Alaska 2019: Nome & The Seward Peninsula II

Bristle-thighed Curlew by Colin Bradshaw
June 03 - 07, 2019
Tour Length: 5 days Est. Spaces Left: 4

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. 

Photo: Bristle-thighed Curlew   Nome, Alaska   by Colin Bradshaw

TOUR OVERVIEW

Extensions:
Future Departures:
June 03, 2020
Tour Leaders:
Max # Birders:
14 (+2 leaders, 2 vans)
Focus:
Birds; Mammals; Photography;
Pace:
Easy to Moderate ; one optional moderate to difficult hike for Bristle-thighed Curlew.
Double Accommodation:
$ 2800
[per person]
Single Supplement:
+ $ 500
Deposit:
$500 [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.

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, Oregon

“First, thanks, Kip, for such thorough documentation — and so quickly delivered. You showed us those birds as if you knew their home addresses!When they ask, I’ve been telling my friends that this was the best, most enjoyable birding trip I’ve ever taken. And of the many I have had, it was. Great birds, the varied state of Alaska, Kip’s fine guiding, you wonderful birding companions, the laughter, the beautiful scenery along the Denali Highway, the daily super-efficient door person, Nome’s breath-holding aviation moments, the great cuisine, the untold layers of clothing in the Pribilofs, the flawless unfolding of each day’s plans, Kip’s careful driving, the glaciers, the laughter, the shopping (of course) . . . oh, and the musk-ox!

Thanks to all of you for making the trip so memorable for me. I look forward to a reunion of our van-full some day, maybe in Texas. I enjoyed being with each one of you . . . and, actually, we’d all probably follow Kip anywhere! You really do have a remarkable guide in Kip. He has both fantastic birding skills and guiding skills, a combination that’s rare in my experience. And we all thoroughly enjoyed his companionship. I’d be surprised if the other participants don’t praise both him and the trip, as well. Both were exceptional.

Thanks for a lovely look at Alaska and its birds. And thanks for the great experiences that came with them. I’m still smiling.” – LM, Colorado

 

 

 

MORE TRIP INFORMATION

  • Meeting Location

    Nome Airport Arrivals.

    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

  • Black-belled Plover Nome by Ardith Bondi
  • Bluethroat Nome by Carl Sheely
  • Aleutian Tern Nome by Colin Bradshaw
  • Musk Ox Nome by Colin Bradshaw
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow by Ardith Bondi
  • Arctic Warbler by Colin Bradshaw
  • Grizzly Bear Nome by Forrest Davis.JPG
  • Harlequin Duck by Colin Bradshaw
  • Long-tailedJaeger by Patrick Endres
  • Surfbird Nome by Colin Bradshaw
  • Merlin by Patrick Endres
  • Red-throated Loon Nome by Colin Bradshaw
  • Red-necked Phalarope by Colin Bradshaw
  • Nome Tundra by Forrest Davis

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