Join us on this small group (limited to seven) birding tour to see many of the breeding birds of Alaska. We’ll visit three prime birding destinations: Nome, St. Paul Island in the Pribilof Islands, and Kenai Fjords National Park. Nome lies on the Seward Peninsula, jutting into the Bering Sea. It’s a frontier town of sorts, accessible only by boat and airplane – bordered on the west and south by the Bering Sea and on the north and east by miles of trackless wilderness. Our day trips here will cover prime birding areas along the seacoast, on the tundra and in the only boreal forest on the Seward Peninsula. Most of the birds are in their resplendent breeding plumages and we’ll make an extra effort to locate some of the Asian species that regularly occur at Nome. Regular species we hope to see include 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 include Emperor Goose, Steller’s Eider, Spectacled Eider, Mongolian Plover and Rednecked Stint. And we’re always on the lookout for mammals as well – Grizzly Bear, Moose, Arctic Fox, Muskox and others are all possible.
Our Nome lodging is in the comfortable Aurora Inn overlooking the Bering Sea. The weather will be mild by Nome standards – ranging from 20 to 50 degrees – but will require layering of clothing for maximum comfort. St. Paul Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea about 600 miles from land, hosts some of the largest colonies of alcids (puffins, murres, auklets & such) in the world, as well as the world’s largest Northern Fur Seal colony. Asiatic vagrants and accidentals that can occur on St. Paul in late spring include Bean Goose, Smew, Tufted Duck, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Great Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Siberian Rubythroat, Eye-browed Thrush, and Brambling. Vagrants or no vagrants will also see and marvel at the large colonies of seabirds nesting on the coastal cliffs, including Parakeet, Least and Crested Auklets; Horned and Tufted Puffins; Common and Thick-billed Murres; Red-legged and Blacklegged Kittiwakes; Northern Fulmar an others. To conclude the tour we’ll return to Anchorage and make the drive to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. From here we’ll enjoy a full day boat trip through Kenai Fjords National Park, one of the most spectacular parks in North America. Highlights will include more alcids – hopefully including Ancient, Kittlitz’s and Marbled Murrelets; as well marine mammals such as Humpback Whale, Killer Whale, Steller’s Sea Lion, Sea Otter and others. We’ll also explore wooded areas on the peninsula in search of Varied Thrush, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pine Grosbeak and Rufous Hummingbird.
Photo: Bluethroat by Dr. Carl Sheely