Nome, Alaska May 29
Tim’s last morning with me was extended by a canceled flight that allowed us to bird for a couple of hours at the Nome River Bridge where we added Long-Billed Dowitcher to our trip list.
The first four of my six guests arrived at 1:30 and we were able to have a relaxing ocean-front lunch at the Polar Café. A brief trip south of town provided a number of them with their first Long-Tailed Jaegers, Artic Terns and Red-Throated Loons. We picked our remaining participants up at 4:30 from their Gambell flight and proceeded towards Safety Lagoon. On my third stop of the day at Nome River Bridge I located for the group what was arguable the best bird of the last 5 days – LESSER SAND PLOVER. This particular individual had all of the beautiful markings of the species but in subdued tones, suggesting either a bird just coming into breeding plumage or a lone female. I spotted this little gem on a mud flat about 75 yards upstream of the far bridge approach and as soon as everyone got their bins on it she flew past us and landed 100 yards downstream where we were able to watch her for about 15 minutes, albeit pretty heavily backlit so photos weren’t as good as hoped for.
Invigorated by out find we proceeded toward Safety Sound. Along the way finding Willow Ptarmigan and Black Scoter at Cape Nome. Around the first ponds about a mile past the cape one of the guests found a SECOND Lesser Sand Plover, this one a bright male, so everyone was well pleased. Proceeding to the Safety Sound Bridge we were able to connect with Parasitic Jaeger, a low elevation Northern Wheatear, Common Eiders, Pacific Loons, Ruddy Turnstone and of course the ubiquitous Lapland Longspurs, Glaucous and Mew Gulls, Semi-Palmated Sandpipers and Brants among others.
Due to the lateness of their arrivals we did not get back to Nome for Dinner until after 10 pm so dinner at Milano’s was quick but happy.