“Turner’s” Rock Ptarmigan, endemic to the Central Aleutians, is a common bird on Adak. Photo Aaron Lang
Spring migration on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands is what serious birders dream about! Situated in the western Aleutians, Adak Island is currently the western-most location in Alaska readily accessible to birders. (It’s actually the westernmost town in the United States.) This former World War II military base was used to fight the Japanese in the Aleutian battles at Kiska, Attu, and Dutch Harbor, and was converted to a U.S. naval base after the war. Adak was decommissioned in 1997 and the Aleut Corporation opened facilities to serve tourists just a few years ago. The extensive infrastructure on the island now offers birders the rare opportunity to bird this western outpost with a level of comfort not possible on other Aleutian Islands. One can bird by exploring numerous wetlands, beaches, mud flats and migrant traps throughout the day and return each night to comfortable accommodations and home cooked meals. What could be better?
We’ll travel to Adak during spring migration in hopes of finding Asiatic birds that have dropped in on their journey north. Of course, our chances of seeing vagrants depend greatly on weather and wind direction, and with luck we’re likely to see a small number of vagrants on any trip. The list of vagrants that have been recorded on Adak over the years is impressive and includes: Tufted Duck, Smew, Garganey, Spot-billed Duck, Common Pochard, Whooper Swan, Tundra Bean-Goose, Lesser Sand-Plover, Ruff, Wood, Terek & Marsh Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Gray-tailed Tattler, Common Snipe, Red-necked, Little, Temminck’s and Long-toed Stints, Long-billed Murrelet, Black-headed and Slaty-backed Gulls, Common Cuckoo, White Wagtail, Eyebrowed Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat, Oriental Greenfinch and Brambling!
Weather on the Aleutians is of course unpredictable, but even if winds and weather don’t cooperate to bring in a few of these vagrant prizes, the more regular occurring possibilities are exciting in their own right and include: Emperor Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Green-winged Teal, an endemic race of Rock Ptarmigan, Arctic Loon, Laysan Albatross (which can often be seen from shore), Bar-tailed Godwit, Pacific Golden-Plover, Rock Sandpiper, Aleutian and Arctic Tern, Marbled, Kittlitz’s and Ancient Murrelet, Cassin’s, Parakeet, Whiskered and Crested Auklet, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch and Snow Bunting!
In recent years it has been difficult to find a suitable boat to charter to get out to look for Whiskered Auklets. We’ll be working to find a boat for this trip, but due to the dwindling human population on Adak there is a very real possibility that we will be unable to find a suitable boat. If we do secure a charter, the cost of this optional, unscheduled excursion is not included in the trip price and will be paid by participants at the time we take the boat trip.
Notes: The trip price includes: round trip flight from Anchorage to Adak; ground transportation, lodging and meals (home-cooked) in Adak; WBA guide(s); permits. You are responsible for your Anchorage lodging, meals and other Anchorage arrangements. The trip begins and ends at the Anchorage airport. The flight to Adak departs approximately 2:50 PM on Day 1 and gets back to Anchorage on Day 5 at around 9:45 PM. Single occupancy may or may not be available at Adak depending on the group configuration.