Trip Report

Black-footed Albatross by Alan Lenk Black Turnstone by Alan Lenk California Scrub Jay by Alan Lenk Chestnut-backed Chickadee by Alan Lenk Dinner at Roche Restaurant by Kevin Burke Group at Dungeness Spit by Kevin Burke Group at Hoh Rainforest by Kevin Burke Kevin Burke, Seattle, WA Lewis's Woodpecker by Alan Lenk Pigeon Guillemot by Alan Lenk Pink-footed Shearwater by Alan Lenk Rattlesnake Mountain, Posser, WA by Kevin Burke Sabine's Gull by Alan Lenk Townsend's Warbler by Alan Lenk Tufted Puffin by Alan Lenk
  • Black-footed Albatross by Alan Lenk
  • Black Turnstone by Alan Lenk
  • California Scrub Jay by Alan Lenk
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee by Alan Lenk
  • Dinner at Roche Restaurant by Kevin Burke
  • Group at Dungeness Spit by Kevin Burke
  • Group at Hoh Rainforest by Kevin Burke
  • Kevin Burke, Seattle, WA
  • Lewis's Woodpecker by Alan Lenk
  • Pigeon Guillemot by Alan Lenk
  • Pink-footed Shearwater by Alan Lenk
  • Rattlesnake Mountain, Posser, WA by Kevin Burke
  • Sabine's Gull by Alan Lenk
  • Townsend's Warbler by Alan Lenk
  • Tufted Puffin by Alan Lenk


Venture to Washington State
August 21-30, 2019
Guide: Kevin Burke



Jane and Steve Gannt, Dianne Toebe, Bob Butler, Tim Carstens, Alan Lenk, Bill and Kathy Warner

This year’s Washington State Venture was an ambitious tour.  We successfully birded multiple different Bioregions within the state.  To achieve this lofty goal, we needed to move from area to area every couple of days.    The tour started off in the Puget sound area and then quickly moved to the Olympic peninsula.  Birding Olympic National Park not only provided get avifauna, but beautiful scenery as well.  The trip down the outer coast was amazing all the way to Westport, where we spent a wonderful day at sea aboard the Monte Carlo captained by Phil Anderson of Westport Seabirds.  Leaving the coast behind we traveled into the cascades for some high elevation birding, and then onto the dry side of Washington.  We enjoyed a hot but productive day in the high desert of Washington around the Tri-cites of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick.  Heading back over the mountains to the Northern Puget sound area afforded us some more time in the Cascades to try for some species we hadn’t seen already.  This transition day set us up for one of the most scenic ferry rides in the whole country out to San Juan Island.  A day of birding on San Juan Island in the summer is one of the most delightful experiences anyone can have!  That evenings saw us have a farewell dinner and head to Seattle for an early departure the next day.  The following report details the day’s activities and highlights the birds and mammals we saw along the way.

August 22nd:
Having all gathered up at the hotel and getting to know each other at dinner the night before we were eager to start the tour off on the right foot.  We started the morning with a short drive to Lincoln Park in the West Seattle neighborhood.  A park with mixed woodlands and beachfront.  We decided to walk through the forest and came upon our first few species.  RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES and BROWN CREEPERS were all over the trees.  A SPOTTED TOWHEE called out from the bushes and a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER called and eventually showed itself on top of a dead snag.  We moved further into the park and had great looks at BARRED OWL, BEWICK’S WREN, WILSON’S WARBLER, and a flock of BUSHTITS. What a great start!  We had every intention of making it to the beach, but we ran out of time and decided to move to another spot in West Seattle before heading to the ferry and the Olympic Peninsula.  We picked up WESTERN SANDPIPER, BLACK TURNSTONE, CASPIAN TERN, SANDERLING, and a few other birds in West Seattle.  We drove straight to the ferry terminal in downtown Seattle to make our way to Bainbridge Island.  From the ferry we had 4 PIGEON GUILLEMOTS, and our first of the western cormorants the PELAGIC CORMORANT.

A nice lunch on Bainbridge island set us up for a birding adventure at Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge.  Dungeness Spit is one of the world’s longest sand spits.  It provides a great habitat for migrating shorebirds, gulls, and alcids.  We didn’t quite walk all the way to the end, but we did have RED-NECKED GREBE, WESTERN GULL, and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE.  The views are amazing at this refuge and very worth the visit.   We transitioned into Port Angeles for the night and had a lovely dinner down by the water.

Aug 23rd:
This morning we woke up early and headed up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  The mile-high drive was beautiful.  We decided to take a quick spin around the visitor center trail to take in the sights.  A few DARK-EYED JUNCOS were flitting around the trail.  After getting a quick walk under our belts we headed out on Obstruction Pass Road to look for more high elevation species.  This is a very steep windy road that heads East out of Hurricane Ridge for around eight miles.  The first bird spotted on the road was a very cooperative TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE.  It sat up for pictures and obliged us long looks.  Moving down the road we decided to get out and walk some good habitat.  GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were abundant in this area.  We had six BAND-TAILED PIGEONS fly over close.  The soft call of a CANADA JAY was heard from the top of a tree.  Pretty soon we were surrounded by the camp robbers.  Several young birds mixed with adults foraged near us for quite a while and then moved off to the North.  The next encounter we had down the road was with a pair of SOOTY GROUSE.  These were spotted along the side of the road and stuck around just long enough for a quick glance.  The road climbed a bit after that, and we found a great spot for a morning snack overlooking Hurricane Ridge.  A WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE and OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER we both in the area calling and actively flycatching.  A BLACK TAILED DEER buck was bedded down just up the hill and his head was just visible enough to see all six of the points on his rack. 

The day was getting on and we had to make our way down the mountain for more birding.  We spent the afternoon birding in the community of Sequim.  The Audubon Center there is a great place to take a walk and peek at the feeders.  The feeders had some pretty good birds.  A pair of BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, SPOTTED TOWHEE, and PINE SISKINS were among the birds coming into the water feature and feeders.  A walk down through the Railroad Bridge Park was successful with WESTERN TANAGER, RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, and multiple ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS.  The best bird of the afternoon was a continuing CALIFORNIA SCRUB-JAY that sat up for some good pictures.

About this time, we got a report of two PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVERS in the area.   We went for the closet one in Sequim.  The Dungeness Landing Park was very pretty and had a couple hundred BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS on a sandy spit a few hundred yards out from where we were.  We couldn’t pick out a Pacific Golden Plover this time, but we did have a couple of BALD EAGLES Fishing nearby.  Dinner was in Port Angeles again.  The second report of PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER was on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, so after dinner a few of us took a side trip to try to see if we could find the plover.  We first came upon around 35 HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and equal amounts of HEERMAN’S GULLS.  HARBOR SEALS were hauled out on the booms and two CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS were patrolling the water.  We drove down a little bit more on the spit and were scoping some gulls when a PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER walked right down the beach towards us.  It was the only shorebird we had that evening and a great way to end the day.

Aug 24th:
Today we transitioned down to Westport.  A quick trip to the visitor center at the HOH rainforest was beautiful.  We wanted to get to some better birding, so we quickly made our way out to Ruby Beach on the coast.  Here we had our third cormorant of the trip the BRANDTS CORMORANT feeding young on a sea stack rock.  Our only BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS of the trip.  Several BROWN PELICANS were roosting on the rocks.  A cooperative PACIFIC WREN was on the trail on the way back up to the van.

We drove down to Ocean Shores in the afternoon and stopped at Brown Point Jetty to see what we could see.  BLACK TURNSTONES were foraging on the jetty.  We had great looks at HEERMAN’S GULLS on the beach and a couple small flocks of BLACK SCOTERS fly by.  The day was getting long and we need to make our way to Westport for the evening. 

Aug 25th:
Today we woke up early to go on a Pelagic tour with WESTPORT SEABIRDS.  The Monte Carlo was our vessel for the day.  We had high hopes of this day being one of the highlights for the trip and it did not disappoint.  After a quick briefing we set off to open water to try to find the commercial shrimping fleet that these pelagic birds like to hang around.  We had a myriad of gulls and cormorants as we left Westport.  Land was still visible when we saw our first of many SOOTY SHEARWATERS on the day.  The buoys on the way out held CALIFORNIA and STELLARS SEA LIONS.  Soon after the Sooty Shearwaters appeared, we came across PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS in the distance.  An adult and a juvenile SABINES GULL also gave us views early.  As we travelled further out BULLERS and SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATERS also appeared near the boat.  A HUMPBACK WHALE was sighted very close to the boat and gave us a good look at its fluke before going down for a deep dive.  We were coming up to the shrimp fleet when our first BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSS sailed by the boat.  These are fairly small as far as Albatross go with roughly a six-foot wingspan, but it dwarfed all the other birds in the area.  It was around this time when one of the spotters yelled out FLESH-FOOTED SHEARWATER!  It circled the boat a bit and got close enough for diagnostic views.

A large pod of PACIFIC WHITE SIDED DOLPHIN charged by the boat very close.  We estimated that there were 50-60 individuals in the pod.  We also had a few DAHLS PORPOISE riding the rollers on the way out.  These marine mammals were just an added bonus for the day.  We headed all the way out to Grays Canyon where we picked up FORK-TAILED STORM PETREL, ARTIC TERN, and LONG-TAILED JAEGER.  We sat out over the continental shelf with light winds chumming the waters and reflecting on all the good things we had seen already.  It was time to turn back to Westport and see what we could find on the way back. 

The trip back was every bit as good as the trip out.  Tiny CASSINS AUKLETS gave us fleeting views.  A TUFTED PUFFIN sat on the water and let us snap some pics.  An OCEAN SUNFISH was floating along on top of the water and let us cruise by for a better look.  We patrolled the outer Jetty in Westport on the way in and were treated to looks at WANDERING TATTLER and SURFBIRD.  The final treat in the harbor was a flock of 500 or so MARBLED GODWITS, a very impressive sight.  This is a must do trip of anyone who enjoys birding.  Phil and Chris Anderson do a fantastic job finding birds, creating a welcoming environment, and making sure everyone has a great time.  What a day!

Aug 26th:
Today we woke up early in Westport and travelled 3 hours to the South and East to White Pass.  Today we would bird in the Gifford Pinchot and Snoqualmie National Forests.  A longish drive to Leech lake campground was well worth the effort.  One of the first birds we saw was a beautiful TOWNSENDS WARBLER in perfect light for photos.  On Leech lake was a pair of BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, OSPREY, and BELTED KINGFISHER.  We walked around the campground and were treated to CASSINS VIREO, NASHVILLE WARBLER, CANADA JAY, VARIED THRUSH, and a cooperative SHARP-SHINNED HAWK.  This was a great start to the day.  The next stop was just down the road at Clear lake.  Not one minute after getting out of the van we were on our target bird, the AMERICAN DIPPER.  We watched it on the spillway and a second bird appeared, and then another.  All total we had five AMERICAN DIPPERS in this location.  Pretty cool.

The next stop was a forest service road going down the eastern side of the cascades.  We were searching for any high elevation bird we could find.  A WILLIAMSONS SAPSUCKER was a good sighting along a stretch of road we were walking.  Soon we were surrounded by three species of nuthatches all at once: PYGMY, RED-BREASTED, and WHITE-BREASTED.  We travelled further up the forest service road with excellent views of Mount Adams and Rainier.  We encountered our first HAMMONDS FLYCATCHER of the trip right after lunch!

The final stop of the day was just outside of the city of Naches.  We spotted a bird in a tree off of highway 12 and decided to pull off and get a closer look.  I am glad we did.  It ended up being a LEWIS’S WOODPECKER.  The first bird flushed fairly quickly, but it flew off and met another bird.  Soon we were surrounded by eight LEWIS’S WOODPECKERS.  It was a phenomenal experience to see these birds up close and posing for good photos.  We also had VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS at the same location.  By this time, it was getting late and we headed on to Yakima for the night.

Aug 27th:
One great advantage of having lived in Washington is the friendships I made while I was there.  Today my birding mentor while I was living in the Tri-cities, her husband, and another great birding friend took the time to show us their favorite spots.  This was one of my favorite days not only because of the birds, but spending the day with my close friends.

We met in Prosser a small community in between Yakima and Richland.  We headed up the back side of rattlesnake mountain, one of the last good stands of native sage brush left in the area.  We had a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE on a line on the ride up.  Several WESTERN MEADOWLARKS and BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES flew across the road as we drove as well.  Our first stop produced multiple SAGEBRUSH SPARROWS that were perching on sagebrush and in the road. A surprise of three GREY PARTRIDGE being very cooperative in the road was a highlight for sure.  As we moved further up the mountain no less than six SAGE THRASHERS gave us great perched views.  Rattlesnake mountain had been pretty good to us so far and would also produce BREWERS SPARROW, SWAINSONS HAWK, HORNED LARK, and NORTHERN HARRIER.  A great way to start the morning.

The next stop was one of our travelling companion’s backyard!  A good friend that was helping us out in the morning opened up her back patio for lunch.  It just so happened that she had CALLIOPE, RUFOUS, and BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS all visiting her feeders.  Another surprise was several LESSER GOLDFINCH at her feeder.  It was great to compare them to the similar AMERICAN GOLDFINCH.  It just so happened that her yard backed up against a local park.  We took a quick stroll down the park and had our only MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER of the trip.

The day was heating up quite a bit, as the desert will do.  We decided to head to a spot for BURROWING OWL nearby.  A successful venture indeed, although we would circle back around a little later to get better views and observe two owls at the same nest.  The next stop was the headquarters of McNary National Wildlife Refuge.  The ponds at the refuge headquarters had a few new species for the trip including RUDDY DUCK, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and CALIFORNIA QUAIL.  It had been a long hot day in the desert, so we headed back to YAKIMA to set up for the next day off to the cascades and Burlington. 

Aug 28th:
Today was our transition day back to the West side of the cascades.  We took the scenic Yakima canyon North to see if we could pick up some new species.  Our first stop was probably the most productive of the day.  We pulled over in the canyon to listen for anything and soon we saw a family of ROCK WRENS close by.  The loud JEERT of a CANYON WREN also caught our attention, and it finally did its full song.  Thinking we exhausted the spot I caught a bird jumping up and down up the canyon wall out of the corner of my eye.  I ran for my scope and everyone was able to observe three CHUKAR and several BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES jumping up and down at the same site.  Interesting behavior for sure. 

We made our way to the West side of the cascades to Wylie Slough in Skagit County.  This was a known spot for BLACK PHEOBE which we did get great looks at.  A few NORTHERN SHOVELERS and Several SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were also present.  We headed North to Burlington for the night and anticipated the final day of our tour.

Aug 29th:
The final leg of our tour was our much-anticipated trip to San Juan Island.  We had an early reservation on the ferry, so we watched the sunrise over Mount Baker from the ferry terminal.  PELAGIC CORMORANTS were stacked up on the pilings.  The hour ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor is one of the most scenic boat rides in the entire country.  We set up on the bow of the ferry to bird our way to the island.  RHINOCEROUS AUKLETS were abundant as we ferried to the island.

Once on the island we drove out to Lime Kiln State Park.  This is the only whale watching park in the United States.  Orcas come right up against the shore of these glacially tilled islands.  We walked down to the lighthouse and observation areas.  Three WESTERN GREBES were close by on the water for good pictures.  A couple hundred gulls were on the rocks and we got great looks at GLAUCOUS-WINGED, HEERMAN’S, and CALIFORNIA Gulls.  COMMON MURRES were close by in the water for good looks.  A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was back and forth to the feeders at the staff housing.  We went to the North end of the island for lunch at Roche Harbor.

The final leg of our day was at American Camp.  A National Park Unit on San Juan Island commemorating a stand off between the British and Americans over a shot pig!  Right away we had some CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES calling from the trees.  We took a slow walk down the trail and caught up with a large flock of birds.  A family of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS bounced around the trail.  Quite a few YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS flitted in the trees and then I spotted a NASHVILLE WARBLER that perched for good looks.  We followed this flock for the better part of an hour foraging all around us.  Many ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were mixed in.  Finally, someone yelled RED CROSSBILL!  A female was perched low on a branch.  It stayed for several minutes making for some great pictures.  A WILLOW FLYCATCHER was doing its “WIT” call from the bushes.  This was a great mixed flock and a great way to end our time on the island.  The ferry ride back to Anacortes gave us great looks of MARBLED MURRELET and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE.  We drove back Seattle after a nice dinner near the water in Everett. 

This was a great tour of Washington.  We visited a ton of different areas and habitats. Washington is such a diverse state that it is easy to get a great list of birds in a short time.  We ended the trip with right around 180 species of birds.  The mammals were great too!

The list of mammals are as follows:
Olympic Marmot, Douglas Squirrel, Townsend’s Chipmunk, Black-tailed Deer, Harbor Seal, Harbor Porpoise, Racoon, Northern Fur Seal, California Sea Lion, Steller’s Sea Lion, Dahl’s Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphin, Humpback Whale, Elk, Bighorn Sheep




Venture to Washington State August 21-30, 2019


Species encountered: 173 species




Greater White-fronted Goose
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Northern Shoveler
American Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Harlequin Duck
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Barrow's Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
California Quail
Gray Partridge
Sooty Grouse
Pied-billed Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Western Grebe
Rock Pigeon
Band-tailed Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Vaux's Swift
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
American Coot
Black Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Pacific Golden-Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
Red-necked Phalarope
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Wandering Tattler
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Parasitic Jaeger
Long-tailed Jaeger
Common Murre
Pigeon Guillemot
Marbled Murrelet
Cassin's Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet


Tufted Puffin
Sabine's Gull
Heermann's Gull
Mew Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Western Gull
California Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull
Caspian Tern
Arctic Tern
Common Loon
Black-footed Albatross
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel
Northern Fulmar
Pink-footed Shearwater
Flesh-footed Shearwater
Buller's Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Short-tailed Shearwater
Brandt's Cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Burrowing Owl
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Williamson's Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Lewis's Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood-Pewee
Hammond's Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Cassin's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Loggerhead Shrike
Canada Jay
Steller's Jay
California Scrub-Jay

Black-billed Magpie


American Crow
Northwestern Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Horned Lark
Purple Martin
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Pacific Wren
Bewick's Wren
American Dipper
European Starling
Gray Catbird
Sage Thrasher
Townsend's Solitaire
Varied Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
House Sparrow
House Finch
Cassin's Finch
Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
Chipping Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Yellow-breasted Chat
Western Meadowlark
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Western Tanager

Black-headed Grosbeak