BirdFest 2009 preregistration deadlines looming

Dig out your binoculars and bird identification books because the Olympic Peninsula BirdFest 2009 is drawing near.

Birding trips, boat cruises, free raptor presentations, a silent auction, a nature photography workshop and a salmon dinner are some of the activities on the agenda for April 3-5.

Some events - such as the Sequim to the San Juan Islands Cruise and the Protection Island boat trip from John Wayne Marina - require preregistration and are expected to sell out quickly.

Bird enthusiasts should check their schedules and RSVP as soon as possible, said Sara Ellen Case, Dungeness River Audubon River Center representative.

The San Juan Islands Cruise, April 5-7, is a round-trip voyage from John Wayne Marina in Sequim aboard the MV Glacier Spirit with stops in Roche Harbor and the Sucia Islands.

Besides birds, guests can expect to see whales, porpoises and seals.

"It's a fabulous time," Case said. "I've been twice."

Bob Boekelheide, Dungeness River Audubon Center director, will serve as an escort on the cruise, along with volunteers from the center.

A single occupancy room costs $650 per person; double occupancy, $575 per person. Both prices include land and sea transportation, gratuities, lodging, meals en route and breakfasts at the Roche Harbor Resort.

Proceeds benefit the river center. Registration and payment in whole must be received by March 15.

Back in Sequim, the Dungeness River Audubon Center will serve as "Bird Central" for the weekend with maps and information about the Sequim-Dungeness Valley available.

In past years, nearly 300 people from across the peninsula and farther have attended the annual festival.

Sequim is one of the top places to bird watch in the Pacific Northwest, according to Boekelheide.

Marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets, harlequin ducks, black oystercatchers, peregrine falcons and pygmy owls are among the species participants can expect to see.

A PDF of the complete schedule of events can be downloaded online at

A more detailed story will appear in the Gazette closer to the event.

For more information in the meantime, call 681-4076.

Ashley Miller can be reached at

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