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Let’s Bird the Olympic Peninsula!

A moody scene on Washington's ethereal Olympic Peninsula (Photo © Jess Findlay)

A moody scene on Washington’s ethereal Olympic Peninsula (Photo © Jess Findlay)

We got Sooty Grouse on the brain. Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Black Turnstone. And Aplodontia. Well… maybe not Aplodontia. Nobody has Aplodontia on the brain. But still, it’d be cool to see one, and if you join your fellow ABA members this September 16-20 on the ABA Olympic Peninsula Birding Rally, who knows…. you just might.

A Black Turnstone works the rack line. Photo © Dorian Anderson

A Black Turnstone works the rack line. Photo © Dorian Anderson

What we will see are some marvelous, moody spots, like Hurricane Ridge with its great view of the Olympic Mountains and Protection Island, situated right where Puget Sound meets the the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The scenery is wonderful at these spiritual sites, and the birding ain’t too shabby either. From the rocky, turbulent shores of the Strait, to the shadowy stands of Sitka spruce, hemlock and douglas-fir in the mountains, we’ll seek out regional specialties birds. Based out of Port Angeles for the first two nights, we will then move south through the rain forest to Ocean Shores on the Pacific coast.


The dark dank forest of the Olympic National Park hosts Pacific Wrens, Varied Thrushes, Sooty Grouse and more. Photo © Jess Findlay


The state’s rocky shoreline is great for birding, harboring “rockpipers” like these American Black Oystercatchers. Photo © Jess Findlay










Loons and grebes should be on the move as fall migration will be well underway. Oh, and the shorebirds…. Well there will be no shortage of them. From the regional specialty “rockpipers” like the aforementioned turnstone, and the American Black Oystercatcher, Wandering Tattler, and Surfbird there are some fascinating shorebirds to search for, but the shorebird scene at Ocean Shores can be downright breath-taking. There, huge numbers of these migration champions gather to fatten up and rest, providing on-lookers wonderful opportunities to study them. Occasionally rare species turn up, and the expected species can provide thrilling birding.

If you haven’t had a chance to join in on the fun of an ABA Rally yet, you should think about being a part of the rally this September. ABA Rallies are our most popular events (and almost always sell out), featuring several days of birding with ABA and local experts, evening lectures, and great camaraderie with your fellow ABA Members. Join your fellow ABA birders for some great birding this September in Washington. Register today and you’ll have the chance to enjoy great birding with a friendly, fun group of people, beginner and expert alike.

Visit the ABA Olympic Peninsula Birding Rally page by clicking here.


A Townsend’s Warbler forages in the forest. Photo © Dorian Anderson


A Rhinoceros Auklet swims quietly with a watchful eye. Photo © G. Armistead


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George Armistead

George Armistead

George Armistead is a lifelong birder and since April 2012 is the events coordinator for the ABA. George spent the prior decade organizing and leading birding tours for Field Guides Inc. He has guided trips on all seven continents, and enjoys vast open country habitats and seabirds most of all. Based in Philadelphia, he is an associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and spends much of his free time birding the coast between Cape May, NJ and Cape Hatteras, NC.
  • Mike Patterson

    On Aplodontia (aka mountain beaver or boomer):
    I once flushed a Red-tailed Hawk from a perch on a forest road. In it’s rush to leave, it dropped a boomer more or less at my feet.

    One is more likely to trip into one of their holes than to see one, but I managed to catch one on a trail camera a couple years ago…

  • Vincent Lucas

    I live in the Olympic Peninsula and have birded it thoroughly. I KNOW where the birds are and when. I’ve seen and photographed many of them and yes, Aplodontia as well. Should have asked me. Lol.

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