Mercer Island Recreation Guide

Fall 2017 / Winter 2018

Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Guide

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Lummi Flats and Semiahmoo Bay Winter Birds Two very special winter destinations north of Bellingham. Lummi Flats are similar to Samish Flats but wilder and less visited by the average birder – and with a nice potential for rarities. We will bird this area rich in winter birds: falcons, Short-eared Owls, hawks, eagles, shrikes, swans and more. Semiahmoo Bay, viewed from Drayton Harbor, is a major collecting spot for winter water birds. All the world's loon species have been seen here, and it's a great spot for Long-tailed and Harlequin ducks, scoters, and others. Time permitting, we will visit Samish Flats on the way back south in the afternoon. Course: 17352 Day/Date: Thr, Jan 4 Time: Depart 6am, Return 7pm Fee: $82 Resident $98 Non-Resident Reifel Sanctuary Each winter trip to Reifel Sanctuary south of Vancouver, B.C. leaves birders happily anticipating their next visit. Reifel's very birdy acres often host tiny Northern Saw-whet Owls on day roosts and sometimes other owls, resident Sandhill Cranes are confiding, and birds of prey like falcons and accipiters hunt the shrub lines, which host many winter songbirds. Wood Ducks, herons, shorebirds, and loads of sparrows winter at Reifel. Along nearby Boundary Bay, the season is ripe for daytime viewing of Snowy Owls (present some winters), Short-eared Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, perhaps a Gyrfalcon or Northern Shrike, myriad waterfowl, and hundreds of Bald Eagles. Fee includes admission charge to Reifel. Course: 17353 Day/Date: Tue, Feb 6 Time: Depart 6:30am, Return 7:30pm Fee: $86 Resident $103 Non-Resident Yakima Canyon and Kittitas Raptors & Winter Birds By late March, Golden Eagles and Prairie Falcons have begun to nest in scenic Yakima Canyon. Today's trip will cover the full extent of the canyon at an excellent time of year for finding these impressive birds of prey, as well as Bighorn Sheep and perhaps Chukar too. Nearby sage steppe also hosts early returning migrants, like bluebirds, Sage Sparrow, Say's Phoebe, and Sage Thrasher. We'll save some time to bird Kittitas Valley as well, which hosts many wintering raptors. Some years many Rough-legged Hawks concentrate here, and Great Horned Owls nest in still leafless trees. Course: 17351 Day/Date: Thr, Mar 29 Time: Depart 6:30am, Return 6:30pm Fee: $82 Resident $98 Non-Resident BIRDING TRIPS Trip leader Bob Sundstrom is the lead writer for the public radio program BirdNote (; has led birding and natural history tours (Victor Emanuel Nature Tours) for nearly three decades years to many parts of the world; has served on the boards of nature and conservation organizations and on the Washington state Bird Records Committee; and is a co-author of The National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. More info is available at registration. • All trips leave from the Mercer Island Community Center (call 206-275-7609 for directions). • Travel is by van • Please bring binoculars • Some walking or light hiking is involved in most trips • If special meal arrangements are not noted in trip description, please bring lunch and fluids • Registrants will receive a reminder/informational call a day or two before the trip Hawk Watch Site & Wenatchee Mountains Back Roads Today's trip combines a search for late fall songbird migrants like bluebirds and a trip upslope toward Blewett Pass and a traditional Wenatchee Mts. hawk-watch site at 5000'. When a fair movement of hawks is underway, a hawk may fly by every few minutes. Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks are most prevalent, and sightings on previous trips have included Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Prairie Falcon, and often Townsend's Solitaires and Clark's Nutcrackers. Last year's trip also found Black-backed Woodpecker nearby. Fall color should be vivid at higher elevations, with aspens, larches and maples ablaze with color. Course: 17349 Day/Date: Tue, Oct 3 Time: Depart 6:30am, Return 6:00pm Fee: $82 Resident $98 Non-Resident Late Autumn Vagrants and New Surprises Rare birds have a knack for turning up at this season. On past trips we've seen such rare-bird-alert visitors as Black-tailed Gull, Tropical Kingbird, Snowy Owl, Pink-footed Goose, Blue Jay, Rusty Blackbird, Northern Waterthrush, Bewick's Swan, and Bar-tailed Godwit. You never know what rarity the season will bring – perhaps an Emperor Goose or Falcated Duck this year? In any case, we'll follow up on the best available bird(s) or, lacking a rarity, go in search of our own. Course: 17350 Day/Date: Tue, Dec 5 Time: Depart 7am, Return 6:30pm Fee: $82 Resident $98 Non-Resident ADULT 18 Fall 2017/Winter 2018

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