Year of compilation: 2001
Migration watches at the base of Nunaluk Spit in the early 1970s recorded 2,630 Glaucous Gulls flying east, and 3,010 flying west over a one month period. Its unclear how many individuals in total this represents as there is thought to be some overlap, but if 3,000 individuals had passed by then this would represent 1% of the global population and 5% of the North American population. Tens of thousands of Lesser Snow Goose, have also been recorded on these counts. In 1972, 42,738 were recorded flying eastward and 79,457 flying westward (the latter number is 16% of the current Western Central Flyway population).
Many other species use the area for moulting or for staging in fall migration. Black Brant have been recorded in numbers as high as 1,050 (August, 1974), and moulting scoters have reached 8,700 birds consisting of all three species. Greater White-fronted Geese (3,485 in August/ Sepember, 1972) and Northern Pintail (4,223 in July/August, 1972) utilize the area during fall migration. In 1974, 6050 Oldsquaw congregated in Workboat Passage along with 5,000 Red-necked Phalaropes.
Birds that breed in the area include Common Eider, Arctic Tern, Short-eared Owl (nationally vulnerable), Red-throated Loon, Snowy Owl, Rough-legged Hawk (Herschel Island has the highest density ever reported), Peregrine Falcon (nationally vulnerable), Glaucous Gull, Tundra Swan, Black Guillemot (Herschel Island only; largest colony in the western Arctic), and numerous species of ducks and shorebirds.
Oil and gas exploration, along with the associated infrastructure development, is still a concern in the area. There are currently ongoing exploration activities on the Alaska coastal plain, and in the Beaufort Sea. Much of this part of the Beaufort Sea coastline is threatened due to rapid erosion. Many spits, cliff areas and low-lying lands have dramatically decreased in size over the past 20 years.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nunaluk Spit to Herschel Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2022.