Birding St. Paul in the Pribilofs, May 2002 page 1    

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Just for the record, because some of the following description may sound to some a bit negative, I loved St. Paul. The birds were great; the people were great; the weather was ... well ... the weather; and I'd go back in a minute.

St. Paul Island, in the Pribilof Islands, is located in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Siberia 800 miles from Anchorage. It is a 3-hour flight from Anchorage in a small PenAir Metroliner (no rest room). But then if the weather does not permit a landing the plane just turns around and heads back (could be a long six hours). The attractive blonde Norwegian stewardess turned out to be the pilot. Five minutes after we landed a second plane was settling down on to the runway. There are two flights a day and they land five minutes apart to make use of the same window of opportunity for a landing. It never occurred to me that we might not get in and out on the scheduled flight days, but an Australian birder, whom we had met the week before in a bakery shop in Homer, was on St. Paul with us and was delayed two days in leaving the island because of weather.

Anchorage to St. Paul    MetroLiner   

St.Paul International Airport  

             St. Paul airport was built during WWII with a red cinder runway.

We traveled with HighLonesome EcoTours out of Sierra Vista, Arizona and were on St. Paul for portions of six days. The draw for birders is the chance to see birds who nest there and the possibility of Russian vagrants when the winds are right. During our six days the winds were not right, blowing in unusual birds from the east instead of the west. Black Oystercatcher and Franklin's Gull were two eastern birds that showed up during our stay and got a lot of attention from the guides on St. Paul.

Seabirds of the Pribilofs

Nesting species include Black-legged Kittiwake, Red-legged Kittiwake, Northern Fulmar, Horned Puffin, Tufted Puffin, Thick-billed and Common Murre, Least Auklet, Parakeet Auklet, Crested Auklet, Rock Sandpiper (Pribilof race), Winter Wren (Pribilof race), Gray-crowned Roseyfinch, Red-faced Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Long-tailed Duck (previously Oldsquaw), and Harlequin Duck.

 

Typical view of town    Sunny view of town 

The weather is typically overcast, damp, and cold. Layered rain gear is the common garb. We had one sunny day on May 21 when the temperature set an all-time high for that date at 47 degrees (F). See sunny view above. The light blue building is the hotel, the King Eider. St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church is just above it. The school is below it to the right.

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