Wild Alaska Jul 06—20, 2017

Posted by David Wolf


David Wolf

David Wolf is a senior member of the VENT staff and one of our most experienced tour leaders. After birding the U.S. and Mexico for over a decade, an interest in the wildli...

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From our first landing, at Little Diomede, to disembarkation in Seward, our “Wild Alaska: Cruising the Bering Sea” trip took us to some of the most remote and beautiful places in North America, as we explored the tiny, isolated islands of the Bering Sea and the spectacular landscapes of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska Peninsula.  This is a wild region of unparalleled beauty, where waves crash against immense cliffs and wildflowers brighten the rolling tundras, where glacier-clad peaks rise through the fog over deeply-indented bays.  It is largely untouched by development, home to scattered villages of indigenous peoples and small fishing towns—and a spectacular assemblage of wildlife.  The surrounding waters are some of the most productive in the world, and this food-rich ecosystem supports everything from the great whales and countless seabirds down to the plankton that nourishes them.  This is what we sought, and we were not disappointed.

Spectacled Eider

Spectacled Eider— Photo: David Wolf


Our trip began with a flight to the old gold-rush town of Nome, far beyond the treeline and the reach of road connections.  A few hours of birding introduced us to a variety of mainland water and songbirds, but perhaps best of all were the Musk Ox lazily lying around just beyond the edge of town.  Then it was off to the dock and our home away from home.  We had no sooner boarded the beautiful Silver Discoverer, located our cabins, and completed the requisite safety drills before one of the best birds of the entire trip was discovered, a stunning male Spectacled Eider calmly swimming right off the stern of the ship!  Some of us watched it for so long we were almost late to the Captain’s Welcome Party.

The next two days were a blur.  We stopped in at the remote native village of Little Diomede, where literally millions of Crested and Least auklets swirled around the jumbles of rock and Snow Buntings sang from the rooftops, and then cruised north to where the Arctic Circle and International Date Line intersect, flushing flocks of Red Phalaropes as we went along and getting acquainted with the abundant Northern Fulmars, murres, and puffins.  We “lost” a day as we crossed to the Russian side and visited the decaying port of Provideniya, where a special cultural show was entertaining, and then re-gained a day as we came back into U.S. waters.

Read David’s full report in his Field List.