Isles of Shoals Birding


This Program is now Full
Common Yellowthroat by M. Walters


Experience the magic of the Isles of Shoals in early fall. Spending nights on Appledore Island will give us the opportunity to explore the diversity of the islands. Over 200 species of songbirds, seabirds, and waterfowl occur on Appledore as migrants – making it a perfect spot to observe fall movements. 

The Appledore Island Migration Banding Station will be in operation and we will have the chance to observe songbird migrants up close. Neighboring White and Seavey Islands are home to a thriving Common, Roseate, and Arctic tern colony after restoration efforts were initiated by NH Audubon in 1997. Most of the terns will have started their southern journey, but we will take a boat tour of the islands, hear project details, and land if possible.

In addition to all the spectacular birding that the islands have to offer, we will take time to explore other aspects of Appledore, Shoals Marine Laboratory, and Celia Thaxter’s garden. Activities may include exploring the intertidal, an island history walk, or learning about SML's innovative research programs focused on understanding and sustaining the marine environment.

  • (603) 862-5346

    Price: $900

    Price is per person, double-occupancy (shared room with same-gender participant or chosen registered companion.) All-inclusive with: overnight dormitory accommodations, all meals, snacks and beverages, all program activities, and round-trip boat transportation between Portsmouth, NH, and Appledore Island. Space is limited due to our vessel and housing capacities, so reserve your spot soon! This program is open to adults 18 years of age and up.

    Single-occupancy rooms may be available for an extra charge of $200.00.

Curious what you'll do during this program? Here are some activities that may be included! Activities are weather-dependent.

Island Birding Walks: Meander daily around the island looking for a variety of different birds with your program leaders.

White and Seavey Island Tern Restoration Presentation: Learn about the tern population that is actively managed by Shoals Marine Lab. 

Seal & Seabird Cruise: Aboard the R/V Heiser, we will observe the harbor and gray seal haul outs at neighboring Duck Island. Cormorants, gulls, eider ducks, and more abound.

Songbird Migration Presentation: Learn about the migration patterns of songbirds across the United States, the threats these birds face, and how you can help them.

Bird Banding Station: Learn about the songbirds that use Appledore Island along their annual migration. Observe the workings of an active bird banding station.

Garden Tour: Visit Celia Thaxter’s Garden with a narrative about the human history of Appledore, with a focus on the 19th Century Hotel Era.

Swimming & Snorkeling: An opportunity to swim or snorkel in the sheltered Great Tide Pool.

Sustainability Tour: A walking tour that highlights the technological innovations on the island (water conservation, solar, and wind power) that contribute to the sustainable infrastructure of the Shoals Marine Lab.

Sunset Social Hour: Enjoy a libation on the porch with time to socialize with participants and instructors.

Daily Bird List: Record your sightings for the day with the help of your program leaders.

Gull Movie Night: Enjoy a documentary about the gulls of the Isles of Shoals complete with popcorn and snacks.

Lobster Bake Dinner: Enjoy fresh lobster caught that day from the waters around Appledore Island and prepared by our fantastic kitchen crew.

Island Environment: Appledore Island is a rugged landscape with uneven, slightly steep and rocky paths. Access on/off the island is via a floating dock, a steep ramp, and a set of stairs. Sturdy walking shoes are required. Please review our Safety at Shoals page for any questions about boat safety, island terrain, medical access, or dietary needs.

  • Participants should be prepared for time aboard research vessels and moderate-to-strenuous hikes around Appledore Island to various field sites.
  • This program is intended for adults interested in learning more about the marine environment. No university credits are awarded.
  • If three days, two nights is too adventurous, consider a day-trip Appledore Island Walking Tour, with tons of natural history information packed into just one afternoon!

Cancellation Policy:

  • At least 30 days before departure = 100% refund
  • 29-15 days before departure =  50% refund
  • Less than 15 days before departure = 0%

SML boats will run rain or shine, so long as the captain deems it safe to travel. Passengers should come prepared with appropriate clothing in the event of rain or high winds (ocean spray). If the captain deems travel unsafe, boats schedules may be impacted until the weather passes. Communications regarding any weather-related delays will come via email from SML's office.



Dr. Pamela Hunt, NH Audubon

pam hunt

Dr. Pamela Hunt is NH Audubon’s Senior Biologist for Avian Conservation. She has been interested in birds since the tender age of 12, when an uncle took her to Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in NJ. She went on to earn a B.S. in biology from Cornell University, M.A. in zoology from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College in 1995. Pam came to NH Audubon in 2000 after five years as adjunct faculty at Colby-Sawyer College in New London. In her current position, she works closely with NH Fish and Game to coordinate and prioritize bird research and monitoring in the state, and also authored NH’s “State of the Birds” report. 



Becky Suomala, NH Audubon

becky suomola

Becky received her degree in Environmental Conservation from the University of New Hampshire and then went back in 1999 part-time for her Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology. For her thesis she studied the behavior of migrating songbirds during stopover at the Isles of Shoals. She still volunteers at the banding station on Appledore Island. Becky began working at NH Audubon in February of 1988. In her current job as a biologist she is the leader of Project Nighthawk, a bird that is declining in the state.