Alaska 2022: Nome & The Seward Peninsula I

May 30 – June 03, 2022

Tour Length: 5 days
Est. Spaces Left: Sold out!

Nome is a frontier town along the southwestern corner of the massive Seward Peninsula. The town is exceptionally remote and only accessible by air. The Seward Peninsula itself is dominated by vast areas of trackless wilderness, containing mountains, tundra, wetlands, lagoons, rivers, alder thickets, and small areas of boreal forest. This variety of habitats harbors some of the densest and most diverse birdlife in all of Alaska, a spectacle of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, warblers, sparrows, thrushes, and more that has to be experienced to be believed.

Tour Leaders

Kip Miller

Claudia Cavazos

Focus

Birds, Mammals, Photography

Price

Double Accommodation: $2,900/person
Single Supplement: + $525
Deposit: $500

Max Group Size

14 (+2 leaders & vans)

Pace

Easy to Moderate; one optional moderate to difficult hike for Bristle-thighed Curlew

Future Departures

May 30, 2023

Tour Descriptions

The days of the gold rush have faded, although a few small mining operations remain active, and Nome now offers unparalleled access to the Alaskan wilderness. In addition to comfortable accommodations, plenty of restaurants and stores, more than 200 miles of maintained gravel roads offer relatively easy access to all habitats, including far-flung tundra locations. Several species with limited nesting ranges in Alaska and North America can be readily found in Nome, most notably Arctic Loon, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Red-necked Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Slaty-backed Gull, Bluethroat, Eastern Yellow and White Wagtails, Northern Wheatear, and Arctic Warbler. Nome also supports vast numbers of migrating and nesting shorebirds with highlights including American and Pacific Golden-Plovers, Black-bellied Plover, Rock Sandpiper, Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Red Knot, Whimbrel, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper. In recent years our tours have recorded a fine selection of Eurasian shorebird rarities including Great Knot, Gray-tailed Tattler, Lesser Sand-Plover, Ruff, and Wood and Common Sandpipers. The offshore waters, bays, and lagoons also offer great chances for waterfowl and all four species of eiders are possible alongside Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks, and four species of scoter, including the rare Stejneger’s Scoter. Nome is also one of the best places for loons with all five species possible: Red-throated and Pacific are common while Yellow-billed and Arctic Loons occur in small numbers. In the interior, cliffs and rugged mountains support excellent raptor populations with Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Short-eared Owl, Gyrfalcon, and Peregrine Falcon all nesting. Lower lying tundra holds plenty of Willow Ptarmigans, while upland areas hold the scarcer Rock Ptarmigan. Away from the coastline, alder thickets are filled with warblers, sparrows, finches, and thrushes including Varied and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Northern Waterthrush, Orange­-crowned, Yellow, Blackpoll, Yellow-­rumped and Wilson’s Warblers, American Tree, Fox, White­-crowned, Golden­-crowned and Savannah Sparrows, and Common and Hoary Redpolls. Add to that Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting plus chances for Pine Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, Bohemian Waxwing, and even Spruce Grouse for a full Alaskan birding experience. Of course, this vast wilderness supports good numbers of large mammals with Muskox, Moose, Reindeer, Brown “Grizzly” Bear all regularly seen (even Wolf and Lynx are possible) while some of the smaller mammals include American Beaver, North American Otter, and more.

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Locations

Gallery

More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Bluethroat; Bristle-thighed Curlew; Eastern Yellow & White Wagtails; Northern Wheatear; Arctic Warbler; Arctic, Pacific, Red-throated & Yellow-billed Loons; Eurasian Wigeon; Bar-tailed Godwit; Rock & Willow Ptarmigan; American & Pacific Golden-Plover; Black-bellied Plover; Surfbird; Red-necked Stint; Sabine’s Gull; Aleutian Tern; Gyrfalcon; Merlin; Peregrine Falcon; many others including several Eurasian vagrants over the years.

Top Mammals

Brown (Grizzly) Bear, Muskox, Wolf (rare), Lynx (rare), Moose, Reindeer, River Otter

Habitats

mountains, tundra, wetlands, lagoons, rivers, alder thickets, and small areas of boreal forest

Other Attractions

subarctic landscapes; historic mining town; wildflowers; wilderness

Extensions

  • Alaska 2021: Adak. Aleutian Specialties & Asian Vagrants
  • Alaska 2021: Spring Migration in Gambell. “The Siberian Express”
  • Alaska 2021: Pribilofs II (St. Paul Island)
  • Alaska 2021. Denali & Kenai: Spectacular Vistas, Mammals, & Seabirds!
  • Alaska 2022 Classic Birding I. Nome & Denali: Alaska Gold Rush
  • Alaska 2021. Classic Birding II. Kenai & Barrow: The Fjords & the Arctic Circle
  • Alaska 2021: Barrow. The High Arctic
  • Alaska 2021: Dutch Harbor & The Whiskered Auklet #2

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Nome Airport, Nome, Alaska

Accommodations

Relatively new, comfortable hotel.

Included

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

Excluded

Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, other personal expenses.

Expected Climate

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

Suggested Clothing and 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/windbreaker; 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, 7th Edition Jon Dunn, et al. (2017), National Geographic Society
  • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide Dennis Paulson (2005), Princeton University Press
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds David A. Sibley (2000), Knopf
  • The Shorebird Guide (North America) Michael O’Brien, et. al. 2006, Houghton & Mifflin Books
  • Rare Birds of North America. Steve N. G. Howell et. al. 2014.