June is the big destination for the GOS, where we spend two weeks in Alaska. We fly into Anchorage and spend one of our weeks on the Kenai Peninsula, taking one boat to a seabird colony and then the all-day Resurrection Bay Tour. We’ll see lots of alcids, tons of Bald Eagles up close, and many species of northern songbirds. We make northern songbirds a big priority on this leg, looking for things like the two crossbills, Pine Grosbeak, Alder and Olive-sided Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Varied Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Townsend’s Warbler, Lincoln’s, Kenai Song, and various Fox Sparrows, Common Redpolls, Rusty Blackbird and other rather tough birds.
Another week we drive to Denali National Park for a great bus ride into Mt. McKinley, fantastic scenery and some years birding across the Alaskan Highway. Then comes the big drive north, across the Arctic Circle, to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe. On the way, we look for Hawk Owls, Northern Shrike, both swans,Goshawk, Am Tree Sparrow, Smith’s Longspur, Gyrfalcon, Snow Bunting, Spectacled Eider, Northern Phalarope, Golden Eagles and much more. After two days, we fly to Barrow for a few extra species, like Pomarine Jaeger, Hoary Redpoll, Red Phalarope, Snowy Owl, Sabine’s Gull, Steller’s Eider and who knows what else!
We also fly to Nome for four days of Western Alaska birding, searching for species like Bluethroat, Pacific Golden-Plover, White and Yellow Wagtails, Gyrfalcon, Bar-tailed Godwit, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Slaty-backed Gull and whatever rarities may be around. We often start with this leg of the trip, and make the Arctic last, to maximize our chances for certain hard-to-find species.
Because of expensive hotels, the trip is $4,500, but it is an experience you’ll never forget. You will see the vast majority of the birds pictured, taken on former trips, and some species like alcids which I’ve taken no picture for.