BIRD WATCHING EXCURSION TO SAFETY SOUND
If you are not one of my birding friends, you may want to skip this post.
Thirty-one of us took the tender to Nome where we met our white bus and our guides, a husband and wife team (the woman was a native from an island far to the north of Nome). This number of participants is enormous for a birding trip. Most guides limit the number to eight.
Our first stop was to a spot where there were no birds but we were shown some of the native plants that the natives use as salad greens and for medicinal purposes. I caught sight of small bird with two white tail feathers. When I asked if it could have been junco, the blank stare I was given by the guide was my first inkling that all was not well. Things deteriorated from there. All small birds were "little bitty birds" (LBBs) - a new one to me. The sea gulls (there is no such bird) were 'ga la shus' gulls known to most birders as Glaucous (glah kus) gulls. We did see Red-throated Loons, Northern Shovellers, Long-Tailed Ducks. Lapland Longspurs fell into the 'LBB' category. We stopped at places where there were no birds and got out and looked around and barrelled right by places where there were birds. There was no spotting scope available and most birds were too far away to identify without one. Add to the fact that it was raining hard and the windows fogged up, we didn't see much. I saw some flocks of shorebirds but they were much too far away to identify.
There was a highlight: we saw our first Muskoxen. A small herd was right beside the road and at our furthest distance at the last Iditerod stop, another small herd. Later we saw a lone individual trotting along the muskeg.
We went for afternoon tea, where I regaled Shirley, a birder I met on ship, with the story of our birding expedition. She was quite happy she didn't go.
Tonight, Norma and I are hoping to enjoy a pre dinner drink at the Saloon before venturing into the dining room for dinner. We have five sea days ahead of us.