BIRDING AROUND THE WORLD

Subtitle

 Alaska 11 - 26 June 2002

PARTICIPANTS:

Dave Adkin
Andy Deighton
Roy Frost
Jon Hornbuckle
Mick Taylor

INTRODUCTION

We organized our trip collectively and chose to go on the late side to maximize chances of seeing Bristle-thighed Curlew and Smith's Longspur. This worked out well, as we saw almost everything we wanted, except for Emperor Goose, Spruce Grouse and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, which are always going to be difficult. We chose not to visit the Pribilofs, as it would have cost almost £1000 for a couple of days and only a few extra species. All in all it was an excellent trip, with stellar views of many breeding waders, skuas and diurnal owls, and all the eiders including Spectacled, not to mention a white Gyr Falcon mobbing Golden Eagle and Rough-legged Buzzard. Mammals were also a major feature, with Black, Brown, and for some, Polar Bears, and 4 species of whale including a magnificent breaching Orca. Wildlife photo opportunities were unprecedented.

TRANSPORT

Flights

International with Continental Airlines: Manchester – Newark (NYC) – Anchorage and return; booked through Wildwings. Good service and timing but long waits at Newark.

Domestic with Alaskan Airlines: Anchorage – Barrow return and Anchorage – Nome return, booked through Wildwings, $436 = £302. Derisory food, time-consuming security checks, but fairly punctual with “awesome” landings (according to the flight attendants).

Vehicles

Anchorage: Alamo, via Holiday Autos: Venturer and Chevrolet Blazer. Note that despite paying beforehand, the cost of the second vehicle was deducted from my credit card and refund has not been forthcoming so far.

Barrow: UIC 907 852 2700 $347 for 2.5 days.

Nome: Stampede Vehicle Rentals 1 800 354 4606 or 907 443 3838 $436 for 4 days for 4WD Ford Explorer.

ACCOMMODATION, FOOD and COST

Alaska Budget Motel, 545 4th Ave, Anchorage abm at gci.ne 907 243 0412 $74 for 1 room.

Murphy's Motel, Seward $239 for 2 rooms.

UIC NARL Hotel, Barrow $250 for 3 rooms.

Polaris Hotel apartment, Nome $208 for 2 apartments.

Denali Grizzly Bear Cabin $165 alaskaone.com/dengrzly

Tangle River Inn, mile 20 Denali Highway $170 for 2 rooms.

Kenai Fjord boat trip $140 with Kenai Fjords Tours for the Mariah Northwestern Fjord Tour 907 224 8068.

Food quality and cost was comparable to UK, readily available. A particularly good deal was the subsidised canteen at UIC Barrow.

Credit cards were useful throughout, except at Barrow. JH used ATMs for dollars in Anchorage, Seward and Nome.

MISCELLANEOUS

We had no security or significant health problems.

The weather was generally good, with prolonged rain only on the day of the boat trip and showers on a few days. Temperatures varied from pleasantly warm Anchorage – Seward, to pretty cool at Barrow.

CONTACTS

Dave Sonneborn, Anchorage davidsonne at aol.com 907 243 0412

Bill Shuster, Seeward bshuster at ptialaska.net  224 8760

Lana Creer-Harris, Nome lanah at nome.net

Fred (“call me Frank”) Zegarac, Arctic Tours, Barrow 907 852 1462

Alan Seegert, Denali NP

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We gratefully acknowledge the help given by Gerald Broddelez, Lana Creer-Harris, Rich Hopf, Mark Oberle, Phil Palmer, David Rosair, Alan Seegert, Bill Shuster, Dave Sonneborn and John Wall.

ITINERARY

June 10 10.00-12.20, 18.50-01.15 Manchester – Anchorage via Newark.

11 Night in Anchorage, day on Glenn Highway and back to Anchorage.

12 Westchester Lagoon, Chugach State Park (Upper Huffman), Potter's Marsh, drive to Seward via Skilak Lake loop and Watson Lake.

13 Kenai Fjord boat trip, night at Seward.

14 Nash Road, Exit Glacier Road, Bear Creek, Portage Road and drive to Anchorage.

15 06.30 – 09.25 Anchorage – Barrow; Gaswell Road and Freshwater Lagoon; 10.30-01.30 Polar Bear search at the point.

16 Gaswell Road, Freshwater Lagoon, Gaswell Road.

17 06.30-09.00 Polar Bear trip (AD & RAF). Gaswell Road. 19.08 – 21.55 Barrow – Anchorage

18 09.20 – 12.15 Anchorage – Nome. Safety Lagoon and Nome Point.

19 Teller Road

20 Kougarok Road

21 Council Road. 20.09 – 21.35 Nome – Anchorage

22 Westchester Lagoon, road to Denali NP

23 Denali NP by bus: return trip to Eielson Centre

24 Denali Highway, with long stops at miles 102 and 13

25 Mile 19 Denali Highway, Glenn Highway to Anchorage

26 02.15 – 15.53 Anchorage – Newark, 20.30 – Manchester

27 08.40 arrival in Manchester, train to Sheffield etc.

DIARY compiled by Roy Frost

Monday 10th

Our flight left Manchester on time at 10.00, arriving at Newark, NJ some 7 hours later, at noon local time. With a 5-6-hour stopover we took a taxi to the Meadowlands Nature Reserve, walking on trails through lakes, reed-beds, mud-flats and deciduous scrub. In 2 hours here, in warm and humid conditions, we saw many species not seen in Alaska, including Killdeer, Forster's Tern, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Brown Thrasher and Cedar Waxwing. Evening flight to Anchorage via Portland, OR.

Tuesday 11th

We arrived at Anchorage airport at 01.15, expecting to collect our hire vehicle from Alamo but their desk had closed (unlike Hertz, for example), so we had to take a taxi to the friendly, Korean-run Alaska Budget Motel, which we subsequently used for all our stays here. After a few hours sleep and breakfast, AD and JH collected the car from the airport, with the result that our Glenn Highway drive did not start till 09.45. We soon had our first experience of the superb scenery that was to be an almost daily feature. The chief target was Hawk Owl, 2 of which were seen, and we had our only Bufflehead, two families of Grey Jay and a fabulous Great Grey Owl. The last species was at the Tolsona Wilderness Camp where the friendly owner had located a pair breeding, for the first time, and showed us where to look. Back at Anchorage at 21.30.

Wednesday 12th

Leaving the hotel at 07.15, we first called at Westchester Lake and adjacent beach, which held many waders including 30+ Hudsonian Godwits, and a Sandhill Crane. With a little difficulty we located Knik Street in the city suburbs to see suckleyi race Merlins nesting in a front garden conifer. Above Huffman Street, at the E end of Sultana Drive, we entered the Chugach State Park and found Black-backed Woodpecker easily but not Spruce Grouse (which was to elude us all trip). Potter's Marsh provided good views of a variety of waterfowl, before a long drive on the Seward Highway, initially along the huge, shallow Cook Inlet. We made many stops en route, the longest of which was at Watson Lake, which held our only Greater Yellowlegs bar one. In Seward we checked in at Murphy's Motel and, after a meal, looked for birds in the shanty town area further south.

Thursday 13th

Up to rain and low cloud - disappointing as this was the day of our pre-booked Kenai Fjords pelagic - but cheered later by Captain Josh saying this was better for wildlife-viewing than sun and blue sky. Although we were told to report at 07.30, Josh did not arrive till 08.00, so we sailed 20 mins late for our 9 hour cruise. Maybe 8 others aboard the Alaska Sunrise, as we passed the Chiswell Islands, thronged with nesting seabirds, for the NW Glacier, which we watched calving – a spectacular sight. It proved to be an excellent trip, with Red-faced Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Ancient, Kittlitz's and Marbled Murrelets, Parakeet and Rhino Auklets, and Horned and Tufted Puffins. Cetaceans included breaching Orcas, Humpback Whales and Dall's Porpoise, while a Black Bear (seen just as Josh had said our chances of seeing one were slim at this time of year) was the first bear any of us had ever seen.

Back in Seward, 3 of us drove south in a vain attempt to find photographable Harlequins, present the previous evening. After fish and chips, we had a fairly uneventful look at areas north of town before returning to Murphy's at 21.30.

Friday 14th

Out in glorious sunshine at 07.10 to the Nash Road area just N of Seward. Townsend's Warbler, Pine Grosbeak and Rufous Hummingbird all showed well. Back to town to pack and interrogate the helpful Bill Shuster, who worked at the local Forestry Dept. Then headed back along the Seward Highway, making lengthy stops at a small “salmon ladder” on Bear Creek (right turn around Mile 5-6): American Dipper, Steller's Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and the Trail River campground (left turn at Mile 24): nesting Three-toed Woodpeckers, but no Spruce Grouse (said to be easy there). We ate at an Indian motel by Cook Inlet and were back in Anchorage at 21.00.

Saturday 15th - Monday 17th

We flew from Anchorage at 06.35, nearly missing the plane due to lengthy check-in and security procedures. Good views of Mt McKinley en route to the first stop at Fairbanks, then on to Barrow, arriving at 09.20. After collecting an open-backed truck from IUCL, we found the Naval Arctic Research Lab (NARL), with some difficulty, which was to be our home for the next three nights: a very atmospheric site between the tundra and the largely-frozen sea. The canteen food here was by far the best of the trip. The weather was mainly dry but cold, with some sunny spells.

Our two and a half days here passed all too quickly. Sites included the freshwater lakes west of town, Gaswell Road, and the pools and inlets around the town itself. The tundra was full of displaying waders, especially Grey/Red Phalaropes and Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers, along with several other species including Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Red-necked Stint. We found Spectacled Eider at the freshwater lakes on our second attempt, and a pair of the rapidly declining Steller's Eider much nearer to NARL. All three expected skuas were seen but few seemed to be nesting; the same applied to Snowy Owls, although a nest was visible from DA and AD's bedroom window, while Lapland and Snow Buntings and Arctic Redpoll were found with eggs or young.

Shortly after arriving in Barrow, Frank Zegarac, a Croatian, found us and offered to show us Polar Bears in the Point Barrow area for $60 each. He collected us from NARL at 22.30 but we failed to see any bears in our three-hour trip, though Frank claimed to have spotted one. The presence of people along the spit and on the ice, it being the weekend, did not help. On 17th AD and RAF opted for a return visit, leaving at 06.30, and were quickly rewarded with sightings of 3 distant, single males.

Returned to Anchorage on the 19.15 flight, and back in hotel at 22.30.

Tuesday 18th – Friday 21st

Flew to Nome at 09.20, via Kotzebue, arriving at noon. Collected our vehicle from Aurora Inn and checked in at the Polaris Hotel where we occupied The Igloo, the most spacious accommodation we used. After a meal at Fat Freddy's, where we ate all except one meals during our stay, visited the Tourist Information Centre to interrogate Lana, Nome's resident birder, and to read other birders' recent sightings. Then drove south to the large Safety Lagoon, mainly to observe Aleutian Terns. Unfortunately, we were too late for Emperor Goose, as expected. Sea-watching at Cape Nome produced Grey and Minke Whales.

We visited each of the three roads leading from Nome, one per day. On 19th we drove the Teller Road, 73 miles each way. Our main objective was Rock Sandpiper, which we found after a search on the high stony ridge (at 650m) west of the road at Mile 46.8. We bought a few provisions in the Eskimo settlement of Teller. Other highlights were an approachable Musk Ox, a white Gyr Falcon, which interacted with Rough-legged Buzzard and Golden Eagle, and a beautiful pair of nesting Grey Plover on Wooley Lagoon Road (right turn at Mile 40).

On 20th we drove the Kougarok Road from 06.15, taking 2 hours to reach Mile 73 where we scrambled up through the tussock grass to the ridge. The haunting sound of the Bristle-thighed Curlew was soon heard and a single perched bird located. It displayed a little more but was otherwise elusive. Breeding Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel, Western Sandpipers and Long-tailed Skuas were much more active and noisy. Continued to the drivable end at Mile 84 for a picnic lunch, before returning to Nome, at 19.30 and after supper watched England lose to Brazil, a disappointing end to an otherwise good day. Lastly we took the Council Road, 72 miles, and shortly after Safety Lagoon, found our first Grizzly Bear standing in a shallow river. Gyr Falcons and Golden Eagles were seen in the barren uplands. On the way back we met Brian Little and Peter Colston, fresh from the WildWings' Ring of Fire cruise on the Bering Sea. After a meal, we flew, 40 mins late, back to Anchorage where we were able to pick-up our Alamo vehicle from the airport this time.

Saturday 22nd

Some of us were in no great hurry to leave Anchorage, thanks to the late opening of shops (at 10.00). After a visit to Westchester Lagoon, we headed north at 11.00, via Palmer, on the Brook Highway in quite heavy weekend traffic and with some long delays at roadworks. Stops included scenic viewpoints to photograph Mt McKinley, before arrival at Denali NP Visitor Centre at 17.00. Here we picked up pre-booked tickets for the next morning's shuttle bus, checked in at a 6-berth cabin at Denali Grizzly Bear, before eating at a nearby restaurant. An evening run along the open first part of the NP highway gave views of a displaying male Hen Harrier.

Sunday 23rd

Spent the whole day in Denali NP, catching the 05.30 shuttle, reaching the Eielson Centre at 09.30, and returning 12 hours later. Hoary Marmot was new and we eventually totalled 6 Grizzlies, including a courting pair. We had thought of taking a long walk from Eielson to the Sunset Glacier for White-tailed Ptarmigan and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, but were advised that rivers en route would be impassable following several days of heavy rain. Instead we climbed the 1000 ft ridge north of the Centre where Rosy-Finch was said to occur but had to be content with breeding Surfbird and American Pipit. JH descended to Eielson first and caught a bus to Toklat to check another steep ridge for the finch, without success, while the rest of us returned in more leisurely fashion. All reached the Visitor Centre at 17.45, where RAF proceeded to stuff a girl's blue coat into his rucksack (by mistake, he claimed), and a cracking pair of Two-barred Crossbill was in evidence. After salmon and chips, we were back in the cabin at the civilised hour of 20.00.

Monday 24th

Departing at 07.30, we drove the Denali Highway east from Cantwell. Failed to find our chief target, Smith's Longspur, but there was plenty of interest including controversial black-billed swans, our first Least Sandpipers and an incredibly tame silver-phase Red Fox. After an excellent lunch at Gracious House and more birding, we checked in at the pre-booked Tangle Lakes Lodge, only to discover that the chalets were very basic and full of mossies, so we transferred to the nearby, superior Tangle River Inn.

Tuesday 25th

We rose to rain, on our last day, which had stopped by the time RAF and MET finally appeared at 08.00, though there was a further wet spell around midday. Tried again for Smith's Longspur, which had been missed by all the tour groups this year, and this time succeeded in finding 2 pairs north of Mile 19, along with a Tundra Swan nest, unusually far south apparently. Returned in triumph to the lodge to wash, pack and eat, then drove through the rain, for a while parallel to the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, and west along the Glenn Highway, where only Hermit Thrush was new. After a meal back to Anchorage, visited Westchester and Spennard Lakes and finally Kincaid Park, a promising forest along Raspberry Road just south of the airport, where Swainson's Thrush proved to be the last new bird of the trip. We reached the airport at 22.10 in plenty of time for our flight home.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF BIRDS – photos by Jon Hornbuckle

Yellow-billed Loon, Gavia adamsii

Only a single offshore at Barrow, so distant that there was a slight doubt about its identity.

Red-faced Cormorant Phalacrocorax urile

Approx 8 at the Chiswell Islands.

Trumpeter Swan, Cygnus buccinator

A distant pair nesting at Portage Road Marsh - an attempt to get a closer view by driving towards the glacier failed. We expected to see others nesting along the Denali Highway but only 1 swan there appeared to be this sp., all others having at least a spot of yellow on the bill.

Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus


Tundra Swan, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Although common at Nome, and to a lesser extent at Barrow, it was more surprising to see several on the Denali Highway, far south of its normal breeding distribution. We thought that a swan on a nest with eggs at Mile 19 must be a Trumpeter, but the above photo indicates it to be this sp.

Spectacled Eider, Somateria fischeri

Two pairs on a small lake at the end of Freshwater Lagoon Road, Barrow on 15th were difficult to see from the road but good views were obtained by wading through the marshland. 2 males flew overhead near the start of Gaswell Road the next day.

Steller's Eider, Polysticta stelleri

Only a single pair was present on the Gaswell Road sea inlet near NARL, a big decline from numbers a few years ago apparently.

Rough-legged Hawk, Buteo lagopus

One mobbed by a Gyrfalcon by Teller Road, Nome and 3 singles and a nesting pair along Kougarok Road the next day.

Merlin, Falco columbarius

We visited the sites of 2 nests in conifers – 1 in a garden on Knik Street in suburban Anchorage and the other in open woodland adjoining a house along the Seward Highway – a bird visited the first nest, briefly.

Gyrfalcon, Falco rusticolus

A white Gyr, a scarce morph in Alaska, was spotted by AD perched on a rock along Teller Road, Nome; it eventually took flight and was harried by a relatively small bird, possibly a Merlin, then mobbed both a Rough-leg and a Golden Eagle. We saw 2 singles and a pair of grey morphs along the wilder part of Council Road.

Pacific Golden-Plover, Pluvialis fulvia

8 in the vicinity of Safety Lagoon, Nome on 18th but only 1 noted there on 21st, and 2 along Teller Road.

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Only a single pair seen, with 3 eggs, along Wooley Lagoon Road, off Kougarok Road at Mile 40.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica

2 noisy pairs, probably with young, were on the hillside below the Bristle-thighed Curlew site.

Bristle-thighed Curlew, Numenius tahitiensis

One was quickly located by its song when we reached the top left of the hill/ ridge at Mile 73, west side of Kougarok Road. Only the one bird was seen and it was not very active.

Wandering Tattler, Heterosceles incanus

3 on the stony shore at the southern end of Seward town, and 1 spotted from the Denali NP bus at a river bridge.

Surfbird, Aphriza virgata

3 distant birds on the shore at Westchester and an immaculate breeding pair to the west of the ridge top north of the Eielson Centre.

Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis

Two males displayed at the Gaswell Road inlet near NARL, one brighter than the other. A Little Stint was also seen here, but not by us.


Rock Sandpiper, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Rock Sandpiper, Calidris ptilocnemis

A pair on the ridge west of Teller Road at Mile 46.8, a possible breeding site we learnt of from Lana, was an unexpected bonus, but was only found after one gave a brief display flight; appeared much bigger than a Dunlin. A difficult bird on the mainland at this time.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Tryngites subruficollis


Buff-breasted Sandpipers, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Observed at 3 sites at Barrow, including 4 birds, at least 2 of which displayed as below, along Gaswell Road.

Skuas, Stercorarius sp.

A few Arctics were seen daily at Barrow and Nome, Long-tailed were surprisingly common at Nome, with smaller numbers at Barrow and Denali, but Poms were scarce with only 2 on 2 days at Barrow and 1 at Nome. 


Sabine's Gull, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Sabine's Gull, Xema sabini

3 gave good views near NARL soon after our arrival at Barrow, but were not seen again, the only other sightings being another 2 that day and 1 over the sea at Nome.

Aleutian Tern, Sterna aleutica

Two small breeding colonies, with larger numbers of Arctics, at Nome – 1 near the northern end of Safety Lagoon, the other further inland by the river on the southern edge of town.

Murrelets

Marbled and Ancient were quite numerous on the Kenai Fjords pelagic but only 8 Kittlitz's Murrelet, Brachyramphus brevirostris were seen, in the Northwest Fjord.

Auklets: Parakeet, Aethia psittacula and Rhinoceros, Cerorhinca monocerata

30-50 on the Kenai Fjords pelagic.

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus

1 in flight at Upper Huffman, Chugach State Park.

Snowy Owl, Nyctea scandiaca


Snowy Owl, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Not a great year for this species at Barrow, with only a few nests apparent, but c.20 birds on the first day. An obliging male at the south end of Safety Lagoon, Nome, was a nice surprise but flew from its roadside perch just as I was about to take “the perfect picture”.

Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa

An adult at Tolsona Wilderness Camp (mile 173 along Glenn Highway, on the left) was all that could be found of a breeding pair with fledged young.

Northern Hawk Owl, Surnia, ulula

Two singles along the Glenn Highway at Miles 120 and 134 (heard later of a nest at Mile 151, signed 37 miles to Glennallen), with one on the Brook Highway to Denali and another on Denali Highway.

Three-toed Woodpecker, Picoides, tridactylus


Three-toed Woodpecker, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

An opportunity to photograph a pair feeding young in the nest hole at Trail River campground was a rare treat – see below.

Black-backed Woodpecker, Picoides, arcticus

One at Upper Huffman, Chugach SP, was a scarce breeder for this part of Alaska.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Poecile, rufescens

One at Bear Creek salmon ladder was the only sighting for some, of what should have been an easy bird in the Seward area.

Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola, enucleator

An obliging pair at a Nash Road, Seward, feeder, with another male near by, and 2 brief singles at Skilak Lake loop and Council Road, Nome.

White-winged Crossbill, Loxia, leucoptera

A pair outside the Denali NP Visitor Centre gave awesome views on 23rd.

Golden-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia, atricapilla

Not as easy as expected - only seen at Nome with 4 on the Teller Road the best day.

Smith's Longspur, Calcarius, pictus

A difficult bird this year, with 2 at Mile 30 on c. 10th the only report until we located (from the short rattle call) 2 pairs at Mile 19, about half a mile to the north of the road, just beyond a U-bend in the river.

Mammals   compiled by Andy Deighton

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

1 from Kenai Fjords boat trip 13th June.

Grizzly Bear (Ursus horribilis)

1 at Nome, by the Solomon River on Council Road on the 21st. 6 sightings on the Denali National Park bus tour on the 23rd, including a courting pair comprising a dark brown individual with a strikingly pale sandy animal, and one visible from the Eielson Centre.

All were of Grizzlies, rather than the larger Alaskan Brown Bear (Ursus middendorffi) , which is confined to coastal SW Alaska.

Polar Bear (Thalarctos maritimus)

3 at Barrow on 17th, seen from Frank's Point Barrow Hummer trip at around 7am. 1 initially in open on flat sea ice, the other two at the edge of the flat ice and the pressure ridges.

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

Good numbers in the Seward area on 12th and 13th: 4 were in the marina on 12th and at least 20 on the Kenai Fords boat trip on 13th.

Red Fox< (Vulpes fulva)


Red Fox, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

Singles at Nome on Teller Road on 19th and Kougarok Road on 20th; on the Denali NP bus tour on 23rd, and on the Denali Highway at the Brushkana Campground on 24th, with a striking silver phase at mile 102 allowed approach to 2m.

Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus)

At Barrow, 2 dead animals in winter white were found, and a moulting live one was seen from the Gaswell Road on 17th.

Northern (Steller's) Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus)

At least 25 were seen from the Kenai Fjords boat trip on 13th.

Harbour (Common) Seal (Phoca vitulina)

At least 40 on the Kenai Fjords boat trip on 13th. Unidentified Seals at Nome and Barrow may well have been this species.

Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida)

At Barrow several were identified on the pack ice.

Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata)

2 were seen on the Denali bus tour on 23rd, at Polychrome Pass and above the Eielsen Centre, and 1 on the Denali Highway on 24th.

Arctic Ground Squirrel (Citellus parryi)

Commonly seen at roadside, especially around Nome and the Denali National Park and Highway.

American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

2 at Tolsona Wilderness Camp on 11th and at the Denali Grizzly Bear Cabins on 24th.

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

4 at Nome on the Kougarok Road early morning on the 20th and 1 on the Parks Highway on 22nd. Many signs of activity on roadside lakes and rivers, with dams and lodges obvious.

Lemming sp (Dicrostonyx sp)

1 at Barrow on 16th was probably a Greenland Collared Lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus).

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica)

1 at a roadside marsh S of Palmer on 11th.

Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)

Singles at Nome, on Council Road on 21st, and in Denali National Park from the bus on 23rd.

Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)

A small brown rabbit at Nome on the Kougarok Road on 20th was likely to have been this species. 1 at Denali National Park from the bus on 23rd.

Moose (Alces alces)

Seen most days, except at Barrow, with a max of at least 6 on the Council Road, Nome on 21st.

Barren Ground Caribou (Rangifer arcticus)

Domestic animals in the Nome area, at least 30 on the Denali National Park bus tour on 23rd and 1 from the Denali Highway on the 24th.

Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus)

1 from the Kenai Fjords boat trip on 13th.

Musk Ox (Ovibos moschatus)


Musk Ox, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

At least 40 at Nome from the Teller Road on 19th including a confiding roadside male, and 2 above Council on 21st.

White Sheep (Dall's Sheep) (Ovis Dalli)

20+ on Sheep Mountain on the Glen Highway on 11th, 10+ on the road to Seward on 12th, and 20+ above Toklat in Denali National Park on 23rd.

Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)

At least 6 in two adjacent pods on the Kenai Fjords boat trip on 13th. Very active, and seen spy-hopping and breaching.

Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

At least 2 at Cape Nome on 18th and 21st.

Dall's Porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli)

At least 6 riding the bow wave on the Kenai Fjords boat trip on 13th.

Grey Whale (Eschrichtius gibbosus)

2 at Cape Nome on 18th and 1 on 21st.

Minke Whale (Balenoptera acutorostrata)

2 were close inshore between Cape Nome and Nome on 18th.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Humpback Whale, photo by Jon Hornbuckle

At least 6 were seen on the Kenai Fjords boat trip on 13th.

LIST OF BIRD and MAMMALS compiled by Dave Adkin.

 

Glenn Hwy

Anc-Seward

Kenai Fjord

Barrow

Nome

Anc-Den

Denali

BIRDS

 

return

 

 

 

return

Hwy

Red-throated Loon

 

 

 

30+

20+

1

3

Pacific Loon

 

2

2

6

40+

 

 

Common Loon

1

4

1

 

 

2

2

Yellow-billed Loon

 

 

 

1 prob

 

 

 

Red-necked Grebe

4

5

 

 

2

30

 

Horned Grebe

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

Double-crested Cormorant

 

 

20

 

 

 

 

Pelagic Cormorant

 

 

20

 

12

 

 

Red-faced Cormorant

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

Trumpeter Swan

 

2

 

 

 

 

1

Tundra Swan

2

 

 

10

41

2

6

Greater White-fronted Goose

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

Snow Goose

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

Canada Goose

1

few

 

 

6

40

 

Brant

 

 

1

 

50

 

 

American Wigeon

few

few

 

 

6

20

few

Gadwall

few

few

 

 

 

4

 

Green-winged Teal

few

few

 

4

2

10

6

Mallard

few

common

 

 

 

common

few

Northern Pintail

3

15

 

common

common

3

2 broods

Northern Shoveler

4

few

 

1

2

6

1

Canvasback

20+

10

 

 

6

1

 

Ring-necked Duck

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

Greater Scaup

 

8

10

 

50

60

40

Lesser Scaup

3

3

 

3

 

 

 

Common Eider

 

 

 

50

15

 

 

King Eider

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

Spectacled Eider

 

 

 

2 pair

 

 

 

Steller's Eider

 

 

 

1 pair

 

 

 

Harlequin Duck

 

50

30

 

7

 

 

Long tailed Duck

 

 

 

common

few

1

2

Black Scoter

 

 

200

 

3

 

 

White-winged Scoter

 

 

100

 

1

 

 

Common Goldeneye

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Barrow's Goldeneye

1

2

 

 

 

1

10

Bufflehead

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-breasted Merganser

 

4

4

 

40

 

 

Common Merganser

 

2

20

 

 

 

 

Osprey

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle

3

20

12

 

 

6

3

Northern Harrier

1

1

 

 

3

2

2

Red-tailed Hawk

3

1

 

 

 

3

 

Rough-legged Hawk

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

Golden Eagle

 

1

 

 

3

 

3

Merlin

 

2

 

 

1

 

1 heard

Gyrfalcon

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

Willow Ptarmigan

 

 

 

 

8

1

2

Rock Ptarmigan

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

Sandhill Crane

 

1

 

 

1

 

 

Black Oystercatcher

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

American Golden-Plover

 

 

 

8

2

1

 

Pacific Golden-Plover

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

Black-bellied Plover

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Semipalmated Plover

 

 

 

few

1

6

2

Common Snipe

1

3

 

2

2

2

4

Short-billed Dowitcher

 

10

 

 

 

5

 

Long-billed Dowitcher

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

Hudsonian Godwit

 

30

 

 

 

1

 

Bar-tailed Godwit

 

 

 

 

20

 

 

Whimbrel

 

 

 

8

8

heard

7

Bristle-thighed Curlew

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Greater Yellowlegs

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Yellowlegs

2

6

 

 

 

30

12

Solitary Sandpiper

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

Spotted Sandpiper

 

3

 

 

3

2

 

Wandering Tattler

 

3

 

 

 

1

1

Ruddy Turnstone

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

Black Turnstone

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Surfbird

 

3

 

 

 

2

2

Semipalmated Sandpiper

 

 

 

common

common

 

 

Western Sandpiper

 

 

 

4

7

 

 

Red-necked Stint

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

Least Sandpiper

 

 

 

 

 

7

2

Baird's Sandpiper

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

Pectoral Sandpiper

 

 

 

common

 

 

 

Dunlin

 

 

 

common

 

 

 

Rock Sandpiper

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

Red-necked Phalarope

6

3

 

20

2

3

10

Red Phalarope

 

 

 

common

 

 

 

Pomarine Jaeger

 

 

 

2

1

 

 

Parasitic Jaeger

 

 

 

6

6

 

 

Long-tailed Jaeger

 

 

 

8

40

4

4

Mew Gull

several

common

common

 

common

common

several

Glaucous-winged Gull

 

common

common

 

 

1

 

Glaucous Gull

 

 

 

common

common

 

 

Herring Gull

several

common

 

1

few

 

 

Bonaparte's Gull

 

10

 

 

 

4

 

Sabine's Gull

 

 

 

5

1

 

 

Black-legged Kittiwake

 

common

common

 

common

 

 

Arctic Tern

several

common

few

common

common

common

2

Aleutian Tern

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

Common Murre (Guillemot)

 

 

common

 

common

 

 

Thick-billed Murre (Brunnich's)

 

 

10

1

1

 

 

Black Guillemot

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

Pigeon Guillemot

 

4

20

 

1

 

 

Marbled Murrelet

 

 

100

 

 

 

 

Kittlitz's Murrelet

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

Ancient Murrelet

 

 

200

 

 

 

 

Parakeet Auklet

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

Rhinoceros Auklet

 

 

50

 

 

 

 

Horned Puffin

 

 

common

 

3

 

 

Tufted Puffin

 

20

common

 

few

 

 

Great Horned Owl

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy Owl

 

 

 

20

1

 

 

Great Gray Owl

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Hawk Owl

2

 

 

 

 

1

1

Short-eared Owl

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Rufous Hummingbird

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

Hairy Woodpecker

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three-toed Woodpecker

1

2

 

 

 

1

 

Black-backed Woodpecker

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Flicker

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

Alder Flycatcher

3

 

 

 

 

1

1

Horned Lark

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

Tree Swallow

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

Violet-green Swallow

several

common

several

 

 

several

 

Bank Swallow

several

50

 

 

40

15

 

Cliff Swallow

20

2

 

 

15

common

common

Barn Swallow

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Yellow Wagtail

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

American Pipit

 

 

 

 

1

 

4

Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

(Bohemian) Waxwing

 

 

 

 

 

3

8

American Dipper

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

Gray-cheeked Thrush

 

3

 

 

4

 

5

Swainson's Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

Hermit Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

American Robin

few

common

 

 

12

several

several

Varied Thrush

1

4

 

 

 

1

 

Arctic Warbler

 

 

 

 

10

few

2

Northern Wheatear

 

 

 

 

2

 

3

Black-capped Chickadee

 

few

 

 

 

 

 

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Boreal Chickadee

 

2

 

 

 

 

1

Red-breasted Nuthatch

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Shrike

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Gray Jay

10

4

 

 

 

2

3

Steller's Jay

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

Black-billed Magpie

few

few

 

 

 

few

few

Northwestern Crow

 

few

2

 

few

2

 

Common Raven

few

few

few

2

8

few

4

Pine Grosbeak

 

3

 

 

1

 

 

White-winged Crossbill

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Common Redpoll

 

2

 

 

 

few

few

Hoary Redpoll

 

 

 

10

common

 

 

Pine Siskin

 

20

4

 

 

2

 

Orange-crowned Warbler

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Warbler

2

 

 

 

few

2

1

Yellow-rumped Warbler

2

few

 

 

 

1

 

Townsend's Warbler

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpoll Warbler

2

 

 

 

1

1

1

Northern Waterthrush

 

 

 

 

2

1

 

Wilson's Warbler

1

1

 

 

 

2

1

American Tree Sparrow

 

 

 

 

10

4

10

Savannah Sparrow

2

few

 

2

few

few

few

Fox Sparrow

 

1

 

 

2

1

1

Song Sparrow

 

few

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln's Sparrow

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

White-crowned Sparrow

2

1

 

 

3

common

common

Golden-crowned Sparrow

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

Dark-eyed Junco

 

few

 

1

 

4

few

Lapland Longspur

 

 

 

common

common

 

10

Smith's Longspur

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

Snow Bunting

 

 

 

common

 

 

1

Rusty Blackbird

3

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAMMALS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Bear

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

Grizzly Bear

 

 

 

 

1

 

6

Polar Bear

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

Sea Otter

 

4

20

 

 

 

 

Red Fox

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

Arctic Fox

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Northern (Steller's) Sea Lion

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

Harbour (Common) Seal

 

 

40

 

 

 

 

Ringed Seal

 

 

 

several

 

 

 

Hoary Marmot

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Arctic ground squirrel

 

 

 

 

6

 

10+

Red Squirrel

2

 

 

 

 

 

2

Beaver

 

 

 

 

4

1

 

Lemming sp

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

Muskrat

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porcupine

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

Snowshoe Hare

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

Moose

 

4

 

 

6

 

2

Barren Ground Caribou

 

 

 

 

15

 

30

Mountain Goat

 

 

1

 

 

5

 

Muskox

 

 

 

 

40

 

 

White (Dall's) Sheep

20+

10+

 

 

 

2

20+

Killer Whale

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

Harbour porpoise

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Dall's Porpoise

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

Grey Whale

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Minke Whale

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

Humpback Whale

 

 

6+

 

 

 

 

 

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