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Nome, Alaska


June 14 - 20, 2020


The multitude of breeding shorebirds is one of the main reasons you will want to book your trip to Nome.  Also, our visit to Nome is timed to take advantage of the beautiful tundra wildflower bloom which we will strive to incorporate into some of our bird compositions as well.  Some of the species we encounter will be tending to nests or newly hatched young.  We will give them the space they need but use their sometimes bold behavior to our advantage.  In addition to the shorebirds we will attempt to photograph several species of waterfowl, Red-throated Loons, and Arctic and Aleutian Terns.  We will keep our eyes peeled for Willow and Rock Ptarmigan as well as the often cooperative Long-tailed Jaegers.  Lapland Longspur and American Pipit can sometimes be photographed among stunning flowers and a long list of other songbirds including Arctic Warbler and Bluethroat will be on our radar.   All of these wonderful birds can be found along the extensive roadways surrounding Nome while daily flights with Alaska Airlines from Anchorage make getting to Nome a snap.

Once we arrive in Nome, you can relax knowing that you will have no additional out of pocket expenses on this all inclusive tour.*  We will find exceptional modern accommodations at our Bed and Breakfast, a limited range of restaurants, and a full grocery for snacks for the road.  We will be staying at a very nice B&B with a large common area where the group can meet to download and review images, share in an educational slide program, or discuss Photoshop techniques.  Having all of  your meals and lodging taken care of will leave you to enjoy your bird photography vacation with the least amount of hassle possible.

Tour Details

Price: $4,399 per person, double occupancy
Single Supplement: $525
Included: Expert Photography Guide, Photography Tips and Tricks, Ground Transportation in Nome, Lodging at Ocean Front Bed & Breakfast, All Meals from Lunch on Day 1 to Breakfast on Final Day
*Not Included: Passport Fees, Visa Fees, Flights to and from Nome Airport  (OME), Alcohol, Personal Items, Tips
From: Nome, Alaska
Participant Limit: 4
Activity Level: High
Deposit: $1,000 per person is required to hold your spot on this tour (with your registartion form)

Balance: Due by March 14, 2020


Download Registration Form


To book your space on the tour, please contact us at info@sabrewingnaturetours.com

Tour Leader
Sabrewing Owner and Photography Expert Brian Zwiebel

Brian is intimately familiar with the birds and challenges of photographing on the tundra.  He will work extremely hard to get you into the right position to make the best images possible but, you will learn much more than simply how to get close to your subject.   You’ll also learn how to use the light and wind angles to full advantage to successfully capture images of action and behavior.  Brian will give exposure tips, point out opportunities to improve compositions and warn of any pitfalls that could reduce the success of your images.  The small group size and super low student to instructor ratio will insure the best possible opportunities for each participant.  Along the way Brian will share with you natural history anecdotes and first-hand experiences of many of the species you encounter.

Join Brian in Nome and learn to take your photography to the next level!

Equipment:  Bring your longest telephoto lens and matching teleconverters.  A 500mm or 600mm lens is preferred but a 400mm lenses with a teleconverter and/or one of the small sensor cameras (1.5 or 1.6x crop) will provide ample magnification for a great number of opportunities.   If your longest lens is 400mm then you likely are used to having your subject a little smaller in the frame.  We will discuss how to make pleasing compositions when the subject is not frame filling.  A wider lens will come in handy for fully documenting your trip and taking the required tourist snap shots around town.  Chest waders and a bag blind are highly recommended for this tour.  We will be happy to provide suggestions as to which style might be best for you.  Muck boots can be a nice substitute or addition to the chest waders if you are sure you will not want to get into the water.  But photographing ducks and loons from eye level in their environment is a very special experience.

Physical Activity:  Walking in waders over uneven tundra while carrying heavy camera gear is not your typical walk in the park but we will not be using them often or walking very far when we do need them.   Brief periods of strenuous activity should be expected but slow and steady wins the race.  A number of previous clients have arrived on tours with some nervousness about their physical abilities.  Each left proud of their efforts and with new found confidence in their abilities.  A number of shorebirds, songbirds and ducks will be photographed quite close to or even from the road.  This workshop may not be for you if you have knee or back problems or otherwise have difficulty with off trail walking while carrying your camera gear.

Environment:  Participants should be prepared for a wide range of weather at Nome from low temperatures in the upper 30s to highs near 80 degrees.  Layers should definitely be part of your clothing plan.  A heavy waterproof camo jacket is a great option but also pack a light weight wind breaker/rain jacket for warmer days.  Mosquitoes will likely be a nuisance at least some of the time so plan on a head net and gloves at least.  I also pack a net shirt but have never needed to use it.  Bug repellant with Picardin as the active ingredients is suggested.  Deet works fine but can be terribly hard on the plastic parts of your camera and tripod.  Picardin is just as effective without doing damage to your gear.

Daily Schedule:  The sun is below the horizon for less than three hours a day during our mid June visit to Nome.  In short order we will adapt our shooting schedule in order to take advantage of the best light daily.  Our day will be split into a sometimes short night's sleep with a longer mid-day break in order to take full advantage of the best light.  While not easy, the results will be spectacular and there will be time to catch up on sleep when the weather deteriorates.  In addition to dictating our schedule the weather will also have a say in where we photograph from day to day.  The best laid plans to photograph near the Bering Sea in the morning may have to be changed if a marine fog hits shore.  On other days heavy clouds in the mountains may force us to lower elevation to find good light.  We will plan to travel the length of the Teller, Kougorok and Council Roads during the tour.  On these long days we will buy sandwiches the previous day to pack for lunch on the road.  Our host will provide a variety of fruits, breads, juices, yogurt and cereal for us the previous afternoon so we can save valuable time in the morning.  While the schedule can be tiring the results will be spectacular.  No participant should feel pressured to join every outing.  This is your trip and you may choose to spend one or more sessions at your room catching up on sleep or doing some image editing.

Likely Species on the Nome Bird Photography Tour:   (Species in BOLD are species most frequently photographed on the trip)
•    Tundra Swan - Cygnus columbianus
•    Green-winged Teal - Anas carolinensis

•    Northern Pintail  - Anas acuta
•    Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
•    Greater Scaup - Aythya marila
•    Common Eider - Somateria mollissima
•    Long-tailed Duck - Clangula hyemalis
•    Willow Ptarmigan  - Lagopus lagopus

•    Rock Ptarmigan -  Lagopus muta
•    Red-throated Loon -  Gavia stellata
•    Pacific Loon  - Gavia pacifica
•    Red-necked Grebe  - Podiceps auritus
•    Golden Eagle - Aquila chrysaetos
•    Gyrfalcon  -  Falco rusticolus

•    Black-bellied Plover  - Pluvialis squatarola
•    American Golden-Plover  -  Pluvialis dominica
•    Pacific Golden-Plover  -  Pluvialis fulva
•    Semipalmated Plover -  Charadrius semipalmatus
•    Whimbrel  -  Numenius phaeopus

•    Bristle-thighed Curlew  -  Numenius tahitiensis
•    Bar-tailed Godwit  -  Limosa lapponica
•    Red-necked Stint -  Calidris ruficollis
•    Semipalmated Sandpiper -  Calidris pusilla
•    Western Sandpiper -  Calidris mauri
•    Ruddy Turnstone  -  Arenaria interpres

•    Dunlin -  Calidris alpina
•    Red Knot  -  Calidris cantutus
•    Red-necked Phalarope -  Phalaropus lobatus

•    Wilson’s Snipe  -  Gallinago delicate
•    Parasitic Jaeger  -  Stercorarius parasiticus

•    Long-tailed Jaeger -  Stercorarius longicaudus
•    Mew Gull  -  Larus canus
•    Glaucous Gull  -  Larus hyperboreus
•    Arctic Tern -  Sterna paradisaea
•    Aleutian Tern  -  Onychoprion aleuticus

•    Short-eared Owl -  Asio flammeus
•    Northern Shrike - Lanius excubitor
•    Common Raven -  Corvus corax
•    Horned Lark -  Eremophila alpestris
•    Cliff Swallow -  Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

•    Arctic Warbler -  Phylloscopus borealis
•    Bluethroat  -  Luscinia svecica

•    Northern Wheatear -  Oenanthe oenanthe
•    Gray-cheeked Thrush  -  Catharus minimus
•    Eastern Yellow Wagtail -  Motacilla tschutschensis

•    American Pipit -  Anthus rubescens
•    Orange-crowned Warbler -  Vermivora celata

•    Yellow Warbler -  Dendroica petechia
•    Blackpoll Warbler -  Dendroica striata
•    Northern Waterthrush -  Seiurus noveboracensis

•    Wilson's Warbler -  Wilsonia pusilla
•    American Tree Sparrow  -  Spizella arborea

•    Savannah Sparrow -  Passerculus sandwichensis
•    Fox Sparrow  - Passerella iliaca

•    White-crowned Sparrow -  Zonotrichia leucophrys
•    Golden-crowned Sparrow   Zonotrichia atricapilla
•    Lapland Longspur -  Calcarius lapponicus

•    Snow Bunting -  Plectrophenax nivalis
•    Rusty Blackbird -  Euphagus carolinus

•    Common Redpoll -  Carduelis flammea
•    Hoary Redpoll -  Carduelis hornemanni