St. Paul, AK, a Birding Paradise.




Want a productive and exciting shooting destination? …… St Paul Island and look no further !!!

St Paul is the largest of the Pribilof Islands, located in the Bearing Sea between Russia and the US.   Just over three hour flight from Anchorage …weather permitting,   you will get in, most of the time.     Half an hour from this Island is St George, which has even more birds but chances of landing are about one or two a week !!!

The island is fairly small, seven miles at the widest and thirteen at the longest.     Volcanic in origin with many hills rising to over two hundred meters and unique weather conditions.    Best time to go is in the summer and the normal is forties, wind and rain.    On my last visit I was told they had seen the sun twelve days this year with no more sightings expected.

Equipment wise, you will get use out of your longest lens.  I strongly suggest taking  some heavy duty rain protection for your lenses.  You will be shooting in rain half of the time.  Getting your gear to the island is not a problem.    You can gate check your photo gear and have a computer bag with you in the plane.

Accommodations are adequate and you stay at the airport, the hotel in town was condemned so the oil exploration offices were converted into a hotel …. Your room is just a few steps away from the airline counter !!!   Bathrooms are outside and they provide towels, soap etc.

There is one place for all you meals so not much thinking where to go !!!   You eat at the food processing factory with the employees, food is not bad.   Only downside is the strong smell that greets you when you come in.

Photography wise you can shoot all day from sunrise to around midnight.    The Island has the same time as Anchorage but should be two zones different being due north of Hawaii.

We normally only took brakes if the weather was real bad, which would be either heavy rain with forty mile per hour wind, heavy (heavy) fog or sunny !!!  With sun you don’t fair well since it will be strong by the time you go out in the morning unless you skip breakfast.    Then have to wait till the end of the day for softer light.   Sunny conditions are unusual so with overcast you will be fine.

 

The primary species you will go after will be the cliff dwellers,  Tufted and Horned Puffins, Parakeet Auklets, Least Auklets, Red-faced Cormorants. Murre, Kittiwakes and more.    June would be the time with the most birds but will not get you the Puffins returning with food.

There are many other bird species you can photograph particularly interesting will be the Snow Buntings, Rosy finches and Lapland Longspur, as well as numerous shorebirds, such as Red necked Phalaropes, a few Sandpipers and Rudy Turnstone.

Also,  Northern Fur Seals are numerous, with full frame head shots available.

Blue Foxes, a sub-species of Arctic Fox, can be seen around the island, with young ones going around by the summer’s end.

For planning, I would suggest going for one full week.   Basically due to the weather, if you had good weather in two days you would clean up and go home a happy camper!!!

6 thoughts on “St. Paul, AK, a Birding Paradise.

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed St. Paul, Al and Fabs. I went there in 1996 before digital and before I knew the first thing about bird photography. We stayed at the hotel which you say is now closed. At that time the airport had no tower, so fogged in – no flight in or out. It certainly is a great spot.
    Your puffins pictures are wonderful. When do we get to see Fab’s

  2. Hi Susan Fab’s will be up soon and can see a bunch of them at 500pixels.com

    We had a blast during the trip and lucked out getting in and out !!! The weather was the usual, fog, rain, wind and then more of the same 🙂 Highly recommended.

    The hotel you stayed is in condemn and looks it. The new place to stay is convenient since is right at the airport
    hugs
    al

  3. Wow…Talk about being in the wild and roughing it…fabulous pictures and thrilled you had a great experience, came back safely and are sharing your pictures with us. Hope to see you and Fabs soon.

    Ken Lassman

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