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.
This tour is offered in partnership with High Lonesome Birdtours.
The Pribilof Islands support perhaps the largest colony of nesting seabirds in the world, as well as a rookery of almost two million Northern Fur Seals. Here these giants spar for precious space, vying for our attention among a spectacle of literally thousands of alcids in the Bering Sea. During our five days on St. Paul Island we will seek out Parakeet, Crested and Least Auklets, Thick-billed Murre, quizzical Tufted Puffins, cliff-nesting Red-faced Shags and Red-legged Kittiwakes. We will enjoy beautiful Harlequin Ducks while searching for Rock Sandpiper and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finch, Snow Bunting and Lapland Longspur, all of which we should find displaying their dazzling mating plumages. Rarities we might encounter include Bean Goose, Smew and McKay’s Bunting plus other wildlife such as the sly Arctic Fox. We conclude with a final day birding near Anchorage, offering our best chance of seeing Hudsonian Godwit, Northern Saw-whet and Boreal Owl and Black-backed Woodpecker.
King & Steller’s Eider (uncommon), Red-faced & Pelagic Cormorants, Red-legged Kittiwake & Sabine’s Gull (uncommon), Tufted & Horned Puffin, Least, Crested & Parakeet Auklet, Ancient Murrelet, Short-eared & Snowy Owl, Grey-crowned Rosy Finch, Snow & MacKay’s Bunting (rare).
Asian rarities possible: Bean Goose, Common Pochard, Smew, Tufted Duck, Common & Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Great Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Siberian Rubythroat, Eye-browed Thrush & Brambling. Other rarities, e.g., Chinese Pond Heron, Little Stint, Far Eastern Curlew, Brown Shrike, Dusky Thrush, Olive-backed Pipit, Hawfinch have all been recorded, mostly in May & early June.
Arctic Fox, Grizzly Bear, Gray Wolf, Caribou, Moose, Dall Sheep, Sea Otter, Humpback Whale, Musk Ox, a chance for Polar Bear.
Barren tundra, pelagic waters, rocky shorelines.
Cold with high winds possible.
Generally easy with some moderate walks.
Pribilof Islands, Mt McKinley views, Aleut and Eskimo cultures.
Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage
We’ll meet in Anchorage at the Coast International Hotel at 18:30 for dinner downtown at Orso, one of the finest restaurants in Alaska. After dinner, we’ll do an hour or so of initial birding. We can usually find a pair of nesting Pacific Loons close-by and, if we’re lucky, nesting American Dipper.
Day 2: Flight to St Paul Island
Following a scrumptious breakfast at the Coast, we will proceed to the airport this morning for our flight to St. Paul, departing at about 11:30 with an expected arrival time at about 15:30. After checking into our very comfortable accommodations on St. Paul, we’ll do a bit of birding before dinner, probably getting our first good looks at Red-legged Kittiwake, and chasing any Asian vagrants that may have been discovered recently. Post-dinner, we will continue our exploration of the island, where we will be spending the next three days of our Alaska birding tour.
Days 3 & 4: Birding St Paul Island
After breakfast this morning, we will then bird until lunch, and then again until dinner in the early evening, followed by yet another stint until 22:00 or even later, depending on what we might find. This will be our schedule for our entire stay on the island. We will also spend at least one morning at the sea cliffs observing the vast array of nesting birds. Red-faced and Pelagic Cormorants, Northern Fulmar, Black-legged and Red-legged Kittiwakes, Tufted and Horned Puffins, Common and Thick-billed Murre, and Crested, Parakeet and Least Auklets all breed along these cliffs.
Even Ancient Murrelets are seen in small numbers, and pelagic rarities are annual in Spring, such as Little Auk (Dovekie). We usually find a couple of Steller’s Eiders and Emperor Geese as well, while Yellow-billed Loon is often seen from the shore. An obvious attraction to spending ample time in St. Paul is looking for vagrant species that have been seen here over the years, with possibilities including Wood Sandpiper, Tundra Bean Goose, Smew, Common Pochard, Common Greenshank, Lesser Sand Plover, Common Cuckoo, Brambling, Rustic Bunting and Eye-browed Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat, among many others.
Mammals are a surprisingly wonderful attraction here. This is world’s largest Northern Fur Seal colony, which gives the island its centuries-old history, known as the “soft gold rush” for fur and pelt in Alaska before it was part of the United States of America. The island has its own Caribou (Reindeer) herd, dozens of lovely Arctic Fox families, even an endemic Shrew, four only on St. Paul! Marine mammals spotted from shore, in the past, have included Orca, Stellar’s Sea Lion, and more.
Day 5: Morning birding on St Paul Island, late PM depart for Anchorage
After packing our bags in the morning, we will then spend the rest of the day birding until about 14:00, when we’ll then prepare to depart the island. Our plane typically leaves between 15:00 and 16:00, and we should arrive in Anchorage at around 18:30, where our tour will conclude.