The birding was great on my drive up Arctic Valley Road this morning, but I did not get very many good bird pictures. New year-birds for the trip were two distant calling Olive-sided Flycatchers and two soaring Golden Eagles over a mountain to the south of the road as I drove back down the road (about 11 am).
I did get a video of a singing Golden-crowned Sparrow at the top parking lot.
There also was a ground squired that posed while it munched for a short while before scampering off.
As was the case a couple of days ago, there were arctic hares all along the drive, at least five on the drive up. Without exception, they were all nibbling at the road itself! There must be some essential nutrients in the dirt.
The most exciting nonbird thing, however, was a black bear. About three miles up the road from the highway I briefly saw a black bear leave the road and disappear into the roadside brush. I drove up to the spot where it had been on the road and turned off my car and waited. After about ten minutes, the bear reappeared ahead of me walking down the road away from me. I took a couple of pictures through the windshield and drove slowly ahead, hoping for better pictures. The bear glanced back over its shoulder every now and then but did not leave the road at first. Then it gradually went toward the right side of the road, and then up on to the raised shoulder area, just as I reached the bear. The bear continued along the shoulder, so I inched forward and stopped the car and took a video of the bear beside me. Eventually the bear left the roadside and disappeared into the brush. I am very glad that I was not walking up the road away from my car.
Sometimes mammals are just as much fun to watch as birds (or maybe more).