Teller Road a Field Trip (Nome pt 2)

June 9, 2018 Nome Alaska

We met in a gravely parking lot in the gray, foggy, morning light of super early. Radios were passed out to three vehicles. We (Arlene & I) were lucky enough to get in the car (cutest orange Nissan Rogue) owned by Mark and Shay.  And off we went.

Birders in their natural habitat

Misty morning _JLS4324

Arlene is an awesome travel companion she is a gifted storyteller and oh does she know stories about Alaska, and people, and travel, and …  She also has an uncanny gift for engaging with people and getting them to tell stories.  For instance on the day I met her, she knew my whole life story in about one hour.  Shay and Mark are awesome, funny people and between us we had a lot of fun.  My contribution?  A big bag of dark Ghirardelli dark chocolate.


Golden plover _JLS4392B

There were so many new birds for me, 13 to be exact — see list at end of post.  And even some of the ones I already have on my list, such as this Red necked phalerope were sort of new since I hadn’t seen one in breeding plumage before.

Red necked phalerope

Camp or fish shack? _JLS4462b

I was really glad that I had my big lens with me.  It seemed like every bird was way out in the distance.

Willow ptarmigan – his head/neck is the brown red, the body/tail white

Lovely view _JLS4511

I thought the shades of blue, sky, mist, ocean, pools, creeks against the red golds of the plants gave us really spectacular views.

Rock ptarmigan

Red fox _JLS4555

I know that seabirds must come on land to raise chicks and roost, but I never thought of them as posing on hills looking for voles for dinner.  It seemed that every hillock was topped with a Long tailed jaeger.  They were everywhere on every high point.

Long tailed jaeger
_JLS4334 Long tailed jaeger 2 _JLS4574

The red in the water in the picture below comes from the soil, not pollution.  There’s enough red mineral content in various locations near Nome that it just seeps out when things start melting. So some pools of water where this orange red color and others were clear or blue.  I found it fascinating.

Wandering tattler

Blonde moose & calf _JLS4598b

We were lucky in that another bird group saw the rare White wagtail fly into the tree near where we were looking.  Our group had already looked this area over and had moved on only to come back for this guy.  We saw several of the more common Yellow wagtails but they were camera shy.

White wagtail

Apparently there’s this thing called Cupcake Day, where kids raise money by selling cupcakes.  Clearly birders are a target audience and we eagerly bought them.

Teller harbor

Musk Ox _JLS4762

Musk ox have the softest undercoat of fur called qiviut.  In the spring wild musk ox will shed this inner coat leaving it strewn about on the ground and shrubbery.  It’s very expensive, and highly sought after.  Places that raise musk ox provide scratching posts where the beastie can scratch the itches and leave the shedding fur.  Apparently, gathering qiviut is actually a thing like berry picking.   When we spotted these amazing creatures we also spotted qiviut.  There was much jumping out of the car to gather the fluffy stuff.  See: for more information.

Musk Ox near dump

Musk Ox _JLS4681b

This was a fun, amazing, wonderful day and I’ll never forget it.

— Jenny

Mammal list: Musk oxen, Red fox, Parky squirrel (or rather Arctic ground squirrel, see:,  and a Blonde moose with calf.

Bird list:

1 Cackling geese
2 Canada goose
3 Mallards
4 Northern pintail
5 Green winged teals
6 Greater scaup
7 Common eider (NEW to me)
8 Harlequin ducks
9 Long tailed duck
10 Common merganser
11 Willow ptarmigan
12 Rock ptarmigan (NEW to me)
13 Red throated loon
14 Red necked grebe
15 Pelagic cormorant
16 Northern harrier
17 Rough legged hawk
18 Sandhill cranes
19 American golden plovers
20 Pacific golden plovers (NEW to me)
21 Semipalmated plovers
22 Bartail godwit (NEW to me)
23 Semipalmated sandpiper
24 Western sandpiper
25 Wilson’s snipe
26 Red necked phalerope
27 Spotted sandpipers
28 Wandering tattler (NEW to me)
29 Long tailed jaegers (NEW to me)
30 Mew gulls
31 Glaucous gulls
32 Arctic terns
33 Common ravens
34 Horned lark
35 Tree swallows
36 Cliff swallows
37 Arctic warbler (NEW to me)
38 Bluethroat (NEW to me)
39 Gray cheeked thrush (NEW to me)
40 American robins
41 Eastern yellow wagtail (NEW to me)
42 White wagtail (NEW to me)
43 American pipets
44 Lapland longspurs
45 Orange crowned warbler
46 Yellow warbler
47 Blackpoll warblers
48 Wilson’s warblers
49 American tree sparrows (NEW to me)
50 Fox sparrow, Taiga race  (NEW to me)
51 White crowned sparrow
52 Golden crowned sparrows
53 Savannah sparrows


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