Semipalmated Sandpiper Photo: Jess Findlay

Tofino Shorebird Festival

The 21st Annual Tofino Shorebird Festival will be held on May 4 - 6, 2018.
We are still finalizing details for the 2018 festival. Please see last year's itinerary (below) for information on the types of presentations, events, and workshops you can expect to see in the upcoming 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 - Schedule of Events
PDF - Overview of Events


Friday May 5th, 2017

OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION AND PRESENTATION
“Where the wild things are in BC's coastal waters:  marine bird distributions,
densities, and why it matters.”

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 and presentation, drinks and full menu available

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 on special from Phillips 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 – 11:30 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. Back by popular demand, 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 am – 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 as 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!

Plan to eat breakfast or have a coffee with Jamie’s full-menu and service available during the presentation (or earlier if you prefer).


BIRDING ON THE MUDFLATS – GET YOUR FEET WET!
with Barb Beasley and
Adrian Dorst
Saturday, May 6th
9:30 am - 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 pushed 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
with seabird guide
Mark Maftei
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, and is not a pleasure cruise.

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 book reading and painting
with illustrator
Sheryl McDougald (family event!)
Saturday, May 6th
11:30 am – 12:30 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 (family event!)
Saturday, May 6th
12:30 pm – 1:30 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 some birding fun with biologist Ariane Batic. Ariane will lead participants on a short walk down to the mudflats at the Tofino Botanical Gardens to observe shorebirds and learn about their behaviour.

Kids must be accompanied by an adult.


SHOREBIRD PRINT MAKING WORKSHOP
with contemporary artist
Dan Law
Saturday, May 6th
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm (with instructional sessions at 1 pm & 3 pm)
Darwin’s Cafe @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Hwy).
This is a drop-in event­. Come when you wish, stay as long as you like!
$10 per wood cut, free for kids. 

Join artist Dan Law for a shorebird inspired print making workshop! Dan will provide two, 15-minute instructional sessions (at 1 pm and 3 pm) for those interested in learning the art of print making. Otherwise, materials and guidance will be provided throughout the session.


VOYAGE TO CLELAND ISLAND SEABIRD COLONY
with birding guide
Daniel Donnecke
Saturday, May 6th
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Jamie’s Whaling Station (606 Campbell St)
$75 + GST + $3 research fee

Join us aboard the M.V. 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 Auklets, 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 Station at 1-800-667-9913 or online.


EVENING RECAP & GUEST PRESENTATION
with bird biologist
Mark Maftei
Saturday, May 6th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Jamie’s Restaurant and Lounge @ Jamie’s Rainforest Inn (1258 Pacific Rim Hwy)
$5 admission (full dinner menu and drinks available)

We will get together after a full day of adventure and birding to recap the highlights of the day and share observations. Mark Maftei, festival coordinator and marine bird biologist, will then take us into the world of shorebird science with a presentation.

Full menu and drinks available to order!


Sunday, May 7th, 2017

BIRDER'S BREAKFAST
with
Chef Ian Riddick
Sunday, May 7th
7:30 am – 11:30 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. Back by popular demand, 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!


BIRDING BY KAYAK
with kayak guide and naturalist Andy Murray
Sunday, May 7th
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.


PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
with professional nature photographers Connor Stefanison and Jess Findlay

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

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 Connor's website and Jess’ website to explore their photography and find more information on workshops and guided tours they offer throughout the year.


PADDLE A DUGOUT CANOE UP LEMMENS INLET
with Nuuchahnulth guide Tsimka Martin and birding guide Daniel Donnecke
Sunday, May 7th
9:30 am – 1:30 pm
T’ashii Paddle School (trip departs from Jamie’s Whaling Station, 606 Campbell St)
$89 per person + tax

T’ashii Paddle School is partnering with Raincoast Education Society for this once a year special tour in a traditional dugout cedar canoe!
One of the most unique experiences in Tofino, join a Nuu-chah nulth guide for a traditional paddle in a handcrafted cedar canoe up Lemmens Inlet to the Arakun Islands and mudflat area to explore the mudflats at high tide – a perfect way to get up close to shorebirds foraging during their annual migration north. This is a traditional form of transportation that has been used on the west coast of Vancouver Island for thousands of years, making it a special way to learn about local indigenous history and rich culture. A bird guide will also accompany the trip to enhance your experience and knowledge of birds in the area.

Space is limited to 8 people, and seats are first-come, first-serve. Please book online, or by calling T'ashii Paddle School at 250-266-3787.


VOYAGE TO CLELAND ISLAND SEABIRD COLONY
with birding guide Caroline Fox

Sunday, May 7th
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Jamie’s Whaling (606 Campbell St)
$75 + GST + $3 research fee

Join us aboard the M.V. 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 Auklets, 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 led 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 online.


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.