During our five days in south-central Alaska we follow the Denali Highway across a landscape recently emerged from the ice age yet rich in bird life. White-winged Crossbill, Boreal Chickadee, and Northern Hawk Owl can be found in the spruce forests. Tundra ponds have nesting Common and Red-throated Loon, Trumpeter Swan and ducks galore. Out on the low tundra we’ll look for Long-tailed Jaeger, Whimbrel and Smith’s Longspur. We’ll travel by bus deep into Denali National Park for excellent chances of observing Grizzly Bear, Dall’s Sheep, Caribou, and possibly Gray Wolf.
We are then onto the rich maritime ecosystem of the Kenai Fjords National Park. On a full-day boat trip we’ll look for Red-faced Cormorant, Kittlitz’s Murrelet and Thick-billed Murre among the thousands of Black-legged Kittiwakes and Tufted and Horned Puffins. Our boat will give us the chance to see Sea Otter, the toes of tidewater glaciers, and Humpback Whale and Orca.
Utqiaġvik, also known as Barrow, the furthest north municipality in the United States, is roughly 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 1200 miles from the North Pole. Between mid-May and early August, it basks in twenty-four hours of daylight and our trip will conclude with the arrival of the summer solstice.
This time of year the tundra is alive and teeming with shorebirds, ducks, and geese busily beginning their nesting cycle. Red Phalaropesseem to occupy every meltwater pond and Buff-breasted Sandpipers stand on hummocks flashing their white underwings in the midnight sun. Pectoral Sandpipers cruise their territory perimeters while booming an unearthly sound and Pomarine Jaegers streak across the tundra.
We may find Common and King Eider as well as the very rare Spectacled and Steller’s Eider. We might turn up four species of loon: Yellow-billed, Arctic, Pacific, and Red-throated. And with luck we’ll find Snowy Owls nesting near town. With constant daylight the pace of activity among the birds is frenetic and every day brings new possibilities. You’ll be entranced by the flow of energy through this dynamic ecosystem at the top of the world.
- Trip Leader: Erin Law, Joe Liebezeit, Greg Smith
- Fee: $4,995 members / $5,295 non-members
- Deposit: $2,200
- Group size: Limited to 14 participants
- What is included: Ground transportation, double-occupancy lodging, all meals except dinners, bus tour of Denali National Park, boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park, entrance fees for scheduled activities, gratuities for local guides and the services of your leaders.
- Not included: Airfare and dinners. This trip requires the purchase of two flights during the tour as well.
Joe is Portland Audubon's staff scientist and has worked for the organization for 13 years. He has over 20 years’ experience as a wildlife biologist and conservationist studying birds and other wildlife in diverse habitats throughout the U.S. and internationally. Prior to his position with Portland Audubon, Joe worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society for 12 years, leveraging on-the-ground science efforts to protect wildlife from oil development and climate change impacts in Arctic Alaska. After growing up in suburban New Jersey, Joe received his Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University.
Erin fell in love with birding while working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. After college, she studied Redthroated Loons, Common Loons and shorebird migration at Grays Harbor, Washington. Erin is passionate about the natural histories of birds, conservation, and advocating for environmental and social justice. She has traveled throughout Latin America and East Africa and loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and the natural world, and for all cultures around the world.
Gregory has been a field biologist studying seabirds for the past ten years. Their work has taken them from the Florida Everglades to offshore islands on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Gregory is passionate about connecting people with nature, in particular communities historically underrepresented in the natural sciences.