Birding the Americas Trip Report and Planning Repository
Return to the Main Index

Return to the North America Index
Return to the U.S.A. Index
Return to the Alaska Index

U.S.A. - ALASKA: Barren Islands, from Homer

Two trips:  18 June 1996 and 23 June 1996

by George West

18 June 1996:

Depart 0700 from Homer, Alaska, on the 43-foot Tulchina with 11 passengers.  Captain Ed Murphy of Alaska Maritime Tours.  Return 1900.  It is 50 miles from Homer to the Barren Islands in the northwest Gulf of Alaska.  Over 450,000 birds nest on these remote islands.  Several trips to the Barrens are scheduled each year.  For details, contact

Weather: Wind blowing 15 to 30 knots out of the southeast, overcast, rain squalls.  Seas 3 to 7 feet in the passage from Cape Adam to Nord Island.  The weather was especially bad for this trip and we normally would not make the crossing to the Barren Islands in these seas (although the boat is more than capable) except that we had agreement from the Wings tour group that they wanted to continue.  The weather also somewhat restricted our ability to find individual birds that we normally see on the way to the Barrens such as Ancient Murrelet and jaegers.

Species seen: Red-throated Loon 1, Pacific Loon 1, Common Loon several, Northern Fulmar (dark and white phases) 100s, Sooty Shearwater few, Short-tailed Shearwater 100s, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel few, Double-crested Cormorant few, Pelagic Cormorant many, Red-faced Cormorant many, Harlequin Duck few, Surf Scoter many, White-winged Scoter many, Red-breasted Merganser few, Bald Eagle many, Black Oystercatcher many, Glaucous-winged Gull 1000s, Black-legged Kittiwake 1000s, Aleutian Tern 2, Common Murre 1000s, Thick-billed Murre 1, Pigeon Guillemot many, Marbled Murrelet many, Kittlitz's Murrelet 2, Parakeet Auklet 100s, Rhinoceros Auklet 10, Tufted Puffin 1000s, Horned Puffin 100s, Belted Kingfisher several, Bank Swallow many, Northwestern Crow many, Common Raven several, Fox Sparrow few, Song Sparrow 1.

23 June 1996:

Depart Homer at 0700 in fog, 45 degrees, no wind.  Out of the fog by Seldovia Point.  Light southwest winds and some patchy fog to the Barren Islands, 50 miles south of Homer in the upper Gulf of Alaska and the entrance to Cook Inlet.

Cow and calf Humpback Whale en route.  Many humpbacks in and around the Barrens.  Pacific White-sided Dolphin along the boat on the return.  Sea Otters in Kachemak Bay.

Species seen included: Common Loon, Northern Fulmar (dark and light phases), Sooty Shearwater (few), Short-tailed Shearwater (many), Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Double-crested, Pelagic, and Red-faced Cormorant (many), Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk (dark phase), Black Oystercatcher (many), Surfbird (few at Homer harbor), Red-necked Phalarope (few), Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake (1,000s), Common Murre (1,000s), Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Ancient Murrelet (6), Parakeet Auklet (100s), Rhinoceros Auklet (1), Tufted Puffin (1000s), Horned Puffin (100s), Bank Swallow, Common Raven, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow.

George West
Homer, AK & Green Valley, AZ

Birding Top 500 Counter