The port of Dutch Harbor and Unalaska Island offer some of the best birding in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Lying on the far eastern end of the island chain, Unalaska and nearby Amaknak Island have a well-developed infrastructure supporting one of the busiest harbors in the United States. This allows for relatively easy access and a comfortable stay in the otherwise wild and rugged Aleutian Islands. While the Whiskered Auklet is the top target species of the tour there is a lot more to see. In fact, we record more species of alcids and seabirds during our Dutch Harbor Tour than on any other Alaska tour, and during our pelagic boat tour, we can see Common and Thick-billed Murres, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled, Kittlitz’s and Ancient Murrelets, Cassin’s, Crested, Parakeet and Least (rare) Auklets, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Layson and Black-footed Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwater, Northern Fumar, Black-legged Kittiwake, Pelagic and Red-faced Cormorants, scoters, loons, and Common Eider. In recent years, Red-legged Kittiwake has been frequently seen in small numbers and we have also recorded the endangered Short-tailed Albatross several times. The time we spend on land, exploring the wetlands, tundra, bays, and coastline, will also be filled with birds and Unalaska harbors such notable species as Harlequin Duck, Rock Ptarmigan (nelsoni ssp.), Black Oystercatcher, Rock Sandpiper, Pacific Wren, American Dipper, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Common Redpoll, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, and the unalaschcensis subspecies of “Sooty” Fox Sparrow. The islands and surrounding pelagic waters are home to many mammals with Sea Otters abundant and Humpback and Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoises, Harbor Seals, and Steller’s Sea Lion all frequent. Back on land Red Foxes prowl the tundra and Arctic Ground Squirrels are common. The quaint town of Unalaska also offers two museums, and a historic Russian Orthodox church all with a backdrop of dramatic volcanic mountains clad in verdant maritime tundra vegetation – let’s not forget the abundant wildflowers. This diversity of birds, the potential for rarities, and unique scenery make this an ideal tour for first-time visitors or seasoned Alaska birders.
This tour is operated by High Lonesome BirdTours in partnership with Rockjumper Birding Tours.
These are large group tours (up to 16 guests with multiple leaders), and will have guests from both Highlonesome and Rockjumper.
For any queries not related to a tour booking, please fee free to contact High Lonesome BirdTours directly Stephan Lorenz (Tour Director)
Whiskered Auklet; Laysan & Black-footed Albatross, Short-tailed Albatross (seen rarely on a couple of our trips); Short-tailed & Sooty Shearwater; Red-faced Cormorant; Horned & Tufted Puffin; Kittlitz’s, Ancient & Marbled Murrelet; Rock Ptarmigan; American Dipper; Aleutian Song Sparrow; Pacific Wren; Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch; Lapland Longspur; Snow Bunting
Sea Otter; Steller’s Sea Lion; Harbor Seal; several species of whales
cool and sometimes wet; 40 to 60°F (5 - 16°C)
easy; minimal walking per day, most birding by vehicle or boat.
very comfortable hotels with excellent restaurants
The weather adversely affected the Gambell visit such that hoped for vagrants were minimal during our stay. The Siberian Express mostly failed to stop there. That was beyond anyone’s control and, thanks to the efforts of the guides, the birding experience was still very good. Stephan Lorenz did an exceptional job. Between Covid and the weather his job seemed unusually difficult but he handled things extremely well. I would definitely go on another tour with Mr. Lorenz as guide.
The tour was very well organised and run. The guides, Stephan Lorenz and Dave Krueper, were excellent. They went out of their way to ensure that all the group members had a chance to see and identify the birds, especially concentrating on those they knew were life birds. Having two guides for 10 tour members was great and being in two vans for travel ensured that we all had sufficient space and window area to spread out and see everything. Even the weather was pretty good. Great tour!
Gambell was great, an adventure I’ll not soon forget.
Forrest Rowland was a wonderful guide. He is extremely knowledgeable about birds and always takes the time to consider the wants, needs and priorities of the group. He works with his group to form a common goal. He was extremely professional and he had a remarkably positive attitude. His enthusiasm was infectious and admirable, as was his perseverance in finding us any species that we wanted and which was possible to see. Forrest is personable, humorous, and extremely generous and kind-hearted. I am so grateful to have met him.
Stephan Lorenz was great. He knew every bird and plant and was helpful to me in getting the photos that I wanted.