Barrow is the northernmost settlement in the United States, located on the edge of the Polar Ice Cap more than 300 miles above the Arctic Circle. Vast seas of ice extend from Point Barrow another 1200 miles to the North Pole. From May to August, darkness never falls on Barrow as the golden glow of the midnght sun fills the sky.
The town is quite small, with a good hotel and several restaurants. High Arctic birds are the specialty in Barrow. Snowy Owls are common. Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders are starting their very short breeding seasons in June. Additionally, Yellow-billed Loons breed in the area. We’ll visit the numerous tundra ponds to look for breeding species. Polar Bears are fairly common during May and June, but not always easy to find.
Many shorebirds, resplendent in their breeding plumages, are possible in Barrow. Buff-breasted, Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers are all regular breeders. Asian species, e.g., Red-necked Stint, and Curlew Sandpiper (both rare breeders), have all been seen in Barrow during June. The experience of being at the end of civilization, in this desolate yet stunningly beautiful setting, will make the trip well worth it for all.
Photo: Spectacled Eider Barrow by Colin Bradshaw