Well due to my company not giving me enough holiday, or was that I used it all birdwatching in Gambia! -anyway I could have taken 80 days for this trip, there is plenty to see but after the working bit of the trip I had just 8 days for birdwatching. June is not the best time to go birdwatching in the Pacific Northwest, but the opportunity of a business trip to the area was too good an opportunity to miss. Obviously I had to do some work and I had to go to Calgary and with trips whale watching and bear watching, there would be a lot of travelling some mammals to find and some touristy things to do so this would not be a full on birding trip. I would try to get 100 new birds, considering I had not been to the area before (although I had a brief trip to California and seen some of the common species there) there would be lots of new birds, but 100 would be a challenge.



Sunday 28th May


I arrived in Seattle and during an evening walk round town only saw Glaucous winged gulls (1).


Barn Swallow


Monday 29th May


An hour before working at Discovery park produced lots of birds, of particular note Anna’s hummingbird (2), Wilson (3), hermit (4) and black throated gray warblers (5). Bushtits (6) were easily found as were chestnut backed chickadees (7) and brown creepers (8). The place was full of commoner species waxwings, song, savannah and white crowned sparrows, American goldfinch, black capped chickadee, pigeon guillemots (9), northern rough winged, barn and violet green swallows (10), north western crow (11). Spotted towhees (12) and black headed grosbeaks (13) were common in the woodland. The place was alive with these common birds. Discovery park is easily accessible from downtown and has a variety of habitats coast, grassland and forest, I felt there was more to see here so a return visit was planned.



Barred Owl

White Crowned Sparrow


Tuesday 30th May


An earlier start than yesterday, as there were two small sites close to each other to visit before work. The first was  the arboretum near the Washington State huskies football stadium only a few birds in the small pond, woods and marshland. Warbling vireo and marsh wren of note but there were lots of the commoner species and there were several red eared sliders on the pond. The next stop was Montlake fill a small grassland with ponds on the shore of Lake Washington here were lots of ducks including Cinnamon teal (14), spotted sandpipers, osprey and lots of Vaux’s swifts (15).

That evening a return visit to Discovery park was made, a red tailed hawk (16) soared over the grassland, hutton’s vireo (17) and swainsons thrushs (18) were found in the woods and several stellars jay’s (19) by the lighthouse.

Cinnamon Teal

Pied Billed Grebe


Wednesday 31st May


After some work a trip to see some killer whales was in order, travelling with


The trip was excellent, saw California sea lions, harbour seals and harbour porpoises, the boat trip also produced large numbers of pelagic and brandts cormorants, bald eagles, rhinocerous auklets (20), common murres, pigeon guillemots. There were a few pacific loons (21), marbled murrlets (22), a couple of Cassin’s auklets (23) which were most unexpected western grebes (24), western gulls (25) and black oystercatchers (26). And of course loads of killer whales an excellent trip.

Killer Whale


Rhinocerous Auklet

Thursday 1st June


Nothing but work. I saw a house sparrow on the way.




Friday 2nd June


The work was over so I headed down to Mount St Helens American kestrel on the way down and I had to stop for band tailed pigeons (27) on telegraph wires. The foothill held white headed woodpecker (28) and red breasted sapsucker (29). The scenery is excellent and well worth the visit. I walked two of the trails from the Coldwater ridge area, lots of common birds the only new bird was a western wood pewee (30). Still a really enjoyable area. The cloud came in and the heavens opened so I headed off. I drove down to Oregon to a place called seaside, here at Ecola state park (charge) is an area of scrub, woods and of course several seabird colonies here were mostly common mures which the bald eagles were predating, some cormorants and brown pelicans, the scrub and woodland held northern flicker, orange crowned warbler (31), wrentit (32) Nashville warbler and several of the commoner birds. A short trip down to Indian Shores had swainson’s thrush and rufous hummingbird (33). Light was fading and I started the journey north back into Washington.




Rufous Hummingbird


Red Breasted Sapsucker


Brown Pelicans



Saturday 3rd June


After an encounter with the police (this is the third time in my US trips) whilst taking a nap in the car during a terrible thunder and rainstorm I made it to the Olympic coast, heading to Cape Flattery, however I made slow progress with stops every mile or so for surf scoters, bald eagles, belted kingfisher, common mergansers, white winged scoter (34), harlequin ducks. I made it to Cape Flattery; you are supposed to pay the Indian reservation for the pleasure but nowhere was open to pay so I didn’t bother. I walked through the wood to cape Flattery and had varied thrush (35) and pacific slope flycatcher (36). The viewpoint over the seabird colony was amazing tufted puffins (37) could be found amongst the pigeon guillemots and common murres, and a sea otter was fishing amongst them. I then headed along the coast for some food, stopping lost for black oystercatchers amongst other things. I eventually got to hurricane ridge (expensive) but fantastic views. Black tailed deer were common but the trails were still snowed in and were hard progress with low cloud and moving mist it was not ideal birding so a red breasted nuthatch and a few dark headed juncos were all that was seen. An American pipit was found by the visitor centre. I headed back down the ridge to Port Angeles for the ferry ride across to Vancouver island. The trip was uneventful a few rhinocerous auklets and cormorants. I had a look round Victoria a very nice town, then headed off, I had a long journey to the north of the island for the next day but for some reason I headed towards the airport, here along Canora road I searched for skylarks introduced here, after a few minutes I heard the familiar song (I hear they all the time in my garden, the breed in the fields behind) and then the skylark showed itself. I headed for Nainamo and to a motel for sleep.


Black Oystercatcher


Red Breasted Nuthatch


Black Tailed Deer


Caspian Terns


Sunday 4th June


I was up early for the three hour drive to Telegraph cove, where I was booked on the bear watching trip http://www.tiderip.com/

During the drive there was an animal on the road in the dawn gloom, I turned around and it was still there an American marten searching for food along the side of the road. Further on belted kingfisher but not much else. We headed off and had dall’s porpoise just out of the harbour, the came very close. We headed across towards knight inlet, passing a bald eagle nest with lots of seabirds, marbled murrelets, surf scoters, white winged scoters, western grebes, we stopped for two groups of black bears, the second with cubs. We had some harbour porpoises, pacific white sided dolphins and lots of mew gulls (38), common mergansers, a few bonaparte’s gulls, and then some grizzly bears a total of 4 adult bears and two cubs, we got excellent views. The trip back was largely uneventful, lots of pigen guillemots and a few loons. I had a few stops on the way back to Nainamo, with hammond’s flycatcher (39), red crossbill, stellars jay, ring necked duck, varied thrush and drumming blue grouse which eluded me.


Grizzly Bear


Black Bear


Stellars Jay


Monday 5th June


I had a quick walk around the petroglyph site outside Nainamo with nothing of note before the ferry trip to Tsawwassen just south of Vancouver. I had a brief stop at a former crested myna site, they have all now died out, then a quick look downtown before going to Stanley park for some touristy things. In the afternoon I headed to the Pitt Wildlife Management area, I had a distant view of a sandhill crane (40) both eastern and western kingbirds (41), osprey, common yellowthroat, red naped sapsucker (42) and several bullock orioles (43).


Bullocks Oriole

Tuesday 6th June


I had wanted to go the Rocky mountains and had to go to Calgary for another reason so had decided on an overnight drive to Banff for dawn in the Rockies. It was a spectacular dawn, the day was going to be hot. Moose were feeding by the side of the road and I had a few stops at picnic sites, there were gray jays, yellow rumped warblers, townsend warblers (44), mountain chickadees (45), elk, coyote. I headed into Calgary and sorted the things I had to do. I then headed out east into the plains for a few hours. Here there are lots of pools with ducks, shoveller, ring necked, American widgeon. I had a few road stops for swainson’s hawk (46) and later on Ferruginous hawk (47). The track to Wolf lake is long and dusty but full of birds. Black billed magpies (48) everywhere, northern harriers (49) and broad winged hawks, red tailed hawks, american kestrels and loggerhead shrikes. The pools held American coots, canvasbacks (50), blue and green winged teals, ruddy ducks, pintail, black terns, killdeer, American avocet (51), long billed curlew (52), loads of wilson’s phalaropes, and franklins gulls. The smaller birds were also plentiful horned larks, Spragues pipit (53), grasshopper sparrow (54), vesper sparrow, chestnut collared longspur (55), bairds sparrow (56), western meadowlark (57) and yellow headed blackbirds (58). The whole area was excellent and well worth the trip. I headed south the destination was Longview to go up into the mountains to Highwood pass. The first area had lots of mountain bluebirds (59), but the pass was closed, apparently June 6th is still winter. I carried on up the road stopping at various points for mule deer, elk and eventually ended up at the shop. Here are the hummingbird feeders, several rufous hummingbirds and a couple of calliope hummingbirds (60) were using them, giving good views. I headed down to Lethbridge for the night.


Bald Eagle


Mountain Bluebird


Harlequin Duck


Western Kingbird


Wednesday 7th June


The day was to be spent in the Westleton lakes National park, then cross the border into the USA and finish off in Glacier national; park. The first stop was the bison plains were several bison were present along with lots of ground squirrels, then off into the trails, the only new bird was American dipper (61), but the young common loons were worth the trip, a few mountain goats were spotted, after lunch I crossed the border and headed into Glacier national park. The pass was closed (this would be a pain as this is where the black swifts were, and would necessitate a 3 hour diversion to get to the other side!!). I headed up the road and it started raining. I got to the furthest point and started catching up on the bird list. In between showers I birded the areas around the car parks, picking up golden crowned kinglet (62), fox sparrow (63), and western tanager (64). At the major picnic area I had some food and sat and watched, cassin’s vireo (65), townsend solitaire (66) chipping “timberline” sparrows, MacGillivray's warblers (67). The journey down produced a couple of williamson’s sapsuckers (68).


American Avocet


Swainson’s Hawk




Thursday 8th June


After driving and sleeping off and on during the night I arrived at a service station about an hour from my destination. Here was a sign that said don’t feed the gulls. What gulls? My trusty spare bag of crisps magically produced over 20 ring billed gulls. I continued on to the Yakima Canyon area. I birded along the canyon roadlots of bullocks orioles, cassin’s finches (69), California quail (70) on the road. I parked at the Yakima canyon (charge) and walked up the canyon, there were rock (71) and canyon wrens (72), American kestrel, yellow breasted chats, black headed grosbeaks, and lazuli bunting (73). Further up the canyon road were white throated swifts (74), golden eagles and prarie falcons (75). Lunch was had in Selah and then onto the LT Murray wildlife area for burrowing owls, none present so continued round the wenas rd to the Wenas campground. Here black chinned hummingbirds (76), say’s phoebe (77) olive sided (78) and dusky flycatchers (79). Brewer’s sparrow (80) and grey flycatcher (81) were found further round the road along with large numbers of western bluebirds (82). Sage thrasher (83) was picked up on one of the trails. I headed to Ellensburg for food and then to Robinson canyon I walked about 1 mile in on the old track, a dead gopher snake was found and waited the first poorwill (84) flew past then they started calling. Several were seen on the track and flying. Blue grouse were drumming everywhere but remained elusive. I stayed in Yakima.




Rufous Hummingbird




Friday 9th June


Themorning was mostly wasted trying to get into the Yakima military training area. What should have been a simple process was thrown into disarray by my production of a British passport as photo ID. I went through the training video about the site while phone calls were made to colonels, etc. No one could make a decision (good job it was not on the battlefield) as to whether I would be allowed onto the site. I was only going to be an hour or so for sage sparrows, sage grouse and chukar. There was no final ruling as the general could not be contacted but it was felt that I would have to go to Fort Lewis (2 hours away) to be processed (hope its not like Guantanamo) and be sponsored by a US citizen. So I declined this and left but this had cost me 3 species and two hours, what a waste. I headed down to the Conboy lake National wildlife refuge. There were no people here at all during my visit. The trek through the woods did not produce the two target birds but did give up an excellent black backed woodpecker (85), a common garter snake, Virginia rail (86) and two sandhill cranes, pair of peregrine falcons. A coyote was also found on the marsh. I headed down to the Columbia river to see some of the tourist sites and see a few birds. Bingen and Lyle were the first stops, picking up wood ducks and cinnamon teal, California gull (87,) ashy throated flycatcher (88) and lesser goldfinch (89) along with western pond turtles. A tip off from the Fish and Wildlife officer about American pelicans further down the river dictated my direction, I stopped off for Acorn woodpecker (90) but could not find Lewis’s woodpecker. I found the pelicans and then as it started to get dark I headed back north for the night back in Yakima. After a short while near one of the towns an owl flew out in front of me , very small and grey – western screech owl (91) an excellent find only my second American owl. However this was to be outdone at the edge of a forest as a large owl was disturbed this one was unmistakable – great horned owl (92).


Lesser Goldfinch


Dark Eyed Junco


Willow Flycatcher


Savannah Sparrow


Saturday 10th June


The last day and only two target birds I was never going to make the 100. The first stop was the fields around Centralia for white tailed kite, a wrong turn produced my other target, western scrub jay (93), I did eventually find white tailed kite (94) near the power station. My last stop before the airport was Nisqually wildlife refuge a great place but not on a Saturday as every many and his dog, kids etc. was about. Lots of the common species, several bullfrogs and common yellowthroats were the highlights.


Western Bluebird




Mammals, Reptiles etc. - 32


American Marten

Killer Whale

Harbour Porpoise

Dalls Porpoise

California Sealion

Harbour Seal

Pacific White Sided Dolphin


Mule Deer

Black Tailed Deer


Sea Otter

Yellow Pine Chipmunk


Mountain Goat


Columbian Ground Squirrel

Richardson’s Ground Squirrel


Common garter snake

Western Ground Squirrel

Western Pond turtle

Western Painted Turtle


Mouse sp

Black Bear

Grizzly Bear



Mountain Cottontail


American Bullfrog



Birds - 180


American Avocet

Common Goldeneye

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Acorn Woodpecker

Common Loon

Northern Shoveler

American Coot

Common Merganser

Northwestern Crow

American Crow

Common Murre

Olive-sided Flycatcher

American Dipper

Common Poorwill

Orange-crowned Warbler

American Goldfinch

Common Snipe


American Kestrel

Common Yellowthroat

Pacific Loon

American Pipit

Cooper's Hawk

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

American Robin

Dark-eyed Junco

Pelagic Cormorant

American White Pelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Peregrine Falcon

American Wigeon

Dusky Flycatcher

Pied-billed Grebe

Anna's Hummingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Pigeon Guillemot

Ash-throated Flycatcher

European Starling

Prairie Falcon

Baird's Sparrow

Ferruginous Hawk

Red Crossbill

Bald Eagle

Fox Sparrow

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Band-tailed Pigeon

Franklin's Gull

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Bank Swallow


Red-naped Sapsucker

Barn Swallow

Glaucous-winged Gull

Red-tailed Hawk

Barred Owl

Golden Eagle

Red-winged Blackbird

Belted Kingfisher

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Black Oystercatcher

Grasshopper Sparrow

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Gray Flycatcher

Ring-necked Duck

Black-backed Woodpecker

Gray Jay

Rock Dove

Black-billed Magpie

Great Blue Heron

Rock Wren

Black-capped Chickadee

Great Horned Owl

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Green-winged Teal

Ruddy Duck

Black-headed Grosbeak

Hammond's Flycatcher

Rufous Hummingbird

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Harlequin Duck

Rusty Blackbird

Blue-winged Teal

Hermit Warbler

Sage Thrasher

Brandt's Cormorant

Herring Gull

Sandhill Crane

Brewer's Blackbird

Horned Grebe

Savannah Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow

Horned Lark

Say's Phoebe

Brown Creeper

House Finch

Sky Lark

Brown Pelican

House Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Wren

Spotted Towhee


Hutton's Vireo

Sprague's Pipit

Bullock's Oriole


Steller's Jay


Lark Sparrow

Surf Scoter

California Gull

Lazuli Bunting

Swainson's Hawk

California Quail

Lesser Goldfinch

Swainson's Thrush

Calliope Hummingbird

Loggerhead Shrike

Townsend's Solitaire

Canada Goose

Long-billed Curlew

Townsend's Warbler


MacGillivray's Warbler

Tree Swallow

Canyon Wren


Tufted Puffin

Cassin's Auklet

Marbled Murrelet

Turkey Vulture

Cassin's Finch

Marsh Wren

Varied Thrush

Cassin's Vireo

Mew Gull

Vaux's Swift

Cedar Waxwing

Mountain Bluebird

Violet-green Swallow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee

Virginia Rail

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Mourning Dove

Warbling Vireo

Chipping Sparrow

Northern Flicker

Western Bluebird

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Harrier

Western Grebe

Cliff Swallow

Northern Pintail

Western Gull


Williamson's Sapsucker

Western Kingbird

Yellow Warbler

Wilson's Phalarope

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-breasted Chat

Wilson's Warbler

Western Screech-Owl

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Winter Wren

Western Scrub-Jay

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wood Duck

Western Tanager

White-throated Swift

White-headed Woodpecker

Western Wood-Pewee

White-winged Scoter

White-tailed Kite

White-crowned Sparrow








A birdfinders guide to Washington (ABA Birdfinding Guide), Hal Oppermann, ISBN 1-878788-20-5


A birdfinding guide to Canada, J. Cam Finlay, ISBN 0-7710-3219-6


A birdfinders Guide to Metropolitan  areas of North America, (ABA/Lane Birdfinding Guide), Paul Lehman, ISBN 9-781878 788153



If you would like any further information please e-mail me mark@hows.org.uk





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