'm almost embarrassed to post this image it's so bad but the bird is recognizable. This one also flew in front of the van. There were several in the bushes but they were behind a house--one of the few along the road--and we decided against trespassing so we had to look from afar.

Greater White-fronted Goose*
Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear. After leaving Pilgrim Hot Springs Road we ran across this fellow. It was the closest we'd been to one so Bill stopped so we could get good looks.


American Tree Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Savanah Sparrow
Hoary Redpoll
American Robin
Willow Ptarmigan

Willow Ptarmigan. Not a great pic but I wanted to show the bird in a willow. That's snow in the background.

Short-eared Owl* (Flew across the road in front of the van, no chance for pics.)
Northern Pintail
Long-tailed Jaeger
Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope. Female, I believe.

The one bird we did not see on day three was a Bluethroat, another species that breeds in the Arctic but winters overseas. Half of our group went back out Monday morning, before our flight back to Anchorage, but I sat that one out. I really wanted to see Nome, which we had not had time to do, and Monday morning greeted me with a terrible headache, so I didn't go. They did find the Bluethroat, so I missed out on that one. It's a good excuse to go back to the region some day!

Next: Day four, Nome, Anchorage and Soldotna.

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