Alaska Birding, Sightseeing and Gold – Part 2

The next day we flew to Nome to stay at a gold camp in the hills above the town. The terrain here is way different than Anchorage. No majestic mountains or old forests. Just rolling hills and tundra along the Bering Sea. That’s not to say it isn’t beautiful, quite the opposite.

The scenery in Nome was beautiful! I especially loved the Fireweed!

We arrived with several other visitors to the gold camp. Getting everything in the van (including ourselves) was a real challenge.

Tim trying hard to get the last suitcase in the van

We arrived mid-day so we had lots of time to settle in and then get out and explore. This far north in the summertime, it only gets dark a few hours a night. So at 8 o’clock it seemed like noon.

That’s the gold camp AKAU (Alaska Gold) at the top of the hill

We each had a our own ATV to explore. We quickly headed out – Tim to find gold and me to find birds! It didn’t take long for me to find some lifers. It looks flat and uninhabited but there were birds everywhere!

First bird sighting – Golden-Crowned Sparrow

While I birded I saw my husband Tim busily searching for gold with his metal detector.

Tim detecting for gold

I would call out “I got another lifer!”

Hoary Redpoll

He was still searching for gold…

Still searching….

“Wow! Another lifer!” I exclaimed

Common Redpoll

Tim was still searching….

Digging another target that wouldn’t be gold…

“There are so many birds! I got another lifer!” I cheered

Fox Sparrow

Hmmmm….Tim finally got a gold nugget! I was so happy for him!

Hard work getting gold – this hole had a little nugget!

We were having a great time! The day was warm and sunny. Soon we started getting tired and headed back for dinner and some sleep. The sun didn’t set until 2:30 am and was up again by 6 am.

Sunset at 2:30 am

The next day was another beautiful sunny day. Tim went off with some other guys to hunt for gold along a river. I stayed at camp and happily birded. I’m not very adventurous riding an ATV, and it sounded like a challenging drive for the guys.

This day turned out to be one of my best birding days of the trip. I birded for hours and saw so many species of birds. Some new ones and some old friends.

Olive-Backed Pipit
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Not the best photo but the only photo I got of a lifer – Northern Shrike
Least Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Another lifer! Arctic Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler

One of my favorite sightings was of a Northern Waterthrush. He was very curious and a great singer! I have seen this bird once before and only had a terrible photo. This time I got so many good photos! And he got so close to me I had to back up to get any photos.

Northern Waterthrush

Another exciting sighting for me was the Bohemian Waxwings. There was a whole flock of them feeding at a small pond. They didn’t seem to mind me at all. It was so much fun watching them dart out to get a bug and then land again to look for another. Such a stunning bird!

Another lifer! Bohemian Waxwing

While at the pond with the waxwings, I noticed a Semipalmated Plover. And to my delight it had two babies that looked like they had only recently hatched.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover juvenile

At another little pond nearby I saw a phalarope. It took me awhile to identify it as it was clearly a juvenile. But I finally realized it was a Red-Necked Phalarope – another lifer!

Red-Necked Phalarope

I loved exploring the little ponds. So unique and so much bird life.

I especially loved the little flowers that looked like something from Whoville 🙂

Whoville flowers 🙂

Something large caught my eye flying overhead. I quickly headed over to where I thought I saw it land. As I approached I heard a hawk giving warning calls to me. To my delight I saw it was another lifer for me. A Rough-Legged Hawk – and it had 2 babies!!!

I never did get very good photos of the adults. But I got some great photos of the babies. I was lucky to see them because within the next day or so they had fledged and left the nest never to be seen again.

Rough-Legged Hawk juveniles

While exploring the area I came across a big male Muskox. I had heard not to get too close as they can be very dangerous. Thankfully I had my 800mm lens and could get a decent photo without it knowing I was doing so.

Muskox

I definitely had a wonderful day exploring. So many bird sightings and beautiful scenery.

I drove to the top of one of the hills on my cute red ATV. Epic 360 degree views!

One day Tim and I drove our ATVs into Nome. I’d never been to the Bering Sea before and was dying to take some photos. It’s not a very picturesque beach like so many out there. But I still found it beautiful.

Bering Sea
The sand in the foreground is very unique – it’s crushed garnets! You can believe I brought home a little bottle of it!

One of my favorite photos of the trip I took just outside of Nome. It is a preserved gold mining dredge. Such wonderful lighting at midnight 🙂

Nome Dredge

I hope you enjoyed all of my photos of the great birds and scenery I saw. Stay tuned for Part 3. Lots more to come!



Weekend at Pagosa Springs

Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.

On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q)  It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Purple Adobe Lavender Farm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wonderful lavender!

10955

Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch

We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful store

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shopping at the cafe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mmmmmmm…

As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch.  When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here.  We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great old western wagon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Storms over Abiquiu Lake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old hand-hewn log cabin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beauty of the Ghost Ranch

As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest.  Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Female Osprey on the nest

While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Male Osprey with a meal

We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort.  They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees.  HOT!  The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot.  I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Springs Resort and Spa

After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit.  Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.

We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort.  We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of the resort and the San Juan River

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looks fabulous doesn’t it?

Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.

10964

Yum!

One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos.  I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.

I first photographed the resort’s hotel.  Such a beautiful place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game.  I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo.  I think it came out nice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Outdoor chess game under the stars

From there we toured the pools.  The first pool we came to overlooked the resort.  I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool.  I think they added interest to the view.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening

Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs

I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river.  Beautiful with the reflections in the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous at night

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Definitely a special place

The next day we went on a couple of short hikes.  I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area.  I never seem to tire of photographing water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The views during the hike were spectacular.

Our first hike was to Treasure Falls.  It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful.   Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

MacGuilvray’s Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Adorable chipmunk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Robin with a mouthful of moths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Flicker digging for grubs

This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer.  Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin.  But I think they were still beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lower part of Treasure Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous!

My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall.  I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tranquil pool

To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper.  It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds.  I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Dipper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking for goodies in the falling water

The other hike we did was to Silver Falls.  Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead.  She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!!   I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!

We finally realized we had driven past the falls.  We turned around and found the trailhead.  This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way.  There were small waterfalls along the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall.  All I can say is WOW!  It was spectacular!  I think it was about 5 stories tall!  The sounds of the falls was almost deafening.  I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year.  Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lower portion of Silver Fall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Silver Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WOW!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just spectacular!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lower portion of Silver Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My beautiful friend Dia

Dia took a picture of me at the falls.  I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive!  LOL!  My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!”  🙂

11020

We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools.  It was sooooooo relaxing.  We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town.   We found lots of goodies!

On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie.  I wish we had these birds closer to home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie

When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway.  We just had to stop and say hi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia made new friends fast 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord

The drought was about to be over on this trip.  The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home.  I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake.   Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Storms over Abiquiu Lake

All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rio Grande

I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs!  I’m so ready to go back!