Starting May 28th, June 1, 6, 10, and 14.
May – June 2013 Nome Field Trips are now open for registration.
Nome is a frontier town in a world where few such curiosities remain. Currently the town is witnessing a gold mining boom. 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 late May, June and July, the sun is at its brightest into the very late evening, the tundra is in full bloom, the birds begin arriving and mammals are feeding building up fat for the winter ahead.
Our tour will cover the prime birding areas along the coast, including Safety Sound Lagoon and the beautifully blooming inland alpine tundra, rivers, and wetlands surrounding Nome. Plus we spend one day birding our way to the boreal spruce forest 75 miles to the southeast. 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 accidental Asian species—such as Bluethroat, Yellow and White Wagtail, Arctic Warbler, Gray-tailed Tattler (seen on a 2006 YBT trip)—that regularly occur at Nome.
I have lead small-group birding trips to Nome’s eco-region since 2002. My trips include wildlife watching as well, making for a relaxed experience.* We stay on the bird until everyone has a chance to observe it. At each sighting, we take time for birders to collaborate using the available field guides. Our visit will not be a high-speed, wham-bang tour with no time for field collaboration or in-town Nome experience.
I use a four-door, high clearance vehicle, allowing each birder speedy and comfortable exiting and entering and plenty of window viewing area. This vehicle allows comfort and convenience on the rough roads that you can’t get from an uncomfortable 12-passenger van. If a stepstool is required, just let me know!
The small group of maximum 4 people per vehicle will provide you with a very personalized birding experience. Our lodging is modern motel apartments with private baths. The weather will be mild for Nome—ranging from 49 to 66 degrees—but will require layers of clothing for maximum comfort.
Each morning after breakfast, we’ll pick up our own individual lunches. Dinners will be a hot meal of your choice. Cost of meals is not included in our price.
Evening of Arrival: You’ll arrive about 8:30 PM in Nome. I’ll pick you up at the Nome Airport. We’ll get settled in your room, then go to dinner as a group. During dinner, I’ll review the required trip safety protocols. After dinner we’ll begin birding along the Bering Sea, Nome Harbor, Nome Sewage Ponds, and the Nome River outlet. We can expect to see American Tree Sparrow, Red-necked Loon and Red-necked Phalarope, up to four species of Gulls, Parasitic Jaegers, Aleutian Terns, possible Bar-tailed Godwit and both Pacific and American Plover—all in breeding plumage.
Day 1 Safety Lagoon and Council Road: We’ll spend the morning hours carefully searching the shorelines, lagoons, and ponds near the inlet from the Bering Sea for rarities such as Arctic and Yellow-billed Loon, Red-necked Stint, Slaty-backed Gull, possible Black-legged Kittiwake; Common, Steller’s and Spectacled Eider as well as the many resident shorebirds. Then we’ll drive 75 miles on dirt roads toward Council, a small fishing village in the interior, searching along the way for both species of Redpolls, Yellow Wagtail, Lapland Longspur, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. In past years, we have also had White Wagtail and White-winged Crossbill on this road. This area represents the northern boreal forest limit on the Seward Peninsula and should also yield Varied Thrush, Boreal Chickadee, Three-toed Woodpecker, Northern Hawk Owl and other spruce forest/alpine species. In 2011, we found a male singing Harris’s Sparrow in Council. In 2012, we discovered Bohemian Waxwings—very rare birds for the region!
Day 2 Teller Road: We begin with local birding, and in just a few miles’ drive we may be able to find both the Arctic Warbler and Dusky Warbler. Then our real day begins by slowly driving north on Teller Road, seeking Western and Semipalmated Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Golden Eagle, Northern Shrike, Arctic Warbler, and possible Rusty Blackbird or Rock Sandpiper. We’ll stop at Wooley Lagoon to observe a native whale-hunting outpost on the Bering Sea while observing scores of nesting Black-bellied Plover, Pacific Golden-Plover, and American Golden-Plover as well as Semipalmated Plover and Whimbrel. We should get good looks at Northern Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, and Snow Bunting in this area as well. In late June 2012, a White Wagtail was found in this area.
At the end of the road, we’ll bird near and visit Teller, an Inuit village that sits out on a spit in the bay. Here we’ll rest, have lunch, visit the local store to see if there are carved ivory figures for sale. We’ll walk around the village while looking for crowned sparrows, swallows, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur, and maybe Snowy Owl at the airport. On the Teller Spit, we’ll have a chance for Pigeon Guillemot, Common and Thick-billed Murre, Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Red-necked Grebe—all of which are found here. We should see spotted seals close to the shore.
Day 3 Taylor and Kougarok Roads: We drive the 85-mile length of Kougarok Road into the high tundra and mountains of Seward Peninsula in search of nesting Whimbrel, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Wandering Tattler, several nesting-plumage sandpiper species, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, Red Fox Sparrow, and Northern Shrike. This area also has potential for Bluethroat, Gyrfalcon, Blackpoll Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush among others. We’ll watch (carefully) for Grizzly Bear, Muskox, and Moose.
Day 4 Nome and departure: In the morning you’ll prepare for the 8:30 PM return flight home from Nome. Then we’ll chase any bird we may have missed, visit local Nome shops and museum, or visit roadside exhibits as well the National Park Headquarters. During our last dinner, we review our trip list. I will shuttle you to the airport by 7:30 PM.
*Other mammals we may see here and in other locations on our trip include Reindeer, Arctic Fox, Muskox, Wolverine, Short-tailed Weasel, Spotted Seal, Harbor Porpoise, Walrus (immature), and others.
Contact Rich Cimino at 925-353-0266, or Yellowbilledtours@gmail.com to reserve a space on one of our five (5) 2013 field trips. Starting dates are May 28; June 1, 6, 10, and 14. Space is limited to four birders per field trip. Rich Cimino is your guide; he supplies the auto transportation, fuel, lodging, and field guide services. Airfare and meals are not included.
Travel Safe Advisories: Do not plan to wear fragrances (lotions, aftershave, or colognes), which may attract bears. This trip does not support handicapped persons or persons with significant hearing disabilities. If you have limited hearing or if you use two hearing aids, we need to discuss your limitations during the registration period.
Please contact us for more specifics on registration form, logistics, meals, and lodging.
Cost and Cancellation
The total cost of field trip is $2,500.00. Cost of trip does not include airfare or meals. A $1,250.00 deposit is required upon registration (a $100 administration fee will charged if you cancel within 60 days after you register). The balance of $1,250.00, is due April 1, 2013 for all trips. If a participant cancels after the balance is paid, every effort will be made to find a suitable replacement. During the search for a replacement, $150 per search week will be taken against your deposit up to $1,250.00. If you cancel, I will encourage you to help me find your replacement. If a replacement cannot be found, all payments will be forfeited. Last-minute trip cancellation by tour leader would occur only in the event of an extreme emergency. In this case, your refund will be 100%.