Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources of the text:

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

SORA - Birds of Little Diomede Island, Alaska

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Britannica - Diomede Islands, Bering Sea

Alluring World Discover, Experience, Live

USGS Science for a changing world

Harriman Expedition Retraced

Earth Observatory

Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

The Age and Origin of the Little Diomede Island Upland Surface

Getting to know the Diomede Islands Yesterday and Tomorrow



Bird species list:

Ancient Murrelet - Synthliboramphus antiquus - Guillemot à cou blanc

Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea – Sterne arctique

Black Guillemot - Cepphus grylle - Guillemot à miroir

Black-legged Kittiwake - Rissa tridactyla - Mouette tridactyle

Black-throated Diver (Loon) - Gavia arctica -  Plongeon arctique

Bluethroat - Luscinia svecica - Gorgebleue à miroir

Buff-bellied Pipit - Anthus rubescens - Pipit farlousane

Common Eider - Somateria mollissima - Eider à duvet

Common Murre - Uria aalge - Guillemot de Troïl

Common Raven – Corvus corax - Grand corbeau

Crested Auklet - Aethia cristatella - Starique cristatelle

Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis – Junco ardoisé

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis - Bergeronnette de Béringie

Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus - Goéland bourgmestre

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens - Goéland à ailes grises

Goosander - Mergus merganser - Harle bièvre

Greater Scaup - Aythya marila - Fuligule milouinan

Grey-cheeked Thrush - Catharus minimus - Grive à joues grises

Harlequin Duck - Histrionicus histrionicus - Arlequin plongeur

Herring Gull – Larus argentatus – Goéland argenté 

Horned Puffin - Fratercula corniculata - Macareux cornu

Ivory Gull - Pagophila eburnea - Mouette blanche

King Eider - Somateria spectabilis - Eider à tête grise

Lapland Longspur - Calcarius lapponicus - Bruant lapon ou Plectrophane lapon

Least Auklet - Aethia pusilla - Starique minuscule

Little Auk or Dovekie - Alle alle - Mergule nain

Long-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus scolopaceus - Bécassin à long bec

Long-tailed Duck - Clangula hyemalis - Harelde boréale 

Long-tailed Jaeger - Stercorarius longicaudus - Labbe à longue queue

Northern Fulmar – Fulmarus glacialis – Fulmar boreal

Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe - Traquet motteux

Pacific Loon (Diver) - Gavia pacifica - Plongeon du Pacifique

Parakeet Auklet - Aethia psittacula - Starique perroquet

Parasitic Jaeger or Arctic Skua - Stercorarius parasiticus - Labbe parasite

Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos - Bécasseau tacheté

Pelagic Cormorant - Phalacrocorax pelagicus - Cormoran pélagique

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus - Faucon pèlerin

Pigeon Guillemot - Cepphus columba - Guillemot colombin

Pomarine Skua or Jaeger - Stercorarius  pomarinus - Labbe pomarin

Red-breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator - Harle huppé

Red Phalarope - Phalaropus fulicarius - Phalarope à bec large

Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus - Pipit à gorge rousse

Rock Sandpiper - Calidris ptilocnemis - Bécasseau des Aléoutiennes

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres - Tournepierre à collier

Sabine’s Gull - Xema sabini - Mouette de Sabine

Sandhill Crane – Antigone canadensis – Grue du Canada

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - Calidris acuminata - Bécasseau à queue pointue

Short-tailed Shearwater - Ardenna tenuirostris - Puffin à bec grêle

Siberian Rubythroat - Calliope calliope - Rossignol calliope

Slaty-backed Gull - Larus schistisagus - Goéland à manteau ardoisé

Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis - Bruant des neiges ou Plectrophane des neiges

Snow Goose - Chen caerulescens - Oie des neiges

Thick-billed Murre - Uria lomvia - Guillemot de Brünnich

Tufted Puffin - Fratercula cirrhata - Macareux huppé

White Wagtail - Motacilla alba - Bergeronnette grise

Yellow-billed Loon or White-billed Diver - Gavia adamsii - Plongeon à bec blanc

Least Auklet - Aethia pusilla

Otto Plantema
Trips around the world



Diomede Islands are two small islands located in the Bering Strait and lying 3, 8 kilometres apart. They are separated by the U.S – Russian boundary, and consist in two rocky, mesa-like islands.

Big Diomede is the larger island and is part of the Chukotsky District of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug of Russia.
The island resembles a mesa or tuya (a flat-topped, steep-sided volcano). This type of structure is rare and usually confined to areas formerly covered by glaciers. The island is about 29 km², and the highest point reaches 477 metres of elevation.

Little Diomede lies to the east and is part of Alaska (U.S). The total area is about 7, 3 km² and the highest point culminates at 494 metres.
The village of Diomede is on the western shore of the island, the only area without near-vertical cliffs to the water. Elsewhere on the island, the rocky slopes rise at about 40° up to the flattened top, at 350-363 metres of elevation.
The vegetation is sparse and limited to patches among the granitic boulders and outcrops.

Diomede Islands are separated by the International Date Line, and Big Diomede is 21 hours (20 in summer) ahead of Little Diomede. They are sometimes called “Tomorrow Island” for Big Diomede and “Yesterday Island" for Little Diomede.
The Bering Strait is about 82 kilometres wide between Cape Dezhnev in Chukchi Peninsula, Russia, and Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska. This is the narrowest point of the strait between the two continents.   

The avifauna includes primarily seabirds and aquatic species. We can find here Laridae, Alcidae, Stercorariidae, Gaviidae, Procellariidae, but also Scolopacidae and Anseriformes.
Other birds such as the Sandhill Crane, the Pelagic Cormorant, the Peregrine Falcon, the Grey-cheeked Thrush and the Common Raven are recorded, as well as several species of Passeriformes.        

During winter, an ice bridge forms between the Diomede Islands, making possible to walk from Russia to United States and vice versa. But this is strictly forbidden.
The sea-level has lowered several times during the past, making the Bering Strait emergent and forming a land bridge between Asia and North America.
Actually, the Diomede Islands are the remaining of the path that united the two huge continents. They are thought to be “tuyas” remnants of Beringia that once connected the two continents.
Today, the migratory birds fly above them or use them as stopovers during the short trip of 82 kilometres.                    

Thick-billed Murre - Uria lomvia

Tom Merigan
Tom Merigan’s Photo Galleries