The Ross's Gull Tour
October 6-10, 2018
The are very few places in the world where Ross's Gulls are seen reliably in numbers, and Barrow is the only easily-accessed spot. In late September and early October, a large portion of the world's population migrates past Barrow into the Beaufort Sea. During the 2009 tour, we saw hundreds every day, with thousands, perhaps over 10,000, on one of those days. (Click here to see a reprint of the North American Birds article about this experience.) We see at least 1000 most years. In 2015, we had another monster day with over 3000 passing by us in just several hours. Zugunruhe was the first company to run a tour to see this spectacle, and we still have the most experience.
This is a tour with a species list that's about quality instead of quantity. At this time of year, very few species remain around Barrow, but of the ones that do, many are highly desired. Over the past five years, we've averaged 21 species, but among those were King Eider, Yellow-billed Loon, Snowy Owl, and of course, Ross's Gull every year. We will also look for Ivory Gull (seen 4 out of 7 years) and Spectacled Eider (seen 5 out of 7 years), arctic fox (seen every year), polar bear (seen in 2012 and 2013), and beluga (seen in 2012). Many of these species occur in low numbers so don't expect to get all of them.
We were the first company to do this tour and have the longest track record of anyone. Since originating this tour in 2009, several companies have copied us but none can match our experience.
Click HERE to see photos from previous tours.
Day 1 (Oct 6): Meet in the evening in Barrow.
Day 2-4 (Oct 7-9): Each day, we'll spend a good part of the day on the waterfront road that follows the shoreline from Barrow to the northeast. From here, we'll be watching for Ross's and Ivory Gulls, Yellow-billed Loons, and Spectacled Eiders. We will also explore the NARL facilities and inland areas for a few landbirds, such as Hoary Redpoll and Snowy Owl. We plan on making one visit to Point Barrow, the northernmost part of the United States.
Day 5 (Oct 10): On our final morning, we'll prepare to leave and check in at the airport for departure. We'll then bird if time permits.
Note: This tour may coincide with the native hunt for bowhead whales. If so, you may see carcasses being dragged to shore and butchering activities.
TOUR FEE: $2350 per person (subject to change before tour is confirmed to go). The tour fee includes lodging for four nights, all meals from breakfast on Oct 8 to breakfast on Oct 11, ground transportation during the tour, and guide services. It does not include transportation to and from Barrow, AK before and after the tour, phone calls, laundry, room service charges, alcoholic beverages (note that Barrow is a "damp town"; you may possess alcohol but cannot purchase it there), or any items of a personal nature.
LEADER: John Puschock, owner of Zugunruhe Birding Tours, will be your leader for this tour. This is John's favorite tour, and he's led it nine times.
GROUP SIZE: Minimum 3, maximum of 14.
PHYSICAL CONSIDERATIONS/WEATHER: Participants should be able to sit in a vehicle for up to 2 to 3 hours . Temperatures will be cold, probably 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, with the possibility of high winds. Snow is possible. Almost all of the birding can be done from a vehicle, so weather conditions may not make things as intolerable as they may sound. Please notify us if you have any medical conditions that may affect your participation.
REGISTRATION and DEPOSIT: A deposit of $500 and a signed registration and release form will reserve your spot on this tour. Please e-mail for more information on the registration procedure and forms (contact info below). The balance of the fee is due by 60 days prior to the tour.
CANCELLATION POLICY: All fees received will be refunded with more than 90 days notice of cancellation. With 60-90 days notice of cancellation, all fees except the deposit will be refunded. No refund is possible with less than 60 days notification.
TRIP INSURANCE: We strongly recommend that you purchase trip insurance to protect yourself in case you need to cancel, luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged, a medical emergency occurs, or other unforeseen circumstances. Note that many insurance policies require that you purchase it at the time you make the initial deposit for the tour and terms and coverage differ among policies.
For more information and registration forms, please us.
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