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ALASKA FALL GOLDMINE: Rarities on the Pribilofs & Ross's Gulls in Barrow
A fall adventure in two parts to the far north, Part I to St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs for migrants and vagrants, and Part II to Barrow for the legendary Ross's Gull, loons, eiders, and possibly even Polar Bear and Ivory Gull.

Click here for the slideshow above in larger format.

This exciting tour to Alaska in fall is divided into two parts for your convenience and choice. Take one or both -- either way it's sure to be a thrilling visit for rarities and vagrants.

Part One is a journey to St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs to search for the Asian migrants that stop off on this lonely Bering Sea outpost. Early October has recently proven to be one of the peak times for Asian migrants to appear here. Although the avian prizes vary annually, some of the exciting birds that have appeared regularly in early October in recent years have included Tufted Duck, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe, Gray-tailed Tattler, Gyrfalcon, Brambling, Eurasian Skylark, Eyebrowed Thrush, Siberian Accentor, Olive-backed Pipit, McKay's Bunting, and Little Bunting. We'll check multiple migrant hotspots each day and will walk through dense patches of island vegetation to look for skulking passerines and wetland birds. Results vary each year and are strongly weather dependent, but we stand an excellent chance of finding some Old World and Arctic goodies during our visit to this special island. The seabird show of the summer months is not at full force during early October, but we will look for Short-tailed Shearwaters, Red-faced Cormorants, Red-legged Kittiwakes, and a scattering of alcids from the island's rocky shores.

Part Two is all about some marquee species of Alaska's Arctic Ocean. Few birds in North America elicit more excitement than the elegant, pink Ross's Gull of the High Arctic. We designed this tour to take advantage of the most reliable way to find Ross's Gulls in North America -- their fall migration past Utqiagvik/Barrow! This migration phenomenon was first witnessed here in the late 1800s and documented in the 1970s and 1980s. Each fall, beginning in late September, the majority of the world's Ross's Gulls migrate past this remote outpost from the Chukchi Sea in Arctic Russia to the Beaufort Sea in Arctic Alaska.

These Ross's Gulls often pass by and linger to feed in the coastal habitats in small numbers on a daily basis at this season, and local weather conditions sometimes force thousands of these beautiful, pink-plumaged birds close to shore. Small numbers of these gulls would be memorable enough, but the chance to see large numbers (we saw 1200+ on one of our tours!) compels us to offer this short trip to Alaska's far north for those who want the chance to witness one of birding's most intriguing and little-known spectacles.

During this fall season, Utqiagvik/Barrow also offers the chance for other prizes, including Spectacled, King, and Common eiders, Yellow-billed Loon, Snowy Owl, and perhaps even an Ivory Gull (a stunning adult was a highlight for our 2019 tour) or a Polar Bear.

Bring your jacket, hat, and adventurous spirit, and join us for this special Alaskan adventure!

Enjoy a slideshow of images from guides and participants on our 2013 tour.

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2020 Departures
Sep 30 - Oct 8 (Part I)
Oct 7-11 (Part II)

2021 Departures
Sep 29 - Oct 7 (Part I)
Oct 6-10 (Part II)



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Guides for our tours
Tom Johnson
Doug Gochfeld
Ned Brinkley

What to Expect
Good accommodations, cold climate, easy to moderate terrain.

Our staff travel agents can assist you with tour information, flight reservations and tour bookings. Contact us at (800) 728-4953
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