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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Alaska: The Pribilofs in Fall

Saturday 9 September to Thursday 14 September 2023
with Raymond VanBuskirk as leader
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A Pribilofs Gray-streaked Flycatcher Photo: Gavin Bieber

Alaska’s Pribilof Islands lie some 300 miles off the North American mainland in the Bering Sea. We’ve scheduled an extended visit to the rocky island of St. Paul to look for Asiatic vagrants at a time when over the years many have occurred. Even without the exciting strays for which these remote islands are famous, the sea cliffs will still have hundreds of breeding alcids and good numbers of the near-endemic Red-legged Kittiwake, and the Northern Fur Seal colony will be overflowing with young seal pups.

This tour can be combined with our fall tour to Gambell.

Day 1: Our Pribilofs tour begins at 6:00 pm in Anchorage. Night in Anchorage.

Days 2-5: In the morning of Day 2 we’ll bird a bit around our Anchorage hotel where we’ll pick up a few species that are unlikely to reach the islands (such as Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees, Black-billed Magpies and Golden-crowned Kinglets). Later in the morning we’ll take the four-hour flight to Saint Paul Island in the Pribilofs. Nights on Saint Paul.

We’ll spend our days on the “Pribs” alternately scanning and walking around the islands many small lakes and wetlands, scouring the secluded and sheltered sides of hills and patches of taller vegetation for passerines, and, if conditions are advantageous looking out to see for passing seabirds.  The seabird cliffs will be less crowded than in the summer, but we’ll be treated to very close eye-level views of Horned and Tufted Puffins and Common and Thick-billed Murres, and we’ll certainly see Red-legged Kittiwake and Red-faced Cormorant, the former at its only accessible site in North America. The cacophonous Northern Fur Seal rookeries will be bustling with masses of pups, and spending time with these remarkable pinnipeds gives credence to Saint Paul’s title of the “Galapagos of the North.”

In mid-September the Pribilofs are still mostly green, and often a good diversity of shorebirds can be found on their southbound passage. We’ll sift through the throngs of Rock Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones for rarer shorebirds; Gray-tailed Tattler, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, and Common Snipe are all regular migrants in early September, and species such as Lesser Sand-Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, and Ruff are possible. Waterbird mega-rarities at this season have included Black-tailed Gull, Marsh Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, and North America’s first Solitary Snipe.

Asian landbird vagrants are unpredictable, but early to mid-September has produced Sky Lark, Willow, Dusky and Yellow-browed Warblers, Gray-streaked and Taiga Flycatchers, Red-flanked Bluetail, Olive-backed and Pechora Pipits, Siberian Accentor, and Brambling. Nights in St. Paul.

Day 6: After a final morning at St. Paul, we’ll return to Anchorage in the late afternoon, where the Pribilofs tour concludes in the evening.

Updated: 12 March 2019


  • 2023 Tour Price : $5,890
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $760


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Questions? Tour Manager: Matt Brooks. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

Maximum group size 10 with one leader, 14 with two leaders.

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