St. Paul Island in the Pribilof Island group of the Bering Sea is a seabird nesting paradise. Red-faced & Pelagic Cormorants; Red-legged & Black-legged Kittiwakes; Northern Fulmars; Parakeet, Crested, Least Auklets; Horned & Tufted Puffins all nest along the cliffs where they can be approached closely and photographed. Asian vagrants often show up as well.
St. Lawrence Island lies in the Bering Sea just off the Siberian coast. Gambell is a small, timeless Eskimo village subsisting much as it has for thousands of years. On clear days, Siberia can be seen clearly 35 miles in the distance. Whale, walrus, seal, polar bear and birds account for most of the native diet. High Arctic and Asian vagrants are the draw at Gambell. Most of the Asian species recorded in North America have been seen in Gambell and its environs. We will spend much of our time within a couple of miles of the village. There are huge colonies of Parakeet, Least and Crested Auklets on the cliffs within walking distance. Northwest Point provides a “super-highway” for seabirds passing very close by the island in migration and usually yield Arctic Loon, Yellow-billed Loon , Dovekie, Emperor Goose and Ivory Gull as well as many other seabirds and ducks. The centuries old bone yards often hide vagrant passerines, e.,g, Eurasian Bullfinch, Hawfinch, and Common Cuckoo. The marsh about two miles from town is superb for shorebirds and typically yields several of the Asiatic shorebirds.
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.
Comments on 2017 trip:
I recently participated in the Pribilof/Gambell/Nome segments of your Alaska birding trips. I selected your company based specifically on birding these three areas and the fact that each spent a day or so longer in each area than did other companies. I figured that I was only going to the Bering Sea once, so it had to be as thorough as possible. I am pleased to report that the trip was perfect in all respects. You and your team were fantastic.
Your experience with this area was evident in how you managed the airlines, hotels and other logistics. We listened to some of your stories of earlier problems and it was clear that you were determined not to let it happen to us.
Stephan Lorenz and Dave MacKay were superb guides. They are skilled birders and naturalists, but also incredibly attentive to their clients. Everyone got a chance to see birds. They were able to keep track of who needed what bird. Somehow Stephan knew that I was interested in seeing White-winged Crossbill. When one was spotted at Gambell one evening, he came by and gave me the option to get out of bed and head out there. Dave had already put a key in one of the ATVs and I was off. In my haste, I forgot my camera battery in its charger so Stephan raced back to grab it while I watched the bird. At Nome, we failed to see the Bristle-thighed Curlew on our first try. Dave was willing to haul us out there early one morning for another shot, and we saw a couple. In the meantime, Stephan was taking care of the members of the group who passed on the curlew.
Dave’s meals on Gambell were excellent. Hearty breakfast, hot soup and sandwich for lunch, great dinners and plenty of salad and veg. I had mentally written off plants in my diet for this trip, but Dave really came through. So did the cafeteria at St. Paul for that matter, with a nice salad bar to supplement their cooked offerings.
Less under your control, but I will credit you nonethess, were a group that got along well, great weather and a whole bunch of birds. Especially on St. Paul, we thought we had won the lottery.
Thank you for a wonderful experience.
W.P. Corvallis, OR
To Stephan Lorenz: Thanks for the great trip report……very well done! I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the trip. I had very high expectations for the tour and it far far exceeded them. You and Dave were terrific; I was amazed by your energy, persistence and patience. I have just started going through my many photos, but I will share some with you later.I hope to take another tour that you lead someday……in the mean time….keep up the great work!Good birding!J C. Elkhart, Indiana