Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow) is the northernmost city in the United States. The sizable town sits right along the shores of the Arctic Ocean well north of the Arctic Circle at 71 degrees latitude. The infrastructure and fairly extensive road system offer some of the best access to High Arctic tundra and the coastline here forms a migration corridor for thousands of waterfowl, loons, shorebirds, gulls, alcids, jaegers, and even whales with the environs around Point Barrow and Elson Lagoon being particularly productive. During the summer months, the tundra here experiences twenty-four hours of daylight and migrating and breeding bird species arrive en masse. The vast tundra, extensive wetlands, and coastline around Utqiaġvik are one of the best places in Alaska to see and photograph eiders with King, Steller’s and the rare Spectacled all readily seen in ponds and lakes while Common Eiders frequent coastal areas. The water-logged tundra harbors hundreds of waterfowl that range from Tundra Swans, Brant, and Greater White-fronted Geese to Long-tailed Ducks, Greater Scaup, and more. In addition, Utqiaġvik is a reliable location for Yellow-billed and Pacific Loons, up to three species of jaeger, hundreds of Glaucous Gulls, and occasionally Gyrfalcon. Lemmings and thousands of waterfowl attract Snowy Owls which nest on the tundra each year in varying numbers. The shorebird spectacle here is impressive with Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, American Golden-Plovers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, and Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers nesting in large numbers. Shorebird species breeding in smaller numbers include Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers and in some years it is possible to observe displaying Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a memorable spectacle. Rarer but regular visitors include Ruff, Red-necked and Little Stints, and Curlew Sandpiper. The tundra is also home to a few passerines and the cheerful songs of Snow Buntings can be heard throughout while Lapland Longspurs, Savanna Sparrows, and Common and Hoary Redpolls are frequent. Utqiaġvik regularly turns up surprises and during spring the rare Ross’s and Ivory Gulls are possible. In addition to the abundance of birds, several mammals can be seen including Bearded, Ringed and Spotted Seals, Arctic Foxes, Short-tailed Weasel, and good chances for Polar Bear.
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)
Spectacled; Steller’s; King; Common Eider; Greater White-fronted Goose; Pomarine & Parasitic Jaeger; Pacific, Red-throated, Yellow-billed Loon; Red & Red-necked Phalarope; Snowy Owl; American Golden Plover; Baird’s, Pectoral, Buff-breasted Sandpiper; Lapland Longspur; Snow Bunting. Possible Ross’s & Ivory Gull some year, also Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint. Top Mammals
Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Caribou, Bearded & Spotted Seal Habitats Covered
High Arctic tundra; Arctic ice pack Expected Climate
moderately cold, sometimes below freezing. Max Group Size
12 with 2 HL Tour Leaders Tour Pace & Walking
generally easy with some moderate walks Accommodation
comfortable hotel Ease of Birding
easy Other Attractions
Arctic Ocean & ice pack; native village. Excellent photographic opportunities.During your free time in Anchorage, don’t miss going to Wave Bookstores on Northern Lights or downtown on 5th Avenue. They have a great selection of Alaska fiction and non-fiction! In addition, there are some excellent restaurants downtown, including Orso, Glacier Brew House, Simon & Seafort’s, and Marx Brothers. Photographic Opportunities
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!
Stephan Lorenz was great. He knew every bird and plant and was helpful to me in getting the photos that I wanted.
Stephan as lead guide was one of the best guides I have ever had the privilege of working with. Wonderful at finding birds, making sure participants saw them, managing the challenging logistics, and a truly excellent group leader. Dave was an excellent partner guide. I will definitely seek them out to travel with again. Thanks to both of them.
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 is an exceptional guide, being both a wizard at finding and identifying birds and also dealing with people. He has a kind and funny manner that puts everyone at ease. I am glad that Rockjumper has hired him and look forward to being on some of his trips in the future.