At the End of the Rainbow – Nome Alaska

What are you searching for at the end of your rainbow?

Looking for gold truly is why some people travel to Nome. I am familiar with the Nome Gold Rush that occurred 1899-1909. But since I do not get any tv stations, I was unaware of the reality tv show called Bering Sea Gold. I didn’t know that searching for gold in Nome is still a big deal.

I guess my pot of gold comes in a different form. Rather than being engrossed with sorting thru rock debris in search of a precious metal, I wished to expand my knowledge and photo library by traveling to Nome and photographing some birds that are not seen elsewhere in North America.

While I added 5 new species to my life-list, I definitely missed at least ½ dozen species that birders specifically travel to Nome to see. While you can’t see Russia from Nome, it is close enough that various species cross the Bering Sea and nest in western Alaska.

One bird species that I really wanted to photograph was the Red-necked Grebe. I occasionally hear a report of one spotted in my home state of Iowa but I have not had the opportunity to get any decent photos. In Nome, I was not disappointed.

As I walked down the bank to photograph this Red-necked Grebe, it swam right up to me and began displaying and calling. Its mate swam nearby also. Sony a1 + 600mm lens, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/320. ©Stanley Buman.

The Aleutian Tern was a brand-new bird for me; one I had never seen before. It nests around the Bering Sea including the southern Alaskan coast. It is believed that this tern spends its winters at sea near the Philippines or Indonesia.

This Aleutian tern is resting on a gravel bar where the Nome River enters the Bering Sea. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/640. ©Stanley Buman.

The Bar-tailed Godwit was also a new bird for my life list. According to, “During fall migration, a Bar-tailed Godwit will fly over the Pacific Ocean, making a non-stop flight of 7,000 miles from Alaska to New Zealand in 7 days.” It primarily nests across northern Europe and Asia but also crosses the Bering Sea to nest in western Alaska.

I found this Bar-tailed Godwit feeding within about 50 yards of the tern mentioned above. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/640. ©Stanley Buman.

I wasn’t the only person traveling to Nome on a quest for wildlife. Birders travel from all around the world to see birds unique to the region. The hotels even rent out large passenger vans to accommodate groups of birders. Tourism centered around birding is big business for that small town.

If you too are searching for wildlife at the end of your rainbow, then Nome is a good place to visit. Go explore.

6 thoughts on “At the End of the Rainbow – Nome Alaska”

  1. Hi Stan,
    If a red-necked swims right up close to you can you still shoot it with 800 mm lens? I know that you are super intelligent
    but that is a real accomplishment.


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