Utqiaġvik is the northernmost settlement in the United States, located on the edge of the Polar Ice Cap, more than 300 miles above the Arctic Circle. Vast seas of ice extend from Point Utqiaġvik another 1,200 miles to the North Pole. From May to August, darkness never falls on Utqiaġvik as the golden glow of the midnight sun fills the sky. For birders, High Arctic species are the main attraction here. Snowy Owls are common, Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders are starting their very short breeding seasons in June, while Yellow-billed Loons also breed in the area. We’ll visit the numerous tundra ponds to look for breeding species as well as travel to Point Utqiaġvik in hopes of seeing some of the Arctic mammals – Polar Bears are fairly common during May and June. Many shorebirds, resplendent in their breeding plumages, are also possible here, with Buff-breasted, Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers all being regular breeders. Even Asian species such as Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper (both rare breeders) have been seen in Utqiaġvik during June, while there is always the chance for an unexpected surprise!
Then we head back to Anchorage and after a night there we make our way south along scenic Turnagain Arm and Cook Inlet, before arriving into the town of Seward. From here we’ll take a boat trip through majestic Kenai Fjords National Park, one of the most spectacular parks in North America. Even just right in town, Bald Eagles are plentiful, and Sea Otters are seen swimming about playfully. Once out in Resurrection Bay and then amid glacial waters, highlights will no doubt be the thousands of alcids, including many murres, Tufted and Horned Puffins and Parakeet and Rhinoceros Auklets, and with luck the sneaky Kittlitz’s Murrelets. We also shall enjoy good chances for Humpback Whales, Killer Whale, Steller’s Sea Lions and even other sea mammals and still other seabirds.
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)
Snowy Owl, Spectacled & Steller’s Eider, Yellow-billed & Pacific Loons, Buff-breasted, Baird’s & Pectoral Sandpiper, Rufous-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Bald Eagle, Tufted & Horned Puffins, Parakeet & Rhinoceros Auklets, Kittlitz’s Murrelet (rare), Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-necked & Horned Grebes, Swainson’s Thrushes, Pine Grosbeak, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Sooty Fox Sparrow, Steller’s Jay, Rufous Hummingbird, Northwestern Crow, Pacific Wren Top Mammals
Polar Bear, Sea Otter, Humpback, Beluga & Killer Whales, Steller’s Sea Lion, Mountain Goat, Dall Porpoise Habitats Covered
polar ice pack, pelagic waters, rocky shorelines, boreal forests Expected Climate
colder in Utqiaġvik, 30 degrees; warmer in Kenai up to 70; can be very cold and wet on the boat Max Group Size
14 with 2 Tour Leaders Tour Pace & Walking
relaxed; birding from roads and boat with short walks. Accommodation
comfortable with private baths Ease of Birding
easy Photographic Opportunities
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.
Gambell was great, an adventure I’ll not soon forget.
Stephen Lorenz and Dave Krueper were terrific guides. Complemented each other beautifully. Thanks so much for an incredible experience.
This was a great trip – way better than could even be expected. Yes, we saw Ross’s Gulls streaking across the distant horizon, but we also saw a polar bear mom and two cubs and our time in Barrow coincided with the Inupiat whale harvest. While the death of whales is always a bit sad, the opportunity to see subsistence hunters is rare these days. Stephan Lorenz has proved to be one of my favorite guides – his combination of ‘bionic eyes’ (Claudia’s report), great hearing, real understanding of bird behavior and incredible patience means he is my go-to guide for difficult species that I’ve missed on other tours (or not tried to see before because it seemed too difficult). With Stephan, I have ‘ticked’ Bachman’s Sparrow, Swainson’s Warbler, Buff-collared Nightjar, Short-tailed Albatross, Whiskered Auklet, Spectacled Eider, Emperor Goose, Bar-tailed Godwit (in Alaska), among many other much-sought after species. But Stephan and Claudia also keep every trip enjoyable. Claudia is a great birder in her own right and can set up a scope on the target bird as fast as Stephan. It is great to have two scopes set up immediately. What could be very discouraging to an older birder with poor eyesight and poor hearing like me turns out to be a delightful trip. Imagine spending hours and hours in a freezing wind staring out to an empty sea and still calling it fun. I am looking forward to traveling with Stephan and Claudia again as soon as possible.
Stephan was an outstanding guide, as usual, and Claudia was a great spotter and helper. The lodging in Barrow was better than expected, as was the food there.