Nome, Alaska Day 8
The final day with this group of fun folks we headed out the Teller Road. For the first time since I arrived the weather was good enough (great actually with sun and 50 degrees!) to bird the riparian along the Penny River. It was very birdy with Spotted Sandpiper and American Dipper on the shore and Gray-Cheeked Thrush, Yellow, Wilson’s and Yellow-Rumped Warbler and Northern Waterthrush in the bush. Moving on we encountered great large mammal action with many Musk Ox, Reindeer(domesticated) and Moose along the road and got to watch a cow moose protecting her new-borns from her yearlings which she repeatedly charged.
Good looks at Rough-Legged Hawk on the nest and the locally rare Say’s Phoebe at the Bluestone river Bridge, then things got really good when we arranged permission to walk behind the cemetery at the Village of Teller with one of the Inupiat elders. We made one full ½ mile pass around the tundra looking for the White Wagtails that the spot is known for and were about to leave when one woman in the group asked “didn’t you see me waving my arms, I SAW it!”. This of course got us pumped and so this time we embarked on a mile loop and at the far end another in the group said “there it is”. None of the rest of us had been able to ID the distant form but we loped towards where it had lighted and were all able to get our binoculars on this beautiful Asian bird for 5-10 seconds. Invigorated we drove out onto the spit guarding Grantley Harbor where we scoped a Black Guillemot.
A two hour drive back for dinner then we hit the road again determined to find either Aleutian Terns or Artic Loon on Safety Sound, but instead were immensely satisfied to get brief looks at a lone Emperor Goose. White slogging through the mud-flats to get a look I had a face-to-face, 4 foot away encounter with a male Red Phalarope who wasn’t particulary interested in moving.
We quit birding at 12:06 am..with the sun still in the sky!