Teller and Council Roads
Return to Teller Road
Thursday, June 18th: I spotted a flock of (Black) Brant flying over the Bering Sea while waiting to get in the van this morning. We had breakfast at Airport Pizza. Then we again headed out the Teller Road. A Northern Waterthrush was calling at our first stop. We also soon heard Arctic Warbler. Further along, we found a pair of Willow Ptarmingans next to the road. The male came out on the road and scolded the van! As we headed out the Teller Road, we added Peregrine Falcon, Cackling Goose, and American Pipit. We also saw a light-colored Grizzly Bear climbing up a hill.
Farther out, near MM 57, we made a stop where a Cackling Goose was sitting on a nest on a cliff! We don't know what it was doing there. Barry told us the nest had previously been occupied by Rough-legged Hawks, and we could hear a Rough-legged Hawk screaming. Pretty soon a pair of Rough-legged Hawks chased the goose off. Very strange. We also saw Arctic Warbler in this area.
As the group started to walk down the road, I noticed a bird pop up with a plain back and bold white supercilium. My immediate thought was Bluethroat! I waited for a few seconds to be sure. It slightly turned its head revealing a little blue. A few moments later it turned further and I saw more blue. At that point I called out “Bluethroat!” It felt like a long time had passed, but it was really only a few seconds. By the time the group came back up the road, the bird had disappeared. Our leaders played its song a bit, and pretty soon everyone had looks at the Bluethroat, even though it never stayed still long. I was toasted at dinner for finding this.
The Bluethroat was our last target bird on this road, so we took it as a sign to head back to Nome. Before leaving, we spotted a Gyrfalcon, which ended up being chased by a Long-tailed Jaeger. On the way back, we found a female Rock Ptarmigan somewhere between MM 34-36. Then we headed back to Nome for lunch at Subway. We again saw a lone Muskox near Nome, possibly the same one as yesterday.
After lunch we headed out the Council Road for Safety Lagoon. A large number of Common Murres were present near Cape Nome. This is unusual, and we don't know what caused this. They do breed on a nearby island, but are rarely seen near shore at this time of year. We found a Thayer's Gull on the beach, and Pelagic Cormorant on the jetty. A Parasitic Jaeger flew by, and our first Harlequin Ducks were in the water off the jetty.
Continuing, we soon found Common Eider. A Black Turnstone was on the lagoon side of the road. We kept going. A Pomarine Jaeger flew by, and Brennan spotted a Bufflehead on the lagoon side. A marshy area had a nice-looking breeding plumaged Dunlin. It was in a scope view with a Red-winged Blackbird that Gavin Bieber (WINGS) had told us about. A bit further on, we found at least 2 (maybe 3) Eastern Yellow Wagtails.
The road turned inland, and we proceeded to a Gyrfalcon nest on a bridge over the East Solomon River. The adult wasn't present, but three chicks were. We headed a bit further out, reaching MM 56. There we saw a Golden Eagle being chased by a Northern Harrier. We viewed the nest again on our way back. Still no adult. Then we returned to Nome and dinner at Airport Pizza.
I ended the day with 57 species of bird. This brought the trip total to 108 species of bird including 1 lifer. One new mammal brought the mammal count to 10.
Aurora Inn, Nome