A Terek Sandpiper gets the attention of birders anywhere! Photographed here on our 2015 Gambell II tour. Photo James Levison.

Across North America spring migration is eagerly awaited and universally celebrated by birders. Thoughts of northbound migrants returning to their breeding grounds keep northern birders going through the long winter months and those same thoughts bring many southern birders north each spring—north to one of the continent’s hottest birding locations. The vast numbers of migrating and local breeding seabirds, diversity of Alaskan and arctic specialties, and the impressive regularity with which Asian vagrants show up combine to make the Siberian Yup’ik village of Gambell one of the most exciting places to bird in North America.

The list of rarities that has occurred at Gambell over the years is staggering and includes such birds as: White-tailed Eagle, Tundra Bean-Goose, Whooper Swan, Black-tailed Gull, Green Sandpiper, Temminck’s, Least, and Long-toed Stint, Jack Snipe, Common Cuckoo, Common House Martin, Olive-backed Pipit, Stonechat, Eye-browed Thrush, Eurasian Bulfinch and Hawfinch! Common Ringed Plover, Red-necked Stint, Bluethroat and Red-throated Pipit are regular. Time spent at the seawatch might produce all four species of eider, Emperor Goose, or Ivory Gull.

Our Approach to Birding Gambell:

In Gambell, we rent two adjacent houses during our stay, one of which is occupied by our generous host. Some of the rooms are set up with beds, others with comfortable cots. The larger house has a common area including a kitchen and adjoining living room where we rest, eat, read and study birds while our guides prepare healthy and delicious home-cooked meals. Gambell residents voted many years ago to make alcohol illegal in town. No visitor is exempt, and we absolutely comply with this law.

In 2010 Gambell built a road system vastly improving the walking conditions around the village and for the first time made it possible to use bicycles on the island. Wilderness Birding Adventures is pleased to be the only group to offer a fleet of bicycles to improve your access to the birding areas. Each bike is outfitted with a rear cargo rack with a set of panniers and a handlebar basket for carrying gear. The cargo rack is equipped to make carrying tripods possible. Scopes, cameras, extra layers, and lunches are able to fit in a pannier. We also use our custom-designed birding “bus” that we tow behind an ATV. The bus has the ability to carry six birders and four bicycles comfortably and safely. We have found the combination of the bus and bicycles to be the best way to get us to the the birding habitats quickly and safely.

Birding at Gambell is a unique experience, from the incredible birds, to the location (you can see Siberia on a clear day), to the Siberian Yup’ik people who have made their living from the Bering Sea for thousands of years on this spot. It is truly unlike any other birding experience in North America.

The trip price includes: all flights from Anchorage to Gambell and back; lodging in Gambell in shared accommodations at a rented home; all meals (home-cooked) in Gambell; bicycles with racks and helmets; WBA guides; permits. The trip begins and ends at the Anchorage airport. You are responsible for your Anchorage lodging, meals and other Anchorage arrangements. Single occupancy is not available on our Gambell trips.

This Eye-browed Thrush spent several days along the mountainside and showed well for both of our groups.

An Eyebrowed Thrush forages along the road at Gambell. Photo Aaron Lang.