Semipalmated Sandpiper Photo: Jess Findlay

Tofino Shorebird Festival

20th Annual Tofino Shorebird Festival
May 5th – 7th, 2017

Every year from late April through May, flocks of sandpipers, plovers, Whimbrels, and many other shorebirds pass through the Tofino area. Thousands stop here to feed and rest as they make their impressive journey from South and Central America northward to their Arctic breeding grounds.

The protected forests, expansive mudflats, long sandy beaches, and rocky shorelines of the region create the right combination of habitats to draw over 40 species of shorebirds to the area, including the largest migratory concentrations of Whimbrels anywhere in British Columbia, and impressive flocks of Western Sandpipers, Dunlin and more. The threatened Red Knot is also a regular visitor each spring, as well as Rock Sandpiper in winter. In past years, local bird expert Adrian Dorst listed at least 30 species of shorebirds during spring migration!

The Tofino Shorebird Festival celebrates this impressive annual migration with a series of educational birding activities and events. We draw on local and visiting experts to participate in the festival, offering birding and photography workshops, boat trips, guest lectures and much more! This is a great opportunity to experience the largest wildlife migration in the region, learn about these impressive birds, and understand why Tofino is one of the very best places in western Canada for bird watching.
 


2017 Schedule of Events

PDF - Event Timetable
PDF - Schedule of Events


Friday, May 5th, 2017


OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION AND PRESENTATION
with Dr. Caroline Fox - 
seabird ecologist 
Friday, May 5th
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Jamie’s Restaurant and Lounge @ Jamie’s Rainforest Inn (1258 Pacific Rim Hwy)
$10 admission includes light snacks, music, and presentation

We will kick off the 20th annual Tofino Shorebird Festival with a social evening at Jamie’s Restaurant and Lounge. Meet other shorebird enthusiasts while enjoying a delicious spread of snack platters, craft beer from Tofino Brewery, AND special musical guest Jill Robinson!

The meet and greet will be followed by a presentation from Dr. Caroline Fox, a coastal ecologist and conservation scientist with a deep love for marine birds. Caroline’s book “At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast” was recently shortlisted for the 2017 Basil Stuart-Stubbs prize for outstanding scholarly book on British Columbia.


Saturday, May 6th, 2017


BIRDER'S BREAKFAST 
with Chef Ian Riddick

Saturday, May 6th
7:30 am – 9:00 am
Long Beach Lodge Great Room (1441 Pacific Rim Highway)
Menu price

Take advantage of all Tofino has to offer by starting your day with breakfast at the spectacular Long Beach Lodge Resort. Chef Riddick has prepared a special “birders breakfast” for this year’s Shorebird Festival – fuel up for a big day of events while enjoying the crashing waves of Cox Bay and the sanderlings feeding on the beach.


BIRD BEAKS & WHAT THEY EAT!
with Barb Beasley

Saturday, May 6th
8:30 pm – 9:30 am
Jamie’s Restaurant and Lounge @ Jamie’s Rainforest Inn (1258 Pacific Rim Hwy)
FREE (breakfast service available for purchase)

Join us for an introduction to shorebird foraging behaviour from coastal ecologist Barb Beasley! Learn about variation in shorebird bill morphology in our common species and how it relates to the food they eat. Identifying shorebirds can seem daunting at first, but becoming familiar with a few basic features such has bill shape and size is a sure-fire way to take your birding to the next level. We encourage you to come down to the mudflats with us shortly after this presentation wraps up for some first hand observations of shorebirds and how they feed – put your new skills to use!


BIRDING ON THE MUDFLATS – GET YOUR FEET WET!
with Barb Beasley and Adrian Dorst

Saturday, May 6th
9:30 - 11:30 am
Mudflats behind Jamie’s Rainforest Inn (meet in front of the Inn, 1258 Pacific Rim Hwy)
FREE

This is the best opportunity to spend some time down on the Tofino mudflats to view flocks of shorebirds foraging and resting during their annual migration North. The mudflats behind Jamie's Rainforest Inn offer some of the best and most accessible high-quality shorebird habitat in Tofino, and several expert birders will be on hand to help you make the most of the best time of day for watching shorebirds - the rising tide when birds are pushing up towards the upper mudflats for a better view (high of 2.9 m @ 10:40 am). This is a great event for both new and experienced birders, as well as anyone interested in the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area.

Bring your binoculars or spotting scope if you have them, or else we will have a few to share. For everybody’s enjoyment (but especially for the birds and other wildlife), unleashed dogs are not permitted in the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area, so please leave your pets at home. Boots are recommended, as it can be a little wet!


PELAGIC TRIP
Saturday, May 6th
7:30 am (depart dock) – 4:30 pm (approximately 9 hours)
Ocean Outfitters Ltd. (368 Main Street)
$220 per person, 12 seats available

This trip will be an all day excursion to some of the offshore banks and canyons in search of albatrosses, shearwaters, storm-petrels and other pelagic birds. Exact route to be determined based on local weather, fishing activity, and up-to-date recon of where birds seem to be concentrating. Our goal is to bird out to, and then along, the shelf edge near one of the large offshore canyons about 35 miles off the coast.

Previous years have turned up some amazing birds and marine mammals and this is a one-of-a-kind experience and a unique opportunity to explore the pelagic waters off of Vancouver Island. Early May is the transition when wintering species begin to move out and summer migrants arrive. Highlights of past trips include Sabine’s gull, Arctic tern, short-tailed, sooty, and flesh-footed shearwater, fork-tailed storm petrel, large flocks of both red and red-necked phalaropes, and several species of albatrosses. This is a trip specifically designed around finding seabirds, led by seabird scientists, not a pleasure cruise J.

Space is limited to 12 people, and seats are first-come, first-serve. Cost is $220 per person. Book through Ocean Outfitters at 1-877-906-2326 or ocean@oceanoutfitters.bc.ca. The trip is weather dependent. In the event of cancellation, there will be a 100% refund. No refund for no-shows.


BIRDING BY KAYAK
with kayak guide and naturalist Andy Murray

Saturday, May 6th
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Tofino Sea Kayaking (320 Main St)
$75 incl. tax - a portion of proceeds are donated to the Tofino Shorebird Festival

This four-hour sea kayaking tour will take you on a journey to the expansive Arakun mudlfats at the base of Meares Island to experience extensive areas of prime shorebird habitat only accessible by water. This is a unique birding opportunity to paddle with naturalist Andy Murray in the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area along the shores of ancient coastal rainforests of giant Western Red Cedars, Sitka Spruce, and Western Hemlocks. Sea kayaking experience is not necessary. You will be in double kayaks, so you can alternate with your partner paddling and birding!

Please book through Tofino Sea Kayaking at 250-725-4222.


ALISON’S FISHING BIRDS reading and painting
with illustrator Sheryl McDougald

Saturday, May 6th
1:30 – 2:30 pm
Darwin’s Cafe @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy).
FREE - Snacks and drinks available to order.

We are excited to have BC illustrator Sheryl McDougald come to Tofino this year to do a reading of her book being published by Caitlin Press this spring! Alison’s Fishing Birds written by the late Roderick Haig-Brown,is about a little girl who has curious conversations with a Dipper, Kingfisher, Heron, some Mergansers, and an Osprey. They teach the girl about their role in preserving the natural ecosystem of BC’s flora and fauna, a message that Raincoast Education Society and Caitlin Press feel strongly about passing on to many curious children and their parents (and grandparents).

After the reading, kids will have an opportunity to paint original illustrations from the book with Sheryl!


BIRDING FOR KIDS! 
with biologist Ariane Batic
Saturday, May 6th
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Darwin’s Cafe @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy).
FREE - Snacks and drinks available to order.

After the book reading and painting at Darwin’s Café, Bring your outdoor gear for a short walk down to the mudflats with biologist Ariane Batic will lead participants on a mudflats birding tour at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. Kids must be accompanied by an adult.


SHOREBIRDS IN PACIFIC RIM PARK
with Resource Management Officer Sarah Tyne

Saturday, May 6th
3:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Green Point Campground Theatre (185 Ocean Terrace Rd)
FREE - Admission to National Park also free for Canada’s 150th birthday!

Pacific Rim National Park includes some of the most extensive (and popular) stretches of sandy beaches in BC. Thousands of shorebirds rely on this habitat to forage and rest during migration, which thousands of people also use year-round. This overlap results in both conflict and opportunity. Come and learn about recent Parks Canada research programs on shorebirds, and also how management decisions affect both people and birds in this unique area. An introductory presentation at the Green Point Campground Theatre will be followed by a walk on Long Beach, one of Tofino’s most popular beaches for recreation and extending into the Pacific Rim National Park at its southern end.


GUIDED VOYAGE TO CLELAND ISLAND SEABIRD COLONY
Saturday, May 6th
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Jamie’s Whaling (606 Campbell St)
$75 + tax

Join us aboard the Chinook Princess to explore the inlets for shorebirds and head offshore to the Cleland Island Ecological Reserve, one of the premier sites in Clayoquot Sound for seabirds. Past trips have enjoyed great looks at Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklet, Black Oystercatchers, Tufted Puffins, and a variety of other species. Whales, seals, sea lions and sea otters can also be seen in this area. This three-hour trip will be lead by an experienced guide who can help with spotting and identification.

The 50' M.V. Chinook Princess holds 33 passengers and is equipped with a washroom, snack bar, inside heated seating, and outdoor viewing decks.

Please book through Jamie’s Whaling, Tofino at 1-800-667-9913 or info@jamies.com.


EVENING RECAP & GUEST PRESENTATION (tba)
Saturday, May 6th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Jamie’s Restaurant and Lounge @ Jamie’s Rainforest Inn (1258 Pacific Rim Hwy)
$5 admission

We will recap the highlights of the day and start the 2017 Shorebird Fest species list! Followed by a guest presentation, to be announced.
 


Sunday, May 7th, 2017


BIRDER'S BREAKFAST
with Chef Ian Riddick

Sunday, May 7th
7:30 am – 9:00 am
Long Beach Lodge Great Room (1441 Pacific Rim Highway)
Menu price

Take advantage of all Tofino has to offer by starting your day with breakfast at the spectacular Long Beach Lodge Resort. Chef Riddick has prepared a special “birders breakfast” for this year’s Shorebird Festival – fuel up for a big day of events while enjoying the crashing waves of Cox Bay and the sanderlings feeding on the beach. Head downstairs to the Long Beach Lodge Function Room for the photography workshop just after breakfast!


PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
with professional nature photographer Jess Findlay

Sunday, May 7th
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Long Beach Lodge Function Room and Cox Bay (1441 Pacific Rim Highway)
FREE

Whether you're a beginner looking to learn the fundamentals of nature photography, an intermediate photographer hoping to hone your skills, or a seasoned photographer in need of a guide, Jess’ workshop is sure to please. Along with his technical experience, his life long passion for birds and multiple years spent working in the biology field will give you a unique, enriching experience placing importance on not only improving your technical proficiency, compositional development and creative eye, but also learning about your subjects and their environment.

The photography workshop will begin with an indoor presentation followed by field time on the beach so come prepared for rain or shine. All levels of photographers welcome – bring your own camera gear!

Check out Jess’ website to explore his photography and find more information on workshops and guided tours he offers throughout the year https://jessfindlay.squarespace.com.


GUIDED VOYAGE TO CLELAND ISLAND SEABIRD COLONY
Sunday, May 7th
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Jamie’s Whaling (606 Campbell St)
$75 + tax

Join us aboard the Chinook Princess to explore the inlets for shorebirds and head offshore to the Cleland Island Ecological Reserve, one of the premier sites in Clayoquot Sound for seabirds. Past trips have enjoyed great looks at Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklet, Black Oystercatchers, Tufted Puffins, and a variety of other species. Whales, seals, sea lions and sea otters can also be seen in this area. This three-hour trip will be lead by an experienced guide who can help with spotting and identification.

The 50' M.V. Chinook Princess holds 33 passengers and is equipped with a washroom, snack bar, inside heated seating, and outdoor viewing decks.

Please book through Jamie’s Whaling, Tofino at 1-800-667-9913 or info@jamies.com.


This festival is supported by:

 

 

 

2016 Tofino Shorebird Festival

19th ANNUAL
TOFINO SHOREBIRD FESTIVAL
April 29 - May 1, 2016

 

Every year from late April through May, flocks of sandpipers, plovers, whimbrels, and many other shorebirds pass through the Tofino area. Thousands stop here to feed and rest as they make their impressive journey from South and Central America northward to their Arctic breeding grounds.