Young Island and Sally’s Cliff, Peregrine Hunt

Birders with binoculars

Young Island is some 15 miles long, and its high arched profile interrupts the midnight sun briefly when viewed from the Lodge. Here, we stop at several spots where the slopes are carpeted with flowers, and along a cliff where we often find nesting peregrines, gyrfalcons or roughlegged hawks.

Great swaths of liquoriceroot attract grizzlies who feed on the nutritious roots in early summer. Caribou are often seen here, as are arctic hares, red or arctic foxes, and occasionally a wolverine. Wolves sometimes swim to the island from the adjacent mainland. Long-tailed and common eider ducks, as well as scoters, Canada geese, and all four species of loons often shelter between Young and Jessie’s Island. Small tundra-nesting birds sing from slopes and outcrops. 

One stop is a small bay where we climb up along a terrace below a sheer diabase cliff. This is called “Sally’s Cliff” after a peregrine family that has nested here for forty years. There is room to set up spotting scopes and watch the falcons at the nest. In 2015, the peregrines were absent, and a gyrfalcon was nesting on the cliff, a wonderful surprise! We occasionally circumnavigate Young Island, stopping to explore ridges and rebound beaches. American golden plovers nest on the crest of the island.