Adak: A Special Tour to One of Alaska's Outermost Islands: May 17—25, 2006

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Price: $4,295
Departs: Anchorage
Tour Limit: 15
Download Itinerary: PDF (151.9 KB)

Tour Leaders

Dan Wetzel

Dan Wetzel has been a professional naturalist and licensed Alaskan guide for almost 40 years...


Marshall-iliff

Marshall Iliff

Marshall Iliff, a lifelong nature lover, began birding at age 11 after attending a National ...


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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit — Photo: Kevin Zimmer

Exciting birding for Asiatic vagrants and Alaskan seabirds at a seldom-visited Aleutian outpost. Planned one-day boat trip should yield large numbers of Whiskered Auklets, and possibly Laysan Albatross.

Adak offers the rare opportunity to search for Asiatic vagrants and Bering Sea specialties in relative ease and comfort. Accommodations are in houses that were formerly occupied by U.S. Navy personnel. Access to birding locations is via an extensive system of roads, and we will have vans for transportation, which will minimize the need for arduous long treks on foot, and will also allow us to bird from the vehicles when the Aleutian weather takes a turn for the worse. The extensive road system also means that we can cover much more ground and many more habitats than is possible in most outpost locations.

In addition to resident populations of such prizes as Harlequin Duck, Rock Ptarmigan, Bald Eagle, Rock Sandpiper, Aleutian Tern, Horned and Tufted puffins, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, and Lapland Longspur, Adak offers a tremendous opportunity for seeing a variety of alcids and other seabirds, often right from shore. Ancient, Marbled, and Kittlitz's murrelets can all be common in the nearshore waters, and tubenoses such as Northern Fulmar, Short-tailed Shearwater, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, and even Laysan Albatross regularly pass by offshore. A major attraction is the regular presence of Whiskered Auklets, which feed in tidal rips offshore. This is one of the most difficult North American breeding birds to see, and hence, it is a major attraction. We may see at least a few of these localized alcids from shore, but should see hundreds more if plans for a one-day offshore boat trip materialize. Our inaugural tour recorded a staggering 1,500+ Whiskered Auklets, 500+ Ancient Murrelets, and a Laysan Albatross in a single boat trip!

Much of our time will be spent searching for migrants, particularly vagrants from Eurasia. The list of vagrants that have occurred here is long, and includes such prizes as Whooper Swan, Bean Goose, Spot-billed Duck, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Pochard, Smew, Lesser Sand-Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Gray-tailed Tattler, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Temminck's Stint, Long-toed Stint, Common Cuckoo, Eye-browed Thrush, and Brambling.

Of course, as is always the case, the presence of vagrants is largely weather dependent, and the number of vagrants seen during any single trip is likely to be small. However, the vagrant potential of Adak is great, and largely untapped. With a full week to cover the island, we should be well-positioned to find whatever is there.

Comfortable accommodations; extensive road system and use of vans for transport reduces amount of walking required relative to other Alaskan outposts; most birding in-and-out of vans with short hikes; long birding days with possibilities for breaks; cold weather climate (temperatures usually 30?45 degrees F, often with wind and/or drizzle).