25 May - 16 June 2023

by Craig Robson

Our 2023 tour to the land of the midnight sun, including Dutch Harbor, St. Paul Island, Nome, Kenai, the Denali Highway and Barrow was thankfully completed without a single hitch or cancellation. A late spring affected a number of our target species but did not stop us from seeing a fantastic selection of birds and other wildlife. Some of the highlights among our total of 192 bird species included: all three species of Ptarmigan, the much-wanted Spectacled, Steller’s and King Eiders, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Rock Sandpiper, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Red-legged Kittiwake, Sabine’s Gull, Aleutian Tern, Marbled, Kittlitz’s and Ancient Murrelets, Parakeet, Least, Whiskered, Crested, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Laysan Albatross, Red-faced Cormorant, Snowy Owl, American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Gyrfalcon, Chestnut-backed and Boreal Chickadees, Pacific Wren, Varied Thrush, Pine Grosbeak, ‘Grey-faced’ Rosy Finch, Two-barred Crossbill, Smith’s Longspur, and Sooty Fox Sparrow. There were many North American rarities this year, with Stejneger’s Scoter, ‘Siberian’ Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Vega Gull, Eyebrowed Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat, Taiga Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Brambling, Hawfinch, Common Rosefinch, and Rustic Bunting, as well as east Asian outpost-breeders in the form of Black-throated Loon, Red-necked Stint, Bluethroat, and Eastern Yellow (or Alaskan) and White (or East Siberian) Wagtails. We also found 22 species of mammal, the cream of the crop being Polar Bear and Beluga, followed by Northern Fur Seal, Humpback and Killer Whales, numerous Moose, and the hulking great Musk Ox. It was a very late spring in 2023, and temperatures were much lower than 2022 at most of the places that we visited. We had a good deal of cold and wet weather, which made finding some of the target birds more of a challenge. Extensive sea-ice was present for the first time at Nome, during this tour.

For the second year running, the pretour extension to Dutch Harbor commenced at the check-in counter for the outbound flight. After last year’s cancellations, it was an enormous relief to arrive at Unalaska Airport as scheduled! After checking-in to our comfortable hotel, we drove around in search of what interesting local birds and wildlife we could find, starting at Sitka National Historic Park (Alaska’s smallest), a tiny plantation and local migrant-trap. Unalaska Lake, Summer Bay Road, and Humpy Cove were all explored, with our avian highlights including the local forms of Rock Sandpiper, Pacific Wren, Grey-faced Rosy Finch (a potential split from Grey-crowned), and Sooty Fox and Song Sparrows, as well as Eurasian Teal, lots of Black Oystercatchers, Buff-bellied Pipit, Pine Siskin, and Golden-crowned Sparrow. Our second day saw us at sea in the capable hands of Captain Jimmer. With a weather window in our favor, we headed straight to the Baby Islands, where we were lucky enough to see several vocalizing ‘swarms’ of Whiskered Auklets, totally around 1500 individuals. A small number of scarce Cassin’s Auklets and Kittlitz’s Murrelets (en route) were also appreciated, as were something like 2000 Ancient Murrelets. Heading towards the Chelan Banks, the weather and sea condition deteriorated, and we had to head directly back to Dutch Harbor. Luckily, a single Laysan Albatross passed close by as we returned. Our last (spare) day at Dutch was spent exploring various locations for anything we could find that was new. The weather was very poor, and we thanked our lucky stars that we had managed to do a pelagic trip at all!

It was a relief when our return flight to Anchorage left and landed on time. At our hotel, we met up with the rest of the group members to discuss our visit to St. Paul Island the following day. Another timely departure saw us landing on this isolated Pribilof island on time, after refueling at the remote outpost of Bethel. We had the best part of three days to explore the island, in the capable hands of guides Sulli Gibson, Luis Gles and Mariah Hryniewich. Seabirds at their nesting cliffs are one of the main draws for birders, and we enjoyed great views of the likes of Red-legged Kittiwake, Parakeet, Least, and Crested Auklets, Horned and Tufted Puffins, and Red-faced Cormorant, amongst the more numerous ‘Pacific’ Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common and Brünnich’s Guillemots. Landbird highlights included the numerous Rock Sandpipers and ‘Grey-faced’ (or Grey-crowned) Rosy Finches, Short-eared Owl, and the local form of Pacific Wren. Spring migration was in full swing and our visit coincided with an interesting variety of east Asian vagrants, such as Red-necked Stint, ‘Siberian’ Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Eyebrowed Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat, Taiga Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Brambling, Hawfinch, Common Rosefinch, and Rustic Bunting. Mammal-wise, Northern Fur Seals and Arctic Foxes were very entertaining, and we even met with the islands introduced herd of Caribou.
Messaged news of our return flight to Anchorage being cancelled turned out to be a bizarre technical error, and once again our flight departed in a timely manner and returned us on time. The next day saw us exploring a number of locations in the Anchorage area, including Lake Hood & Lake Spenard, Westchester Lagoon, Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and Kincaid Park. The weather was very poor and unseasonably cold, so highlights were rather few: breeding Trumpeter Swans and Red-necked Grebes, a range of waterfowl including Barrow’s Goldeneye and White-winged Scoter, tame Sandhill Cranes and Short-billed Dowitchers, Common Loon (Great Northern Diver), Belted Kingfisher, Violet-green Swallow, Swainson’s Thrush, Sooty Fox and Lincoln’s Sparrows, and Orange-crowned, American Yellow and Wilson’s Warblers.

We flew to Nome the next morning with thoughts of better things to come. As we landed we were surprised to see large amounts of inshore sea-ice, normally unheard of this late in the season. We had more than three full days to explore the three major routes that lead out of town into quite different wilderness areas. The Council Road was the one that received most of our attention, as it passes alongside Safety Sound, one of Alaska’s most famous birding hotspots. Despite the unseasonal weather and late snow, good numbers of waterfowl were present, including many Pacific and Red-throated Loons, Tundra Swans, ‘Black’ Brant Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and a mix of gulls, including plenty of Vega and a couple of Sabine’s. Shorebird numbers were poor but we managed a couple Black Turnstones and Red Knot. An unexpected male Spectacled Eider was scoped with some of the resident Common Eiders. At Cape Nome we spent some time scanning for scoters and we were pleased to spot a couple of rare east Asian Stejneger’s Scoters, tagging along with the more expected White-winged’s. At the Nome River mouth we scoped Aleutian Terns setting up a breeding colony, and there were regular sightings of superb Long-tailed Jaegers. Passerines were limited in the exposed habitat, but the willow scrub and small trees harbored Grey-cheeked Thrush, Arctic and Common Redpolls, Northern Waterthrush, American Yellow and Wilson’s Warblers, and Red Fox Sparrow. These are some very hardy little birds!

The remote Kougarok Road required a lengthy drive to reach the habitat of this regions’ most famous breeding bird, the threatened Bristle-thighed Curlew. An early start was essential as, this is a busy time of year for tour groups, but fortunately, we were the only ones present at dawn. We had to slowly work our way up onto a hill-top via some difficult hummocky ground on what is essentially moorland, and not dissimilar to parts of the English or Scottish uplands. However, we hardly had to wait before we encountered our first curlew giving its distinctive territorial call and doing a bit of a display-flight. Over the next half hour or so we succeeded in getting satisfying views of this much sought-after species. Slowly working back down the graded road towards town, after our exploits at the curlew site, we had more time to appreciate the numerous Willow Ptarmigan and Snowshoe Hares that we had passed on the way out, and we added several unexpected Rock Ptarmigans (lower than normal at this time), Cackling Goose, Tundra Swan, singing Bluethroats, an unexpected Varied Thrush, breeding colonies of American Cliff Swallows, Rusty Blackbird, our first Blackpoll Warbler, and super views of Golden-crowned and American Tree Sparrows. Golden Eagle and Gyrfalcon were scoped rather distantly at their nests and Rough-legged Buzzard put-in an appearance. Plenty of Moose were also to be seen, including a mother with a small calf.

The hills and rolling country surrounding the town brought us some close-up views of the wonderful Musk Ox. It is native to Alaska, but was extirpated by the 1920s. In 1930, 34 were captured in east Greenland and released in Alaska, and all of the animals in the state today are descended from them. The Teller Road is the third of the roads leading from town, but this year we only visited the first few kilometers, where we found American Dipper at its nest, and displaying ‘Alaskan” (Eastern) Yellow Wagtail. Nome town and harbor held some additional interest, with Harlequin Ducks, Black-throated Loon, twirling Red-necked and Red Phalaropes, Sabine’s Gull, breeding ‘East Siberian’ (White) Wagtails, and an unexpected American Beaver.

Returning to Anchorage once more, we picked up new rental vehicles and headed-off south towards Seward the following morning. We left bright and early, for some pre-breakfast birding at Hillside Park, on the outskirts of town. Another very quiet birding session was only highlighted by a pair of Boreal Chickadees and a small number of excellent Two-barred (or White-winged) Crossbills. After a traditional breakfast, we headed straight to our hotel in Seward, through rather windy and wild weather. A brief stop at a gusty Beluga Point brought us some good scope views of a small number of Thinhorn (or Dall) Sheep, including some excellent rams. A couple of Wandering Tattlers on the rocks were a bonus. After lunch we visited some feeders and then some coastal forest south of town. A nice selection of birds included Marbled Murrelets and Pigeon Guillemots just offshore, amazing little Rufous Hummingbirds, tame ‘Coastal’ Steller’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Hermit Thrush, Pine Siskin, and a superb male Townsend’s Warbler.

The main reason for our visit to Seward was to explore the Kenai Fjords, and we boarded our vessel the following morning after breakfast for a full day cruise to the awesome Northwestern Glacier. The weather was somewhat challenging once more, but it did not stop most of us from enjoying the stunning scenery and some wonderful seabirds and cetaceans. Four Kittlitz’s Murrelets showed well in the calm waters not far from the glacier, after a couple of Parakeet Auklets were seen on the outward journey, as well as two Rhinoceros Auklets by Granite Island. We had really fantastic views of Killer Whales, which even came under the boat, as well as Humpback Whales and dashing Dall’s Porpoises. Thousands of miniature icebergs in the still waters leading up to the awe-inspiring blue-hewed glaciers were dotted with numerous Common (or Harbour) Seals. At the Chiswell Islands there were rows of Common and Thick-billed Murres (Common and Brünnich’s Guillemots) on the ledges, as well as Tufted and Horned Puffins, and all three species of cormorant. Other good birds were a flock of 45 or so Surf Scoters, and a Black Oystercatcher.

Next day, we returned to Anchorage via the Kenai Peninsula where, around Hidden Lake Campground in Kenai NWR, we enjoyed tame Canada Jays, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Varied Thrush, and several excellent ‘American’ Pine Grosbeaks.

The next day involved a very early start and a long drive, with some important stops, on our way up to the Denali region, and then along the Denali Highway to our accommodation at Maclaren River Lodge. Our first port of call was Sockeye Burn, an area of boreal forest which was ravaged by fire a few years ago. Fire is not all-bad in this habitat, and the aftermath has provided good habitat for woodpeckers. A relatively short stomp-around soon turned up territorial males of both Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers. Alder Flycatchers were also much in evidence. Next, we headed up the Hatcher Pass road, to a spot where we had found White-tailed Ptarmigan on our previous two tours. The road was snow-free and, after parking in our usual spot, we walked the relatively short distance up to a rocky area where a male ptarmigan showed atop a rock and was studied through the scope. There were few other highlights along the way to the lodge, and we experienced more wet and windy conditions. After a hearty breakfast the following morning, we hiked out across ‘blanket bog’, with a back-drop of snow-covered mountains and thawing lakes – habitat for the much-wanted Smith’s Longspur. A singing male was fortunately soon located and we all enjoyed great views of this stunner. Our only other ‘official’ birding stop was at Tolsona Lake, where we enjoyed some great views of Horned (or Slavonian) Grebe, and Surf and White-winged Scoters on their breeding grounds. We arrived back in Anchorage in time for dinner.

The following day, we had a few hours to bird around Anchorage again, before our flight north to Barrow. Birds were few, but there was a major mammal highlight in the form of ten or so Belugas that swam close inshore as we scanned from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and later, at Earthquake Park. Totally unexpected here, and a delight to see. The final leg of our epic journey began with our late afternoon arrival in Barrow. on the Arctic coast. We picked up our vehicles, and began our exploration of the tundra and coast. It proved to be the right decision, as our only two Steller’s Eiders of the trip, a pair, were seen on a roadside lagoon. Further on, we enjoyed much closer views of Spectacled and King Eiders than we had managed earlier during the trip. We had a couple of days to explore this amazing place, and even with 24-hour daylight it was hardly long enough! The vast pack-ice still hugged the coastline but inland wetlands were beginning to thaw. We divided our time between driving the various roads as far as snow and water permitted, and making regular trips towards the point to scan for Polar Bear. There were recent sightings of bears, so very early the next morning we went down to an area where some ‘food’ had been put out by the locals a few days earlier. Finally, after a lot of scanning, a single Polar Bear was spotted quite distantly, but there were some good scope views before it disappeared behind huge chunks of ice. The many thawing pools and lakes held lots of Pacific Loons, Greater White-fronted Geese, numerous lovely Long-tailed Ducks and Red and Red-necked Phalarope. Numerous displaying Pectoral Sandpipers boomed their way across the tundra in every direction and there were plenty Pomarine Jaegers searching for lemmings. It was a good year for Snowy Owl, with some amazing close-up views of both sexes. The commonest passerines at Barrow were Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting, the latter nicknamed ‘Barrow Sparrow’. Rarities this time included Least Flycatcher, Townsend’s Solitaire, and Varied Thrush. Other good birds at Barrow were displaying Baird’s Sandpipers, and Black Guillemot near its nest.

Back in Anchorage for the last time, we enjoyed a late farewell dinner, and drank a toast to a successful tour of this wonderful state.








Brant Goose [Black Brant]  Branta [bernicla] nigricans

Canada Goose [Lesser C G]  Branta [canadensis] parvipes

Cackling Goose [Taverner’s C G]  Branta [hutchinsii] taverneri

Snow Goose  Anser caerulescens   Three on St. Paul and 50 or so at Barrow.

Greater White-fronted Goose  Anser albifrons

Trumpeter Swan  Cygnus buccinator   Only six or so noted this year, with some on nests.

Tundra Swan   Cygnus [columbianus] columbianus

Northern Shoveler  Spatula clypeata

Gadwall  Mareca strepera

Eurasian Wigeon  Mareca penelope   A few on St Paul and a male seen by Rod and Bruno at Maclaren River Lodge.

American Wigeon  Mareca americana

Mallard  Anas platyrhynchos

Northern Pintail  Anas acuta

Eurasian Teal  Anas crecca   Two at Dutch Harbor, and small numbers on St. Paul.

Green-winged Teal  Anas carolinensis

Canvasback  Aythya valisineria   A male in Anchorage.

Redhead  Aythya americana   Several seen in Anchorage this year.

Ring-necked Duck  Aythya collaris   One in Anchorage and five at Tolsona Lake.

Greater Scaup  Aythya marila   

Lesser Scaup  Aythya affinis

Spectacled Eider  Somateria fischeri   Males on St. Paul and at Nome, and then best seen at Barrow (17 logged).

Steller’s Eider  Polysticta stelleri   Just a pair at Barrow this year.

King Eider  Somateria spectabilis   The king indeed! Good numbers seen well on St. Paul, Nome and Barrow.

Common Eider  Somateria mollissima   Nome and Barrow (v-nigra).

Harlequin Duck  Histrionicus histrionicus   Always a pleasure.

Surf Scoter  Melanitta perspicillata

White-winged Scoter  Melanitta deglandi

Stejneger’s Scoter  Melanitta stejnegeri   2-3 off Cape Nome. Sightings have increased in recent years here.

Black Scoter  Melanitta americana

Long-tailed Duck  Clangula hyemalis

Bufflehead  Bucephala albeola   A few at St. Paul, and Tolsona Lake.

Common Goldeneye  Bucephala clangula

Barrow’s Goldeneye  Bucephala islandica   Easily seen in Anchorage and Tolsona Lake etc.

Common Merganser  Mergus merganser

Red-breasted Merganser  Mergus serrator

White-tailed Ptarmigan  Lagopus leucura   A single male at Hatcher Pass.

Willow Ptarmigan  (W Grouse)  Lagopus [lagopus] lagopus   At least 30 in the Nome region (alascensis).

Rock Ptarmigan  Lagopus muta   Four seen well along the Kougarok Road, Nome.

Rufous Hummingbird  Selasphorus rufus   Two or three near Seward, with smart males.

Rock Dove (introduced) (Feral Pigeon)  Columba livia

Sandhill Crane  Antigone canadensis   Most were seen near Nome, where we counted over 50.

Red-necked Grebe  Podiceps grisegena   Several occupied nests in Anchorage, where it is common.

Horned Grebe (Slavonian G)  Podiceps auritus   Just two at Tolsona Lake.

Black Oystercatcher (American B O)  Haematopus bachmani   Many at Dutch Harbor; 1 Kenai Fjords cruise.

Pacific Golden Plover  Pluvialis fulva

American Golden Plover  Pluvialis dominica

Semipalmated Plover  Charadrius semipalmatus

Bristle-thighed Curlew  Numenius tahitiensis   Two seen very well at the usual location near Nome.

Eurasian Whimbrel [Siberian W]  Numenius [phaopus] variegatus  One seen well on St. Paul.

Hudsonian Whimbrel  Numenius hudsonicus   Small numbers breeding near Nome.

Ruddy Turnstone  Arenaria interpres

Black Turnstone  Arenaria melanocephala   Two at Safety Sound.

Red Knot  Calidris canutus   Six in breeding plumage at Safety Sound.

Red-necked Stint  Calidris ruficollis   Amazing close views of one in full breeding plumage on St. Paul.

Dunlin  Calidris alpina   Plenty of the ‘Pacific’ arcticola form at Nome, and again at Barrow where they breed.

Rock Sandpiper  Calidris ptilocnemis   Dutch Harbor (couesi), and St. Paul (nominate).

Baird’s Sandpiper  C. bairdii   A courting pair at Barrow.

Least Sandpiper  Calidris minutilla

Pectoral Sandpiper  Calidris melanotos   An abundant breeder at Barrow. Amazing display-flight.

Semipalmated Sandpiper  Calidris pusilla   One of the commonest breeders at Nome and Barrow.

Western Sandpiper  Calidris mauri

Long-billed Dowitcher  Limnodromus scolopaceus   Just a few at Barrow.

Short-billed Dowitcher  Limnodromus griseus   Great views of a pair at Westchester Lagoon.

Wilson’s Snipe  Gallinago delicata

Red-necked Phalarope   Phalaropus lobatus

Red Phalarope (Grey P)  Phalaropus fulicarius

Common Sandpiper  Actitis hypoleucos   One on St. Paul.

Spotted Sandpiper  Actitis macularius

Wandering Tattler  Tringa incana   Scattered sightings and some good views.

Grey-tailed Tattler  Tringa brevipes   A total of four on St. Paul.

Lesser Yellowlegs  Tringa flavipes

Greater Yellowlegs  Tringa melanoleuca

Black-legged Kittiwake [Pacific K]  Rissa [tridactyla] pollicaris

Red-legged Kittiwake  Rissa brevirostris   One of the highlights of our visit to St. Paul.

Sabine’s Gull  Xema sabini   Four noted at Nome.

Bonaparte’s Gull  Chroicocephalus philadelphia   Many in Anchorage this year with max. 37 noted.

Short-billed Gull (Mew G)  Larus brachyrhynchus

Glaucous-winged Gull  Larus glaucescens

Glaucous Gull  Larus hyperboreus   Very common around Nome and Barrow.

American Herring Gull  Larus smithsonianus

Vega Gull  Larus vegae   Easily seen on St. Paul and Nome this year; 11 logged.

Aleutian Tern  Onychoprion aleuticus   We enjoyed scope views of birds that were preparing to breed near Nome.

Arctic Tern  Sterna paradisaea

Pomarine Jaeger (P Skua)  Stercorarius pomarinus  

Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua)  Stercorarius parasiticus

Long-tailed Jaeger (L-t Skua)  Stercorarius longicaudus

Thick-billed Murre (Brünnich’s Guillemot)  Uria lomvia

Common Murre (C Guillemot)  Uria aalge

Black Guillemot  Cepphus grylle   One at Barrow, where it was nesting by a culvert.

Pigeon Guillemot  Cepphus columba   Many at Dutch Harbor; smaller numbers in Seward area.

Marbled Murrelet  Brachyramphus marmoratus   120+ at Dutch Harbor; smaller numbers in Seward area.

Kittlitz’s Murrelet  Brachyramphus brevirostris   11 Dutch Harbor & 4 on Kenai Fjords cruise; one of the specialities.

Ancient Murrelet  Synthliboramphus antiquus   2000 estimated at Dutch; pair St. Paul; three Kenai Fjords.

Cassin’s Auklet  Ptychoramphus aleuticus   15 logged at Dutch Harbor, and seen at close range.

Parakeet Auklet  Aethia psittacula   One Dutch Harbour; numerous breeders St. Paul; two Kenai Fjords cruise.

Least Auklet  Aethia pusilla   Nice to touch-base again with this common St. Paul breeder.

Whiskered Auklet   Aethia pygmaea   Probably 1500 of these superb little auklets around the Baby Is., Dutch Harbor.

Crested Auklet  Aethia cristatella   Around 200 at Dutch, and then 20 or so St. Paul, with one on a cliff already.

Rhinoceros Auklet  Cerorhinca monocerata   Just two in the Kenai Fjords, but seen well enough.

Horned Puffin  Fratercula corniculata   Great views of this and next species at Dutch Harbor and Kenai Fjords.

Tufted Puffin  Fratercula cirrhata   4000+ estimated during our first Dutch Harbor cruise.

Red-throated Loon (R-t Diver)  Gavia stellata

Black-throated Loon  (Arctic L, B-t Diver)  Gavia arctica   One was scoped off Nome Harbour.

Pacific Loon (P Diver)  Gavia pacifica   Quite common and widespread.

Common Loon (Great Northern Diver)  Gavia immer

Laysan Albatross  Phoebastria immutabilis   Just one during our Dutch Harbor cruise.

Northern Fulmar  Fulmarus glacialis

Red-faced Cormorant  Phalacrocorax urile   Widespread sightings this year.

Pelagic Cormorant  Phalacrocorax pelagicus

Double-crested Cormorant  Phalacrocorax auritus

Osprey  Pandion haliaetus   One at Hidden Lake Campground.

Golden Eagle  Aquila chrysaetos   One on a nest near Nome.

Northern Harrier  Circus hudsonius

Bald Eagle  Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Red-tailed Hawk  [Harlan’s H]  Buteo [jamaicensis] harlani   One flew over en route from Kenai to Anchorage.

Rough-legged Buzzard  (R-l Hawk)  Buteo lagopus   Two near Nome and one at Hatcher Pass.

Short-eared Owl  Asio flammeus   One was seen a couple of times on St. Paul.

Snowy Owl  Bubo scandiacus   A good year at Barrow with some great close views. 11+ seen.

Belted Kingfisher  Megaceryle alcyon

American Three-toed Woodpecker  Picoides dorsalis   A very territorial male at Sockeye Burn.

Black-backed Woodpecker  Picoides arcticus   Ditto.

Downy Woodpecker  Dryobates pubescens

Hairy Woodpecker [Eastern H W]  Leuconotopicus [villosus] villosus

Merlin  Falco columbarius   One being mobbed along the Denali Highway.

Gyrfalcon  Falco rusticolus   Near Nome: one at a nest along the Kougarok Road, but distant.

Peregrine Falcon  Falco peregrinus   One at Barrow.

Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi   Heard-only. Sockeye Burn.

Alder Flycatcher  Empidonax alnorum   Several seen well.

Least Flycatcher  Empidonax minimus   A flycatcher at Barrow was believed to best fit this species.

Canada Jay  (Northern Grey J)  Perisoreus canadensis   Occasional in the boreal forests.

Steller’s Jay  [Coastal S J]  Cyanocitta [stelleri] stelleri   One seen very well near Seward, another in Anchorage.

Black-billed Magpie  Pica hudsonia

American Crow [Northwestern C]  Corvus [brachyrhynchos] caurinus   Small numbers from Girdwood to Seward.

Northern Raven (Common R)  Corvus corax

Chestnut-backed Chickadee  Poecile rufescens   A confiding bird near Seward.

Boreal Chickadee  Poecile hudsonicus   A pair seen well in Anchorage.

Black-capped Chickadee  Poecile atricapillus

Sand Martin (Bank Swallow)  Riparia riparia

Tree Swallow  Tachycineta bicolor

Violet-green Swallow  Tachycineta thalassina

American Cliff Swallow (Cliff S)  Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  Corthylio calendula

Golden-crowned Kinglet  Regulus satrapa   One seen and another heard at Hidden Lake Campground.

Pacific Wren  Troglodytes pacificus   Dutch Harbor (petrophilus), and St. Paul (alascensis).

Red-breasted Nuthatch  Sitta canadensis

Common Starling (introduced) (European S)  Sturnus vulgaris

Townsend’s Solitaire  Myadestes townsendi   A surprise sighting at Barrow, as we checked-out from the hotel.

Varied Thrush  Ixoreus naevius   We enjoyed excellent views of this real stunner on several occasions.

Swainson’s Thrush  Catharus ustulatus

Hermit Thrush  Catharus guttatus   Somewhat scarcer than the last species. Subspecies nanus.

Grey-cheeked Thrush  Catharus minimus   Common around Nome and along the Denali Highway.

Eyebrowed Thrush  Turdus obscurus   One seen quite well on St. Paul.

American Robin  Turdus migratorius

Bluethroat [Red-spotted B]  Luscinia [svecica] svecica   Several singing males in the Nome area.

Siberian Rubythroat  Calliope calliope   A rather flighty male on St. Paul.

Taiga Flycatcher  Ficedula albicilla   A rather elusive male on St. Paul.

American Dipper  Cinclus mexicanus   Just one seen well near Nome.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail [Alaskan W]  Motacilla [tschutschensis] tschutschensis   Several around Nome.

Grey Wagtail  Motacilla cinerea   A vagrant male on St. Paul.

White Wagtail [East Siberian W]  Motacilla [alba] ocularis   At least three around Nome, where it breeds.

Buff-bellied Pipit (American P)  Anthus rubescens

Brambling  Fringilla montifringilla   Good numbers on St. Paul this year, with 40-50 seen.

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes   Three or four seen well on St. Paul.

Pine Grosbeak [American P G] Pinicola [enucleator] leucura   Three, including a smart adult male, in Kenai Pen.

Common Rosefinch  Carpodacus erythrinus   A female-plumaged bird on St. Paul.

Grey-crowned Rosy Finch [Grey-faced R F]  Leucosticte [t.] griseonucha   Unalaska (griseonucha), St. Paul (umbrina).

Common Redpoll  Carduelis flammea

Arctic Redpoll (Hoary R)  Carduelis hornemanni

Red Crossbill  Loxia curvirostra   A family of six near Seward.

Two-barred Crossbill  [White-winged Crossbill]  Loxia [leucoptera] leucoptera   c.8 seen at Hillside Park

Pine Siskin  Spinus pinus

Lapland Longspur (L Bunting)  Calcarius lapponicus

Smith’s Longspur ◊  Calcarius pictus   Great close views of a super male near Paxson. Beautiful bird.

Snow Bunting  Plectrophenax nivalis   Otherwise known as the Barrow Sparrow.

Rustic Bunting ◊  Emberiza rustica   At least three seen on St. Paul.

Sooty Fox Sparrow ◊  Plectrophenax unalaschensis   Many: unalaschcensis Dutch; sinuosa Seward-Anchorage.

Red Fox Sparrow ◊  Passerella iliaca   Common around Nome, and Denali-Paxson etc. (zaboria).

American Tree Sparrow ◊  Spizelloides arborea   Around Nome and the Denali Highway.

Dark-eyed Junco ◊  [Slate-coloured J]  Junco [hyemalis] hyemalis

White-crowned Sparrow  Zonotrichia leucophrys   Widespread (gambelii).

Golden-crowned Sparrow ◊  Zonotrichia atricapilla   Around Nome and higher levels of interior; also Dutch Harbor.

Savannah Sparrow  Passerculus sandwichensis   Widespread anthinus.

Song Sparrow ◊  [Pacific S S]  Melospiza [melodia] rufina   Subspecies sanaka Unalaska; kenaiensis near Seward.

Lincoln’s Sparrow  Melospiza lincolnii   One seen well in Anchorage.

Rusty Blackbird ◊  Euphagus carolinus   Singles near Nome and at Tolsona Lake.

Northern Waterthrush  Parkesia noveboracensis

Orange-crowned Warbler  Leiothlypis celata

American Yellow Warbler (Northern Y W)  Setophaga aestiva   Surprisingly widespread this far north.

Blackpoll Warbler  Setophaga striata   Seen well, but often only heard giving its high-pitched insect-like song.

Myrtle Warbler  Setophaga coronata

Townsend’s Warbler  Setophaga townsendi   A single stunner near Seward.

Wilson’s Warbler  Cardellina pusilla



Arctic Fox  Vulpes lagopus   Several seen on St. Paul. Also on Unalaska I, where it was recently accidentally introduced.

Red Fox  Vulpes vulpes   One near Dutch Harbor, on Unalaska.

Polar Bear  Ursus maritimus   One was scoped on the sea-ice at Barrow.

Northern Fur Seal  Callorhinus ursinus   Many on St. Paul, where males were setting up territories.

Steller Sea Lion  Eumetopias jubatus

Spotted Seal (Largha S)  Phoca largha   Quite a few resting on sea-ice at Nome.

Common (Harbour S)  Phoca vitulina

Sea Otter  Enhydra lutris

Elk (Moose)  Alces alces

Mountain Goat  Oreamnos americanus   A mother and youngster during the Kenai Fjords cruise.

Musk Ox  Ovibos moschatus

Thinhorn Sheep (Dall S)  Ovis dalli   11 noted above Beluga point, with some good rams

Humpback Whale  Megaptera novaeangliae   Two during the Kenai Fjords cruise.

Killer Whale (Orca)  Orcinus orca   15 during our Kenai Fjords boat trip.

Beluga  Delphinapterus leucas   Two groups, totaling at least ten individuals, passing close inshore in Anchorage.

Dall’s Porpoise  Phocoenoides dalli   At least three in a speedy group, during the Kenai Fjords cruise.

Snowshoe Hare  Lepus americanus   Numerous in the interior this year, especially along the Kougarok Road, Nome.

Collared Pika  Ochotona collaris   One at Hatcher Pass.

American Red Squirrel  Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

Arctic Ground Squirrel (A Souslik)  Urocitellus parryii   Common, especially around Nome and Denali.

American Beaver  Castor canadensis

Brown Lemming  Lemmus trimucronatus   Several at Barrow.

Muskrat  Ondata zibethicus



Canadian Tiger Swallowtail  Papilio canadensis   Hidden Lake Campground.

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell  Aglais milberti   Ditto.



Wood Horsetail  Equisetum sylvaticum

Black Spruce  Picea mariana

White Spruce  Picea glauca

Hare’s-tail Cottongrass (Tufted C)  Eriophorum vaginatum

North Pacific Whitlow Grass  Draba grandis   St. Paul.

Greenland Cochlearia  Cochlearia groenlandica   St. Paul.

Cow Parsnip  Heracleum lanatum

Mountain Alder  Alnus crispa   Surely one of the commonest trees/shrubs in Alaska.

Dwarf Birch  Betula nana

Quaking Aspen  Populus tremuloides

Chickweed-Wintergreen  Lysimachia europaea

Red Baneberry  Actaea rubra

Salmonberry  Rubus spectabilis

Bluebells  Mertensia paniculata

Canadian Dwarf Cornel (C Dogwood, C Bunchberry)  Cornus canadensis

Bog Rosemary  Andromeda polifolia   At the Smith’s Longspur site.

Lapland Rhododendron (L Azalea)  Rhododendron lapponicum

Marsh Labrador Tea  Rhododendron tomentosum   At the Smith’s Longspur site.

Alpine Azalea (Trailing A)  Kalmia procumbens   At the Smith’s Longspur site.

Bearberry  Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Yellow Mountain-Heath  Phyllodoce glanduliflora   Unalaska Island.

Nootka Lupine  Lupinus nootkatensis

Bogbean (Buckbean)  Menyanthes trifoliata

Yellow Pond-lily  Nuphar polysepalum

Snow Buttercup  Ranunculus nivalis   St. Paul.

Mountain Avens  Dryas octopetala   At the Smith’s Longspur site.

Marsh Cinquefoil  Potentilla palustris

Woolly Lousewort  Pedicularis lanata   St. Paul.

Stiff-stem Saxifrage  Micranthes hieraciifolia   At the Smith’s Longspur site.

Keyflower  Dactylorhiza aristata   The orchid seen on Unalaska Island.