Alaska 2021: Barrow. The High Arctic

Spectacled Eider, Barrow, Alaska Photo: Colin Bradshaw
June 16 - 18, 2021
Tour Length: 3 days Est. Spaces Left: 0

This farthest northern town in the US is situated along the Arctic Ocean. It’s the best place to find Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders as well as Polar Bears in the US.


Future Departures:
June 16, 2021
Tour Leaders:
Max # Birders:
12 (+2 HLBT leaders)
Birds; Mammals; Photography;
Easy ; 1 – 2 miles walking per day; most birding by vehicle
Double Accommodation:
$ 2650
[per person]
Single Supplement:
+ $ 300
$500 [per person]

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


  • Meeting Location

    Anchorage Airport at departure gate.


    Comfortable hotel.


    From Anchorage, 2 nights lodging, all meals from 1st night dinner through last day's dinner, one Pt. Barrow trip by tracked vehicle, transport, guides, taxes, tips.


    Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, tip to boat crew/captain (optional); other personal expenses.

  • Top Birds

    Spectacled; Steller’s; King; Common Eider; Greater White-fronted Goose; Pomarine & Parasitic Jaeger; Pacific, Red-throated, Yellow-billed Loon; Red & Red-necked Phalarope; Snowy Owl; American Golden Plover; Baird’s, Pectoral, Buff-breasted Sandpiper; Lapland Longspur; Snow Bunting. Possible Ross’s & Ivory Gull some year, also Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint.

    Top Mammals

    Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Caribou, Bearded & Spotted Seal

    Habitats Covered

    High Arctic tundra; Arctic ice pack

    Expected Climate
    Spectacled Eider, Barrow, Alaska Photo: Colin Bradshaw

    Spectacled Eider, Barrow, Alaska Photo: Colin Bradshaw

    Moderately cold, sometimes below freezing.

  • Other Attractions

    Arctic Ocean & ice pack; native village. Excellent photographic opportunities.

    During your free time in Anchorage, don’t miss going to Wave Bookstores on Northern Lights or downtown on 5th Avenue. They have a great selection of Alaska fiction and non-fiction! In addition, there are some excellent restaurants downtown, including Orso, Glacier Brew House, Simon & Seafort’s, and Marx Brothers.

    Suggested Clothing & Gear
    • Credit cards / cash
    • Binoculars
    • Scope and tripod (optional)
    • Sunglasses and sunscreen
    • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
    • Water bottle
    • Small umbrella
    • Small day pack / fanny pack
    • Small flashlight
    • Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)
    • Itch relief cream
    • Lip screen/balm
    • Anti-diarrhea medicine e.g., Imodium
    • Prescription drugs - carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
    • OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
    • Toiletries
    • Hair Dryer
    • Small alarm clock
    • Cleaning fluids/cloths/drying cloths
    • Small tool kit for optics or glasses
    • Field guides
    • Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
    • Hiking Boots/Shoes
    • Warm hat with visor
    • Rain hat
    • Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
    • Warm winter jacket
    • Balaclava or full facial ski mask
    • Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
    • Glove liners
    • Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
    • T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)
    • Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)
    • Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)
    • PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping
    • Wool socks (various weights) and liners.
    • GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmth
    • Sturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots
    • Moleskin for blisters
    • Foot powder for drying
    Recommended Reading
    • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition

      Jon Dunn, et al. (2011)
      National Geographic Society
    • Shorebirds of North America, Europe, & Asia: A Guide to Field Identification

      Don Taylor; illustrated by Stephen Message (2006)
      Princeton University Press
    • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

      Dennis Paulson (2005)
      Princeton University Press
    • The Sibley Guide to Birds

      David A. Sibley (2000)
    • Seabirds of the World

      Peter Harrison (1997)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan

      Wild Bird Society of Japan
    • A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia

      Bharat Bhushan, et al. (1993)
      Wild Bird Society of Japan
    • Birds of Russia & Adjacent Territories

      V. E. Flint, et al. (1984)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Birds of China

      John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps (2000)
      Oxford University Press
    • Birds of Europe

      Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999)
      Princeton University Press
    • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East

      Lars Jonsson (1992)
      Princeton University Press
    • The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe & the Western Palearctic

      Mark Beaman and Steve Madge (1998)
      Princeton University Press
    • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe

      Ian Lewington, et al. (1991)
      Domino Books, Ltd.
    • New Generation to the Guide Birds of Britain & Europe

      Christopher Perrins (1987)
      University of Texas Press



  • Red Phalarope Barrow, Alaska Colin Bradshaw
  • Stellar's Eider Barrow, Alaska Colin Bradshaw
  • Polar Bear Barrow, Alaska by Colin Bradshaw
  • Snowy Owl Barrow, Alaska by Colin Bradshaw
  • Spectacled Eider Barrow, Alaska by Colin Bradshaw
  • Common Eider Barrow, Alaska Colin Bradshaw
  • Pomarine Jaeger Barrow by Carl Sheely
  • Yellow-billed Loon Barrow by Carl Sheely
  • King Eider Barrow by Carl Sheely

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