Dates: June 17-22, 2019
Included: Ground transportation around Barrow, guiding and photography instruction, lodging (double occupancy)
Not included: Airfare and travel to and from Barrow, Alaska, all meals, tundra permit ($150)
Deposit: $1,000 to secure your spot
Balance: $2,995 due by March 17, 2019
Leader: Bryan Holliday
Group Size: 3 photographers
I often dreamed of lying in the tundra behind my big lens while photographing a jaeger at eye level. The North Slope of Alaska allowed that dream to come true. Join me on the Arctic tundra for an unforgettable bird photography adventure at the Northernmost point of the USA. You will gain an entirely new appreciation for the shorebirds of North America after a visit to Barrow, Alaska. All the birds that are tricky to sort through in their various drab plumages come alive on their breeding grounds with fabulous courtship displays and richly colored plumages. The male eiders come into shore to breed just for a few weeks, and this trip is timed just right to be there when they are. The potential is good for rarities. The last two trips have coincided with Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Little Stint, Red-necked Stint, Eurasian Hobby, and Ross’s Gull. We will get off the roads and explore the tundra in our chest waders to be up close and personal with the birds. You could be photographing birds at midnight in gorgeous light on the summer solstice! It is an experience that all bird photographers will cherish.
Expected Species: King Eider, Spectacled Eider, Stellar’s Eider, Arctic Tern, Sabine’s Gull, Glaucous Gull, Long-tailed Duck, Red Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Short-eared Owl, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Dunlin, Parasitic Jaeger, Pomarine Jaeger, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur, Common Redpoll, Hoary Redpoll, Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Tundra Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, Long-billed Dowitcher. With some good fortune, we also have a chance at seeing Yellow-billed Loon, Snowy Owl, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Little Stint, Red-necked Stint, Ross’s Gull.
Itinerary: When it comes to serious bird photography, normal schedules are out the window. We will adapt to be out shooting when the light and the bird activity is the best. The sun never sets during the time we are there!
June 16: Meet and greet at the King Eider Inn in the evening, hit the grocery store if needed, then get to bed
June 17-21: We will be up early this morning to head out for our first shooting session. Typically we will go out about 5 am and shoot until 10 or 11. Then eat and sleep for the afternoon and head back out around 5 pm and can shoot until around midnight. Then back to the hotel for another round of sleep.
If the weather is favorable, the light is great, and we have birds, any of those times can be extended, depending how the group is feeling. If the weather is poor and the light is terrible, we can catch up on a little sleep and/or post-processing of images until the weather changes.
June 22: This will be our final morning out shooting. We will then pack up and check out of the King Eider Inn. We will be able to leave our bags there to grab later. We can then do any last sightseeing for the afternoon, have a final meal, and then catch our evening flight out of Barrow back to Anchorage.
Travel Considerations: You will need to arrive in Barrow by the evening of June 16. There is typically a morning flight and an afternoon flight up to Barrow from Anchorage. I will be on the afternoon flight, arriving in Barrow the evening of the 16th, following the Nome photo tour. Plan to fly out of Barrow the evening of the 22nd, heading back to Anchorage. If you wish to extend your stay in Barrow, either before or after our tour, you will need to make your own arrangements.
Accommodations: Lodging is limited in Barrow. I have made arrangements and the lodging is included in the tour price. We will be staying at the King Eider Inn and will be sharing two rooms. It is double occupancy. Each person will have a bed and a shared bathroom. The King Eider Inn is the nicest hotel in Barrow and we should be quite comfortable.
Vehicle: Ground transportation in Barrow is also included in the price of the tour. We will travel together in a Ford Escape that will hold the four of us and our gear.
Meals: There are a few restaurants in Barrow that we have to choose from for meals. We typically visit the same one each day, as they are the best in town and offer a large variety of good food. We also take advantage of eating snacks and bars in the vehicle while we’re out shooting. We will plan to make a trip to the grocery store the first day we are there to get what we need. It’s also easy to pop over there any afternoon if you need to get more food. Meals and all food/drink are not included in the tour price.
Physical Activity: Moderate. We drive the roads to find the birds and photograph them along the roads. We also get out with our gear and hike across the tundra in our chest waders. In fact, we pretty much live in our chest waders. I’ve even gone to the grocery store in mine. They are a must for this trip. The good thing is they help keep you warm as well as dry. Exploring the tundra is a very unique experience. It is spongy and made of small mound covered with grass, mosses, lichens, and tundra wildflowers. There is often water between the mounds and there are small ponds and larger lakes. The water sometimes still has ice on the bottom, so we walk very carefully. It is obviously a risk to you and your camera gear, but can be accomplished just fine with a little extra care. It can all be explored and waded in to be with the birds. This is the best way to experience Barrow. A birding tour won’t give you this option as they stick to the roads.
Tundra Permit: You will need to apply for your tundra permit so you can hike out on the tundra. I will provide you with the information you need to do that after you register. The price is $150 and is not included in the price of the tour.
Equipment: You will get the best images with a 500mm or longer lens. It’s a good idea to bring extenders too. You will also want a landscape lens. If you have a mid-range zoom and want to bring it, you may find some times you wish to use that. But most of the time the more focal length you have, the better. And of course your chest waders.
Other things to bring: Then sun does not set during the time we will be there. But even near the summer solstice, Barrow is cold. Temps can be 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s during the day and 20’s and 30’s at night. I will email a list of helpful tips for clothing and such after receiving your registration.
Payment: Your deposit can paid with credit card or Paypal by using the link at the top of the page. Once your deposit is processed, I will email you the registration form and waiver so you can print it out, complete it, and send it back. This will hold your spot. The balance can be paid by personal check or credit card (additional transaction fees apply for credit card payment) anytime up to 90 days before the trip.
To sign up for this great trip, please send your deposit through the link at the top of this page. Please call or email me with any questions you may have. 815.721.2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org