PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKIY TO ANADYR Combining the best of our ‘In Search of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper' and ‘Wake of Bering' Expeditions with new added opportunities.
Siberia's eastern coastline is undoubtedly one of the most remote and least visited regions of the globe. It is home to several groups of indigenous people, including the Itelmen, Koryak, Even and Chukchi. Fur trappers and sealers plundered the regions natural resources in the name of the Tsar in the early 17th Century. Stalin and subsequent leaders encouraged economic development in this part of the Soviet Union. Soviet towns were built, bonuses were paid to those who would immigrate and work there and attempts were made to collectivise the traditional way of life.
As the iron curtain was drawn and the Cold War escalated, this region became forbidden territory. Travel to and within the area was strictly controlled, the number of military installations increased, early radar warning stations proliferated and Russia's Pacific fleet patrolled the coastline.
This all changed in the early 1990s with Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Military installations were abandoned, there were mass migrations of workers back west and towns and industries were simply abandoned. As the heavily subsided economy collapsed the indigenous people were forced back to traditional ways of life but permits to travel through the area did become a little easier to obtain.
Twenty five years on, travel through this region is still heavily regulated and virtually impossible for the independent traveller. There is little or no infrastructure, only a few kilometres of road, no hotels apart from in the main towns of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and Anadyr. These towns have scheduled air services, but access to the rest of the region either by air or sea even for locals is at best ‘unpredictable'.
Throughout its chequered human history its rich natural history has largely gone unnoticed and unknown by the rest of the world. It is an amazing coastline dominated by the volcanoes of Kamchatka in the south, the fiords of what was formally the Koryak region and the rich estuarine areas and tundra of Chukotka.
This coastline has one of the most diverse assemblages of wildlife and habitats of anywhere of a similar latitude on the globe and virtually no people or visitors to disturb them. One of the most iconic species is the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper that is endemic to the region. For the past 8 years we have supported BirdLife International and Birds Russia research teams working on this species. Our 2019 expedition not only continues that support but it expands it to include other seabirds and waders as researchers monitor potential changes in their populations and distribution due to a variety of reasons including climate change.
Pre/post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation, meals and all expedition shore excursions.
All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
Private charter flight Anadyr to Nome $1,000 pp
Our ship - The Spirit of Enderby:
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.
She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2013 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.
On board there is a recently updated combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room (March 2018). The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.
Classification: Russian register KM ice class
Year built: 1984
Accommodation: 50 berths expedition
Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines),
Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
Bunker capacity: 320 tons
Monday 23rd June
For such a large group, everything ran smoothly. We all met up prior to the flight and the Aeroflot flight to Moscow ran to time. Passport control at Moscow took quite a long time but we eventually got through and gathered in reception. Dave Mallon spoke fluent Russian and contacted the hotel who then sent a coach for us. We were all checked in at the hotel by 22:30 and ready for bed, even though in Britain it was only 19:30.
Tuesday 24th June
Everybody seemed to sleep well, despite the time difference of 3 hours. A number went out early and found some good birds close to the hotel; Blyth’s Reed Warblers, Red-backed Shrikes and Neil even saw a Black Woodpecker. At 9am our coach arrived and we drove the short distance to a local area of habitat. We were amazed by the number of Whinchats, and Blyth’s Reed Warblers too, though more elusive. Whitethroats were also common but much more sought after was a singing River Warbler. Thrush Nightingales were also around, though a little elusive. Quite surprising were two Corncrakes calling, though we didn’t see them. Other birds of interest were Golden Oriole and Scarlet Rosefinch, and we heard Barred Warbler but it refused to show. We then walked to an area of pools and scrub where we had amazing views of Bluethroats and Citrine Wagtails plus Booted Warblers. John also found some moose footprints, which amazed everyone, with no dissenters, in such a busy human environment. We returned to the hotel, which had let us store our bags until 1pm, then we made our way to the airport for the long flight to Petropavlovsk. Everything ran more smoothly than a normal airport and we were all checked-in and through security in no time.
Wednesday 25th June
Everything ran to schedule and we arrived about 9:30am at Petropavlosk where Anna and Chris were waiting for us with three small coaches. Chris knew of a good birding spot called the Blue Lagoon about forty minutes away. Within seconds of arriving we started to see good birds; Black-backed Wagtail, Eye-browed Thrush and Oriental Greenfinch. A warbler was singing and Chris told us this was Kamchatka Leaf Warbler, recently split from Arctic Warbler. We managed to get reasonable views of several birds. We walked around the lagoon and saw Scarlet Rosefinches, Rustic Buntings and Cuckoos. We also heard an Oriental Cuckoo but didn’t see one with certainty (i.e. one that we saw calling). We found a couple of pairs of Olive-backed Pipit plus a reasonably obliging Taiga Flycatcher. There were quite a few Swallowtail butterflies and literally hundreds of Argent and Sable moths, which are rare and declining in Britain. The botanists were happy too with Arctic Bramble, May Lily, Chickweed Wintergreen and a lucky few saw Spotted Lady’s Slipper Orchids. We arrived back at the coaches for lunch when a call went up for a Three-toed Woodpecker, which was amazingly obliging. Then Steven spotted a male Siberian Rubythroat which showed well to the keen birders who braved the rain. Eye-browed Thrushes also showed well during our lunch break. That was some lunch break! En route to the ship we saw a Rough-legged Buzzard plus a few Slaty-backed Gulls. We arrived at the Spirit of Enderby at 16:30 and sailed at 18:00 following a safety lecture and introduction to the crew.
Soon after we set off we started to see interesting birds; Glaucous-winged Gulls, Pelagic Cormorant, Guillemots plus a few Red-faced Cormorants. As we progressed further towards the mouth of the harbour we saw many Tufted Puffins and Pigeon Guillemots. In the distance we saw a perched Steller’s Sea-Eagle, and a probable Larga Seal was spotted, but too distant to clinch. Merv also saw a Steller’s Sea-lion. Then someone spotted a couple of Spectacled Guillemots, which is right at the northern limit of its restricted world range, and the only chance we had of seeing it. We also saw all-black Kuril Guillemots that are a potential taxonomic split from Pigeon Guillemot. Among the many Guillemots we managed to spot a few Brunnich’s, and then as we exited the harbour, Ancient Murrelets appeared in plenty. We didn’t know where to look at times with Horned Puffins, Short-tailed Shearwaters and Fulmars zooming around. With our two difficult target species safely on most people’s lists (Spectacled Guillemot and Ancient Murrelet), they decided it was time for dinner and then a belated lifeboat drill.
Thursday 26th June
We cruised north through the night to the mouth of the Zhupanova River. Early morning a few people managed to see 20 Orcas, including three adult males, though distant. A distant sea-otter was also seen. We managed to add a few new birds to the list too, all pre-breakfast; Crested Auklets, Long-billed Murrelets, Black and White-winged Scoters. Tufted Puffins seemed to be the commonest species though, with a few Horned Puffins for good measure. We also managed to spot a few Long-billed Murrelets from the deck and a few even saw a Bear!
After breakfast we had our Zodiac briefing, and then we were ready for our trip up the Zhupanova River in five Zodiacs. As we entered the estuary we started to see Larhga Seals with pale bodies and fine spotting over the body. A large array of common ducks was seen plus a few Far-eastern Curlews that had a bubbling call remarkably similar to our British Curlew.
We could see a few Terns which were mainly the longipennis race of Common Tern but we spotted an Aleutian Tern among them, distinguished by the dark trailing edge to the underwing. After a short time we noticed several more Aleutian Terns, which gave a remarkably un-tern-like call, sounding more like passerines than terns. We also saw Long-tailed and Arctic Skuas chasing the terns.
We then took the zodiacs some way upriver where a magnificent Steller’s Sea Eagle was stood guard by its nest. After a lot of hassle from a Raven it took flight so we headed back to the Salmon Camp where we were given fresh salmon and salmon caviar served on freshly baked bread. Then Chris took the birders to a nearby marsh where we managed to see a Long-toed Stint, several snipe, Siberian Rubythroats, Rosefinches plus a Middendorf’s Grasshopper Warbler.
At 12:30 we set sail for the long journey to the Commander Islands. During the trip a number of Dall’s Porpoises were seen plus three Minke Whales. While Chris was giving his bird lecture a pod of seven Baird’s Beaked Whales were seen and photographed. A single Northern Fur Seal added to the mammal list. Birds of interest included two Laysan Albatrosses, one Grey Phalarope, a couple of Least Auklets and hundreds of Fork-tailed Storm Petrels.
Friday 27th June
We rose early as we were told we’d be passing the edge of the deep sea trench at 5:30 and that is where whales usually occurred. We were not disappointed with about 10 Humpbacks, including a fluke right on the bow, plus Dall’s Porpoises and a glimpse of a Sperm Whale. We also saw five Laysan Albatrosses and several Leach’s Petrels, among the usual seabirds.
After breakfast we boarded the Zodiacs to visit Beringa Island where we had to undergo a rigorous passport check by the over-zealous border guard, but we were soon looking out for birds. We were led to believe that Rock Sandpipers would be difficult and elusive but they were numerous and confiding. We saw at least seventy individuals plus about ten Mongolian Plovers. We even found a nest of a Mongolian Plover right next to a footpath. Other birds included Snow and Lapland Buntings, Tree Sparrows, Dunlins and the ubiquitous Glaucous-winged Gulls. We went to a marshy area where we spotted a single Temminck’s Stint, and we managed to see Pechora Pipit display flighting, although the experience was lessened a bit by the wind and rain. Along the shore we spotted Pelagic Cormorants, Mergansers, Harlequins, Sea Otters and a Harbour Seal, adding another species to the mammal list. The flowers were quite interesting too with a beautiful show of Narcissus-flowered Anemones. We also visited the Bering Museum where we saw one of just a handful of skeletons of the long extinct Steller’s Sea Cow, although these weren’t constructed, they were lined-out neatly. Wet and bedraggled, we returned to the ship for lunch.
The wind was strong and it was foggy so Rodney said he wouldn’t be able to land us at the Northern Fur Seal colony so he opted to cruise along the shelf edge all afternoon. Neil managed to photograph a breaching Humpback although most people saw a breaching humpback later on. The air was swarming with Fulmars with lots of Laysan Albatrosses too. We spotted a dense group of birds feeding on something and there were three Albatrosses with them; two Laysan, plus a juvenile Short-tailed Albatross. This is one of the rarest Albatrosses with only about 2000 individuals left, which only breed on the island of Toroshima off Japan.
Cat Rayner called out some whale blows and when we got closer we could see they were from a pod of Baird’s Beaked Whales logging at the surface. Mervyn spotted another pod, more distant, but the real stars were numerous Dall’s Porpoises which dashing through the surface water alongside the boat. The seabirds became better later in the afternoon with a number of Mottled Petrels, Fork-tailed Petrels, Crested Auklets plus a few Whiskered Auklets.
Saturday 28th June
Early morning we were on deck watching seabirds and Humpbacks, but nothing else unusual. After breakfast we took the Zodiacs to Medney Island where immediately people started to see Arctic Foxes. Pechora Pipits seemed to be everywhere and after some searching we eventually found Grey-crowned Rosy Finches and Pacific Wrens. We also wandered up to the cliff tops to see Horned Puffins while the botanists wandered high up the mountain. The botany was pretty stunning at low levels too with Orchids, Anemones and the native Rhododendron.
We then took the Zodiacs along the coast for the most amazing two hours yet of the trip. Immediately we saw three Minke Whales surfacing in the bay, and among the Puffins and Guillemots we saw Parakeet Auklets and one Whiskered Auklet. A couple of Zodiacs managed to see Fur Seals and even an Orca. We then found a small cove that had lots of Sea Otters with cubs. They allowed really close approach and we even saw them hauled out on rocks, which is highly unusual for this species. We managed to get close photographable views of all the seabirds; Tufted and Horned Puffins, Pigeon Guillemots, Parakeet Auklets, Red-faced Cormorants, Kittiwake and even one Red-legged Kittiwake. By this time the sea was mirror calm with huge rafts of seabirds, plus numerous feeding Humpback Whales. We even saw several whale breaches.
After dinner we hurried back on deck and spotted huge rafts of Whiskered Auklets. They must have numbered in their thousands, although they were really skittish and flew off long before the boat reached them. We did spot the odd bird much closer though. We then started to see Albatrosses, lots of Albatrosses, mostly sitting on the sea in the calm sunny weather. A pod of Orcas were seen distantly, which even included a couple of breaches. A while later Cat spotted a whale up ahead which had an angled blow. Sperm Whale! It was a huge male Sperm Whale that lay at the surface until we sailed alongside it, then it dived showing its tail flukes. During the next half hour we spotted three more Sperm Whales, all huge males. Dall’s Porpoises added to the cetacean count, plus a few more Fur Seals for good measure. Other birds of note were a few Storm Petrels and an Ancient Murrelet.
Sunday 29th June
This morning the weather was foggy and there seemed to be very few birds around. Most people had a lie-in, and then listened to two lectures on Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation by Evgenie and Elena. Evgenie kindly agreed to give his lecture again, as few attended the day before as it coincided with the sunny weather, Sperm Whales and Albatrosses. At about midday the mist had cleared and we ventured on deck to see small numbers of the usual seabirds, though more pale Fulmars and Common Guillemots than we had been used to seeing. Two Long-tailed Skuas close in were also much appreciated.
We saw about seven whale blows ahead but the group seemed to split up into two groups. We didn’t know which species but the first view appeared to be a Fin Whale, but quickly followed by two Humpback Whales which started tail slapping. We assumed we must have been wrong about the Fin Whale but Cat had taken a photograph that showed a 100% Fin Whale. None of us had ever seen two different species seemingly interacting closely before.
At 15:00 we set out on the zodiacs for Kharaginskiy Island where we scanned the tundra and saw two Long-tailed Skuas that kept fighting with a pair of Arctic Skuas that were also present in the area. When they weren’t fighting each other they were harassing Common Terns or Black-headed Gulls that were trying to nest nearby. We then split into four groups and crossed the spongy Crowberry tundra that was dotted with interesting plants; Cloudberry, Bog Rosemary, Labrador Tea, three Louseworts, Jacob’s Ladder, Dwarf Birch plus many more. We saw numerous Red-throated Pipits and a few Eastern Yellow Wagtails but it was difficult to get close views. A number of Dunlin were seen, and on the lake at the back of the tundra were various ducks: Goosanders, Scaup, Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Wigeon, Pintail, Goldeneye, and Teal. Best of all were Red-necked Phalaropes, some pools with up to eight birds. We even spotted one summer plumage Grey Phalarope. One group also saw Dusky Warblers and a Reed Bunting. We then returned to the ship to warm up and enjoy yet another delicious meal.
Monday 30th June
We awoke alongside our destination Verkhoturova Island shrouded in cloud, with hundreds of Slaty-backed Gulls flying round, and landing on the boat. After breakfast we set off in our zodiacs to the scree slopes where the auklets nest. We saw thousands of Parakeet and Whiskered Auklets, though they didn’t allow close approach. We also found quite a few Least Auklets, including one group of about 100. One zodiac spotted a Rhinoceros Auklet too. After this we landed on a nearby beach. There was a steep climb of about 80m to a plateau from which we could see nesting seabirds; Kittiwakes, both Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants, Tufted Puffins and Slaty-backed Gulls with young. Unfortunately the clifftop nesting gulls had pushed the Puffins further down the cliffs so we didn’t get such close views. Kenny and Mervyn spotted a Tundra Vole but they eluded the rest of us. There were also Peregrine Falcons, Ravens and Red-throated Pipits around the island. In the bay we saw numerous Harlequins, Mergansers and Goosander but unfortunately the Steller’s Eiders had departed for their breeding grounds.
At 10:30 we took the zodiacs to view a small colony of Steller’s Sea-lions that were hauled out on an offshore rock. We had another quick look at the auklets then headed back to the ship for lunch. We then sailed across to the Govan Peninsula and en route we saw a couple of Fin Whales plus the usual seabirds. Late afternoon we reached our destination, a place Rodney called bear gulley. Even before we had boarded the zodiacs we had spotted a Bear on the beach. Unfortunately the waves and swell made landing impossible so we had to cruise the shore. We spotted four Bears in total; all a lovely golden brown colour too. On shore there were hundreds of roosting Kittiwakes and an unbelievable number of Goosanders, at least two hundred and the biggest flock any of us had seen. There were about thirty Harlequins and then unbelievably we had two groups of Steller’s Eiders fly right past the zodiacs. There was a group of three and a group of five, all females. This was great news because we had missed Steller’s Eider on Verkhoturova that morning. The swell increased and we had a rather exciting time boarding the boat from the zodiacs.
Tuesday 1st July
After breakfast we took the Zodiacs to Tinitikun Lagoon, a Russian nature reserve. We spotted four Bears from the boat and another six around the lagoon, plus a couple of Largha Seals. Some even managed to photograph an Arctic Hare. There were hundreds of Harlequins flying around plus many White-winged Scoters and Goosanders. The birds were frustratingly elusive in the low scrub but most people managed to see Dusky Warblers, Oriental Greenfinches and Little Buntings. A few people managed to see Dusky Thrushes, Arctic Warbler, Arctic and Common Redpolls plus Siberian Accentor.
We then headed back to the ship where we were advised we were in the Kittlitz’s Murrelet zone so we needed to be on deck. We managed to see about twenty five although none were especially close. The afternoon was pretty quiet, although two pods of Orca and several pods of Dall’s Porpoise added a bit of excitement. Interesting seabirds included Vega Gull, Kamchatka Gull, Short-tailed Shearwater plus a few Crested Auklets.
Late afternoon we reached the lagoon at Pakachi but the waves at the entrance were too dangerous to get across so we headed back south 16 miles to try and find another landing. We didn’t set out until 21:00 by which time most had decided they didn’t want to go, but those that did were rewarded with more Bears, Grey-tailed Tattlers, Red-throated Pipits, Eastern Yellow Wagtail plus calling Pacific or Black-throated Diver. Much to Kenny’s delight we also managed to find some Northern Pikas.
Wednesday 2nd July
We awoke to clear blue skies and no wind. T-shirt weather on deck for the first time! As usual, the sharp-eyed ones were on deck spotting Bears and we reached a tally of five before we had even gone ashore. Lots of Scoters and Eiders were flying past, including two King Eiders. Neil managed to spot a group of Snow Sheep from the ship but unfortunately most people had already set off in zodiacs so missed them. We split up into five groups to search likely looking tundra for Spoon-billed Sandpipers. Needless to say we didn’t find any but a great variety of birds was seen, including Steller’s Sea Eagles, Sandhill Cranes with a chick, Rustic and Little Buntings, Ringed Plovers, Mongolian Plover, Steller’s Eiders, Asian Rosy Finch and Red-necked Stint. Bears were everywhere, including a mating pair, plus mothers with cubs. We also saw several Arctic Ground Squirrels.
Straight after lunch we hit a patch of Kittlitz’s Murrelets and counted 154 in 90 minutes, some really close too. We also spotted a couple of Humpback Whales and several small pods of Dall’s Porpoises. At 17:00 we took the Zodiacs ashore at South Mechevna where we searched again for sandpipers. Along the river were numerous songbirds; Dusky Thrushes, Bluethroats, Little Buntings, Red-throated Pipits, Yellow Wagtails, Dusky Warblers. We also flushed a Red-necked Stint and found a Red-necked Phalarope. Three Asian Rosy Finches flew past. Out on the tundra we found a pair of nesting Mongolian Plovers.
Thursday 3rd July
Today we were at Natalia and spotted about a hundred Walruses in the bay. We took the Zodiacs out and they allowed a close approach. After this there were three different activities were on offer. A small group spent the whole day birdwatching and managed to find Siberian Accentors, Siberian Rubythroat, Red-flanked Bluetails, Dusky Thrushes plus the usual tundra passerines.
Another group had zodiac cruises and saw a Walrus haul-out and a Pika. One group climbed over a mountain pass and saw nine Snow Sheep, Marmots and a pair of Golden Eagles.
Friday 4th July
We sailed overnight to the mouth of the Opukha Lagoon where we knew that Grey Whales would be feeding. We spotted several from the boat early morning but there were about twenty five feeding at the lagoon entrance. We even saw a couple of breaches and several spyhops. About forty Largha Seals were seen and even one Ringed Seal was seen. A flock of Red-necked Phalaropes were seen from the deck plus several Kittlitz’s Murrelets. A couple of Murrelets allowed close approach in the Zodiacs too. There were numerous Kittiwakes feeding and Arctic Skuas chasing them. Inside the lagoon were hundreds of gulls and terns. Among the Kittiwakes and Slaty-backed we found many Glaucous Gulls, a Vega Gull, two Black-headed Gulls and an adult Sabine’s Gull. There were hundreds of sea-ducks including dozens of Steller’s Eiders, 3 King Eiders and lots of Harlequins and Pacific Eiders.
In the afternoon we returned to the lagoon but this time to search the tundra for breeding waders, although we were distracted by close Steller’s Eiders and several Bears, including one fishing in the sea. We divided into two groups, one searching the north side and one the south side. The north group found four pairs of Red-necked Phalaropes, a Dunlin on territory, 3 pairs of Long-tailed Ducks, a pair of Pacific Divers, Red-throated Pipit and Lapland Bunting. We also saw thousands of gulls; Kittiwakes, Kamchatka Gulls, Vega Gulls, Glaucous Gulls and Slaty-backed Gulls. The south group found Pacific Golden Plovers, Eider nests, Pomarine Skua, Sandhill Cranes. One small group had another Zodiac trip for whales because their Zodiac didn’t connect well in the morning. This time they saw lots of Grey Whales, a swimming Bear and a vagrant White-winged Black Tern.
Saturday 5th July
We sailed overnight to Meinypilgyno but arrived in the thick fog. We could not visit the nests in fog because visibility was below the flushing distance so we had to wait. From deck we could see Grey Whales, and Emperor Geese and White-billed Divers were also seen. After lunch the fog had lifted so we set out. We were being allowed to visit two nests; one 10km up the river and one 12km. We divided up into two groups and each set out on our 1km walk across beautiful tundra. Fortunately both groups connected with a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. We all felt immensely privileged that we had been allowed to see this rarest and most beautiful of waders on its nesting grounds. Bears were in evidence too with 13 seen along the river bank en route. One was a female with a very small cub. Also on the tundra we saw a flock of 17 Skuas, 12 of which were Long-tailed. It was also nice to see a Wheatear that had flown thousands of miles from sub-Saharan Africa to reach Meinypilgyno.
We headed off back and came across a pod of Belugas feeding in clear water at the river mouth. We could see them underwater feeding alongside dozens of Largha Seals. Further out were about 10 Grey Whales. As we headed north there were hundreds of Walruses and Grey Whales seen from the deck. All agreed this had been a fantastic day and one which we would probably never be able to repeat…
Sunday 6th July
Our final full day in Chukotka dawned as we sailed north to Anadyr. There were a few Grey Whales and Walruses seen from the boat, plus at least a dozen Grey Phalaropes. Mid-morning we took the zodiacs to Keyngypillgyn Lagoon where there were many Red-throated Divers and at least a hundred Largha Seals in the entrance. As soon as we landed we spotted our first Emperor Geese, the first of many. Most people had missed yesterday’s flyovers so it was great to get good views. We also saw Sandhill Cranes, White-fronted Geese, Red-necked Stints and a flock of 29 summer plumaged Grey Phalaropes. There were even a couple of Red-necked Phalaropes for good measure. Just as we were getting back into the zodiacs Kenny spotted an Arctic Hare which added another mammal to the list for most people.
Monday 7th July
Our final day dawned as we slowly cruised into Anadyr Harbour. All of the Auks, Fulmars and Kittiwakes that had been ever-present throughout the trip had disappeared leaving a few Vega Gulls and the occasional Slaty-backed and Glaucous Gulls. A few distant divers and sea ducks were also seen, as were a number of Belugas in the outer estuary. As we approached the quayside there were about 15 Belugas and 30 Largha Seals surfacing right alongside the quay. Bizarrely there was also a family of Arctic Ground Squirrels giving the best photo-opportunities of the trip. A fitting end to a fantastically enjoyable and successful trip!
Thank you to Nature Trek www.naturetrek.co.uk who compiled this log and allowing us to share this.
Words by Paul Melling, Naturetrek
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" Better than we ever expected! Birds, bears, whales and walrus galore and the most amazing scenery. Participating in the search for the spoon billed sandpiper was a special privilege. Thanks to Rod and the team. "
" Last week, I returned home from this expedition voyage. I am writing to formally express my thanks for a wonderful trip. As I commented to Marie and Katya on the last afternoon, it was all that I had hoped and better than I had expected.
Amidst the bustle of disembarkation, it was difficult to speak to all the staff personally about this. So I would be grateful if you could convey my thanks to them all - to Nicki and Brad for their excellent food and sharp eyes for wildlife, to Adam for his wildlife spotting and general calm support, to Chris for his patient guidance and encouragement to a non-expert, to Katya for her quiet enthusiasm, scientific knowledge and smooth zodiac driving, to Marie for her enthusiasm, friendliness and all-round competence and reliability, to Roger for easing my sea-sickness and offering quiet advice on wildlife and things in general, to Christoff for his wildlife knowledge and support in the field, and of course to Rodney for his dedication to maximising the benefits of the voyage, his careful planning, and his overall leadership in the face of changeable conditions and circumstances.
Thanks are also due to the captain and his crew for transporting us so efficiently and unobtrusively, and especially to the various sailors who helped us into and out of the zodiacs with the minimum of fuss, whatever the conditions, and to those who cleaned and cooked for us. I can imagine how hard they worked, and I am most grateful for this. "