Alaska 2023: Adak: Aleutian Specialties & Asian Vagrants

May 16 – 20, 2023

Tour Length: 5 days
Est. Spaces Left: Spaces available!

Birding in the far Aleutian Islands amidst stunning volcanoes where we might find Asian vagrants along with Whiskered Auklets, Kittlitz’s Murrelets, and Laysan Albatross. Adak is also an excellent place to find several other Alaska specialties, including Arctic and Yellow-billed Loons, Gyrfalcon, Rock Ptarmigan, Aleutian Tern, and more. Adak Island remains one of the less-visited birding hotspots in Alaska and any venture to this remote outpost will certainly produce interesting sightings.

Tour Leaders

Stephan Lorenz
Claudia Cavazos

Focus

Birds, Pelagic, Marine Mammals, Landscapes

Price

Double Accommodation: $4,500/person
Single Supplement: + $350
Deposit: $1,250

Max Group Size

12 (2 leaders)

Pace

Easy to Moderate; Some hiking through marshes every day

Future Departures

May 2024

Tour Description

Adak Island is a remote outpost in the central Aleutian Islands, but readily accessible from Anchorage which lies nearly 1,200 miles northeast of Adak. This relatively large Aleutian island, roughly 274 square miles in size, has been accessible to birders since the early 2000s after the closure of a sizeable naval base. Taking advantage of the extensive remaining infrastructure, which includes miles of good roads and comfortable accommodations, we can now explore this rugged and wild island easily. The island sits amidst the productive confluence of the Bering Sea to the north and Pacific to the south and this rich pelagic environment supports millions of seabirds most notably the range-restricted Whiskered Auklet which we will seek via a short pelagic boat trip. Other marine birds easily seen on Adak include Ancient, Marbled, and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Laysan Albatross, Short-tailed Shearwater, and a smattering of other alcids. During the spring, Adak Island is also a fantastic place to find migrating Arctic and Yellow-billed Loons, Gyrfalcon, Aleutian Tern, and Common Eiders. The island also hosts an endemic subspecies of Rock Ptarmigan, Rock Sandpiper, Black Oystercatcher, Pacific Wren, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur. Due to its far-flung westerly location (roughly 445 miles east of Attu Island), Adak Island receives a healthy dose of Eurasian migrants and vagrants with early spring being an ideal time to find scarce shorebirds and waterfowl. In recent years, we have seen a variety of rare visitors to the ABA area during our tours, including Whooper Swan, Taiga and Tundra Bean-Geese, Smew, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Long-billed Murrelet, Lesser Sand-Plover, Ruff, Terek Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Common Snipe (likely breeds), Eyebrowed Thrush, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Hawfinch, Rustic Bunting, Brambling and many other Asiatic vagrants are possible. Of course, the number and variety of rare and vagrant species are highly weather dependent, and even a handful of these species would be an exceptional trip, but the potential and unpredictability make for adventurous and exciting daily outings.

Locations

Gallery

More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Taiga and Tundra Bean-Geese (very rare); Smew (nearly annual); Laysan Albatross; Northern Fulmar; Short-tailed Shearwater; Whiskered Auklet; Kittlitz’s, Ancient and Marbled Murrelets; Pigeon Guillemot; Rock Sandpiper; Gyrfalcon; Arctic, Pacific, and Yellow-billed Loons; Red-faced and Pelagic Cormorants; Black Oystercatcher; Aleutian Tern; Parasitic Jaeger; Rock Ptarmigan; Gray-crowned Rosy-finch; Hawfinch (nearly annual); Brambling; many other possible Eursian vagrants

Top Mammals

Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, Steller’s Sea Lions

Habitats

maritime tundra, lakes, wetlands, coastline, pelagic

Other Attractions

Excellent photographic opportunities, remote volcanic landscapes of the Aleutian Islands, Cold War history

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Coast Inn at Lake Hood, Anchorage, Alaska

Accommodations

Nice, comfortable townhouses.

Included

From Anchorage, 4 nights lodging, all meals from first night dinner through final day’s lunch, transport, guides, taxes.

Excluded

alcohol, personal calls, laundry, pelagic boat trip, if available; other personal expenses.

Expected Climate

Cool, sometimes wet, temps 35 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Suggested Clothing and 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; 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; 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

  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan (1982), Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia Bharat Bhushan, et al. (1993), Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of China John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps (2000), Oxford University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe Ian Lewington, et al. (1991), Domino Books, Ltd.
  • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East Lars Jonsson (1992), Princeton University Press
  • Birds of Russia & Adjacent Territories V. E. Flint, et al. (1984), Princeton University Press
  • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition Jon Dunn, et al. (2011), National Geographic Society
  • Seabirds of the World Peter Harrison (1997), Princeton University Press
  • 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
  • New Generation to the Guide Birds of Britain & Europe Christopher Perrins (1987), University of Texas Press
  • Birds of Europe Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999), Princeton University Press
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds David A. Sibley (2000), Knopf
  • The Shorebird Guide (North America) Miichael O’Brien, et. al. 2006, Houghton & Mifflin Books
  • The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe & the Western Palearctic Mark Beaman and Steve Madge (1998), Princeton University Press