U.S. and Canadian birders flock to Sequim in early April each year to enjoy the three-day Olympic BirdFest. The 2014 Festival (April 4-6) offers “Birding by Land and Sea,” a new, two-day pre-festival field trip that offers an opportunity to see birdlife seldom seen from land.
“We should have a very exciting time exploring a section of the Washington coast that receives little attention from birders — anything is possible,” said Bob Boekelheide, seabird biologist and one of the trip leaders.
On Wednesday morning, April 2, the guided trip begins with birding around Neah Bay by van and foot to several birding hotspots and beautiful areas within the Makah Nation. After a freshly caught halibut buffet dinner, and weather permitting, the group will enjoy stories and camaraderie around the resort’s campfire.
On Thursday, April 3, participants will board the M/V Wind Song in search of birds that spend most of their lives offshore. Boekelheide and expert birder Denny Van Horn will identify birds and wildlife as the Wind Song, crewed by Makah tribal members, takes them to the Juan de Fuca Canyon, Tatoosh Island and Swiftsure Bank. Shearwater, albatross, petrel and northern fulmar are some of the viewing possibilities.
Meals, boat trip, expert guides and lodging are included in the $325-$395 per person trip cost.
The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society started BirdFest in 2004. The festival offers nearly two dozen guided trips, workshops and a gala banquet with silent auction and raffle. Noah Strycker, the 2014 banquet speaker, is a photographer, author and adventurer. He has a degree in fisheries and wildlife and is associate editor of Birding magazine. On April 7, following BirdFest, there are two more other birding-by-boat experiences.
Boekelheide and Van Horn will be the naturalists on board a three-day birding and wildlife cruise to the San Juan Islands, and a second — very popular — three-hour cruise goes around Protection Island at Admiralty Inlet. Both cruises depart from John Wayne Marina in Sequim.
A chapter of the National Audubon Society and a partner of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, OPAS created BirdFest to help support the educational programs and operations of the center and Railroad Bridge Park.
To learn more about the Neah Bay seabird trip or the Olympic BirdFest, log onto www.olympicbirdfest.org or call the Dungeness River Audubon Center at 681-4076.