Alaska 2023: Spring Migration in Gambell

The Siberian Express

May 26 – June 03, 2023

Tour Length: 9 days
Est. Spaces Left: : Available

Birding the far north 35 miles from Siberia for Alaska specialties and Asian vagrants. This is also an opportunity to experience life in a Siberian Yupik subsistence village, few of which survive anymore. Up to five more nights can be added at additional cost.

Tour Leaders

Stephan Lorenz
Dave Krueper

 

Focus

Birds, Marine Mammals, Siberian Yupik culture

Price

Double Accommodation: $6,300/person
Single Supplement: + $525
Deposit: 750

Max Group Size

16 (3 leaders)

Pace

Intense; some hiking through marsh and rough ground every day but ATV’s available

Future Departures

June 03, 2022

Tour Descriptions

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.

Our accommodations will be simple but comfortable in Gambell. Walking on Gambell is very strenuous because of loose gravel. In order to make Gambell more accessible, we provide ATVs for our customers, usually two per ATV. No other groups provide this service routinely. Our primary leader will be David MacKay, and his wife, Jen MacKay, a professional chef in Mexico and cook extraordinaire, will provide our cooking. Other groups are especially envious of Jen’s fine cooking. We will have additional leaders as needed.

Locations

Gallery

More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Emperor Goose; Least, Parakeet, Crested Auklets; Dovekie; Yellow-billed, Arctic, Pacific Loons; Steller’s, Yellow-Spectacled, King, Common Eiders; Ivory, Slaty-backed Gulls; Common Ringed Plover; Common Greenshank; Wood Sandpiper; Gray-tailed Tattler; Red-necked Stint; Red Phalarope; White Wagtail; Brambling all are common or annual; many less common Asian vagrants, e.g., Green, Terek, Common Sandpipers; Long-toed & Temminck’s Stint; depending upon year and weather patterns. Common Greenshank, Green and Terek Sandpipers, Great Knot, Little, Temminck’s, and Long-toed Stints, Common Snipe, Common Cuckoo, Sky Lark, Dusky Warbler, Taiga Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroat, Dusky and Eyebrowed Thrushes, Stonechat, Olive-backed Pipit, Rustic Bunting, Brambling, Common Rosefinch, Eurasian Bullfinch, and Hawfinch.

Top Mammals

Walrus, Harbor Seal, Arctic Fox, Gray Whale, Orca

Other Attractions

Native culture; scenery (you can see Russia!)

Extensions

  • Alaska 2021: Barrow. The High Arctic
  • Alaska 2021: Dutch Harbor & The Whiskered Auklet #2
  • Alaska 2021: Nome & The Seward Peninsula I
  • Alaska 2021: Pribilofs II (St. Paul Island)
  • Alaska 2021: Spring Migration in Gambell. “The Siberian Express”

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Coast Inn at Lake Hood, Anchorage, Alaska

Accommodations

Very comfortable hotels & lodges.

Included

From Anchorage: 8 nights lodging, all meals from first night dinner through final day’s lunch, pelagic boat trip, transport, guides, taxes, tips.

Excluded

Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, other personal expenses.

Habitats Covered

Boreal & taiga forest; tundra; mountain ranges; lakes & shorelines; Pacific Rainforest; islands

Expected Climate

Mild to colder on the water.

Suggested Clothing and Gear

Credit cards / cashBinocularsScope and tripod (optional)Sunglasses and sunscreenExtra eyeglasses or contact lensesWater bottleSmall umbrellaSmall day pack / fanny packSmall flashlightMosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)Itch relief creamLip screen/balmPrescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problemsOTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)ToiletriesSmall alarm clockCleaning fluids/cloths/drying clothsField guidesNote pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)Hiking Boots/ShoesMedium-weight jacketMedium-weight long pantsMedium-weight long-sleeved shirtsWarm hat with visorRain hatWaterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)Long sleeve shirts (various weights)T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)PJs or shorts for lounging/sleepingWool socks (various weights) and liners.GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmthSturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots

Recommended Reading

  • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition Jon Dunn, et al. (2011); National Geographic Society
  • Shorebirds of North America, Europe, & Asia: A Guide to Field Identification Don Taylor; illustrated by Stephen Message (2006); Princeton University Press
  • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide Dennis Paulson (2005); 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