The Ultimate In Birding Tours

North/Central America & The Caribbean

WILD ALASKA BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY – Arctic tundra birds and the seabirds of the Pribilof Islands

Sunday 7th June – Sunday 14th June 2026

Leader: to be announced

8 Days Group Size Limit 7
Nome Extension

Tuesday 2nd June – Sunday 7th June 2026

6 Days Group Size Limit 7
Saint Paul Island (Pribilofs) Extension

Sunday 14th June – Friday 19th June 2026

6 Days Group Size Limit 7


Alaska has long been one of the world’s classic wildlife photography destinations and we have conducted tours there since 1999. When planning this exciting bird photography adventure, three places really stood out as destinations where we have captured way more great bird images than at any others – Barrow (Utqiagvik), Nome and St Paul Island in the Prilofs group. All of these locations repay spending more time photographing and neither Barrow nor St Paul involves much land travel, while all three offer a ‘to the ends of the earth’ experience surrounded by birds.

On the shores of the Beaufort Sea on the north slope of Alaska lies the tiny city of Barrow, or Utqiagvik to use its proper Iñupiat name, which was approved as the town’s new name by referendum as recently as 2016. The name Barrow dates from 1825 and derives from Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty, who was not even the first non-native person to visit the place, it was named in his honour by explorer Frederick William Beechey. At 71 degrees north, nearby Point Barrow is the USA’s northernmost piece of land and extends into the Arctic Ocean to the east of the Bering Strait. Its population is little more than a very small town in the rest of the USA but it has been settled for more than 1,500 years by the Inuit.

Among wildlife enthusiasts, Utqiagvik is best known as the most accessible place in the world to find the truly spectacular Spectacled Eider (as well as Ross’s Gull if you are very lucky, although they are regular in autumn). As if this was not enough it also offers a chance to see a number of other super flashy eiders that are difficult to get to in neighbouring Russia and Arctic Canada like King Eider and Steller’s Eider. In fact, all four species of eiders can be seen easily at Utqiagvik!

Arctic breeding shorebirds can be seen in display here, including Pectoral Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers and Semipalmated Sandpipers as you have never seen then before! Pectoral Sandpipers inflate their breasts and make weird booming calls and if we are lucky we may even see the peculiar wing raising display of Buff-breasted Sandpiper, although their numbers at Utqiavik vary from year to year. We should also find Snowy Owl and Pomarine Jaeger breeding here, although their presence varies from year to year with the state of the lemming population. They all make great photo subjects and are well worth making the effort to travel to this end of the earth to see them. We will spend almost a week at Utqiavik to allow plenty of time to get the images of its special birds we are hoping for and also to allow some contingency for bad weather. Foggy and dull overcast weather is common here at this time of year owing to the prevailing easterly wind.

Additionally, a good number of other more widespread Arctic breeding birds light up the tundra at Utqiagvik including Long-tailed Duck, Greater White-fronted Goose, Pacific and Red-throated Loons, American Golden and Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Red-necked and Red Phalaropes, Parasitic Jaegers (or Arctic Skuas), the superb Sabine’s Gull, Common and Arctic (or Hoary) Redpolls, Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting. It is quite simply the best location for Arctic birds in the world.

During the optional pre-tour extension we shall travel far to the northwest of Anchorage to the remote settlement of Nome, a tundra town not far from the Bering Strait that came into being as people flocked to the area in search of gold. It is now well known as the finishing point for the most famous dog sledging race in the world, the Iditarod Trail.

The Nome area is one of the best places in the world to see the rare and elusive Bristle-thighed Curlew. We will devote some of our time to photographing these attractive birds, but there are many other great photographic targets around Nome including a really superb selection of other shorebirds, many in  their fabulous breeding dress, including American Golden, Pacific Golden, Grey (or Black-bellied) and Semipalmated Plovers, Red Knot, Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel, Wilson’s Snipe and possibly Red-necked Stint.

Other targets here include Pacific Loon, Tundra Swan, Long-tailed Duck, Rough-legged Hawk (or Rough-legged Buzzard), Golden Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Mew and Glaucous Gulls (and chances for Sabine’s, Vega and Slaty-backed Gulls), the handsome Aleutian Tern, Arctic Tern, Short-eared Owl and even Gyr Falcon,

The passerine birds include Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Buff-bellied (or American) Pipit, the gorgeous little Bluethroat, Northern Wheatear, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Arctic, Blackpoll and Orange-crowned Warblers, and American Tree, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

At this time of year, migration will still be continuing, with numbers of wildfowl and shorebirds heading further north to their breeding grounds.

Among the mammals, the big attraction here is that marvellous ice-age relic, the shaggy Musk Ox. It is often possible to get good photos, with a bit of luck and persistence. Caribou (Reindeer) are also in the area, as are American Beavers.

During the optional post-tour extension, which can be taken as a short photo tour in its own right, we will explore Saint Paul Island, a small island that forms part of the Pribilof Islands group, situated far out amidst the Bering Sea.

St Paul Island is home to one of the most outstanding marine wildlife spectacles in North America. Here, far out in the Bering Sea, we will enjoy the excitements of one of the world’s greatest seabird gatherings, including the highly localized Red-legged Kittiwake as well as more widespread North Pacific birds such as Red-faced Cormorant, Horned and Tufted Puffins, and Crested, Parakeet and Least Auklets, often at close range on their breeding cliffs. The rocky tundra of the interior of the island holds breeding Rock Sandpiper and Grey-crowned Rosy Finch, as well as Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs. The island is also famous for attracting regular vagrant birds from Asia at this time of year and there is a long list of possibilities! Very occasionally the smart McKay’s Bunting wanders to the island.

If you are interested in full details about this tour please click here.