California Quail, Yakima, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Sooty Grouse, Hurricane Ridge Rd., 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summaries of the 2018, 2017, and 2016 MBWeeks.



September 8 - 16, 2018

This was our tenth MBWeek in the Pacific Northwest – and once again it featured both gulls and crows that defy the ID skills of even the local experts. (My proposed name changes to the AOS/ABA: Sea Gull Larus lumpus, and Juan de Fuca Crow Corvus lumpus.) But at least there were 160 species we could identify, and that total is right around our average of 161. Our best-ever total for this MBW was 174 species in 2015, but note that year included two extra days for a Mt Rainier-Yakima loop; our lowest total was 153 in both 2011 and 2012, the first two years of this MBW. And we could have been forgiven if our total had been closer to 153, given all the rain we had. We figured it rained at least part of every day of the trip, and it's likely or at least possible the wet weather caused us to miss Red-breasted Sapsuckers (along the Hurricane Ridge road) and a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (at Midway Beach) on the days we tried to bird at these sites.    

So our overall species count was respectable enough, even though land birds overall seemed especially elusive (it's always quiet in the woods there at this time of year). Besides the rain, this was probably the result of their smoky (from fires in B.C.), hot, and dry summer which impacted nesting success and resulted in a lackluster early fall migration. And the most obvious examples calling attention to this were the absence of Northern Pygmy-Owl and Red-breasted Sapsucker from our list – both sought-after specialties we had only missed once before. (Another unexpected miss was Yellow- rumped Warbler, a bird recorded on multiple days on all the previous MBWs here.)

On the other hand, we did well enough with a total of 26 shorebird species, which is a bit above our average: our best shorebird total was 28 in 2014, while our lowest was 21 in 2017. The highlights among this group included a side-by-side comparison of perhaps 15 Surfbirds and about 45 Black Turnstones standing in the rocks just a few feet away from us in Luna Park on our first day, our back-and-forth encounter and ultimately careful ID of a Pacific Golden-Plover at Ediz Hook, and the impressive flocks of about 500 Black-bellied Plovers at Grayland Beach and 800 Marbled Godwits in the Westport harbor. Though we had seen Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruff, and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper on some previous MBWeeks here, no Bar-taileds had been reported for a month, a couple of Ruffs had been seen but disappeared just a few days before we arrived in these areas, and the only Sharp-tailed we might have had a chance for was reported on the last morning while we were on our way back to the airport.

Always a highlight of this MBWeek is the Westport Seabirds pelagic trip. (Well, almost always – in 2011 it was canceled due to high seas.) And this time it was almost canceled by the rough conditions going out, but a change in itinerary soon found smoother sailing. Then, we just barely reached the edge of the continental shelf where the best birds are before we had to turn back due to some serious weather in the forecast. So we had nice looks at just a few albatross (though a few dozen is to be expected along the continental shelf), and none of us was able to see the South Polar Skua or Short-tailed Shearwater that others briefly had (we see one or both of these specialties on most trips). But we did better than usual with our views of some birds: Red Phalaropes, a Cassin's Auklet or two, Sabine's Gulls, an Arctic Tern, Buller's Shearwaters, and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels. Equally memorable was the presence of so many Humpback Whales (no fewer than 51 counted – at least one of these breeching near the boat!) and lots of handsome Pacific White-sided Dolphins (over 100 of them).

And there were still other highlights during this MBWeek, of the non-shorebird and non-pelagic variety. A cooperative group of 6 Sooty Grouse were along the road up to Hurricane Ridge (and 2 others were spotted by those at Capitol State Forest); those who were looking up at the right time saw both Vaux's Swifts and a Black Swift at Skagit Game Range; right on cue, a staked-out Barn Owl flew out that barn window north of Sedro-Woolley; a few Eurasian Skylarks still persisted (but probably not for long the end of an era) in my traditional abandoned field near Victoria (now mostly planted with corn and private).

Plus dozens of other "non-Minnesota" birds (there were 46 species not on the MN Regular list): e.g., Band-tailed Pigeons at Hurricane Ridge, Anna's Hummingbirds, alcids (murres, guillemots, auklets), several gulls (especially Mew and Heermann's), Violet-green Swallows (mostly along Three Crabs Rd), Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Bushtits at Reifel, Pacific Wrens, American Dippers at Quilcene fish hatchery, Golden-crowned Sparrows (especially on Three Crabs Rd), and many more.


Sept 8 – Arrival by all on Sun Country around noon at SEA; afternoon at Luna Park (for Surfbirds and turnstones) and Everett sewage ponds/Spencer Island; dinner at Azteca, and night (in 4 rooms; 7 reserved) at Three Rivers Inn in Sedro-Woolley.

Sept 9 – Barn Owl barn near Acme, actual sit-down breakfast at Joy's Bakery (!), Skagit Game Range @Wylie Rd, Birch Bay, and Semiahmoo Spit; dinner at Ricky's, and first of 2 nights at Grandview Inn in White Rock B.C. (after their unsuccessful attempt to raise our confirmed rate).

Sept 10 – Boundary Bay @104th Stand 96th St, Iona sewage ponds and Regional Park, Brunswick Point, Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and return to Boundary Bay; dinner at Ricky's.

Sept 11 – 7:00 am Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry, Eurasian Skylark seach (and swan song?) on Central Saanich Rd, Saanichton Park and Spit, Upland Park, and 3:00 pm Victoria-Port Angeles ferry; dinner at Kokopelli Grill, and first of 2 nights at Econolodge in Sequim (with no problems!).

Sept 12 – Hurricane Ridge Rd, actual sit-down lunch at Toga's Deli (!), Ediz Hook, Oyster House Rd, and Three Crabs Rd; dinner at Oasis Bar & Grill.

Sept 13 – Railroad Bridge Park, return to Three Crabs/Oyster House roads, Marlyn Nelson Park, Schmuck Rd (!), John Wayne Marina, Quilcene fish hatchery, Mt Walker, and drive to Ocean Shores; dinner at Mike's Seafood/Bennett's Fish Shack, and night at Quality Inn.

Sept 14 – Pt Prown jetty, Ocean Shores sewage ponds, Oyhut Game Range, Ocean City State Park, Hoquim sewage ponds, Bottle Beach, Westport harbor, and Grayland Rd beach; dinner and first of 2 nights at Tokelnad Hotel (with bathrooms down the hall and live jazz band at dinner – and after midnight).

Sept 15 – Westport Seabirds pelagic trip for most of us / others in Tokeland-Grayland area and Capitol State Forest; dinner at Tokeland Hotel.

Sept 16 – Return to SEA at 10:45 for 12:45 Sun Country flight home.

Bird List

• WA = seen in Washington

• BC = seen in British Columbia

• boldfaced species = "non-Minnesota" birds (Casual, Accidental, or absent on MN checklist)

Canada Goose          WA, BC

Mute Swan          BC

(Trumpeter Swan: of dubious provenance at Reifel)

Wood Duck           WA, BC

Blue-winged/Cinnamon teal, sp.          WA, BC

Northern Shoveler          WA, BC

Gadwall          WA, BC

American Wigeon          WA, BC

Mallard          WA, BC

Northern Pintail          WA, BC

Green-winged Teal          WA, BC

Harlequin Duck          WA

Surf Scoter          WA, BC

White-winged Scoter          WA

Common/Barrow's goldeneye, sp.          WA

Hooded Merganser          WA, BC

Common Merganser          WA

Red-breasted Merganser          WA

Ruddy Duck          WA

California Quail          WA

Sooty Grouse          WA

Pied-billed Grebe          WA, BC

Horned Grebe          WA

Red-necked Grebe          WA, BC

Eared Grebe          WA

Western Grebe          WA, BC

Rock Pigeon          WA, BC

Band-tailed Pigeon          WA

Eurasian Collared-Dove          WA, BC

Mourning Dove          WA, BC

Common Nighthawk          WA

Black Swift          WA

Vaux’s Swift          WA

Anna’s Hummingbird          WA, BC

Virginia Rail          WA

Sora          WA, BC

American Coot          WA, BC

Black Oystercatcher          WA, BC

Black-bellied Plover          WA, BC

American Golden-Plover          BC

Pacific Golden-Plover          WA

Semipalmated Plover          BC

Killdeer          WA, BC

Whimbrel          WA

Marbled Godwit          WA

Black Turnstone          WA

Surfbird          WA

Stilt Sandpiper          BC

Sanderling          WA, BC     

Baird’s Sandpiper          WA, BC

Least Sandpiper          WA, BC     

Pectoral Sandpiper          BC     

Western Sandpiper          WA, BC

Short-billed Dowitcher          WA, BC

Long-billed Dowitcher          WA, BC

Wilson's Snipe          WA, BC

Spotted Sandpiper          WA

Wandering Tattler          WA

Lesser Yellowlegs          WA, BC

Willet          WA, BC

Greater Yellowlegs          WA, BC

Red-necked Phalarope          WA

Red Phalarope          WA

Pomarine Jaeger          WA

Parasitic Jaeger          WA, BC

Common Murre          WA, BC

Pigeon Guillemot          WA, BC

Cassin’s Auklet          WA

Rhinoceros Auklet          WA

Sabine’s Gull          WA

Bonaparte’s Gull          WA                                     

Franklin's Gull          BC

Heermann's Gull          WA

Mew Gull          WA

Ring-billed Gull          WA, BC

Western Gull          WA

California Gull          WA, BC

Herring Gull          WA

Glaucous-winged Gull          WA, BC

Caspian Tern          WA, BC

Common Tern          WA

Arctic Tern          WA

Red-throated Loon          WA

Pacific Loon          WA

Common Loon          WA, BC

Black-footed Albatross          WA

Northern Fulmar          WA

Buller’s Shearwater          WA

Sooty Shearwater          WA

Pink-footed Shearwater          WA

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel          WA

Brandt’s Cormorant          WA

Double-crested Cormorant          WA, BC

Pelagic Cormorant          WA, BC

Brown Pelican          WA

Great Blue Heron          WA, BC

Great Egret          WA

Turkey Vulture          WA, BC

Osprey          WA, BC

Northern Harrier          WA, BC

Sharp-shinned Hawk          WA

Cooper’s Hawk          WA, BC          

Bald Eagle          WA

Red-tailed Hawk          WA, BC

Barn Owl          WA

Belted Kingfisher          WA, BC

Downy Woodpecker          WA, BC

Hairy Woodpecker          WA

Northern Flicker          WA, BC

Pileated Woodpecker          WA

American Kestrel          WA

Merlin          WA, BC

Peregrine Falcon          WA, BC

Willow Flycatcher          BC

Canada Jay          WA

Steller’s Jay          WA     

American Crow          WA, BC

Northwestern Crow          WA, BC (best IDs in Victoria & vicinity)

Common Raven          WA

Eurasian Skylark          BC


Purple Martin          WA, BC

Violet-green Swallow          WA

Barn Swallow          WA, BC

Black-capped Chickadee          WA, BC

Chestnut-backed Chickadee          WA, BC

Bushtit          BC

Red-breasted Nuthatch          WA

Brown Creeper          WA

Pacific Wren          WA

Marsh Wren          WA

Bewick’s Wren          WA, BC

American Dipper          WA

Golden-crowned Kinglet          WA

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          WA

Swainson’s Thrush          WA

American Robin          WA, BC

Varied Thrush          WA (Bill, Scott, Chris @Capitol State Forest)

European Starling          WA, BC

Cedar Waxwing          WA

House Sparrow          WA, BC

American Pipit          BC


House Finch          WA, BC

Purple Finch          BC

American Goldfinch          WA, BC

Spotted Towhee          WA, BC

Savannah Sparrow          WA, BC

Fox Sparrow          WA

Song Sparrow          WA, BC

Lincoln’s Sparrow          WA, BC

White-crowned Sparrow          WA, BC

Golden-crowned Sparrow          WA

Dark-eyed Junco          WA

Red-winged Blackbird          WA, BC

Brown-headed Cowbird          WA

Brewer’s Blackbird          WA, BC

Orange-crowned Warbler          WA, BC     

Common Yellowthroat          WA, BC

Yellow Warbler          WA, BC

Black-throated Gray Warbler          WA

Wilson’s Warbler          WA

Black-headed Grosbeak          WA

Significant Others:

• Mule Deer

• Hoary Marmot (Hurricane Ridge)

• Eastern Cottontail

• Douglas's Squirrel

• Eastern Gray Sguirrel

• Townsend's Chipmunk

• Northern Fur Seal (Westport Seabirds: offshore)

• Harbor Seal (closer to shore)

• Steller's Sea Lion (Westport Seabirds: offshore buoys)

• California Sea Lion (closer to shore)

• Harbor Porpoise

• Pacific White-sided Dolphin (Westport Seabirds: total of 112)

• Humpback Whale (Westport Seabirds: total of 51!)

• Gray Whale (closer to shore)

*          *          *


September 8 - 17, 2017

This ninth MBWeek to Washington State and a bit of British Columbia actually started off in the same way as our first MBW here in 2011. Our first stop that year after leaving the airport was for a stray Black-tailed Gull on the docks in Tacoma, and this year we headed directly from the airport to the Edmonds waterfront to see that Swallow-tailed Gull – a first for Washington and only the third ever in the U.S.! Nothing we could see after that would be as rare, of course, but there were still lots of other highlights (plus a few disappointments) to follow.

One of those highlights, as it is every year, was the Westport Seabirds pelagic trip two days later. Not only did we see plenty of Black-footed Albatross around the boat, but in addition they were joined by two close Laysans – a rarity not seen on most of these trips. Equally rare and usually absent on this pelagic trip was the juvenile Tufted Puffin which floated by the boat. We also had better views than usual of two Cassin's Auklets which did the same, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels were much more plentiful and visible than usual...and we almost had a South Polar Skua sighting. After the bird was originally called a skua, it was then relabeled as a Pomarine Jaeger, and then some Spineless Wishy-washy Tour Leader almost had everyone convinced it really was a skua...until someone's photo later showed it to be a Pomarine.

As for land birds, our morning up to Hurricane Ridge a few days later had to be the most memorable. It started with a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling at our first stop, and it even emerged into view for all to see. Then, just as we started to move on, a female Sooty Grouse was spotted just a few yards away as it posed for photos for several minutes. (Later a small flock of Sooty Grouse flew across the road in front of us on the way back down the hill.) A few miles farther up the road another pygmy-owl started calling, and this one remarkably posed as well for all to see and photograph. Though we normally hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl on most of these WA-BC MBWs, actually seeing one is perhaps a 50-50 chance. But this year we saw two of them on the same day and heard a total of three or four – some had briefly heard one elsewhere the day before, and we may have heard another back on Day 2. And while the Sooty Grouse is seen on most trips, it is often elusive and has been missed twice before.

There were several other sought-after land birds during this MBWeek, especially the dozen or so Eurasian Skylarks flying around that same field north of Victoria I had first visited nine years ago, and the next day we stopped to see a lost White-winged Dove (only the second Vancouver-area record). Vaux's Swifts (more plentiful than usual), Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Pacific Wrens (widespread and visible), an American Dipper, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Black-throated Gray Warblers (along with a few elusive Townsend's), and other "non-Minnesota" species were also of special note.

Waterfowl, alcids, gulls, and other birds characteristic of the coast were noteworthy as well – after all, there were a couple of places we went where Harlequin was actually the default species of duck. A count/estimate of 2,550 Surf Scoters at Kalaloch beach was impressive, Marbled Murrelets were seen from the ferry as we left Port Angeles, Rhinoceros Auklets were seen at several places (though guillemots were oddly scarce), and our visit to Blackie Spit produced our only Long-billed Curlew, a Parasitic Jaeger flew close by the tip, and we cheered on a baby Harbor Seal stranded by low tide as it struggled back to the water.                             

In the interest of full disclosure, though, the shorebirds were disappointing and frustrating. Besides the curlew, we did find Black Oystercatchers, Black Turnstones, and Surfbirds, but there were no Wandering Tattlers to be found (we had only missed it once before), and we finished with a total of only 21 shorebird species – our previous MBWs here had always recorded between 23 and 28 species. Especially unfortunate were those rarities we missed by just one day (or on the same day for two of these seen at a different time and tide). Some were gone by the next day when we visited, others were reported while we had to be elsewhere else, and a few were not found until the day after we had birded there. (If you're curious, these are included in brackets in the summary of our itinerary below.) But least your Spineless, Wishy-Washy Tour Leader did his best to make our list more respectable on our last full day by trying to turn that American Golden-Plover at Boundary Bay into a Pacific, after misremembering which one had the longer primary extension.


September 8 – Arrival at SEA by 11:00am, drive to Edmonds for the Swallow-tailed Seagull (!), and Nisqually NWR; dinner at Brewery Pizza and night at Quality Inn in Lacey.  

September 9 – Capitol State Forest, Vance Creek Park lunch, and Westport Marina's godwit flock; dinner at Islander and first of 2 nights at Rhonda's in Westport. [Pacific Golden-Plover in Tulalip]

September 10 – Westport Seabirds pelagic trip, and godwit search at Wesport Marina; dinner at Bennett's. [Bar-tailed Godwit at Bottle Beach]

September 11 – Grayland Beach & Midway Beach roads, Tokeland, Bottle Beach, Steward Park lunch, Hoquiam sewage ponds, and Ocean Shores (Bill's Spit, Game Range, Pt Brown jetty); dinner at Mike's Seafood / Los Hermanos and night at Quality Inn in Ocean Shores.

September 12 – Ocean Shores (Pt Brown, sewage ponds, Damon Pt), Hoquiam sewage ponds, and Hwy 101 West drive to Sequim via Lake Quinault area, Ruby Beach, Hoh Oxbow Campground, Pillar Pt, and Salt Creek Park; "picnic" dinner and first of 2 nights at Econolodge in Sequim. [Pacific Golden-Plover in Ocean Shores]

September 13 – Hurricane Ridge Road & vicinity, Ediz Hook, Elwha Dike, Dungeness R Audubon Center, Oyster House Rd, and Three Crabs Rd; dinner at Sergio's. [Pacific Golden-Plover at Three Crabs Rd and Brunswick Pt; Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Brunswick Pt]  

September 14 – Port Angeles-Victoria ferry, Clover Pt-Cattle Pt shorelines, Eur Skylark field, Saanichton Bay Park lunch, Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen ferry, and Boundary Bay @Beach Grove access; dinner at Ricky's and first of 2 nights at Breakaway Motel in White Rock. [Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Reifel; Pacific Golden-Plover at Iona]

September 15 – Brunswick Pt, Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Iona sewage ponds & beach, Terra Nova Park, Brunswick Pt, and Boundary Bay @72nd, 96th, and 104th; dinner at Kin's Thai Kitchen. [Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Channel Dr]

September 16 – Blackie Spit and Boundary Bay @104th and 96th, Blaine (WA), Semiahmoo Spit, Birch Bay, Skagit Flats @Channel Dr & Wylie Rd, and Tulalip; dinnner at Shawn O'Donnells and night at Days Inn in Kent. [Curlew Sandpiper at Pt Roberts]  

September 17 – Stillwater Wildlife Area, and 10:30 return to SEA for flights home. [Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Channel Dr; Curlew Sandpiper at Boundary Bay]

Bird List

• WA = only found in Washington (September 8-14, 16-17)

• BC = only found in British Coumbia (September 14-16)

  (species not annotated with WA or BC were found in both areas)

• pelagic = only seen on Westport Seabirds trip

• boldfaced species = "non-Minnesota" birds (absent, accidental, or casual in MN)  

Cackling Goose

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Blue-winged/Cinnamon Teal, sp.      (WA; unidentified juv at Hoquiam)

Northern Shoveler


American Wigeon


Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Harlequin Duck

Surf Scoter      (2,550 at Kalaloch beach: counted by 10s)

White-winged Scoter

Common Goldeneye      (WA)

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser      (BC)

Sooty Grouse      (WA; 2 sightings on Hurricane Ridge Rd)

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Red-necked Grebe      (WA)

Western Grebe      (WA)

Rock Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon      (WA)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

White-winged Dove      (BC; Terra Nova Park – 2nd Vancouver-area record)

Mourning Dove

Vaux’s Swift      (more sightings than usual)

Anna’s Hummingbird

Virginia Rail

American Coot

Sandhill Crane      (BC; heard-only)

Black Oystercatcher      (BC; best at Semiahmoo Spit)

Black-bellied Plover

American Golden-Plover      (BC; well, at least I tried to make it a Pacific...)

Semipalmated Plover      (WA)


Whimbrel      (WA)

Long-billed Curlew      (BC; Blackie Spit)

Marbled Godwit      (WA; the usual 100s at Westport – but no Bar-taileds)

Black Turnstone

Surfbird      (WA; best at Westport)

Stilt Sandpiper      (BC)

Baird’s Sandpiper      (BC)

Least Sandpiper     

Pectoral Sandpiper     

Western Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Lesser Yellowlegs

Willet      (WA)

Greater Yellowlegs

Red-necked Phalarope      (WA; pelagic)

Pomarine Jaeger      (WA; pelagic – well, at least I tried to make it a skua...)

Parasitic Jaeger      (best at Blackie Spit)

Common Murre

Pigeon Guillemot      (why so few?)

Marbled Murrelet      (WA; best view at Port Angeles from ferry)

Cassin’s Auklet      (WA; pelagic – better views than usual)

Rhinoceros Auklet

Tufted Puffin      (WA; pelagic – not seen most trips)

Swallow-tailed Gull      (WA; only 3rd U.S. record)

Sabine’s Gull      (WA; pelagic)

Bonaparte’s Gull

Heermann's Gull

Mew Gull      (best at Semiahmoo Spit)

Ring-billed Gull

Western Gull      (WA)

California Gull

Herring Gull      (WA)

Glaucous-winged Gull

Caspian Tern

Red-throated Loon      (WA; fewer than usual)

Pacific Loon      (WA; ditto)

Common Loon

Laysan Albatross      (WA; pelagic – missed most trips)

Black-footed Albatross      (WA; pelagic)

Northern Fulmar      (WA; pelagic – more than usual)

Buller’s Shearwater      (WA; pelagic)

Sooty Shearwater      (WA; also seen at Pt Brown jetty)

Pink-footed Shearwater      (WA; pelagic)

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel      (WA; pelagic – more than usual)

Brandt’s Cormorant      (WA)

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Brown Pelican      (WA)

American Bittern      (WA)

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron      (WA)

Turkey Vulture



Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Cooper’s Hawk          

Northern Goshawk      (WA; 2 over Hurricane Ridge)

Red-tailed Hawk

Great Horned Owl      (BC)

Northern Pygmy-Owl      (WA; 2 heard and seen along Hurricane Ridge Rd, plus another heard at Hoh Oxbow)

Belted Kingfisher

Red-breasted Sapsucker      (WA)

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker      (WA)

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker      (WA)

American Kestrel

Merlin      (WA)

Peregrine Falcon

Willow Flycatcher      (WA)

Warbling Vireo

Gray Jay      (WA)

Steller’s Jay

California Scrub-Jay      (WA; Nisqually NWR)     

American Crow

Northwestern Crow      (best along Hwy 101 West)

Common Raven

Eurasian Skylark      (BC; a dozen or so again at my World-Famous Secret Spot)

Horned Lark      (WA)


Purple Martin

Violet-green Swallow      (WA; best view at Tokeland)

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Bushtit      (best on Sunday at Stillwater Wildlife Area)

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper      (WA)

Pacific Wren      (WA)

Marsh Wren

Bewick’s Wren      (WA)

American Dipper      (WA; Quinault Rain Forest Trail)

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Swainson’s Thrush      (WA; heard-only)

American Robin

Varied Thrush      (WA; mostly uncooperative)

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing      (WA)

House Sparrow

American Pipit      (BC)


House Finch

Purple Finch      (WA)

Red Crossbill      (WA; Type 3s at Ocean Shores, also Hurricane Ridge)

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

Spotted Towhee

Savannah Sparrow

Fox Sparrow     

Song Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow      (BC; Brunswick Pt only)

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Yellow-headed Blackbird      (BC; Brunswick Pt only)

Western Meadowlark      (BC)

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer’s Blackbird      (WA)

Orange-crowned Warbler     

Nashville Warbler      (BC)

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow Warbler      (BC)

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Townsend’s Warbler      (WA; uncooperative for most)

Wilson’s Warbler      (WA)

Western Tanager      (WA; Sunday at Stillwater Wildlife Area)

Black-headed Grosbeak      (BC; Brunswick Pt only)

Significant Others:

Eastern Cottontail

Townsend's Chipmunk

Douglas's Squirrel



Mule Deer

Sea Otter

Northern Fur Seal

Steller's Sea Lion

California Sea Lion

Harbor Seal

Humpback Whale

Harbor Porpoise

Dall's Porpoise

Ocean Sunfish (Mola Mola)

*          *          *


September 8 - 18, 2016 and September 18 - 26, 2016

Just like our six previous six trips here, the success of this MBW pretty much depends on how we do with shorebirds and with pelagic species on the Westport Seabirds trip. True, there are other highly-sought birds to look for since there are so many “non-Minnesota” species which occur in these parts, and we had mixed success with these, as we came up with a composite total of 183 species for these two MBWeeks. MBW I had 160 birds in all (147 plus 13 others only found on the Rainier portion), while MBW II came up with a total of 157.

These numbers are mostly in line with previous years, as the birding in September (along with the relatively mild, clear, and calm weather) seems to be generally consistent every year. Predictably, there were several highlights, with a few of the most notable birds found on both trips including alcids (i.e., murres, guillemots, and auklets), Red-breasted Sapsuckers downhill from Hurricane Ridge, Eurasian Skylarks in our usual field near Victoria, cooperative Pacific Wrens in a few places, and lone American Dippers in two different streams.

On the Rainier portion of MBW I, there was a group of California Quail in Yakima (one was seen briefly on MBW II), a Golden Eagle that nearly snatched a Bighorn Sheep from a hillside (!), a quite surprising and cooperative Northern Pygmy-Owl along the trail to the Mt Fremont Overlook (we heard three of them on MBW II), colorful Lewis’s Woodpeckers, brief views of a Hutton’s Vireo and California Scrub-Jays, and Violet-green Swallows posing nicely on a wire for scope views (only fly-overs seen on MBW II).

Elsewhere on MBW I a Black Swift was picked out among some Vaux’s flying over Aberdeen, and on MBW II we came up with a distant Eurasian Wigeon at Beach Grove and two closer ones at the Hoquiam sewage ponds. But, yes, there were a few disappointments, as there were no ptarmigan to be seen at Rainier, the burned trees along forest roads off Highway 12 failed to produce any hoped-for woodpeckers, Sooty Grouse was missed on MBW I and only glimpsed by a few on MBW II, there were only very brief views of storm-petrels on the boat trips, and no Marbled Murrelets were found anywhere.

As for the shorebirds, though, we did quite well with an impressive composite total of no fewer than 31 species: the first MBW with a total of 26, and 25 on the second. Both trips came up with that winter-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit among the hundreds of Marbleds at the Westport Marina, although the views (and photographs) on MBW I were better. We also found our own Ruff at the Hoquiam sewage ponds on MBW I, while MBW II’s highlight (also not a stake-out) was the hard-earned Sharp-tailed Sandpiper we found on Three Crabs Road – two days after Minnesota’s first Sharp-tailed was discovered. The latter MBW recorded Pacific Golden-Plover, Snowy Plover, Long-billed Curlew, and Red Knot as well (all missed on MBW I). And both trips found all four “rockpipers” (i.e., oystercatcher, tattler, turnstone, surfbird), with certainly the best and most surprising showing of Surfbirds (60+ of them) at Luna Park in Seattle as dozens of persons strolled by just a few feet away.

And the pelagic birds were just as good as the shorebirds, although the first Westport Seabirds trip was postponed due to high seas. Luckily, our itinerary was flexible enough to join them a day later, and it resulted in the best bird of either pelagic trip as a Laysan Albatross circled the boat and offered everyone close views. Highlights of the second boat trip included good views of cooperative Flesh-footed Shearwaters, several Red Phalaropes, a South Polar Skua standing on a log drifting by the boat, and a most unexpected red-billed juvenile Tufted Puffin. Both pelagic trips provided better looks than usual at Buller’s Shearwaters, and hard-to-identify Short-tailed Shearwaters obligingly swam next to the boat for close study. Of course, there were those “routine” Black-footed Albatross, fulmars, other shearwaters, Sabine’s Gulls, jaegers, and Cassin’s Auklets that we saw as well.               


MBWeek I:

Sept 8 - Meet at SEA in early afternoon and drive to Enumclaw via Black Diamond Open Area; night in Enumclaw. 

Sept 9 - Mount Rainier National Park; late afternoon drive via Hwy 410 to Yakima; night in Yakima. 

Sept 10 - Yakima Arboretum, Popoff Nature Trail, Old Naches Road, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, forest roads 1500 & 1304, White Pass area, and drive to Westport; first of 2 nights in Westport.  

Sept 11 - Bottle Beach, Hoquiam sewage ponds, Tokeland, and Westport Marina.

Sept 12 - Westport Seabirds pelagic trip; late afternoon drive to Ocean Shores; night in Ocean Shores.  

Sept 13 - Ocean Shores area; afternoon drive to Sequim via Quilcene fish hatchery, Gardiner Beach, Diamond Point, and Three Crabs Road; first of 2 nights in Sequim.

Sept 14 - Hurricane Ridge Road, Ediz Hook, Elwha Dike, Salt Creek Recr Area, Oyster House Road, and Three Crabs Road. 

Sept 15 - Port Angeles-Victoria ferry, Clover & Cattle points, skylark field on Central Saanich Road, Saanichton Bay area, Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen ferry, and Boundary Bay @64th Street; first of 2 nights in White Rock.  

Sept 16 - Boundary Bay @104th & 96 streets, Iona sewage ponds, Reifel Wildlife Sanctuary, and Boundary Bay @64th & 96th streets.  

Sept 17 - Blackie Spit, Blaine & Semiahmoo Spit, Birch Bay, Skagit Wildlife Area, and Luna Park (!); final night in Sea-Tac.  

Sept 18 - Departures for home.

MBWeek II:

Sept 18 - Meet at SEA in early afternoon, Luna Park, and Everett sewage ponds; night in Sedro-Woolley. 

Sept 19 - Skagit Wildlife Area, Bayview State Park, Birch Bay, Semiahmoo Spit, and Boundary Bay @104th & 96 streets; first of 2 nights in White Rock.  

Sept 20 - Boundary Bay @104th & 96 streets, Iona sewage Ponds, Reifel Wildlife Sanctuary, Boundary Bay @Beach Grove, and Blackie Spit. 

Sept 21 - Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry, skylark field on Central Saanich Road, Saanichton Bay area, Cattle & Cattle points, Beacon Hill Park, and Victoria-Port Angeles ferry; first of 2 nights in Port Angeles.

Sept 22 - Hurricane Ridge Road, Ediz Hook, Elwha Dike, Salt Creek Recr Area, and Three Crabs Road (!).

Sept 23 - Hurricane Ridge, Railroad Bridge Park, Marlyn Nelson Park, Diamond Point, Gardiner Beach, Mount Walker, and drive to Ocean Shores; night in Ocean Shores.

Sept 24 - Ocean Shores area, Hoquiam sewage ponds, Westport Marina, Grayland State Park, Midway Road, and Tokeland; first of 2 nights in Westport.

Sept 25 - Westport Seabirds pelagic trip (plus Capitol Forest by Howard); post-dinner option to Bottle Beach.

Sept 26 - Return to SEA via Capitol Forest and afternoon departures for home. 

Bird List

• I = MBWeek I (Sept 8-17)

• I (RAINIER) = seen/heard only on Mt Rainier portion of MBW I (Sept 8-9-10)

• II = MBWeek II (Sept 18-26)

WA = seen/heard only in Washington

BC = seen/heard only in Br Columbia

• species not annotated WA or BC were found in both places

boldfaced species = “non-MN” birds (i.e., casual, accidental, or absent in Minnesota) 

Greater White-fronted Goose        II BC

Cackling Goose        II

Canada Goose        I, II

Mute Swan        I BC (in Victoria; wild?)

Wood Duck        I, II

Gadwall        I, II

Eurasian Wigeon        II (1 at Beach Grove, 2 at Hoquiam)

American Wigeon        I, II

Mallard        I, II

Blue-winged Teal        I, II WA

Northern Shoveler        I, II

Northern Pintail        I, II

Green-winged Teal        I, II

Canvasback        II WA

Ring-necked Duck        I (RAINIER), II WA

Greater Scaup        II WA

Harlequin Duck        I, II

Surf Scoter        I, II

White-winged Scoter        I WA, II WA        

Common Goldeneye        I WA, II WA

Barrow’s Goldeneye        I WA

Hooded Merganser        I, II

Common Merganser        I WA, II BC

Red-breasted Merganser        I WA, II WA

Ruddy Duck        I WA, II WA

California Quail        I (RAINIER), II WA (briefly)

Sooty Grouse        II WA (only briefly by a few; Capitol Forest sighting by Howard)

Red-throated Loon        I WA, II WA

Pacific Loon        I WA, II WA

Common Loon        I, II

Pied-billed Grebe        I WA, II WA

Horned Grebe        I WA, II

Red-necked Grebe        I WA, II

Eared Grebe        I WA

Western Grebe        I WA, II WA

Laysan Albatross        I WA (!) 

Black-footed Albatross        I WA, II WA

Northern Fulmar        I WA, II WA

Pink-footed Shearwater        I WA, II WA

Flesh-footed Shearwater        II WA (better views than normal!)

Buller’s Shearwater        I WA, II WA (good looks on both MBWs)

Sooty Shearwater        I, II WA

Short-tailed Shearwater        I WA, II WA (ditto)

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel        I WA, II WA (uncooperative on both MBWs)

Brandt’s Cormorant        I, II

Double-crested Cormorant        I WA, II WA

Pelagic Cormorant        I, II

Brown Pelican        I WA, II WA

Great Blue Heron        I, II

Great Egret        I WA

Turkey Vulture        I, II WA

Osprey        I, II


Bald Eagle        I, II

Northern Harrier        I, II

Sharp-shinned Hawk        I (RAINIER), II WA

Cooper’s Hawk        I WA, II          

Red-tailed Hawk        I, II

Golden Eagle        I (RAINIER; 2 in pursuit of Bighorns!)

Virginia Rail        I, II

Sora        I BC, II

American Coot        I BC, II

Sandhill Crane        II WA

Black Oystercatcher        I, II

Black-bellied Plover        I, II

American Golden-Plover        I BC

Pacific Golden-Plover        II BC (!)

Snowy Plover        II WA (Grayland State Park)

Semipalmated Plover        I WA, II WA

Killdeer        I, II

Spotted Sandpiper        I BC     

Wandering Tattler        I WA, II WA

Greater Yellowlegs        I, II BC

Willet        I WA, II WA

Lesser Yellowlegs        I WA

Long-billed Curlew        II BC (Blackie Spit)

Bar-tailed Godwit        I WA, II WA (Westport Marina!)

Marbled Godwit        I, II

Black Turnstone        I, II WA

Red Knot        II BC

Surfbird        I WA, II WA (especially at Luna Park on both MBWs!)

Ruff        I WA (juvenile at Hoquiam!)

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper        II WA (Three Crabs Rd!)

Sanderling        I, II BC

Dunlin        I BC, II     

Baird’s Sandpiper        I

Least Sandpiper        I, II     

Pectoral Sandpiper        I, II     

Western Sandpiper        I, II

Short-billed Dowitcher        I BC

Long-billed Dowitcher        I, II

Wilson's Snipe        I, II WA

Red-necked Phalarope        I, II BC

Red Phalarope        I WA, II WA (better looks on II)

South Polar Skua        II WA (!)

Pomarine Jaeger        I WA, II

Parasitic Jaeger        II WA

Common Murre        I, II

Pigeon Guillemot        I WA, II

Cassin’s Auklet        I WA, II WA

Rhinoceros Auklet        I, II

Tufted Puffin        II WA (juvenile!)

Sabine’s Gull        I WA, II WA (more seen on I)

Bonaparte’s Gull        I, II

Franklin's Gull        II BC (rare here)

Heermann's Gull        I WA, II

Mew Gull        I WA, II

Ring-billed Gull        I, II

Western Gull        I, II

California Gull        I, II

Herring Gull        I WA, II WA

Glaucous-winged Gull        I, II

Caspian Tern        I, II

Rock Pigeon        I, II 

Band-tailed Pigeon        I WA, II WA

Eurasian Collared-Dove        I, II 

Mourning Dove        I, II WA

Northern Pygmy-Owl        I (RAINIER; nice spotting, George!), II WA (total of 3 heard,

     mainly in Capitol Forest; also seen by Howard)

Black Swift        I WA (over Aberdeen’s Starbucks)

Vaux’s Swift        I WA, II WA

Anna’s Hummingbird        I, II

Belted Kingfisher        I, II

Lewis's Woodpecker        I (RAINIER)

Red-breasted Sapsucker        I WA, II WA

Downy Woodpecker        I, II

Hairy Woodpecker        II WA

Northern Flicker        I (also on pelagic trip!), II

American Kestrel        I, II WA

Merlin        I WA, II BC

Peregrine Falcon        I, II

Pacific-slope Flycatcher        II BC (seen by Howard)

Hutton’s Vireo -        I (RAINIER; briefly)

Gray Jay        I WA, II WA

Steller’s Jay        I, II

California Scrub-Jay        I (RAINIER; briefly in Enumclaw)     

Clark's Nutcracker        I (RAINIER)

American Crow        I, II

Northwestern Crow        I, II

Common Raven        I, II

Eurasian Skylark        I BC, II BC (in same field as past years on both MBWs) 

Horned Lark        I (RAINIER)


Violet-green Swallow        I (RAINIER), II WA

Barn Swallow        I, II

Black-capped Chickadee        I, II

Mountain Chickadee        I (RAINIER)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee        I, II

Bushtit        I WA, II WA

Red-breasted Nuthatch        I WA, II

Brown Creeper        II

Pacific Wren        I WA, II WA (incl one standing on my speaker on I)

Marsh Wren        I, II

Bewick’s Wren        I, II

American Dipper        I WA, II WA

Golden-crowned Kinglet        I, II

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        II WA

Townsend’s Solitaire        I (RAINIER)

Hermit Thrush        I WA, II WA (Capitol Forest sighting by Howard)

American Robin        I, II

Varied Thrush        II WA (ditto)

European Starling        I, II

American Pipit        I, II

Cedar Waxwing        I, II

Orange-crowned Warbler        I, II WA     

Common Yellowthroat        III BC

Yellow Warbler        I

Yellow-rumped Warbler        I, II

Black-throated Gray Warbler        I (RAINIER)

Townsend’s Warbler        I (RAINIER)

Spotted Towhee        I, II

Savannah Sparrow        I, II

Fox Sparrow        I, II

Song Sparrow        I, II

Lincoln’s Sparrow        I BC

White-crowned Sparrow        I, II

Golden-crowned Sparrow        III BC

Dark-eyed Junco        I, II

Western Tanager        I (RAINIER)

Red-winged Blackbird        I, II

Brewer’s Blackbird        I WA, II WA


House Finch        III BC

Purple Finch        II WA (Capitol Forest sighting by Howard)

Pine Siskin        I WA

American Goldfinch        I, II

House Sparrow        I, II

Significant Others (a partial list):

Eastern Cottontail     I, II

Pika     I (RAINIER)

Eastern Gray Squirrel     I, II

Douglas's Squirrel     I, II

Townsend’s Chipmunk     I, II

Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel     I (RAINIER)

Hoary Marmot     I (RAINIER)

Raccoon     I     

River Otter     II

Coyote     I, II

Mule Deer     I, II

Bighorn Sheep     I (RAINIER; incl one attacked by a Golden Eagle)

Mountain Goat     I (RAINIER; more than usual)

Steller’s Sea Lion     I, II

California Sea Lion     I, II

Northern Fur Seal     I, II

Harbor Seal     I, II

Dall’s Porpoise     II

Harbor Porpoise     I, II

Pacific White-sided Dolphin     II

Humpback Whale     II

Blue Shark     II

Ocean Sunfish     I, II

*          *          *


Laysan Albatross, Westport Seabirds, 2017 (KRE photo)

Black-footed Albatross, Westport Seabirds, 2013 (KRE photo)

Wandering Tattler, Westport, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Bar-tailed Godwit, Westport, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Surfbird and Black Turnstone, Luna Park, 2018 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Short-tailed Shearwater, Westport Seabirds, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Ruff (with Greater Yellowlegs), Iona sewage ponds, 2014 (KRE photo)

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Reifel Wildlife Sanctuary, 2014 (KRE photo)

South Polar Skua, Westport Seabirds, 2016 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Black Oystercatchers, Semiahmoo Spit, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Rhinoceros Auklet, Victoria harbour, 2016 (KRE photo)

Pacific Golden-Plover, Ediz Hook, 2018 (Bill Marengo photo)

Tufted Puffin, Westport Seabirds, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Swallow-tailed Gull, Edmonds Marina, 2017 (KRE photo)

Northern Pygmy-Owl, Hurricane Ridge Rd., 2017 (KRE photo)

Red-breasted Sapsucker, Hurricane Ridge Rd., 2015 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Prairie Falcon, Mount Rainier, 2015 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Clark's Nutcracker, Mount Rainier, 2014 (KRE photo)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee, 2015 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Bushtit, 2013 (Dennis Randall photo)

Northern Fulmar, Westport Seabirds, 2013 (KRE photo)

Pacific Wren, Ocean Shores, 2015 (Jerry Pruett photo)

American Dipper, 2015 (Jerry Pruett photo)

Black-throated Gray Warbler, Mount Rainier, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Buller's Shearwater, Westport Seabirds, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Lewis's Woodpecker, near Naches, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Violet-green Swallow, near Naches, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Hurricane Ridge, 2018 (KRE photo)

Band-tailed Pigeon, Kalaloch beach, 2017 (KRE photo)

Pika, Mount Rainier, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Hoary Marmot, Hurricane Ridge, 2018 (KRE photo)

Victoria Harbour, 2018 (Bill Marengo photo)

Mew Gull, 2013 (KRE photo)