Trip report: Alaska Birding with a Camera tour (June 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Sam Woods. This was a custom tour.

Alaska is about four principal things: Rare, local North American breeding birds, abundant birds that are frequently photographable (e.g. displaying Pectoral Sandpipers in Barrow), a nice selection of interesting mammals, and never-ending, achingly-beautiful landscapes. All of this was experienced on this tour, where the rare breeders included Steller’s and Spectacled Eiders in Barrow, Gyrfalcon, Aleutian Tern, Bar-tailed Godwit, Pacific Golden-Plover, Bluethroat, Northern Wheatear, Arctic Warbler, and Eastern Yellow and White Wagtails all in Nome. The rare Lesser Sand-Plover in Nome was completely unexpected. We got to photograph many of these and others, like extremely confiding Willow and Rock Ptarmigans, hundreds of Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, breeding Red Knot, American Golden-Plover, Surfbird, Long-tailed Jaeger, Snowy Owl, American Dipper, Boreal and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Varied Thrush, and Golden-crowned Sparrow. Some of the easiest photography came on the extension to St. Paul in the Pribilofs, where Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet and Crested Auklets, Red-legged Kittiwakes, Rock Sandpipers, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches all starred and were readily photographed. A photogenic American Three-toed Woodpecker right on the tour end north of Seward was also very memorable. A regular procession of mammals throughout included Arctic Fox, Muskox, Moose, Polar Bear, Dall’s Sheep and Sea Otter. All of this was experienced within the stunning landscapes that characterize this huge state, from the icescapes of Barrow to the mountains of Nome, and the Chugach and Kenai Mountains south of Anchorage, there was plenty for our smartphones as well as our other cameras. Another aspect of the tour that may be less well-advertised, is the wonderful blooms of arctic flowers in this season like lilac-colored Nootka Lupines that carpeted St. Paul, and Chocolate Lilies that were prominent at Turnagain Pass near Anchorage. Alaska demands birder’s attentions, and encourages people to return time and again, and that is exactly how we left the state, yearning to return again one day soon!

FULL Alaska Birding with a Camera Trip Report June 2018 (low res version, smaller file size, lower quality images file size 6.1MB in pdf format).

FULL Alaska Birding with a Camera Trip Report June 2018 (high res version, larger file size, higher quality images file size 15.7MB in pdf format).