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Alaska – There’s no place like Nome!

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

This summer we will be running a pre-tour extension to our ‘Alaska – America’s Last Frontier’ holiday. The extension is based for three nights in the city of Nome in western Alaska, and focuses on birds and mammals.

Gerald Broddelez will be leading this tour and in this article he writes about some of the expected highlights of a trip to the area.

There’s no place like Nome!
Alaska is home to some of the best bird and mammal-watching in North America. Flocks of waders, huge gatherings of waterfowl and seabirds, and some incredible mammals make it a world-class wildlife destination. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of a trip to Alaska. Famous national parks such as Denali, Kenai Fjords, Bering Sea Bridge and Gates of the Arctic all provide gateways to some incredible wildlife in a vast and beautiful landscape.

So where to begin?  
In the north-west of Alaska, 161 miles from Russia and 102 miles south of the Arctic Circle lies the city of Nome. When gold was discovered in 1898, a historic gold rush of epic proportions followed and Nome became the largest city in Alaska with over 20,000 people. Today one can still find signs of the gold rush as miners live and search for gold on the beaches, mainly in summer, and many abandoned gold dredges still line the horizon.

Home to the famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race every winter and inhabited by three distinct groups of Alaska Native Inuit, Nome lies in a treeless expanse of tundra. The landscape, however, is sprinkled with lakes, rocky ridges and patches of low-growing willow scrub all of which comes alive in the late spring attracting a variety of migrants as they track their way north. There are also many breeding birds in the area, in particular wildfowl and waders, whilst Arctic mammals to look out for include Musk Ox, Moose and Caribou.

During our visit we will explore the area’s three main gravel roads that radiate out from the town in search of the many specialties that pass through or breed here. The Bristle-thighed Curlew is without doubt one of the key birds in this area and we will look for them in the Kougarok drainage river area. This area is also home to such special birds as Gyr Falcon, Harlequin Duck, Bluethroat, Arctic Warbler, Tundra Swan, Rock and Willow Ptarmigans, Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas, American Tree and Golden-crowned Sparrows and Lapland Bunting (Longspur).      

We will also include a visit to Safety Lagoon – here the waders and waterfowl which line the margins of pools and ponds can be easily seen and photographed at close range. En route, a short stop at Cape Nome might produce species such as Pelagic Cormorant and several species of eider, divers and scoters. We will make a thorough exploration of the area, hoping to find a good number of waders, many of which will be in breeding plumage and displaying.

Dunlin, Rock, Least, Western and Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Black Turnstone, Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers are all common in this region, while Surfbirds, Red-necked Stint, Aleutian Tern and Emperor Goose are some of the rarer inhabitants we will search for.

Finally, we will drive the Teller Rd and visit Anvil Mountain. Here the upland tundra is home to many wildflowers and a healthy population of Musk Ox, Reindeer and Grizzly Bear as well as breeding birds such as Lapland Bunting, Arctic Warbler, Shore Lark and both Pacific and American Golden Plovers.   
 
Contact:
Our next 14-day Alaska – America’s Last Frontier holiday departs Wednesday 14th June 2017 and our Nome pre-tour extension departs 10th June 2017 For further details about both tours please call Paul Stanbury on 01962 733051 or email paul@naturetrek.co.uk