Birder's Guide

MAR 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 68 of 91

67 March 2014 | Birder's Guide to Travel Route, which includes the southwest coast of the island. It's easy to get to any of the route's destinations, or even to cover the whole loop in a single day, but it's worth taking a couple days to really enjoy it. Heading west from Victoria, visit Witty's Lagoon Regional Park, a 56-ha (138-acre) nat- ural park featuring ma- ture Douglas-fr forest, a beautiful waterfall, saltmarshes, and one of the area's best sun- bathing and swimming beaches. More than 160 species of birds have been observed in the park or offshore from Tower Point. It's a favorite spot to seek out rare shorebirds like Ruff and Red-necked Stint. At nearby Pedder Bay, Rocky Point Bird Observatory operates a migration monitoring and bird- banding station. This site is open to the public between August 1 and October 15, and guided bird- ing walks are offered twice a week. The Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina rents power boats, kayaks, and bicycles for those who want alternative transportation for their outings. There is easy access here to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail for hiking or biking along this decommissioned railway. A few miles away, East Sooke Park is one of the best places to watch mi- grating raptors and vultures dur- ing September and October. Farther along the route, you'll come to Sooke and the Whiffn Spit Park birding hotspot. Black and Ruddy turnstones are among the shorebirds frequently found along this short walk. The grassy spit and small woods have turned up many rare and uncommon spe- cies, including Grasshopper Spar- row, Lesser Nighthawk, Pacifc Golden-Plover, Mountain Bluebird, Lark Sparrow, Lapland Long- spur, and Snow Bunting. Continuing along West Coast Road, you'll move out of the rain- shadow of the Olympic Peninsula and fnd your- self in the lush rainforest of western Vancouver Island, passing through the surfng and fshing communities of Jordan River and Port Renfrew. The scenic Juan de Fuca and West Coast hiking trails each have a ter- minus at Port Renfrew. Logging is the primary industry in this region, so be prepared to see clearcuts and replanted forests along the way. Species found only during the win- ter on the southern tip of the island breed here. Victoria residents often make the trek to enjoy the early morning songs of Hermit Thrushes and "Sooty" Fox Sparrows dur- ing the spring and early summer. If you can, time your trip to take advantage of low tide at Botanical Beach, where the sandstone shelf is flled with natural aquaria: huge tidepools that provide shelter to urchins, chitons, sea slugs, crusta- ceans, and fsh. The exposed coast provides stunning views of huge waves crashing against the shore, even on relatively calm days. The route then heads east across the island. If you are adventurous and good on your feet, consider touring Avatar Grove, a magnif- cent old-growth forest. The Ancient Forest Alliance is constructing a boardwalk to make access easier, and offers guided tours. There are also opportunities to see several re- ally big trees, including Canada's largest Sitka spruce, closer to the road and on more accessible trails along the route. Map © Cindy Lippincott Map © Cindy Lippincott 9-Vancouver.indd 67 3/4/14 1:22 PM

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