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 2017, 2016, and 2015 MBWeeks.



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

*          *          *


September 10 - 20, 2015

It all started at Mount Rainier, ended with a Westport Seabirds pelagic trip, and included much more in-between. (Well, if you want the whole story, it actually began when Budget rented us a Ford Transit, an alleged “minivan” with little room for luggage, an odd configuration of seats, and rear-wheel drive – hardly the best choice when trying to drive on beach sand: i.e., one of those “in-between” parts.) Throughout all this we found a grand total of 174 species, with no fewer than 68 of these “non-Minnesota” birds, and thus plenty of lifers to go around. There were 157 species on the main MBW (a bit above average), plus 17 seen only on the Rainier pre-trip, so that 174 was more than any of our five previous trips here.

There were no hoped-for White-tailed Ptarmigan on the trail to Mt Fremont Overlook during the Mt Rainier pre-MBW, possibly due to unusually dry conditions affecting the food supply, but there were several nice consolation sightings. The best of these was certainly the calling N Pygmy-Owl we actually saw en route out of the park, as Black Swifts simultaneously passed overhead, and a second pygmy-owl called across the road! Earlier on the ptarmigan hike there was a nice wave of warblers and other migrants, including Vaux’s Swifts flying by at nearly eye-level. Later, a Prairie Falcon or two circled low over the ptarmigans’ favorite hillside – perhaps that was the real reason for the ptarmigan failing to show themselves. And the next day on the Hwys 410 & 12 loop east and south of Rainier, we had our only sightings of California Quail, Red-naped Sapsucker, several Lewis’s Woodpeckers, and others.

After Rainier and before the Westport Seabirds finale, there were a lot more highlights. Most memorable were our three Sooty Grouse encounters at Hurricane Ridge and on the way up – for a total of four sightings after a brief view of one at Mt Rainier! Two of them by the parking lot at the Ridge were especially confiding as they literally strolled within a couple feet of Jerry and Scott. Before and after Hurricane Ridge we found the likes of multiple scoters and male Harlequin Ducks, both Red-throated and Pacific Loons, a displaying male Anna’s Hummingbird in full courtship flight, close Rhinocerous Auklets in Victoria’s harbour (remember, this is in Canada), a duel between Red-breasted Sapsuckers, a dozen or so Sky Larks persisting in their partially plowed field, Violet-green Swallows posing on utility wires, responsive Pacific Wrens at close range, three American Dipper sightings, and several migrating Golden-crowned Sparrows.

Among the shorebirds our best sighting – on our second try – had to be that staked-out Bar-tailed Godwit seen well at Boundary Bay. There were also Black Oystercatchers in Victoria and Salt Creek Co Park (with 21 together at the latter site), a Wandering Tattler on the jetty in Ocean Shores, a Surfbird on the Westport jetty, plus a Whimbrel and Long-billed Curlew on the same afternoon near Westport. But we managed to find a total of “only” 23 shorebird species, tying our lowest shorebird total, as the tides never seemed to match with our set itinerary, and that godwit was the only rarity being reported (though a Ruff appeared at Ocean Shores the day after we were there).    

The climax of our MBWeek, of course, came on the Westport Seabirds trip on the day before we flew home. True, nothing particularly rare was sighted and it may have been a bit rough on the way out, but we were lucky since it was even rougher on the trip the day before, and the next day’s trip was canceled due to the conditions. While the Buller’s Shearwaters, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, and Cassin’s Auklets we saw could have offered us longer and better views, there were exceptional views of a hard-to-identify Short-tailed Shearwater swimming next to Sootys right behind the boat! In addition, everyone had great looks at Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmars, Pink-footed Shearwaters, South Polar Skuas, and Sabine’s Gulls.


September 10: Midday arrival at Sea-Tac and drive (via a Hwy 410 dipper) to Crystal Mountain Resort  for first of 2 nights; dinner at Crystal Mountain.

September 11: Mount Rainier National Park (White River entrance road, Sunrise, and trail to Mount Fremont Overlook), and drive to Chinook Pass on Hwy 410; dinner at Crystal Mountain.

September 12: Pre-breakfast walk at Crystal Mt; loop drive on Hwy 410 (incl Nile Road, Bethel Ridge/FR 1500 burn, and Naches River), Hwy 12 (incl Oak Creek Wildlife Area and White Pass), and Hwy 123; drive to Quality Inn in Everett and dinner at O’Donnell’s.

September 13: Everett sewage ponds & vicinity, Skagit Game Range, Birch Bay, Semiahmoo Spit, and Blaine (WA); 104th Street Boundary Bay access, dinner at Ricky’s, and first of 2 nights at Breakaway Motel in White Rock (BC).

September 14: Boundary Bay (via 96th, 88th, and 72nd streets), Iona sewage ponds & regional park, Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and return to Boundary Bay (via 12th Ave in Tsawwassen, and 96th St access); dinner at Ricky’s.     

September 15: 7:00am Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry, Sky Lark field on Central Saanich Rd, Beacon Hill Park, Clover Point & vicinity, 3:00pm Victoria (BC) - Port Angeles (WA) ferry; dinner at Kokopelli’s and first of 2 nights at Port Angeles Super 8.

September 16: Morning on Hurricane Ridge Road; afternoon at Ediz Hook, Elwha Dike, and Salt Creek County Park; dinner at Joshua’s / Cafe Garden.

September 17: Morning at Dungeness River Audubon Center, Dungeness Bay (Oyster House Rd, Cline’s Spit, Three Crabs Rd), Marlyn Nelson Co Park-Schmuck Rd-Washington Harbor area, and Diamond Point-Gardiner Beach area; afternoon drive to Ocean Shores via Quilcene park & fish hatchery, Hoquiam sewage ponds, and Damon Rd beach access; dinner at Alec’s and night at Ocean Shores Quality Inn.

September 18: Morning at Oyhut Game Range, Bill’s Spit, Ocean Shores sewage ponds, and Point Brown jetty; afternoon drive to Westport via Hoquiam sewage ponds, Bottle Beach, Grayland Beach & Midway roads, and Tokeland; dinner at Half Moon Bay and first of 2 nights at McBee’s Silver Sands Motel (a.k.a. Rhonda’s) in Westport.  

September 19: Westport Seabirds pelagic trip; dinner at Half Moon Bay.

September 20: Return to Sea-Tac for afternoon flights home via brief stops at Watershed Park in Olympia and Nisqually NWR.

Bird List

- R = found on the Mt Rainier pre-MBW option (Sept 10-12)

- WA = found elsewhere in Washington (Sept 13, Sept 15-20)

- BC = found in British Columbia (Sept 13-14-15)

- WS = Sept 19 Westport Seabirds pelagic trip

- boldface type = “non-Minnesota” birds (i.e., absent, accidental, casual, or rare-regular in MN)

Cackling Goose        WA (Hoquiam sewage ponds)

Canada Goose        WA, BC

swan, sp.        BC (juv near Reifel: introduced Mute Swan?)

Wood Duck        WA, BC

Gadwall        WA, BC

American Wigeon        WA, BC

Mallard        WA, BC

Blue-winged Teal        WA

Cinnamon Teal        BC (adult female at 12th Ave access in Tsawwassen)

Northern Shoveler        WA, BC (incl partial albino at Everett sewage ponds)

Northern Pintail        WA, BC

Green-winged Teal        WA, BC

Ring-necked Duck        R

Lesser Scaup        WA

Harlequin Duck        WA, BC (incl several adult males)

Surf Scoter        WA, BC

White-winged Scoter        WA, BC

Bufflehead        WA

Hooded Merganser        BC

Common Merganser        R, WA

Ruddy Duck        WA

California Quail        R (Nile Rd)

Ring-necked Pheasant        WA (probably “countable”)

Sooty Grouse        R, WA (4 separate sightings!)

Red-throated Loon        WA (best at Elwha Dike)

Pacific Loon        WA (best at Ediz Hook)

Common Loon        WA, BC

Pied-billed Grebe        R, WA, BC

Horned Grebe        WA, BC

Red-necked Grebe        WA, BC

Eared Grebe        WA, BC

Western Grebe        WA, BC

Black-footed Albatross        WA (WS)

Northern Fulmar        WA (WS)

Pink-footed Shearwater        WA (WS)

Buller’s Shearwater        WA (WS: brief fly-bys)

Sooty Shearwater        WA (WS; also from Ocean Shores)

Short-tailed Shearwater        WA (WS: exceptional views behind the boat w/Sootys!)

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel        WA (WS: brief fly-bys)

Brandt’s Cormorant        WA, BC

Double-crested Cormorant        WA, BC

Pelagic Cormorant        WA, BC

Brown Pelican        WA

American Bittern        WA, BC

Great Blue Heron        WA, BC

Great Egret        WA

Green Heron        BC

Turkey Vulture        R, WA, BC

Osprey        WA


Bald Eagle        WA, BC

Northern Harrier        WA, BC

Sharp-shinned Hawk        WA

Cooper’s Hawk        R, WA, BC          

Red-tailed Hawk        R, WA, BC

Golden Eagle        R (Oak Creek Wildlife Area)

Virginia Rail        WA, BC

Sora        WA, BC

American Coot        WA, BC

Sandhill Crane        BC

Black Oystercatcher        WA, BC (incl a flock of 21 at Salt Creek Co Park)

Black-bellied Plover        WA, BC

Semipalmated Plover        WA

Killdeer        WA, BC

Spotted Sandpiper        BC     

Wandering Tattler        WA (best at Point Brown jetty)

Greater Yellowlegs        WA, BC

Willet        WA

Lesser Yellowlegs        BC

Whimbrel        WA (Bottle Beach)

Long-billed Curlew        WA (Tokeland)

Bar-tailed Godwit        BC (on our second try at Boundary Bay!)

Marbled Godwit        WA

Ruddy Turnstone        WA

Black Turnstone        WA, BC

Surfbird        WA (WS: on the Westport jetty)

Sanderling        WA, BC

Dunlin        BC     

Least Sandpiper        WA, BC     

Pectoral Sandpiper        WA, BC     

Western Sandpiper        WA, BC

Long-billed Dowitcher        WA, BC (best at Reifel, close & calling)

Red-necked Phalarope        WA, BC (many from Victoria-Port Angeles ferry)

South Polar Skua        WA (WS: close views)

Pomarine Jaeger        WA (WS; also from Victoria-Port Angeles ferry)

Parasitic Jaeger        WA (ditto)

(Long-tailed Jaeger: leaders-only on WS)

Common Murre        WA, BC

Pigeon Guillemot        WA, BC

Cassin’s Auklet        WA (WS: fly-away looks)

Rhinoceros Auklet        WA, BC (best views in Victoria)

Sabine’s Gull        WA (WS: several close fly-bys)

Bonaparte’s Gull        WA

Heermann's Gull        WA, BC

Mew Gull        WA (best at Everett sewage ponds)

Ring-billed Gull        WA, BC

Western Gull        WA  (plus numerous Glaucous-winged intermediates)

California Gull        WA, BC

Glaucous-winged Gull        WA, BC (plus numerous Western intermediates)

Caspian Tern        WA, BC (incl banded juv at Hoquiam sewage ponds)

Common Tern        WA

(Arctic Tern: leaders-only on WS)

Rock Pigeon        R, WA, BC

Band-tailed Pigeon        R (fly-bys at Rainier)

Eurasian Collared-Dove        R, WA, BC

Mourning Dove        R, WA, BC

Northern Pygmy-Owl        R (2 heard & 1 seen as Black Swifts flew overhead!)

Black Swift        R (!)

Vaux’s Swift        R, WA (low & close migrants on the ptarmigan hike)

Anna’s Hummingbird        WA, BC (incl displaying male at Everett sewage ponds)

Belted Kingfisher        R, WA, BC

Lewis's Woodpecker        R (almost easy near Hwys 410 & 12 jct and Oak Creek)

Red-naped Sapsucker        R (en route to the burn on FR 1500)

Red-breasted Sapsucker        WA

Hairy Woodpecker        WA

Northern Flicker        R, WA, BC

Pileated Woodpecker        R

American Kestrel        R, WA, BC

Merlin        BC

Peregrine Falcon        WA, BC

Prairie Falcon        R (great views on the ptarmigan hike)

Western Wood-Pewee        R (heard-only in the burn by Ann & Jerry P)

Say’s Phoebe        R (Nile Rd)

Gray Jay        R, WA

Steller’s Jay        R, WA, BC

Western Scrub-Jay        WA      (seen by Jerry P en route to Sea-Tac)

Clark's Nutcracker        R

American Crow        R, WA, BC

Northwestern Crow        WA, BC (well, sort of….)

Common Raven        R, WA

Sky Lark        BC (10-12 seen well in flight)

Tree Swallow        BC

Violet-green Swallow        R, WA (best at Three Crabs Rd)

Bank Swallow        WA (leader-only)

Barn Swallow        WA, BC

Black-capped Chickadee        WA, BC

Mountain Chickadee        R

Chestnut-backed Chickadee        R, WA, BC

Bushtit        WA, BC (best at Reifel)

Red-breasted Nuthatch        R, WA, BC

Brown Creeper        WA, BC

Pacific Wren        R, WA (best at Ocean Shores)

Marsh Wren        WA, BC

Bewick’s Wren        WA

American Dipper        R, WA (incl one in pond by Tipsoo L)

Golden-crowned Kinglet        R, WA, BC

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        R, WA

Townsend’s Solitaire        R

Swainson’s Thrush        WA (leader-only)

Hermit Thrush        WA

American Robin        R, WA, BC

Varied Thrush        R, WA (mostly heard)

European Starling        R, WA, BC

American Pipit        R, WA, BC

Cedar Waxwing        R, WA, BC

Orange-crowned Warbler        R, WA, BC     

Nashville Warbler        R

Common Yellowthroat        WA, BC

Yellow-rumped Warbler        R, WA, BC

Black-throated Gray Warbler        R, WA (best at Elwha Dike)

Townsend’s Warbler        R, WA (best on the ptarmigan-hike wave)

Spotted Towhee        R, WA, BC

Savannah Sparrow        R, WA, BC

Fox Sparrow        R, WA, BC (“Slate-colored” types)

Song Sparrow        R, WA, BC (dark & Fox Sparrow-like)

Lincoln’s Sparrow        BC

White-crowned Sparrow        R, WA, BC

Golden-crowned Sparrow        R, WA (many more migrants than usual)

Dark-eyed Junco        R, WA

Red-winged Blackbird        WA, BC

Brewer’s Blackbird        WA

Brown-headed Cowbird        WA

House Finch        R, WA, BC

Cassin's Finch        R

Pine Siskin        R, WA

American Goldfinch        WA, BC

House Sparrow        WA, BC

Significant Others (a partial list):

Eastern Cottontail (introduced)

Pika (on the ptarmigan hike)

Eastern Gray Squirrel (introduced black morphs)

Douglas's Squirrel

chipmunk, sp. (Townsend’s?)

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Hoary Marmot (on the ptarmigan hike)

River Otter (Salt Creek Co Park)

Coyote (Vancouver airport)

Black Bear (on the ptarmigan hike)

Mule Deer

Steller’s Sea Lion (WS)

California Sea Lion

Northern Fur Seal (WS)

Harbor Seal

Risso’s Dolphin (WS)

Harbor Porpoise

Gray Whale (Victoria-Port Angeles ferry)

Humpback Whale (WS)

Ocean Sunfish (WS)

*          *          *


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, Luna Park (Seattle), 2016 (KRE 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, Reifel Wildlife Sanctuary, 2014

(©Douglas L Brown,

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)

Pika, Mount Rainier, 2016 (Jena Highkin photo)

Spotted Towhee, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

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