2023 Washington – Pacific Northwest
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Extreme
Group Size Medium Group
This exciting tour of the Pacific Coast and Puget Sound region includes an incredible diversity of birds, wildlife, habitats, experiences, and scenic wonders. We’ll spend three nights at each of our three major locations. On Mount Rainier, the highest point in Washington, we will look for White-tailed Ptarmigan, Sooty Grouse, Clark’s Nutcracker, and American Dipper. Lower habitats are good for MacGillivray’s Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Varied Thrush.
On our day at sea with Westport Pelagics we should see literally thousands of pelagic birds including Black-footed Albatross, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Rhinoceros Auklet, Long-tailed Jaeger, and Pink-footed Shearwater. One of our past tours yielded point-blank looks at a Red-legged Kittiwake, an incredible rarity anywhere outside of Alaska. Tokeland is a good spot to look for Bar-tailed Godwit, while Ocean Shores may yield Pacific Golden-Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and several species of loon.
We’ll look for Mountain Quail near Belfair State Park, then spend time at Hurricane Ridge for Townsend’s Solitaire and a nice variety of raptors. Dungeness Spit is great for aquatic species: in past years we’ve found Yellow-billed Loon and Horned Puffin among scores of more common species. We are likely to find dozens of Harlequin Ducks at Ediz Hook, plus Black Oystercatchers, Marbled Murrelets, and a Peregrine Falcon or two.
We will take a maximum of seven participants. On rare occasion we may extend the maximum to ten participants.
Duration: 11 days
Limit: 4 – 8
Date: 02 August – 12 August 2023
Start: Seattle, WA
End: Seattle, WA
US$4675 per person sharing assuming 4 – 8 participants
Single supplement: US$945
We can run the same trip at a price similar to the larger group price for 2 tour participants, if they rent their own vehicle and pay for fuel – please e-mail [email protected] for details.
- Guiding fees
- Entrance fees
- All transport while on tour
- Domestic and International flights
- Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts
- Alcoholic drinks
- Personal insurance
- Laundry Service
Arrive in Sea-Tac
Arrival is at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Sea-Tac Washington. Transfer to your hotel, where a room will be reserved in your name. We will gather in the hotel lobby, tentatively at 6:30 p.m. We’ll confirm this time at a later date. From there we will go out for an orientation dinner and to discuss tomorrow’s exciting events.
Mount Rainier National Park
After breakfast we will begin the 100-mile drive to Packwood, birding along the way. The wet lowland forest may yield species such as American Dipper, Golden Eagle, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Townsend’s Warbler before we check into Cowlitz Lodge, our home for the next three nights. One year we saw FOUR Black Bears on our first afternoon, all from a safe distance!
Paradise and Sunrise on Mount Rainier
We’ll spend two full days on Mount Rainier with its volcanic peaks, expansive glaciers, and unending beauty. An early climb into the highlands at Paradise and at a location called Sunrise will be our best chance for Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, American Pipit, and Horned Lark. Views of FOUR White-tailed Ptarmigan on a previous tour were tremendous!
The alpine meadows where we often find Mountain Goats will be in full fantastic bloom. We’ll search for Northern Pygmy-Owl at Fryingpan Creek, along with American Dipper, Harlequin Duck, and Vaux’s Swift. Additional species that we may find include Violet-green Swallow, Mountain Chickadee, Hermit Warbler, Varied Thrush, and Black Swift. Townsend’s Chipmunk, Hoary Marmot, Pika, and Mule Deer are frequently seen.
Our lodge borders on the Cowlitz River, where a herd of Elk often grazes in the front yard, and Vaux’s Swifts roost in the lodge chimney. A previous tour group spotted Black Swifts every evening in the Cowlitz area. This is a very difficult species to find away from their nesting areas. Be certain to take your binoculars on the short walk to dinner!
Overnight: Mount Rainier
To the Coast and the Tokeland Peninsula
Today we’ll head for the coast, looking for a few new birds such as California Scrub-Jay and Red-breasted Sapsucker along the way. We’ll get our first look at the Pacific Ocean and the many birds it has to offer: Wandering Tattler, Black Turnstone, Brandt’s Cormorant, and Pigeon Guillemot are just a few.
The Tokeland Peninsula may have hundreds of Marbled Godwits and has produced a Bar-tailed Godwit on some previous tours. After studying Heermann’s, Glaucous-winged, Western, and California Gulls in the harbor, we’ll have a nice dinner, then settle down for a good night’s sleep at the Silver Sands Motel, in preparation for tomorrow’s pelagic boat trip.
Pacific Ocean Pelagic
Today’s agenda is highlighted by a full-day pelagic trip with Westport Seabirds. Our boat will take us offshore to see literally THOUSANDS OF SEABIRDS, which may include Black-footed Albatross, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, Common Murre, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets, Tufted Puffin, Pink-footed Shearwater, Long-tailed Jaeger, South Polar Skua, and Sabine’s Gull.
On a previous tour a South Polar Skua had just appeared when we found a RED-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, one of very few Washington state records. Mammals that we may see include Humpback Whale, Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphin, and Elephant Seal. Leatherback Turtle, Ocean Sunfish, and Gray Whale also occur. This is the pelagic trip of a lifetime.
We often have time for some late day shorebirding upon returning to the dock.
Midway Beach, Aberdeen and Ocean Shores, and Tokeland
Midway Beach is a reliable spot for the diminutive Snowy Plover. We’ll spend most of the day at Aberdeen and Ocean Shores observing large numbers of shorebirds, loons, grebes, cormorants, sea ducks, gulls, and alcids. This is our best chance for Pacific Golden-Plover. Past visits have yielded American White Pelican, Great Egret, Lapland Longspur, Baird’s Sandpiper, and 200 Harbor Seals, basking in the sun.
A return visit to Tokeland and other nearby coastal areas will give us plenty of time to find more shorebird species and search for any rarities that may have been reported. After a nice dinner at the Tokeland Hotel, we’ll return to our hotel for the night.
Belfair State Park and John Wayne Marina
Another stop at Aberdeen and several small beach areas will be in order. We can usually find a few new species of gulls, shorebirds, and waterfowl, with a good chance for Virginia Rail. As we drive north we’ll look for Mountain Quail at Belfair State Park where we have found them previously. We’ll try again on our final morning if necessary.
The John Wayne Marina may have Black Oystercatcher, Bald Eagle, and many alcids. From there we’ll look for California Quail in Sequim (pronounced ’squim’), our home for the next three nights.
Day 9 - 10
Dungeness NWR, Olympic National Park, and Ediz Hook
One full day will be well spent at Dungeness NWR on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, named for a 16th-century Greek mariner. At Dungeness we’ll expect good numbers of seabirds including Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, and Rhinoceros Auklet, plus upland species such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Bewick’s Wren. Rarities that we’ve found there include Tufted Puffin, Pacific Golden-Plover, and Yellow-billed Loon.
The view will include the snow-covered peaks of the Olympic Mountains and 10,000-foot high Mount Baker, an active volcano. Some nearby ponds are filled with waterfowl and may have Virginia Rail and American Bittern. The next day we’ll be on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Target birds here include Canada Jay, Red Crossbill, Townsend’s Solitaire, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Northern Goshawk, and Sooty Grouse.
Black Bear and Olympic Marmot may be seen amidst the spectacular wildflower display. Ediz Hook is a good place to look for lots of Harlequin Ducks and an interesting assortment of gulls, alcids, and shorebirds.
We’ll depart the Dungeness/Sequim area, then drive to Sea-Tac International Airport for your flights home. This will be the end of a wonderful birding and nature experience in the Pacific Northwest region of Washington State.
WASHINGTON’S PACIFIC NORTHWEST:
10-19 August 2004
Top 10 lists are voted upon by the participants at the completion of each tour.
1 – White-tailed Ptarmigan – we found FOUR of these lovely birds at very close range high above Paradise on Mount Rainier.
2 – Mountain Quail – a very vocal family of 2 adults and 4 young at the Port Orchard Airport.
3 – Bar-tailed Godwit – an adult bird in almost full breeding plumage at Tokeland with 450 Marbled Godwits.
4 – California Quail – repeated close looks at 3 males and 8 young near our motel in Sequim.
5 – Prairie Falcon – the ptarmigan announced its presence when they looked up and called as the falcon passed overhead, backlit against a clear blue sky.
6 – Black-footed Albatross – many great looks during our day at sea.
7 – Tufted Puffin – one especially cooperative breeding-plumaged adult on our pelagic trip.
8 – Long-tailed Jaeger – an adult with full tail streamers, right over our boat!
9 – Sabine’s Gull – several adult birds flying and on the water during our pelagic trip.
10 – Cassin’s Auklet – these birds usually fly or dive as soon as we spot them. This one sat on the surface next to the boat for prolonged views.
Terrestrial highlights included a quick look at a Black Bear, many Elk and Mule Deer, close views of Hoary Marmot, and lots of Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels, including the ones that joined our picnic. Banana Slugs and Mound-building Ants are always intriguing. At sea we saw Dall’s and Harbor Porpoises, Northern Fur and Elephant Seals, Blue Sharks, and the bizarre Ocean Sunfish. We had excellent looks at a male Elephant Seal from shore at Dungeness NWR.
Will we do any birding the first day?
Yes! We have birding planned if time allows and everything is on schedule.
How should I dress for the tour?
Check the weather for the destination as close to your departure date as possible, and dress accordingly for your comfort level. You can also review our What to Bring page for more information.
Besides clothes, what do I need to bring?
There are many items the will be useful to you while on a Bird Treks tour. We have put together our list of recommendations on the What to Bring page.
What language are tours conducted in?
Our tours are all conducted in English, but we do have some experience working with client that don’t speak English well – Some English would be needed for safety reasons. In locations where another language is predominately spoken, a native guide may accompany the tour.
Can you help me book flights?
Yes, we will always try our best to help with anything at all! We’re here to serve you. However, it is usually easier if you book your flight through your own travel agent as we can’t always get the best deals from your particular country. But we will help whenever needed!
Can you book accommodation for us the night before the tour starts or the night the tour ends?
While Day 1 is usually a travel (arrival) day, and the last day of the tour is usually also a travel day (departure), many people do like to arrive early and/or leave late. We can indeed book extra nights before and after the trip, and we in fact recommend you let us book them, as it avoids confusion and allows us to book the accommodation that is most convenient for the tour.
NOTE: Most often it is the same hotel or lodge that you use on the first night of the tour, but in some instances, it could be an airport hotel or an accommodation establishment where the guide is staying.
Do you provide trip insurance?
No, we do not. We find that it is better for trip participants to purchase their own medical, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance through their own insurance provider in the country they reside in. We expect all tour participants to have comprehensive insurance, and we encourage everyone to send us a copy of their insurance documents.
Are meals included?
For most tours, meals are included in the tour price. This may include a hotel-provided breakfast, or guide-provided box lunches. For dinners, we strive to find interesting and delicious local restaurants – this allows us to give back to the local economy, and find exciting new place to eat.
Will I get seasick on the boat?
Most people will not get sick, although you should take precautions if you are prone to motion sickness, as the weather can dictate how rough the ride will be. There are various remedies sold at local pharmacies which can help relieve motion sickness and will make your trip more enjoyable.