April 6-9 – Nome Report, Part 2

This part of my blog covers everything non-ptarmigan from my recent trip to Nome (I checked my records and I actually took about 1700 pictures during those three days, a large percentage of which were of ptarmigan; see yesterday’s post for my all-ptarmigan post). I couldn’t resist including a couple more ptarmigan pictures here in which the birds blend in nearly completely with the snow:

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Following are pictures of some of the landscapes, including a view of the tiny area of the Nome River where I could see water flowing, landscapes with snow nearly covering everything, and landscapes with trees (yard-full plus one on distant slope):

On the second full day (April 8), I got up in time to be out on Kougarok Road as the sun rose on the cloudy morning (the other two days were mostly clear):

Periodically along the road, particularly near the ends, there were many parked vehicles and snow machines, but rarely did I see people near them.

The ocean view was mostly rather boring as it was all ice as far as the eye could see, except for a few dark bumps that turned out to be either distant people or apparently Christmas trees that had been placed on the ice to make a little open forest. There were also numerous tire and sled trails out there. With binoculars, it appeared that there was open water glinting way out, but nothing close enough to bring in visible birds if any were out there.

I had photographed the windmill-hill on the flight in, which I later found was located on Teller Road. On my second drive on the road I saw  dark lumps at the top, which turned out to be the wandering musk ox herd.

Other mammals seen were a single reindeer outside the nearby the empty reindeer pasture, and four moose wandering along the frozen Nome River, way out in the open (presumably it’s not hunting season).

Birds in addition to Willow Ptarmigan of particular interest to me were the continuing Snow (mostly black and white) and McKay’s (less numerous; nearly all white) Buntings at seeds put out on Round the Clock Road and flitting about in a plowed parking lot downtown where brown grass (and presumably grass seed), was protruding through the snow. Possibly it is only due to their whiteness, but it seems that the McKay’s Buntings are slightly larger than the Snow Buntings. I did notice that they often appear to be more aggressive and to chase away nearby Snow Buntings.

There were also a couple of Black-capped Chickadees, and dozens of Common Ravens, the latter mostly at the landfill on Kougarok Road.

I so enjoyed this trip, and so want to see the ptarmigan as their molt progresses and the land as it is gradually exposed and the rivers can be seen, that I have added a short trip toward the end of April. If I hadn’t booked so many non-bird activities in Anchorage and other bird-related trips away from Anchorage this spring, I would probably add even more trips to Nome, but I do have a couple more before summer is in full swing (such as it is in Alaska).





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