I am always planning my next trip and will often spend weeks researching a dream birding destination – I admit to being smitten with the Neotropics, and I usually divert my gaze Southwards – Manu, Choco, Mata Atlantica and the Pantanal keep me dreaming but unfortunately life gets in the way. Free time is rarely in overabundance, not to mention it is an expensive proposition to spend a couple of weeks in the jungle with a guide. Texas and Arizona are great destinations within a short(ish) flying distance, but for a short break flights, car and B&B/hotel can add up to make it a relatively expensive trip.
During my weekly reality check, it always occurs to me that while instinctively I cast my gaze in other directions, I am lucky to live in an area that has some of the most varied habitats in the contiguous United States and as such have some fantastic birding right on my own doorstep. Within a 3 hour radius of Seattle I can be in alpine meadows, shrub steppe, temperate rainforest and of course we surrounded by some of the best shorebird and pelagic birding in the country. Washington State has a birdlist of 505 species and many Western specialties can be readily found within a short drive of Seattle. Only a birder could look forward to winter in the Pacific Northwest, but the gloom is lifted by the sight of thousands of winter seabirds that are regular sightings for the PNW natives but crippling lifers for everyone else.
In my own backyard we have Anna’s hummingbirds year-round, rufous hummingbirds, Steller’s Jays , varied thrush, lazuli bunting, black-headed grosbeak, coopers hawk, Wilsons, orange-crowned and Townsend’s warblers, black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadees, bushtits, all the kinglets, 5 types of sparrow, most Junco races, nuthatches, flickers, towhees… we have regular flyovers of Caspian terns, osprey and bald eagle (all of which nest within a mile of our house in suburban Seattle).
Not bad for a place I never think about as a birding destination. So I will try to look closer to home next time I need a birding fix, let’s hear it for Washington State!
Check my photos on the image gallery which will be continuously updated in the next few months. Come back often!