Day 1 - Arrival in Prince Rupert. Those who arrive on time will go out for dinner. Night in Prince Rupert.
Day 2 - This morning we'll take the ferry across Hecate Strait from Prince Rupert to Skidegate on Haida Gwaii. The crossing takes upwards of 5 hours and can produce some interesting bird sightings. Close to shore as we weave our way through the islands near Prince Rupert we'll watch out for Cassin's Auklets bobbing about on the water. Black-legged Kittiwakes are often seen in these waters as well. Once we reach the open ocean we'll begin to see the first groups of Sooty Shearwaters, a species that can be seen in the thousands on this crossing sometimes. There is a good chance we'll pick out Short-tailed Shearwater from these flocks of Sooty Shearwaters, and we often see some Pink-footed Shearwaters as well. Parasitic and Pomarine jaegers have been seen on past trips, as have Northern Fulmar, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, and Yellow-billed Loon! In addition to birds, cetaceans such as Humpback Whales and Orcas can often be seen. Once we arrive on Haida Gwaii we'll make our way to our motel in Queen Charlotte City where we spend the night.
Day 3 - After a little morning birding around Queen Charlotte City, we'll make another ferry crossing, this one a short, 15 minute ride, across to Moresby Island at Alliford Bay. On the way we will see some interesting seabirds including Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet and Pelagic Cormorants. One of the best birding sites on Haida Gwaii is at the Sandspit Airport, where a trail takes you right around the airport, which is situated right next to the beach. Songbirds to expect include Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Lapland Longspur, American Pipit and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Along the pebbly shore we should see shorebirds including Black Turnstones, Black-bellied Plover, possible Pacific Golden-Plover, Sanderling and Least Sandpipers. Out on the ocean we may see the two common scoter species, White-winged and Surf scoters, and with luck we'll see some of the first Black Scoters of the fall as well. Harlequin Ducks are abundant here and with their stunning colors and patterns, they are a welcome sight. Perhaps we'll spot a Long-tailed Duck as well. In the long grassy areas around the airport we sometimes find Northern Harrier and / or Short-eared Owl. This area has produced some fantastic rarities over recent years, including Curlew Sandpiper and Red-throated Pipit. Night in Queen Charlotte City.
Day 4 - This morning we will explore areas around old Skidegate where in the gardens we often find some neat birds, including a variety of sparrows such as Fox, Song, and Golden-crowned sparrows. There are often Red-breasted Sapsuckers working the trunks of the trees in this neighborhood, and little flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos and Chestnut-backed Chickadees flit about in the greenery. Bald Eagles are often rather numerous up here as well, and are often the victims of the noisy harassments of Northwestern Crows. We'll follow the east coast of Graham Island north, stopping in at Halibut Bight Rest Stop, another great place to see waterbirds that can often include Pacific Loon, Red-throated Loon, Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets, scoter and more. We'll pause for lunch in Tlell and then do a little birding in the area. This area of the island has some open farm fields and creates different habitats for birds. Previous trips have yielded Sandhill Cranes, Cackling Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese and Red-tailed Hawk. In 2018, BC's first Common Cuckoo was found in Tlell. From Tlell, we'll travel further north, pausing at Port Clements, where, if time permits, we'll have a look for shorebirds. A juvenile Ruff was found here in September of 2017. We'll head for Massett where we spend the next couple of nights.
Day 5 - After a little prebreakfast birding along the beach in front of our b & b, we'll make our way out towards Rose Spit. We'll pause at Agate Beach to look for Marbled Murrelets bobbing in the surf and see what other goodies await. Once at Rose Spit we'll spend some time walking the edge of the beach where the grassy verge could hold an interesting rarity. Haida Gwaii has had some impressive 'Asian' vagrants over the years, with the likes of Red-legged Kittiwake, Aleutian Tern, Rustic Bunting, Brambling, Spotted Redshank, Common Crane and Eastern Yellow Wagtail making appearances. Of course we can't expect any Siberian vagrants, but we can always hope. This afternoon, we can visit the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary where tidal lagoons can be good for shorebirds such as Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers and Pectoral Sandpipers. Perhaps we'll find a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper? This evening, if anyone wants to, we can head out after dark and have a look and listen for the 'Haida Gwaii' race of the Northern Saw-whet Owl. Night in Masset.
Day 6 - Today holds more explorations around Massett. We'll head for Old Massett and stroll some streets here where migrants and rarities could be hiding. Another excellent place to check for unusual birds is the open country around the golf course in Massett. A return to explore the Tow Hill, Rose Spit area may be in order. Night in Massett.
Day 7 - We'll travel from Massett back to Queen Charlotte City today, doing some more birding along the way. If it's open, we can have a stop at the Haida Gwaii Museum in Skidegate. Once back in Queen Charlotte City we'll take the short ferry ride over to Alliford Bay and check in to our hotel in Sandspit.
Day 8 - Our last morning on the islands, depending on flights, we may have time to check the Sandspit Airport area out one more time before saying our goodbyes.