Semipalmated Sandpiper Photo: Jess Findlay

Tofino Shorebird Festival

The 22nd Annual Tofino Shorebird Festival
May 3 - 5, 2019

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!

The Tofino Shorebird Festival celebrates this impressive annual migration with a series of educational birding activities throughout the region. We draw on local and visiting experts to participate in the festival, offering guest lectures, birding workshops, boat trips 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.

A huge thank you to our festival partners, in alphabetical order:

District of Tofino; Jamie’s Whaling Station; Long Beach Lodge Resort; Middle Beach Lodge, Ocean Outfitters; Pacific Rim National Park; Paddle West Kayaking; Roy Henry Vickers Gallery; Tofino Botanical Gardens; Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area; Tofino Nature Kids; T'ashii Paddle School; Tofino Time; Tourism Tofino; The Wickaninnish Inn and The Pointe Restaurant.

Follow @TofinoShorebirdFestival on facebook for event reminders, details, and more!


Download the 2019 Full Schedule of Events Here

 


Download the 2019 Cheat Sheet Edition of the Festival Schedule Here (hint: print double sided for a handy one-pager!)

 

 


2019 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS, MAY 3 - 5, 2019


FRIDAY, MAY 3


WELCOME TO THE FESTIVAL! OPENING NIGHT SOCIAL AND PRESENTATION

with the Raincoast Education Society and guest speaker Dr. Grant Gilchrist, Research Scientist with ECCC

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Middle Beach Lodge Conference Room (400 MacKenzie Beach Road)

$20 per person ($15 for kids) *tickets must be purchased in advance, limited seating

We will kick off the Tofino Shorebird Festival with a social evening to celebrate the migration of the shorebirds, meet other bird enthusiasts, and go over the festival schedule while enjoying food and drink. The meet and greet will be followed by a presentation from Dr. Grant Gilchrist, an ECCC Research Scientist.

Research in a Changing Arctic:  Conservation Biology of Arctic Birds

We often view the Arctic as a pristine wilderness largely free of environmental threats, but times are changing. Climate change can influence species directly by modifying their physical environment, or indirectly by altering interactions among organisms. For example, changes affecting the ecology of top predators are expected to be a particular concern because variation in predator behaviour has the potential to restructure food webs and lead to cascading ecological impacts on prey populations. From egg-eating polar bears to insatiable snow geese, Grant will examine a number of fascinating case studies tracking the response of waterfowl, seabirds and shorebirds to shifts in climate and local conditions on their Arctic breeding grounds.

Space is limited, with tickets available for purchase at https://raincoasteducation.org/register.

Ticket purchase includes hors d'oeuvres, one drink ticket, and the evening presentation. This event will fill up quick so please get your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment!


SATURDAY, MAY 4th


BIRDER'S BREAKFAST

with Chef Shaun Snelling from the Long Beach Lodge Resort

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. Chef Snelling 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 and sanderlings at Cox Bay.


OFFSHORE BIRDING

with seabird guide Mark Maftei from the Raincoast Education Society

7:00 am (depart dock) to ~ 4:00 pm

Ocean Outfitters (368 Main Street)

$220 per person + tax

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 some 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. 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. Book online at Ocean Outfitters or call 1-877-906-2326. The trip is weather dependent. In the event of cancellation, there will be a 100% refund. No refund for no-shows. Dress warm, bring your own lunch and water.


BIRDING BY KAYAK

with bird guide Daniel Donnecke from the Raincoast Education Society

8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Paddle West Kayaking (606 Campbell Street, same as Jamie’s Whaling Station)
$115 per person + tax

This 5 hour sea kayaking tour will take you on a journey to experience extensive areas of prime shorebird habitat only accessible by water. The trip will leave at low tide and paddle into Lemmens Inlet to observe birds and wildlife in the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area. We will return near high tide and have the opportunity to paddle into the mudflats while the tide is flooding for a more intimate experience. Sea kayaking experience is not necessary – double kayaks available so you can alternate paddling and birding!

Space is limited to 12 people. Please book online at Paddle West Kayaking or call 1-877-479-3232 *Note: bookings go through Jamie’s Whaling Station.


SHOREBIRDING 101

with Shanti Davis from the Raincoast Education Society

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Darwin’s Café @ the Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Highway)

FREE event

Join us for an introduction to birding and shorebird identification. We will go over some key points to help you identify and recognize the common shorebird species you can expect to see around Tofino in the spring. 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 meet us down on the mudflats with us after this presentation wraps up for some first-hand observations of shorebirds. Coffee and breakfast available at the Café from 8:00 am.


BIRDING ON THE MUDFLATS

with bird guide Ian Cruickshank from Parks Canada

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Tofino Mudflats – exact meeting location TBD

FREE event

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 at this location 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 3.1 m @ 13:31 pm). This is a great event for both new and experienced birders, as well as anyone interested in learning more about the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area.

Bring your binoculars or spotting scope, or else we will have a couple to share. No dogs please.


BIRDS & BOTANICALS ART SHOW

with Allison Tremain and Coral Barclay

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Darwin’s Café @ the Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Highway)

FREE event, items available for purchase

Join local artist Allison Tremain and Cowichan Bay artist Coral Barclay at the Tofino Botanical Gardens celebrating the return of spring with an art show focusing on botanicals and regional and migratory birds.

Note: Birds & Botanicals Artist Workshops available 10-12 and 2-4 during this time (see below)


SHOREBIRDING BY TRADITIONAL STYLE CANOE

with Nuu-chah-nulth guide Tsimka Martin and Raincoast Education Society birding guide

12:30 pm – 4:30 pm

T’ashii Paddle School

$89 per person + tax

One of the most unique experiences in Tofino, join a Nuu-chah nulth guide for a paddle in a traditional dugout cedar canoe up Lemmens Inlet to the 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 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 culture as well enjoy some wonderful birding.

Space is limited to 5 people. Please book your trip online at T’ashii Paddle School or call 250-266-3787.


BIRDS & BOTANICALS ARTIST WORKSHOP

with Allison Tremain and Coral Barclay

Darwin’s Café @ the Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Highway)

Beginners welcome, open to all ages, 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult

$60 per person materials included

10:00 am – 12:00 pm WATERCOLOURS

Coral will guide you through watercolour techniques for painting birds and flowers. Bring your own reference photo or samples will be provided. A great opportunity to personally capture a shorebird during your visit.

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm NATURE PRINTMAKING

Allison will guide you through an ancient technique of printing with real plants from the rainforest. You will bring a visual and personal representation of the west coast home creating your very own authentic botanical print. Plants will be provided, please do not gather plants from the national or regional parks.

Please preregister for these workshops by calling 250-726-3934 or emailing allison.tremain@gmail.com


BIRDING ADVENTURE FOR KIDS

with Heather Fleming from Tofino Nature Kids

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Tofino Nature Kids @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (meet at the barn; 1084 Pacific Rim Highway)

Kids age 3 – 12 years old

By donation (to Tofino Nature Kids)

It’s never too early to get into birds! For this fun event, we will craft our own sets of ‘binoculars’ and go for a walk to see what we can see.  We’ll tune into our senses, listen and look for movement in the bushes and on the mudflats to see what kinds of feathered friends we can spot in the woods and on the water.

This is a drop-off-your-kid event! Tofino Nature Kids waiver must be signed by prior to event.

Pre-register at www.tofinoshorebirdfestival.com, only 8 spots available for this creative event for kids!


VOYAGE TO CLELAND ISLAND SEABIRD COLONY

with birding guide Ian Cruickshank from Parks Canada

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Jamie’s Whaling Station (606 Campbell Street)
$79 + tax/fee

Join us aboard the M.V. Lukwa for a unique trip through some of the most ecologically important and spectacular habitats on the west coast. This trip leaves Tofino and explores the waterways of Clayoquot Sound as we venture offshore to the Cleland Island Ecological Reserve, one of the premier sites in Clayoquot Sound for seabirds. Past trips have enjoyed great looks at spectacular Tufted Puffins, Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Black Oystercatchers, as well as 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 60' M.V. Lukwa holds 45 passengers and is equipped with a washroom, snack bar, inside heated seating, and outdoor viewing decks. Please book online at Jamie’s Whaling Station or call 1-800-667-9913.


EVENING RECAP & GUEST PRESENTATION

with Parks Canada Ecologist Dr. Yuri Zharikov

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Ecolodge Classroom @ Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Highway)
$5 admission at the door

We will get together after a full day of adventure and birding to recap the highlights of the day and share observations.

Dr. Yuri Zharikov, Parks Canada Ecologist will then present “Shorebird Monitoring and Beach Patrol in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve”. The talk will focus on PRNPR efforts to monitor seasonal and spatial distribution of shorebirds in the Long Beach area and their interactions with park visitors over an 8 year period. Yuri will discuss the issues facing shorebirds here in Tofino, as well as PRNPR efforts to mitigate disturbance to migrating birds. Yuri will also present some preliminary results from a recently initiated collaborative study of shorebirds in Tofino that seeks to clarify the patterns of occurrence and habitat use of several different species using radio telemetry.


SUNDAY, MAY 5th


BIRDER'S BREAKFAST

with Chef Shaun Snelling from the Long Beach Lodge Resort

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. Chef Snelling 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 and sanderlings at Cox Bay.


OFFSHORE BIRDING

with seabird guide Daniel Donnecke from the Raincoast Education Society

7:00 am (depart dock) to ~ 4:00 pm

Ocean Outfitters (368 Main Street)

$220 per person + tax

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 recon of where birds seem to be concentrating. Our goal is to bird out to, and then along, the shelf edge near some of the large offshore canyons about 55 km 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. 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. Book online at Ocean Outfitters  or call 1-877-906-2326. The trip is weather dependent. In the event of cancellation, there will be a 100% refund. No refund for no-shows. Dress warm, bring your own lunch and water.


BIRDING BY KAYAK

with bird guide Shanti Davis from the Raincoast Education Society

8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Paddle West Kayaking (606 Campbell Street, same as Jamie’s Whaling Station)
$115 per person + tax

This five-hour sea kayaking tour will take you on a journey to experience extensive areas of prime shorebird habitat only accessible by water. The trip will leave at low tide and paddle into Lemmens Inlet to observe birds in the Tofino Mudflats Wildlife Management Area. We will return near high tide and have the opportunity to paddle while the tide is flooding for a more intimate experience. Sea kayaking experience is not necessary – double kayaks available so you can alternate with your partner paddling and birding!

Space is limited to 12 people. Please book online through Paddle West Kayaking or call 1-877-479-3232 *Note: bookings go through Jamie’s Whaling Station.


VOYAGE TO CLELAND ISLAND SEABIRD COLONY

with birding guide Mark Maftei from the Raincoast Education Society

9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Jamie’s Whaling Station (606 Campbell Street)
$79 + tax/fee

Join us aboard a Zodiac for a unique trip through some of the most ecologically important and spectacular habitats on the west coast. This trip leaves Tofino and explores the waterways of Clayoquot Sound as we venture offshore to the Cleland Island Ecological Reserve, one of the premier sites in Clayoquot Sound for seabirds. Past trips have enjoyed great looks at spectacular Tufted Puffins, Marbled Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Black Oystercatchers, as well as a variety of other species. Whales, seals, sea lions and sea otters can also be seen in this area. An experienced guide will be onboard to help with spotting and ID.

This trip is limited to 12 passengers. Please book online at Jamie’s Whaling Station or call 1-800-667-9913.


BIRDING ON THE MUDFLATS

with birding guide Ian Cruickshank from Parks Canada

8:00 am – 10:00 am

Grice Bay

FREE event

Join us for some more birding on the Tofino mudflats! Grice Bay is a local hotspot for migrating shorebirds, and is timed to coincide with an ideal tide to permit close observation of feeding shorebirds (low tide at 7:59 am). This is a great event for both new and experienced birders, and Ian will be setup to help with spotting and identification. Park pass required.

Bring your binoculars or spotting scope, or else we will have a couple to share. No dogs please.


BIRDS & BOTANICALS ART SHOW

with Allison Tremain and Coral Barclay

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Darwin’s Café @ the Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Highway)

FREE event, items available for purchase

Join local artist Allison Tremain and Cowichan Bay artist Coral Barclay at the Tofino Botanical Gardens celebrating the return of spring with an art show focusing on botanicals and regional and migratory birds.

Note: Birds & Botanicals Artist Workshops available 10-12 and 2-4 during this time (see below).


BIRDS & BOTANICALS ARTIST WORKSHOP

with Allison Tremain and Coral Barclay

Darwin’s Café @ the Tofino Botanical Gardens (1084 Pacific Rim Highway)

Beginners welcome, open to all ages, 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult

$60 per person materials included

10:00 am – 12:00 pm WATERCOLOURS

Coral will guide you through watercolour techniques for painting birds and flowers. Bring your own reference photo or samples will be provided. A great opportunity to personally capture a shorebird during your visit.

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm NATURE PRINTMAKING

Allison will guide you through an ancient technique of printing with real plants from the rainforest. You will bring a visual and personal representation of the west coast home creating your very own authentic botanical print. Plants will be provided, please do not gather plants from the national or regional parks.

Please preregister for these workshops by calling 250-726-3934 or emailing allison.tremain@gmail.com


SHOREBIRD INTERPRETATION HIKE

with birding guide Ian Cruickshank from Parks Canada

11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Combers Beach to Greenpoint Campground (meet in Comber’s Beach parking lot)
FREE event

Join us for an interpretive birding hike starting at Combers Beach parking lot in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This hike (moderate pace on mostly level ground) will cover some of the prime beach habitat used by migrating shorebirds. Enjoy the spectacular scenery along one of the region's most dynamic beaches and bird along the way with Ian Cruickshank - Parks Canada interpreter, bird biologist, and birder extraordinaire! Park entry pass required. Please note that pets are not permitted.


A few photos from previous Tofino Shorebird Festivals:

2018 Tofino Shorebird Festival

The 21st Annual Tofino Shorebird Festival
May 4 - 6, 2018

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.

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.