August 17 – Favorite Nome Sightings (8/7-8/11)

Following in are photos of some of my favorite bird sightings on my early August trip to Nome. There were a few bird species that were more easy to find this month than on my previous trips this year. Some of the birds were in juvenile plumage.

Included were Northern Shrikes.

There were also many Northern Wheatears, primarily at many of the open rocky areas along the roads or on the roads.

Although I have now been down to the end of Council Road a few times, the only area along the roads where there are numerous spruce trees and therefore the best chances to see some forest birds, this is the first time I have seen a Gray Jay there, a very welcome sighting. This one did not stay around long, and flew off after about a minute.

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Bluethroats, while no longer being heard singing, were still around and could be seen, often on the roadside, usually the somewhat faded-looking females or the young birds with dark-markings and not blue on their lower throats. Usually they were darting off the road as I approached, and were difficult to photograph. Often I waited patiently near or in my car, hoping they would return for a photo. I was unaware that one of those shown below had jumped off the ground just as I took the picture, until I looked at my pictures.

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Some of the Arctic Warblers were still singing and calling, enabling me sometimes to see one. Like the Bluethroat, I expect (but don’t yet know) that the Arctic Warblers will have migrated away by my next visit in a couple of weeks.

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The more typical North American warblers that were still being seen along the roadsides, usually not singing and usually hidden in the brush, included Wilson’s Warblers and Yellow Warblers. Northern Waterthrushes were heard but never seen, and Orange-crowned Warblers were seen but not photographed.

I was particularly interested to see that some of the Bohemian Waxwings that had been around in July, a species not common at any season in Nome, had nested and produced youngsters there this summer, and were still feeding them:

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The last species I’ll show in this post is Merlin, which I was delighted to see on Teller Road and at two different locations on Kougarok Road.

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August 15 – Nome Fireweeds (8/7-8/11)

I was in Nome from August 7-11, birding of course. This post will not be about Nome birds, however, but will only be about the showy fireweeds that I photographed along the roads around Nome, and a few other plants. Until today, I had thought that the widespread fireweed was Alaska’s state flower, which it should be in my opinion, but I was wrong (Google says it is the alpine forget-me-not). The fireweed’s flowers at the bottom of the stalks open first, with blossoming progressing up the stalks, and long thin pods forming where the flower petals have dropped off. I have been told that when all of the flowers are gone and the stalk is just full of pods, summer is over. As can be seen from the photos, fall appears to be just around the corner in parts of Nome, but many flowers were still in full bloom when I was there. I will be back toward the end of August – I hope some are still blooming then.

Fireweeds on Council Road:


Fireweeds on Kougarok Road (yes, a bird did sneak into one photo):


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Fireweeds on Teller Road:


There were other flowering plants around, as well as other interesting vegetation, some of which I photographed. The first shown below is what I believe is a dwarf fireweed. The last group of pictures shows “cottongrass” (I think).