This second part of our Alaska tour has been a Field Guides favorite for decades upon decades, and it certainly lived up to that pedigree this year. We traveled from the ice-strewn glacial bays and verdant coastal conifer forests of the Kenai Peninsula, to far northern tip of mainland North America, still locked in sea ice. In between we saw mountains, tundra, multiple seas, and a staggering array of birds available nowhere else on the globe.
We started off by heading south from Anchorage, and wound our way through the base of the Kenai Peninsula to the town of Seward, nestled in amongst the conifers at the head of Resurrection Bay. Our boat trip the next day with the awesome captain Tanya took us all the way out this large bay, to the rocky Chiswell Islands, and then around the corner to through Aialik Bay and all the way to Aialik Glacier. In addition to the jaw dropping scenery, we found over a dozen Kittlitz's Murrelets, as well as a supporting avian cast of Parakeet and Rhinoceros auklets, both species of Murre, Marbled Murrelets, and a Red-faced Cormorant! It wasn't only the birds that showed well though - Steller's Sea Lions, Dall's Porpoises, feeding Humpback Whales, cavorting Sea Otters, and some great views of Orcinus Orca (Killer Whales) were also major highlights here.
Leaving Seward, we headed up to Anchorage and readied ourselves for a stark change: It was time to head to Utqiagvik (formerly named Barrow) - the northernmost town in the United States. We traded the shaded tree-lined streets of Seward for the open completely treeless tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. It was still somewhat early in the season, so it was largely snow-covered, but the sun never set during our time there, and so melting was happening most of the time, even when it was quite cold. The melt ponds held three species of Eider (including the first arriving Spectacled Eiders and plenty of Steller's Eiders), and we completed our eider sweep with Common Eiders migrating down the coast. Snowy Owls and Pomarine Jaegers were around the town this year too, and it was nice to repeatedly run into these Lemming-hunters. We also found the shorebird show here to be great, with White-rumped Sandpipers around in nice numbers, and beautiful Sabine's Gulls rubbing elbows with a displaying Red-necked Stint. This would all have been enough, of course, but we were also treated to a massive male Polar Bear almost immediately upon our arrival, and we got to see it twice during our two days here. Amazing!
Our final location, and perhaps the cherry on top of a very rich sundae indeed, was Nome. We were joined here by our third guide, Cory Gregory (thanks Cory!!), and we spent three days here on the Seward Peninsula (not to be confused with the town of Seward, which is on the Kenai Peninsula), driving all the major roads out of town, and sampling the various types of tundra and tundra-adjacent habitats. The rarest bird for the area that we saw was definitely the Turkey Vulture that flew by our astonished group when we were birding the Council Road, but the scene stealers were really the regular Nome-area birds. We saw Arctic Warbler, Bluethroat, Eastern Yellow Wagtails, and Northern Wheatears, freshly arrived from their Southeast Asian and Sub-saharan African wintering grounds, proclaiming their territories on a continent adopted as their home for a fleeting couple of months. An Arctic Loon yodeling off the coast as we sorted through the hordes of waterfowl on Safety Sound, Bristle-thighed Curlews and Bar-tailed Godwits settling in for their breeding seasons, Long-tailed Jaegers floating over the tundra and hovering over their next meals, Rock Ptarmigan and Willow Ptarmigan, Gyrfalcons, Golden Eagles, and Rough-legged Hawks hunting from the sky, and Grizzly Bears hunting from the ground - it was almost too much to hold in the brain!
We really enjoyed guiding you around some of the highlight regions of Alaska on this tour, and we sincerely hope to see you in the field again somewhere else on this wonderful bird-filled planet!
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
EMPEROR GOOSE (Anser canagicus)
We caught a couple of these lingerers on an island in Safety Sound on our first evening in Nome.
SNOW GOOSE (Anser caerulescens)
Several days in both Utqiagvik and Nome.
GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (Anser albifrons)
Utqiagvik and Nome.
BRANT (BLACK) (Branta bernicla nigricans)
Utqiagvik and, especially, Nome.
CACKLING GOOSE (Branta hutchinsii)
A couple seen here and there on our second and third days in Nome.
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)
We saw the darkish, smallish, Anchorage white-cheeked geese that are currently classed as Canada Geese on our first day, at Westchester Lagoon.
TRUMPETER SWAN (Cygnus buccinator)
Nash Road and then while driving back north on day three.
TUNDRA SWAN (WHISTLING) (Cygnus columbianus columbianus)
Utqiagvik and Nome. They were abundant on the islands of Safety Sound.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL X NORTHERN SHOVELER (HYBRID) (Spatula discors x Spatula clypeata)
One of the coolest birds we saw, and arguably the most unique bird of the trip was this male out in the muddy channels of Cook Inlet off Westchester Lagoon. It was courting Northern Shoveler females, and it would be interesting to see what their offspring would look like!
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)
Westchester Lagoon and then again once in Nome.
GADWALL (Mareca strepera)
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)
AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)
Westchester Lagoon and Nome.
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
Westchester Lagoon and Nome.
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
Utqiagvik and Nome. Abundant.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)
Anchorage and Nome.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) X GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (INTERGRADE) (Anas crecca crecca x Anas crecca carolinensis)
Some had one of these intergrades at Hastings Creek in Nome.
CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria)
We had a single scan count of 32 individuals on Safety Sound on our final trip out there in Nome.
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)
Seen most days of the tour, scattered here and there.
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)
Westchester Lagoon, where we got to compare them to their Greater Scaup cousins side-by-side.
STELLER'S EIDER (Polysticta stelleri)
Some really nice experiences with this very strange "eider" in Utqiagvik. We even had up to 14 on one day there - a real treat.
SPECTACLED EIDER (Somateria fischeri)
Undoubtedly the most sought after eider in the world, we were at Utqiagvik right as they started to show up on their tundra breeding territories, and we found a great pair on the tundra near the refuse dump. The next day we also had a pair flying in off the ocean, apparently arriving from their offshore winter/spring homes.
KING EIDER (Somateria spectabilis)
Several seen in Utqiagvik, and also seen in Safety Sound, and as a flyby at Cape Nome.
COMMON EIDER (PACIFIC) (Somateria mollissima v-nigrum)
Some in Utqiagvik migrating in flocks over the sea ice, and then plenty around Safety Sound.
HARLEQUIN DUCK (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Two in Resurrection Bay during our boat ride, and then every day around Nome.
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata)
A migrating flock of mostly males over Resurrection Bay, then a flyby flock on our final morning at Cape Nome.
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (Melanitta deglandi)
Three males in Norton Sound on day one, and then several more groups on the sound over our final two days in Nome.
BLACK SCOTER (Melanitta americana)
Cape Nome and other spots along Norton Sound.
LONG-TAILED DUCK (Clangula hyemalis)
Abundant in Utqiagvik, and also encountered here and there in Nome.
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica)
A female along Nash Road was our only one of part two.
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)
Summit Lake and then a migrant flock westbound over Norton Sound.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator)
Seen on three of our Nome days.
WILLOW PTARMIGAN (Lagopus lagopus)
We saw these ker-bagelling chickens at several points around Nome, and got some really fun experiences with these charismatic birds.
ROCK PTARMIGAN (Lagopus muta)
At least three on our day along the Teller Road, including a really nice look at a male hunkering down on moss-covered scree amidst a rainbow of blooming tundra wildflowers.
RED-NECKED GREBE (Podiceps grisegena)
Westchester Lagoon and then off shore at Nome.
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)
Westchester Lagoon, flyovers in Utqiagvik, and quite a few around Nome.
BLACK OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus bachmani)
AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis dominica)
Excellent experiences in Utqiagvik and at Nome.
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis fulva)
Normally a Nome-only bird on this part, we also encountered a nice adult in some melt pools alongside the road on one of our evening outings in Utqiagvik.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)
Utqiagvik and Nome.
BRISTLE-THIGHED CURLEW (Numenius tahitiensis)
A wonderful experience with this species in its legendary "curlew hill" breeding zone. We had two different pairs during our walkabout. One pair was clearly still getting a territory established, with a bird giving flight displays over us and pitching into the tundra hundreds of yards away. The other pair was sedately on territory, vigilantly watching us the entire time, but seeming settled into their area. Bristle-thighed Curlews have a relatively small nesting range relative to other long distance migrant shorebirds, and this is where you have to go if you want to maximize your chance for a sighting in North America.
WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus)
A few encounters around Nome, including on curlew hill, where we could compare them side by side with their curlew cousins.
BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)
A couple of sightings around Nome - there was a nice foraging flock using the Nome River mouth while we were there, and we also had a couple in their tundra breeding areas (including one in the middle of the dirt road!).
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
This species winters on tropical islands throughout the world, yet the only place we encountered it was at the top of the world in Utqiagvik.
BLACK TURNSTONE (Arenaria melanocephala)
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus)
A couple around Utqiagvik, where we don't see them too often (they don't breed near town), and then one flying by along the Teller Road in Nome.
SURFBIRD (Calidris virgata)
RED-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis)
We found a vibrant breeding male of this Asian species in the large gravel pit/quarry in Utqiagvik,. We even got to watch it give loud flight displays over us on our final morning there.
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
Staging in Utqiagvik as they waited for their barren tundra breeding grounds to shed their snow cover.
DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)
Mostly in Utqiagvik, but also on our first visit to Safety Sound.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis)
We had three separate sightings of this mega long distance migrant. We don't always connect with them on this tour, but since Utqiagvik (and their more remote breeding areas) was still quite snow-covered during our visit, we saw them on all three of our days there.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)
What an awesome bird to see on the breeding grounds, what with their bizarre alien-sounding breeding display and all!
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla)
The most common small calidrid at Utqiagvik, but we also had them in several places around Nome.
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)
Utqiagvik and Nome.
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)
Several encounters in the Nome area, including standing atop utility poles and hearing their winnowing displays.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus)
Every day when we were in Utqiagvik and Nome.
RED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus fulicarius)
As usual, gorgeous breeding plumage birds were abundant and confiding in Utqiagvik.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [*]
We heard one of these calling while we were watching Ava's feeders.
WANDERING TATTLER (Tringa incana)
One of these flew by us calling while we were at Safety Sound.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
POMARINE JAEGER (Stercorarius pomarinus)
Common in Utqiagvik, and also a couple of sightings in the Nome area.
PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Common at both Utqiagvik and Nome.
LONG-TAILED JAEGER (Stercorarius longicaudus)
Fantastic sighting all around the Nome area. We saw these in flocks on the tundra in the middle of the Seward Peninsula, as well as holding vigil atop utility poles near town, and hovering along the roadside in search of some unfortunate small animal for their next meal. Awesome birds!
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge)
We had these on the boat trip around Resurrection Bay, and also had them flying by offshore at Nome.
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia)
An incredible number of these have taken up residence at the Chiswells this year - far more than we had ever seen before, in contrast to the clearly diminished numbers of Common Murres.
BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cepphus grylle)
One of these was on a melt pond on the outskirts of town in Utqiagvik, and we also had a couple of flybys off Cape Nome.
PIGEON GUILLEMOT (Cepphus columba)
Common in Resurrection Bay.
MARBLED MURRELET (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
At least 25 on our boat trip out of Seward, with the majority being close to town at the northern end of Resurrection Bay.
KITTLITZ'S MURRELET (Brachyramphus brevirostris)
We had a dozen or more of these unique scree slope nesting alcids in their cold meltwater habitat adjacent to the picturesque Aialik Glacier.
PARAKEET AUKLET (Aethia psittacula)
We had good views of over twenty of these on our Seward boat trip near the Chiswells, and then a week later had a few flying by off shore during a Cape Nome seawatch.
CRESTED AUKLET (Aethia cristatella)
Flybys at our Cape Nome seawatch on our final morning.
RHINOCEROS AUKLET (Cerorhinca monocerata)
HORNED PUFFIN (Fratercula corniculata)
On our Seward boat trip and then again along the coast at Nome.
TUFTED PUFFIN (Fratercula cirrhata)
Excellent views of this best of puffins during our boat trip.
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla)
Resurrection Bay and off shore at Nome.
SABINE'S GULL (Xema sabini)
During one of our post-dinner evening outings at Utqiagvik, we got to spend some quality time with a couple of these in amazing breeding plumage swimming around a melt pond at the large quarry. What. A. Bird!
BONAPARTE'S GULL (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)
SHORT-BILLED GULL (Larus brachyrhynchus)
Anchorage and Nome.
HERRING GULL (VEGA) (Larus argentatus vegae)
We followed a couple of these down the coast between Safety Sound and Cape Nome, intersecting them two or three times as they steadily made their way west down the coast.
HERRING GULL X GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL (HYBRID) (Larus argentatus x Larus glaucescens)
We saw plenty of these "Cook Inlet" Gulls around, fittingly, Anchorage's Cook Inlet.
HERRING GULL X GLAUCOUS GULL (HYBRID) (Larus argentatus x Larus hyperboreus)
One of these hybrids was at Utqiagvik.
SLATY-BACKED GULL (Larus schistisagus)
We had three different encounters with this Asian species. We had one good looking adult at a melt pond in Utqiagvik, and then we had an adult and an immature on different days at Nome.
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL (Larus glaucescens)
Common in and around Seward, and we also caught up to at least one in Nome.
GLAUCOUS GULL (Larus hyperboreus)
The common seagull at Utqiagvik, and we also saw them every day of the Nome portion of the tour.
ALEUTIAN TERN (Onychoprion aleuticus)
The Nome River Mouth wasn't as active as usual with these birds, but there were still a few around giving great looks to all comers.
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea)
Common breeders around Anchorage, Seward, and Nome.
RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata)
A couple of breeding plumage birds were seen just arriving at Utqiagvik, and they were truly abundant around Nome.
ARCTIC LOON (Gavia arctica)
It took some work, but we eventually had a lovely experience with a pair of these on the ocean off of Safety Sound, which included one singing away several times. The North American breeding population of Arctic Loon is small, and it is rare to have the privilege of hearing them yodeling away like that on this continent!
PACIFIC LOON (Gavia pacifica)
Almost every day of the tour, with highest numbers around Nome.
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)
Tern Lake and Nome
YELLOW-BILLED LOON (Gavia adamsii)
We hit a migration movement of them in Utqiagvik, and had an astounding 56 (!!!) fly over us heading north up the coast on our final morning there. We also had three fly by Cape Nome on our final morning in Nome.
RED-FACED CORMORANT (Urile urile)
A full-on breeding plumage adult on our way out of Resurrection Bay during our boat trip.
PELAGIC CORMORANT (Urile pelagicus)
Resurrection Bay and Safety Sound
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Amazing! It's not often when a Turkey Vulture can be a major unexpected highlight on a North American Tour, but Alaska is one of those times! Not only was this one of the northernmost Turkey Vulture records (and the first for Nome and the Seward Peninsula), but it was apparently the westernmost record of Turkey Vulture ever recorded!
GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)
Flyover at Trail Lake, and then an adult high up on a cliff nest around Nome.
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)
A couple of sightings around Nome.
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
America's bird was abundant, conspicuous, and confiding throughout or three days between Anchorage and Seward.
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (Buteo lagopus)
Two on the Nome road system.
SNOWY OWL (Bubo scandiacus)
We watched a pair of these ghosts of the tundra around a nest on our first evening in Utqiagvik, and then also had two individuals on each of the next two days there.
SHORT-EARED OWL (Asio flammeus)
We encountered a handful during our last two days of the Nome unit.
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (Picoides dorsalis)
Two pairs of these elusive northern woodpeckers at Connor's Bog!
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius)
Two mobbing a Common Raven outside Nome.
GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus)
A couple of different nests during the Nome portion of the tour, one with four large white fluffballs, and one with just one fluffy. Great experiences!
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
One flyby on the Gaswell Road in Utqiagvik.
ALDER FLYCATCHER (Empidonax alnorum) [*]
Heard only on day one.
NORTHERN SHRIKE (Lanius borealis)
We saw an adult carrying prey along the roadside just outside Nome.
BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE (Pica hudsonia)
A few along the Anchorage-Seward leg of the tour.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos caurinus)
Girdwood and Seward - formerly known as Northwestern Crow, and now (rightly) lumped into American Crow.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
Every single day of the tour!
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus)
Only on day one.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)
Anchorage, Seward, and Nome.
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
Some nice views on the way to and from Seward.
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
Plenty around Nome.
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Several places around Nome, and we spent some nice time with them at the Solomon River Bridge.
ARCTIC WARBLER (Phylloscopus borealis)
Excellent views in Nome.
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula) [*]
Heard in the woods on the way down to Seward.
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)
Connor's Bog and Ava's.
AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus)
Great looks on the way down to Seward.
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]
VARIED THRUSH (Ixoreus naevius)
One of these was singing from the brushy hill across the road from Cape Nome.
GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (Catharus minimus)
Common around Nome.
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus) [*]
We heard them singing from the boat.
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
Present everywhere except Utqiagvik.
BLUETHROAT (Luscinia svecica)
Fantastic birds - we had good fortune with a couple of males along the Kougarok Road.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Nice views of two males and a female at our turnaround point on the Teller Road.
EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (Motacilla tschutschensis)
Nice views at a couple of locations around Nome.
WHITE WAGTAIL (Motacilla alba)
We were told about one of these at the Nome airport by another birding group who had just arrived, and were able to track it down in relatively short order along the river across the street - this could be one of the individuals that has been seen in the Nome harbor area for each of the past couple of summers, and this Asian taxon may potentially at the very start of gaining a breeding foothold in the area.
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)
Council Road and near Woolley Lagoon
COMMON REDPOLL (Acanthis flammea)
HOARY REDPOLL (Acanthis hornemanni)
We had these on several days in the northern portions, and we even had one land on John's tree-patterned camera lens in treeless Utqiagvik.
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)
LAPLAND LONGSPUR (Calcarius lapponicus)
One of the most abundant passerines in the north - many every day in Utqiagvik and Nome.
SNOW BUNTING (Plectrophenax nivalis)
The urban bird in Utqiagvik, where it is truly abundant in spring, nesting in everything from building drain pipes to exhaust pipes of unused vehicles.
AMERICAN TREE SPARROW (Spizelloides arborea)
Three days in a row during the Nome section.
FOX SPARROW (SOOTY) (Passerella iliaca sinuosa)
The population of Fox Sparrows on the Kenai Peninsula is much colder toned than the eastern "Red" Fox Sparrows seen elsewhere in the great north.
FOX SPARROW (RED) (Passerella iliaca zaboria)
The birds in Nome are phenotypically "Red" Fox Sparrows.
DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis) [*]
We didn't give these too much effort, but we did hear them while we were at the Coast.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (GAMBEL'S) (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii)
Most common during the Nome section.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW (Zonotrichia atricapilla)
Around low stature roadside vegetation around Nome, but our best views came courtesy of the friendly bird at Summit Lake.
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)
Nunivak Rd. in Utqiagvik, then abundant in Nome (perhaps the most common ground-dwelling passerine there).
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
First visit to Ava's house.
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)
Second visit to Ava's house.
RUSTY BLACKBIRD (Euphagus carolinus)
Only a couple of folks connected with this species during our two brief flyby encounters with the species near Nome.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)
Common in riparian habitats on the Seward Peninsula.
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata)
Common in Nome, where they share habitat with a vaguely similar looking (but very different sounding) old world warbler - Arctic Warbler.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
Common in Nome and heard in Seward.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)
Common in Nome.
SNOWSHOE HARE (Lepus americanus)
Several along the road during our Kougarok Rd. day.
ARCTIC GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus parryii)
Most of our days in and around Nome included these tundra critters.
BEAVER (Castor canadensis)
While the animals themselves proved elusive, we saw several great examples of beaver dams as we traveled inland along a major river north of Nome.
TUNDRA RED-BACKED VOLE (Clethrionomys rutilus)
One seen briefly by a couple of folks while we were hiking up Coffee Dome.
NEARCTIC BROWN LEMMING (Lemmus trimucronatus)
Seen by at least some of the group on each day that we were in the far north of Utqiagvik. These cute fur-balls are the fuel that allows the medium-sized carnivores, such as Snowy Owl and Pomarine Jaeger, to provision their nests, and their regional boom-bust cycle largely dictates the success of these birds during each arctic summer.
ORCA (Orcinus orca)
HARBOR PORPOISE (Phocoena phocoena)
A couple of these low profile dolphins were seen on two successive days from Cape Nome.
DALL'S PORPOISE (Phocoenoides dalli)
Delightful and dynamic dolphins that we got to have a short playtime session with during our return trip through Resurrection Bay.
COMMON MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
An uncommon animal on our trips to Nome, we were delighted by a fully breaching Minke Whale during one of our Cape Nome seawatches.
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Great experiences with a couple of animals, including one actively feeding under a following cloud of Black-legged Kittiwakes, in in Resurrection Bay.
ARCTIC FOX (Vulpes lagopus)
One of these sauntering around the tundra at Utqiagvik.
COYOTE (Canis latrans)
A big surprise was one of these prancing alongside the highway along Turnagin Arm as we made our way south from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula. This widespread species has been expanding into and across Alaska in recent years, and while they have been scarce on this tour in the past, we might expect to encounter them more frequently with each passing year.
BLACK BEAR (Ursus americanus)
As we pulled away from the glacier at Aialik Bay, we came across a Black Bear galumphing its way along the rocky shoreline of the bay, paying no heed to the gawking group of birders cruising alongside it a bit off shore.
BROWN (INCL. GRIZZLY) BEAR (Ursus arctos)
A couple of sightings of Grizzly Bears on our last full day in Nome. One was of a lone bear very close to the road just past one of the river bridges, and another was a more distant sighting of a family of four (sow and three fairly large cubs) on a distant hillside amidst the vast tundra of the Seward Peninsula.
POLAR BEAR (Ursus maritimus)
We were exceptionally fortunate to connect with this monster Polar Bear feeding on whale and seal remains off shore at Utqiagvik. It's not every year that we get to see one of these, and our experience with this one was closer and lengthier than most. We were able to appreciate how truly impressive of an animal it was - wow!
SEA OTTER (Enhydra lutris)
We a had ball watching these big mustelids go about their otterly awesome business all around Seward.
STELLER'S SEA LION (Eumetopias jubatus)
Nice views of plenty out at Cecil's Cove and vicinity near the mouth of Resurrection Bay.
HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)
The true seals around Seward are all Harbor Seals, and we saw a couple of these on our boat ride.
SPOTTED SEAL (Phoca largha)
A couple floating off shore of Cape Nome.
MOOSE (Alces alces)
A couple around Nome, including an adorable couple of youngsters trotting down the road one evening with their mother.
CARIBOU (Rangifer tarandus granti)
A couple of these were lingering on the outskirts of town at Utqiagvik during our time there.
MOUNTAIN GOAT (Oreamnos americanus)
Some very distant views on distant ridge-tops during our drive south through the Kenai Peninsula were quickly supplanted by mid-morning the next day by great studies during our boat trip of a small group on the slopes just above Resurrection Bay.
MUSKOX (Ovibos moschatus)
Several encounters on the Seward Peninsula, from the outskirts of Nome itself all the way out to the tundra wilderness well to the north and west. What an animal!
Totals for the tour: 154 bird taxa and 23 mammal taxa