Gone Birding in Alaska | Outside My Window


Willow ptarmigan at Denali (NPS photo/Kent Miller via Wikimedia Commons)

Alaska Birding with PIB: Flying to Anchorage 12 June 2019

Today I’m flying to the 49th and largest state of the union, Alaska, for an 11-day birding tour with Partnership for International Birding. Our guide will be David Trently whose Newfoundland tour was so much fun last July.

U.S. map highlighting Alaska (map from Wikimedia Commons)

Alaska isn’t just the largest state. Overlaid on the Lower 48 it spans from California to Minnesota to Florida with a population only half the size of metro Pittsburgh. Alaska is so sparsely populated that 52% of it is wilderness.

Alaska’s size compared to the Lower 48 (map from Wikimedia Commons)

Eleven days will only scratch the surface.

In the interior we’ll visit Denali National Park and see Denali itself if the sky is clear. Then we’ll travel the Denali Highway to Delta Junction, birding along the way.

Bear digging and Denali (NPS Photo / Daniel A. Leifheit via Wikimedia Commons)

In the south-central region we’ll visit Anchorage and Seward and take a day-long pelagic trip at Kenai Fjords National Park where we’ll see glaciers, killer whales, and lots of seabirds including …

Aialik glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Tufted puffins!

Tufted puffin swimming, Alaska (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Then we fly to Nome to see the Arctic tundra, muskox, reindeer (caribou) and nesting birds. Bristle-thighed curlews, last seen in Hawaii, will be here.

Reindeer at the Teller Road, Nome-to-Teller (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Our travels will touch the places circled in red below.

Map of Alaska, marked with destinations on PIB tour (map from Travel Alaska at travelalaska.com)

I don’t expect to see hundreds of Life Birds, but that doesn’t matter. Our checklist contains 205 birds including the willow ptarmigan (State Bird of Alaska at top), horned and tufted puffins, auklets, murrelets, gyrfalcon, varied thrush and bluethroat. For mammals you can’t beat killer whales, caribou, muskox, grizzly bears and arctic foxes.

Because of there’s a 4-hour time zone difference, a dawn to dusk birding schedule, and little or no Internet access, I’ve written all 13 days of blog posts in advance including the 2 travel days. My husband Rick (who’s too near-sighted to go birding) is holding down the fort at home and posting my blogs to Facebook and Twitter. I’ll moderate your comments when I get access to WiFi.

For now, I’ll be mostly off the grid in a beautiful place.

Islands near Spire Cove, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

I’ll “see” you when I return to my computer on Tuesday morning, June 25.

(photos and U.S. map from Wikimedia Commons)