St. Lawrence Island lies in the Bering Sea just off the Siberian coast. Gambell is a small, timeless Yupik village subsisting much as it has for thousands of years. On clear days, Siberia can be seen clearly 35 miles in the distance. High Arctic specialties and Asian vagrants are the mains draws 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 and Yellow-billed Loons, Dovekie, Emperor Goose, and occasionally Ivory Gull as well as many other seabirds and ducks. The centuries-old bone yards often hide vagrant passerines, for example, Eurasian Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Brambling, 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 Stephan Lorenz. Sara Cedricks, a professional chef in Fairbanks and cook extraordinaire will provide our cooking. Other groups are especially envious of Sara’s fine cooking. We will have additional leaders as needed.
This tour is operated by High Lonesome BirdTours in partnership with Rockjumper Birding Tours.
These are large group tours (up to 16 guests with multiple leaders), and will have guests from both Highlonesome and Rockjumper.
For any queries not related to a tour booking, please fee free to contact High Lonesome BirdTours directly Stephan Lorenz (Tour Director)
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
boreal & taiga forest; tundra; mountain ranges; lakes & shorelines; Pacific Rainforest; islands Expected Climate
mild to colder on the water. Max Group Size
16 with 2 Tour Leaders Tour Pace & Walking
intense; some hiking through marsh and rough ground every day but ATV’s available Accommodation
very comfortable hotels & lodges. Ease of Birding
easy Other Attractions
Local culture; scenery (you can see Russia on a clear day!) Photographic Opportunities
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 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.
The tour was very well organised and run. The guides, Stephan Lorenz and Dave Krueper, were excellent. They went out of their way to ensure that all the group members had a chance to see and identify the birds, especially concentrating on those they knew were life birds. Having two guides for 10 tour members was great and being in two vans for travel ensured that we all had sufficient space and window area to spread out and see everything. Even the weather was pretty good. Great tour!
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.
Gambell was great, an adventure I’ll not soon forget.