Overview

This tour is offered in partnership with High Lonesome Birdtours.

Gambell is a small, timeless Yupik village on remote St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. Located just off the Siberian coast, it is possible on clear days to see Siberia, 35 miles in the distance. This sites has been inhabited for some 2000 years now. Whales, Walrus, seals, Polar Bear and birds account for much of the local diet. High Arctic species and Asian vagrants are a big draw at Gambell. Most of the Asian species recorded in North America have been seen in Gambell and its environs. Being that there are no roads here, we spend the bulk of our time within a few of miles of town, but there is plenty to keep us busy. Huge colonies of Parakeet, Least and Crested Auklets nest on the cliffs and Northwest Point provides a “super-highway” for seabirds passing very close by the island on migration, and usually yields Arctic, Pacific, Red-throated and Yellow-billed Loons, Little Auk (Dovekie), Emperor Goose and even on occasion, Ivory Gull, not to mention other seabirds and ducks. The centuries old bone yards attract vagrant passerines, and with the right weather, stunners such as Eurasian Bullfinch, Hawfinch, and Common Cuckoo among a much longer list of other rare visitors. Many are the possibilities at this remote Bering Sea outpost, and the marsh and wetlands are often superb for shorebirds and typically yield several prime Asiatic shorebirds, and at times scarce breeding species such as Common Ringed Plover.

Please note: these prices are subject to foreign exchange fluctuations.

Tour Facts Top Birds
Common or annual species - Emperor Goose, Least, Parakeet & Crested Auklets, Little Auk, Yellow-billed, Black-throated & Pacific Loons, Steller’s, 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. Less common Asian vagrants - Green, Terek, Common Sandpipers, Long-toed & Temminck’s Stints, Common Greenshank, Great Knot, Little, Temminck’s & Long-toed Stints, Common Snipe, Common Cuckoo, Sky Lark, Dusky Warbler, Taiga Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroat, Dusky & Eyebrowed Thrushes, Olive-backed Pipit, Rustic Bunting, Brambling, Common Rosefinch, Eurasian Bullfinch and Hawfinch.
Top Mammals
Walrus, Harbour Seal, Arctic Fox, Grey & Killer Whales
Habitats Covered
high Arctic tundra; seaside
Expected Climate
cold with high winds possible, can be wet
Max Group Size
16 with 1 Rockjumper leader & 2 local birding
Tour Pace & Walking
Our Mega tours are very fast-paced birding adventures designed for the dedicated lister and serious birder. The focus of the tour is to see as many of the endemics and area specials as possible in our given time. In order to cover the necessary route to maximise the species list we tend to spend a single night at most sites and travel large distances. There is very little down time aside from that spent driving from one site to the next. These tours are not suitable for dedicated or avid photographers; inexperienced or new birders; as well as anyone with serious mobility or health challenges.
Accommodation
very comfortable
Ease of Birding
easy
Other Attractions
Local culture; scenery (you can see Russia on a clear day!)
Photographic Opportunities
excellent
Tour Route Map Route Map Itinerary Voice Note Client Testimonials

Stephan Lorenz is an exceptional guide, being both a wizard at finding and identifying birds and also dealing with people. He has a kind and funny manner that puts everyone at ease. I am glad that Rockjumper has hired him and look forward to being on some of his trips in the future.

Stephan Lorenz is an outstanding guide. His knowledge of birds - including their identification, behaviours and biology - is exceptional. He and his partner Claudia provided excellent service to the clients. They made sure all our interests and needs were attended to, and they actively engaged in making the trip both educational and fun.

Stephan was an outstanding guide, as usual, and Claudia was a great spotter and helper. The lodging in Barrow was better than expected, as was the food there.

Forrest Rowland was a wonderful guide. He is extremely knowledgeable about birds and always takes the time to consider the wants, needs and priorities of the group. He works with his group to form a common goal. He was extremely professional and he had a remarkably positive attitude. His enthusiasm was infectious and admirable, as was his perseverance in finding us any species that we wanted and which was possible to see. Forrest is personable, humorous, and extremely generous and kind-hearted. I am so grateful to have met him.

This was a great trip – way better than could even be expected. Yes, we saw Ross’s Gulls streaking across the distant horizon, but we also saw a polar bear mom and two cubs and our time in Barrow coincided with the Inupiat whale harvest. While the death of whales is always a bit sad, the opportunity to see subsistence hunters is rare these days. Stephan Lorenz has proved to be one of my favorite guides – his combination of ‘bionic eyes’ (Claudia’s report), great hearing, real understanding of bird behavior and incredible patience means he is my go-to guide for difficult species that I’ve missed on other tours (or not tried to see before because it seemed too difficult). With Stephan, I have ‘ticked’ Bachman’s Sparrow, Swainson’s Warbler, Buff-collared Nightjar, Short-tailed Albatross, Whiskered Auklet, Spectacled Eider, Emperor Goose, Bar-tailed Godwit (in Alaska), among many other much-sought after species. But Stephan and Claudia also keep every trip enjoyable. Claudia is a great birder in her own right and can set up a scope on the target bird as fast as Stephan. It is great to have two scopes set up immediately. What could be very discouraging to an older birder with poor eyesight and poor hearing like me turns out to be a delightful trip. Imagine spending hours and hours in a freezing wind staring out to an empty sea and still calling it fun. I am looking forward to traveling with Stephan and Claudia again as soon as possible.

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2022 DEPARTURES
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