When: October 4-8, 2013
Where: Barrow, Alaska
How Much: $1995 per person (single supp. $350)
Event Type: Birding Tour in partnership with Zugunruhe Birding Tours, focused on finding Ross’s Gull and other arctic specialties.
Limit: 8 people
Guides: John Puschock
Contact Nancy Hawley at firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions or call her at (800) 850-2473, X234 to register by phone.
On March 2nd, 1975, it was announced that a Ross’s Gull was present at the Newburyport Harbor in Massachusetts, and birding was changed forever. A first record for the Lower 48, birders came from all over to share the amazement brought by this unique phantom of the Arctic.
It was a lifer for Roger Tory Peterson and even the then-Secretary of the State James Slessinger is rumored to have made the chase to see this bird of legend. It was historic in many ways. That event, in an age when communication was far less fluid, made clear to birders that there was a real birding community. This is one reason the species holds a special place in the hearts of ABA birders. While Ross’s Gulls have since appeared a number of times in the Lower 48, seeing them in their arctic haunts has become more difficult for birders in recent years.
At least until recently… Ross’s Gulls were known among a few scientists to migrate past Barrow, Alaska each fall in some numbers, but few had born witness to the phenomenon or could speak to it. Five years ago John Puschock of Zugunruhe Birding Tours organized the first-ever tour focused on trying to see this spectacle. The trip was an incredible success. Each day he and his cohort saw hundreds of Ross’s Gulls (see video), and one day they estimated seeing over 10,000! Imagine… While subsequent trips haven’t enjoyed quite such an incredible migration, the species is typically seen in good numbers. Last year just two were seen, but according to locals the species being that sparse was anomalous.
Add to this, the possibility of seeing Ivory Gull and polar bear, and there is a real chance at a uniquely thrilling arctic experience. Other birds often present include Spectacled, King and “Pacific” Common eiders, Yellow-billed Loon, and also Thayer’s and Slaty-backed gulls and Snowy Owl (see video).
Price inclusions: Lodging for the nights of Oct. 4th-7th, all food from breakfast on the 5th to breakfast on the 8th, and transportation in and around Barrow.Price exclusions: The tour begins and ends in Barrow, so flight costs are not included in the registration fee. For tips on arranging flights to/from Barrow contact John Puschock (email@example.com). As is typical, alcohol is not included, and participants should note that it is not available for sale in Barrow.
Note: This tour may coincide with the native hunt for bowhead whales, and if so participants may witness butchering activities.
John Puschock manages #ABArare for the ABA, and is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
Species often seen at Barrow in October include:
Mammals could include: