As expected bird numbers were down, way down from a few weeks ago. Most noticeable was the nearly complete lack of little birds – no warblers at all were seen, and only a few sparrows (American Tree and Fox) and a few small redpoll flocks. There were a few Northern Shrikes around, and on the last day I saw a few Snow Buntings. At Council there were a few Boreal and Black-capped Chickadees.
Also nearly completely disappeared were loons. I found one Common Loon adult on Safety Sound struggling with and presumably trying to eat some sort of critter, one parent Red-throated Loon and a single chick on Kougarok Road, and a pair of Pacific Loons and their two youngsters in the Safety Sound area. When I returned to each of the areas later on my trip, the adult birds were gone, as was one of the Pacific Loon youngsters.
There were a couple Long-tailed Duck sightings.
There were increased numbers of a few duck species, American Wigeons being the most prevalent, as can be seen in some of the swan photos that I am posting. Other ducks that were around were Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, Greater Scaup, and Red-breasted Mergansers.
Common Eiders were in low numbers in the ponds, but perhaps there were more offshore.
There were also a few groups of Harlequin Ducks.
Most spectacular were the numbers of Tundra Swans when I first arrived (over 1000), followed by the apparent departure of most of them the next couple of days (down to about 300, then up to 750, and back down to about 75 (of course this is just counting what I could see; there could have been many, or none, beyond my range of view). I do not know if they come in waves, or if this big push was it for the fall. I need to read up on it, or just move to Nome and watch all of the time.
As before there were only a few raptors – a Gyrfalcon, a few Peregrine Falcons (two perched on same building at dusk, one of which flew off before I thought to get a picture of the building with them on it), and a handful of Rough-legged Hawks on both Teller and Kougarok Roads.
Gulls, primarily Glaucous, were around in large numbers, working the major rivers and loafing on the shore areas. Also seen were a couple each of Glaucous-winged, Herring and Mew Gulls, and a Slaty-backed Gull.
The Nome-area Sandhill Cranes were all gone, but for a few glorious moments on Kougarok Road, there were hundreds calling and circling above me, slowly rising out of sight. No others were seen or heard on this trip.
Shorebirds were scarce, with only sightings a couple of times of small flocks of Dunlins, and one sighting of a small flock of small yellow-legged brown peeps (presumably Least Sandpipers but too far away to see well).
On my last trip I had only seen a few ptarmigan, but on this trip there were a couple of families of Willow Ptarmigan and most that were on the road were reluctant to leave it.