Best Trips ~ Best Value!    888.875.9453

Greg Miller Big Year Series: PACIFIC NORTHWEST

This is an amazing tour! We will hit 8 of the Top 10 Birding Hotspots in the State of Washington (according to eBird “Explore a Region” – July 2015). We will start at the northerly tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound. This is the top birding hotspot in the State of Washington according to eBird’s Explore a Region. Over 160 species have been recorded in the month of October. This includes more than 20 species of waterfowl, 4 species of loons, 6 species of grebes, 13 species of gulls, all 3 jaegers, and an amazing 6 species of alcids. One of the greatest allures here is the possibility of seeing alcids—birds usually only found at sea by boat—from dry land. We’ll be looking for Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, and Rhinoceros Auklet. Ancient Murrelet winter here and we’ll be on the cusp of their arrival here. Wow! What a start! We will drive along the north edge of the Olympic Peninsula and bird at the northwest corner of the state at Neah Bay where we will look for more alcids, gulls, and waterfowl. We’ll back through the Kitsap Peninsula and out to the Pacific Ocean at Grays Harbor. This place is not only terrific for waterfowl and gulls, but is a powerful magnet for shorebirds. Finally we’ll head back up to the southern end of Puget Sound and bird one of the best National Wildlife Refuges in the State—Nisqually. We’ll finish up birding some of the very best local hotspots in the Seattle area. Some of the birds we’ll search for in addition to the birds listed above include Red-breasted Sapsucker, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, Hutton’s Vireo, Varied Thrush, Northwestern Crow, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Heermann’s Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Western Grebe, Parasitic Jaeger, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Harlequin Duck, and Northern Shrike. The scenery will be stunning! We will almost always have majestic mountains in view. And the fjords of the Puget Sound will make you feel like you are in a different land. And then there is the enchanting Pacific Coast along the Olympic Peninsula. The beauty is so rich and beautiful it just might make your eyes tear up. And I do hope you like eating good, fresh seafood!
  • Tour Cost
  • Number of Days (Length of Tour)

    7 days / 6 nights

    Cost

    $1750.00 per person, based upon double occupancy from Seattle, WA (SEA).

    Although we will eat our meals as a group, meal costs are not included in this trip for light to average eaters, this will save you money rather than adding in an "average" food cost per person.

    Single Supplement

    If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to get a roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $300.00 will be assessed.

    What is Included / Not Included in the Cost

    Included in the cost are all accommodations, transportation, entrance fees and permits, from Seattle, WA.

    Participants will be responsible for purchasing their own meals and making their flight arrangements.

    Deposit

    $500.00, check, paypal or credit card, along with your completed Wildside Nature Tours Registration Form.

    Final Payment

    The balance due or full payment, by check, is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

  • Itinerary
  • Brief Itinerary

    Day 1: Arrivals at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, WA (SEA)

    Day 2: Kent Ponds; Gog-Le-Hi-Te; Point No Point

    Day 3: Neah Bay; Cape Flattery; Waatch River Valley; Ediz Hook

    Day 4: Theler Wetlands; Ocean Shores

    Day 5: Ocean Shores; Grays Harbor NWR; Hoquiam STP; Westport; Tokeland

    Day 6: Nisqually NWR; Marymoor Park; Magnuson Park; Discovery Park

    Day 7: Departures from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, WA (SEA)

     

    Full Itinerary

     

    Day 1 ~ Arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, WA (SEA)

    Arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, WA (SEA)Orientation at dinner. Night in Seattle, WA. If all our flights arrive early we will have some time to bird local Seattle hotspots.

     

    Day 2 ~ Kent Ponds; Gog-Le-Hi-Te; Point No Point

    Kent Ponds is a 300-acre site of grasslands, cottonwood groves, and impoundments. This old wastewater treatment site is now a part of flood control and wildlife enhancement. We’ll check the area for waterfowl and gulls. We may pick up our first Glaucous-winged Gulls here. Peregrine Falcon and Northern Shrike could be here, too, as well as Fox Sparrows (Sooty) and Golden-crowned Sparrows.

     

    The Port of Tacoma’s Gog-Le-Hi-Te Mitigated Wetlands was a former landfill. Our primary focus here is gulls. Ten species have been reported to eBird in October at this location. New gulls here may include Thayer’s and Mew Gulls. And if we’re very lucky, Slaty-backed Gull. This species delighted birders in the month of October in both 2013 and 2014.

     

    Next we’ll head north to the tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound. This is the top birding hotspot in the State of Washington according to eBird’s Explore a Region. Over 160 species have been recorded in the month of October. This includes more than 25 species of waterfowl, 4 species of loons, 6 species of grebes, 13 species of gulls, all 3 jaegers, and an amazing 6 species of alcids. Needless to say, we’ll spend some time here to take in as much as possible. One of the greatest allures here is the possibility of seeing alcids—birds usually only found at sea by boat—from dry land. We’ll be looking for Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, and Rhinoceros Auklet. Ancient Murrelet winter here and we’ll be on the cusp of their arrival here. Parasitic Jaegers are the most regular of the jaegers at this location. The potential to find a really good bird here is high. Night near Port Angeles, WA.

     

    Day 3 ~ Neah Bay; Cape Flattery; Waatch River Valley; Ediz Hook

    We’ll be birding out at the extreme northwestern point in Washington. Today will be our most realistic chance at seeing Northwestern Crow. Many of the birds at Neah Bay are similar to Point No Point. In fact, this is the fourth best birding hotspot in Washington. Although some of these are unusual, we will have a higher probability of seeing Cackling Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Black Turnstone, Surfbird, Black-legged Kittiwake, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, and Varied Thrush. The alcids we looked for yesterday will be possible here, too.

    Cape Flattery is the very tip. It borders both the Pacific Ocean and the Salish Sea. Canada is a mere 25 miles to the north of us. And, we are about 80 miles (as the Northwestern Crow flies) south of Tofino, British Colombia, where the pelagic trips in the movie, The Big Year, were filmed. Here we’ll search for Harlequin Duck, Common Murre, Black Oystercatcher, Black-legged Kittiwake, and a distant shot at finding a Sooty Shearwater. Tufted Puffins can be seen with a telescope out on Tatoosh Island from May through mid-September, but by the end of the month they are gone. We’ll look anyway and hope to get lucky. All it takes is one…

     

    Waatch River Valley is nearby and our last stop out here at the point. Greater White-fronted Goose and Cackling Goose are both possible here. While retracing our route from the morning, we’ll stop at Ediz Hook.

     

    Ediz Hook is a 3-mile long sand spit jutting into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This is our prime location for Harlequin Duck on our tour. Night near Port Angeles, WA again.

     

    Day 4 ~ Theler Wetlands; Ocean Shores

    Theler Wetlands is located at the head of an estuary and has both fresh and saltwater marshes, riparian areas, and forested wetlands. The Seattle Times referred to this location as “a birding wonderland”. We will get a chance to test it out. On our itinerary, this locale has the top probability for Red-breasted Sapsucker. That would make a nice addition to the trip list.

     

    Our next destination will be coastal again—this time, Ocean Shores near the mouth of Grays Harbor. Grays Harbor is a well-known magnet for shorebirds. A total of 31 species have been recorded here in eBird in October alone! Ocean Shores, like its name, borders the Pacific Ocean. The Westport Pelagic trips depart from Grays Harbor to look for seabirds. Unfortunately, our tight itinerary will not give us time for that on this tour. But if you ever return, you should plan on taking one of these trips. The birding can be unforgettable! Brant, American Golden-Plover and Pacific Golden-Plover, and all 3 scoters are possible here. Rock Sandpiper is a long shot. Some of the outstanding October finds here at Ocean shores include Emperor Goose, King Eider, Yellow-billed Loon, Eurasian Dotterel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and Curlew Sandpiper. What a list! Night near Ocean Shores, WA.

     

    Day 5 ~ Ocean Shores; Grays Harbor NWR; Hoquiam STP; Westport; Tokeland

    We’ll have better light this morning looking out over the Pacific Ocean and birding the shores. The Oyhut Wildlife Area is the spot to look for Brant and the golden-plovers as well as a chance to see Lapland Longspurs and Northern Shrike.

     

    We’ll sort through shorebirds and waterfowl at Grays Harbor NWR. Maybe we’ll find a Eurasian Wigeon or a Cackling Goose here. If we haven’t already found Black-bellied Plover, this is a good spot for them.

     

    The sewage treatment plant at Hoquiam can turn up some great species. We’ll stop and check it out. According to birders in Washington this may be the most-birded sewage treatment plant in the Northwest. We’ll sort through waterfowl, shorebirds, and grebes. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be incredibly lucky like birders in the past who have found a vagrant like a Tropical Kingbird? (true)

     

    On the south side of Grays Harbor on the way to Westport is Bottle Beach. It’s a great spot for shorebirds. We’ll look for Red Knot. Rarities like Bar-tailed Godwit and Ruff have been seen here.

     

    Westport has a number of hotspots. We’ll look for things we didn’t find at Ocean Shores. The jetty is a good place to get one more chance of seeing alcids from shore like Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet, Marbled Murrelet, or even a remotely possible Tufted Puffin. Seeing a flyby Black-legged Kittiwake is possible here, too.

     

    Our final stop for the day is Tokeland. Our best chance of finding a Bar-tailed Godwit is here. And…wait for it…American Crow. Yep. We have a chance to bag two species of crows on this trip. This also our best spot to find Clark’s Grebe. Of course, Western is far more common. Brant and Cackling Goose are to be looked for as well. Night in Olymipia, WA.

     

    Day 6 ~ Nisqually NWR; Marymoor Park; Magnuson Park; Discovery Park

    Another one of Washington’s Top 10 birding hotspots is Nisqually NWR according to eBird. This is a good place for geese. Trumpeter Swans show up later in the month. In all, 27 species of waterfowl have been recorded here in October in eBird. We will search for Virginia Rail and Marsh for our year list. Northern Shrike, Violet-green Swallow, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Spotted Towhee, and Western Meadowlark.

     

    We will finish our day navigating Seattle area traffic to visit some of the very best city parks. Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA is one of those spots. It’s an old and really popular park. But it also has a good bird list. This is one of the better spots on our itinerary to pick up Common Merganser, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pacific Wren, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Evening Grosbeak, Violet-green Swallow, Townsend’s Warbler, and Golden-crowned Sparrow.

     

    Magnuson Park is close. This may be our best chance at finding California Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, and Barn Owl. We may see a lingering Vaux’s Swift here as well.

     

    Discovery Park is a little west of Magnuson Park. Many species have been recorded here. But for our itinerary it is best for Hutton’s Vireo, Varied Thrush, and Red Crossbill. We’ll have one more chance to look for Rhinoceros Auklets from here, too. Night in Seattle, WA.

     

    Day 7 ~ Departures from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, WA (SEA)

    Tour ends. Departures from San Jose International Airport in Seattle, WA (SEA).

     

     

  • Accommodations
  • Standard hotels near our birding locations.