Alaska 2014: Nome & The Seward Peninsula I

Bluethroat Nome, Alaska by Carl Sheely
May 29, 2014
Tour Length: 5 days Est. Spaces Left: 3

Experience a breeding extravaganza like you’ve never seen with thousands of migrants moving in during the Spring to nest along the shores and in the high tundra of the Seward Peninsula. Access these birds over 300 miles of dirt road.

TOUR OVERVIEW

Start Date:
May 29, 2014
End Date:
June 02, 2014
Tour Length:
5 days
Future Departures:
May 29, 2015
Max # Birders:
7 (+1 leader)
Focus:
Birds; Mammals; Photography;
Pace:
Easy to Moderate ; one optional moderate to difficult hike for Bristle-thighed Curlew.
Tour Leaders:
Extensions:
Double Accommodation:
$ 2650
[per person]
Single Supplement:
+ $ 400
Deposit:
$500.00 [per person]

“There’s No Place Like Nome!”.

Nome lies on the Seward Peninsula, jutting into the Bering Sea. It’s a frontier town in a world where few such curiosities remain. Accessible only by boat and airplane, bordered on the West and South by the Bering Sea, and the North and East by miles of trackless wilderness, Nome is a fascinating and challenging destination. During June, the midnight sun is at its brightest, the tundra is in full bloom, and the birds and mammals are breeding.

Our tours will cover the prime birding areas along the seacoast, the tundra and the only boreal forest on the Seward Peninsula. Most of the birds are in their resplendent breeding plumages—rarely if ever seen in the “lower 48”. We’ll make an extra effort to locate some of the Asian species that regularly occur at Nome. The road system of Nome provides the best access to the Alaska bush without an airplane, and we will drive it extensively.

Nome I is typically the best trip for Asian vagrants, although some are usually found in the second week of June as well. Expected species in Nome: 90+ species, including Arctic and Yellow-billed Loon; Bristle-thighed Curlew; Slaty-backed Gull; Gyrfalcon; Yellow and White Wagtail; Hoary Redpoll and Bluethroat. Species we usually see annually or almost annually, especially in early June: Emperor Goose, Steller’s Eider, Spectacled Eider, Mongolian Plover, Red-necked Stint. Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Ruff, Terek Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Siberian Ruby-throat among others have all been seen over the years. We’re always on the lookout for other casual and accidental Asian species as well. Mammals: Grizzly Bear, Moose, Reindeer, Arctic Wolf, Arctic Fox, Muskox, Wolverine and others.

Our lodging is in the Aurora Inn overlooking the Bering Sea. The Inn is only a few years old and is the most comfortable lodging. All rooms have private baths and are very spacious. The weather will be mild for Nome—ranging from 20 to 50 degrees—but will require layering of clothing for maximum comfort.

Photo: Bluethroat   Nome, Alaska   by Carl Sheely

MORE TRIP INFORMATION

  • Download Itinerary
    Trip Itinerary
    • DAY 1

      Arrival in Anchorage

      You’ll proceed to Anchorage Airport about 9:00 AM, get your E-ticket at the kiosk, and fly to Nome where we will meet you at the airport about 12:30 AM. We’ll get settled at the Inn and have lunch. Birding after lunch along Safety Lagoon. We’ll spend the rest of the day carefully searching the shorelines, lagoons and ponds along the Bering Sea for rarities such as Arctic Loon, Yellow-billed Loon, Red-necked Stint, Ross’ Gull, Spectacled Eider, as well as the many resident shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds.

    • DAY 2

      Kougarok/Taylor Road

      We drive the 85 mile length of Kougarak Road into the high tundra and mountains of Seward Peninsula in search of nesting Bristle-thighed Curlew, Bluethroat and Gyrfalcon, among others. Rock & Willow Ptarmigan are abundant at this time of year. Eastern Yellow Wagtails will just be setting up territories. We’ll watch (carefully) for Grizzly Bear, Moose, Wolf and other mammals.

    • DAY 3

      Teller Road

      We slowly drive out Teller Road, stopping at Wooley Lagoon to see a native whale-hunting outpost on the Bering Sea, while observing nesting Black-bellied, Pacific and American Golden-Plovers as well as Semipalmated Sandpipers and Whimbrels. We should get good looks at Northern Wheatears and Snow Buntings as well.  At the end of the road, we find Teller itself, an Inupiat village that sits out on a spit in the bay. White Wagtail and many alcids, including Horned and Tufted Puffins, Pigeon and Black Guillemots and Common Murres have been seen here. We should see Spotted Seals close to the shore.

    • DAY 4

      Council Road

      We drive along Safety Lagoon again, looking for shorebirds, waterfowl, geese, swans, loons. The road to Council can be difficult to traverse at times, but we hope to make it out to the small fishing village in the interior on Fish Creek. This area represents the only Boreal forest on the Seward Peninsula and should yield Varied Thrush, Boreal Chickadee, Rough-legged Hawk and other alpine species. We have heard Boreal Owl as well in the area.

    • DAY 5

      Departure for Anchorage

      Breakfast and prepare to depart at 7:30 AM for the airport and return to Anchorage where the trip ends.

      Note: Road conditions can affect the access to certain species, such as the Bristle-thighed Curlew. If the road is impassable, we won’t be able to see this bird — unless we get lucky and one shows up along the coast or on another road, as happens occasionally. We have not had a problem for several years now. Hopefully, that will continue.

  • Meeting Location

    Aurora Inn, Nome, Alaska

    Accomodations

    Relatively new, comfortable hotel on Bering Sea.

    Included

    From Anchorage, 4 nights lodging, all meals from lunch on the first day through breakfast on the final day; air to Nome, transport, guides, taxes, tips.

    Excluded

    Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, other personal expenses.

  • Top Birds

    Bluethroat; Bristle-thighed Curlew; Eastern Yellow Wagtail; Northern Wheatear Arctic, Pacific, Red-throated & Yellow-billed Loon; Eurasian Wigeon; Bar-tailed Godwit; Rock & Willow Ptarmigan;American & Pacific Golden-Plover;Black-bellied Plover; Surfbird; Red-necked Stint;Sabine’s Gull; Aleutian Tern; many others including many Asian vagrants over the years.

    Top Mammals

    Brown (Grizzly) Bear, Muskox, Wolf, Lynx, Moose, Reindeer

    Habitats Covered

    High tundra, seaside

    Expected Climate

    Cold to moderate, sometimes wet; 30 – 50 degrees fahrenheit.

  • Other Attractions

    During your free time in Anchorage, don’t miss going to Wave Bookstores on Northern Lights or downtown on 5th Avenue. They have a great selection of Alaska fiction and non-fiction! In addition, there are some excellent restaurants downtown, including Orso, Glacier Brew House, Simon & Seafort’s, and Marx Brothers.

    Suggested Clothing & Gear
    • Credit cards / cash
    • Binoculars
    • Scope and tripod (optional)
    • Sunglasses and sunscreen
    • Small day pack / fanny pack
    • Small flashlight
    • Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)
    • Itch relief cream
    • Lip screen/balm
    • Toiletries
    • Hair Dryer
    • Small alarm clock
    • Cleaning fluids/cloths/drying cloths
    • Field guides
    • Hiking Boots/Shoes
    • Hat with brim/visor
    • Rain jacket/wind breaker
    • Warm hat with visor
    • Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
    • Balaclava or full facial ski mask
    • Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
    • Glove liners
    • T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)
    • Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)
    • Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)
    • PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping
    • Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
    • GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmth
    • Sturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots
    • Moleskin for blisters
    • Foot powder for drying
    Recommended Reading
    • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition

      Jon Dunn, et al. (2011)
      National Geographic Society
    • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

      Dennis Paulson (2005)
      Princeton University Press
    • Shorebirds of North America, Europe, & Asia: A Guide to Field Identification

      Don Taylor; illustrated by Stephen Message (2006)
      Princeton University Press
    • The Sibley Guide to Birds

      David A. Sibley (2000)
      Knopf
    • Seabirds of the World

      Peter Harrison (1997)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan

      (1982)
      Wild Bird Society of Japan
    • A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia

      Bharat Bhushan, et al. (1993)
      Wild Bird Society of Japan
    • Birds of Russia & Adjacent Territories

      V. E. Flint, et al. (1984)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Birds of China

      John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps (2000)
      Oxford University Press
    • Birds of Europe

      Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999)
      Princeton University Press
    • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East

      Lars Jonsson (1992)
      Princeton University Press
    • The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe & the Western Palearctic

      Mark Beaman and Steve Madge (1998)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe

      Ian Lewington, et al. (1991)
      Domino Books, Ltd.
    • New Generation to the Guide Birds of Britain & Europe

      Christopher Perrins (1987)
      University of Texas Press

     

TOUR GALLERY

  • Bristle Thighed Curlew by Colin Bradshaw
  • Bristle-thighed Curlew by Colin Bradshaw
  • Bar-tailed Godwit by Ashok Khosla
  • Rock Ptarmigan by Ashok Khosla
  • Red-necked Stint by Ashok Khosla
  • Pacific Golden Plover by Ashok Khosla
  • Long-tailed Jaeger by Patrick Endres
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail Male by Colin Bradshaw

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