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Though Alaska has lots of wet ground there are many areas where your feet can stay dry, at least for most of the day. There are wet patches pretty much everywhere but there are many areas of dry tundra. Even the runoff streams and rivulets have shrubby edges that provide an upland sort of habitat. There are no real trees out on the peninsula but the excavated edges alongside the roads are often edges with the gravel removed to allow for drainage, and the low channels hold enough water, for patches of willow, alder, and (occasionally) poplars to grow. Certainly this is not a forested part of the world but there is a good bit of low cover. It is in that low cover that many birds reside.
The sparrows of the Nome area are pretty snazzy – yes I know that sounds odd, sparrows and snazzy are not often in the same sentence, but the White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows are really pretty sharp characters. The large reddish Fox Sparrow is also a treat. The American Tree Sparrow and the Savannah Sparrow may be a bit average looking overall, but think of where they are living and what they go through to survive. And, in the same family (Emberizidae) there is the very common and also pretty snazzy Lapland Longspur.
I have also included the Gray Jay and Short-eared Owl on this page as well. The owl is a diurnal (day time) hunter in Alaska in the summer – it has no choice. It cruises moth-like over the tundra hoping to spot a vole or lemming or perhaps a Savannah Sparrow or Lapland Longspur. The last image in this blog, well below, was sitting alongside the Kougaroc Road and all Fran had to do was aim and shoot. Once the bird flew it was over with; it drifted away over the rolling tundra hills.
I guess there will be at least one more page on Nome; maybe two. I think we need a scenery page and then there are a bunch more bird images to share. There are a few Alaskan specialities that will be included on that page.
Then we will head for Denali and lastly on to the Kenai Peninsula and the town of Homer. Hmmmm, there are some more things to say about Alaska’s temperate rain forest which sits largely on the coast of Canada…. Why? I think I can answer that in an upcoming page.