Field Trips

Field trips are typically scheduled at least once monthly, excluding January. All are welcome, but be sure to contact the leader if indicated. If a trip involves some driving, we arrange carpools at the meeting location indicated. Please remember to pay your driver (we recommend $0.25/mile divided by the number of passengers). Remember to dress for the weather and bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen!

Upcoming trips:

Please review the current VAS Guidelines and Waiver before registering for a trip.

July 9, 2021–Conboy/Trout Lake

Leaders: Randy Hill ( call or text to 360-975-2573;

co-leads: Cindy McCormack, Bill Tweit, and Samuel Holman

Target species include nesting cranes, 8 woodpeckers, 8 flycatchers and a wide variety of marsh, prairie, riparian, hardwood, pine and higher elevation conifer forest nesting species found east of the Cascade crest.  This area is incredibly diverse! 

Itinerary:  Meet to leave at 05:00 at the 164th Avenue Park & Ride just north of SR-14, in the north parking area by the ballot box.  We will head east with maybe one restroom stop before the Trout Lake destination.  Pine forest, aspen and wetland edge areas to walk, and many crossroads to drive in open areas.  Depending on weather factors there could be stops returning through Klickitat for hummingbirds and Lyle area for other woodpeckers and flycatchers. Fully vaccinated only for this trip. Spotting scopes encouraged, and bring Discover Pass and Federal Access pass if you have one.

Trip travel type expectations: Pace: 1-2;  Terrain:  A-C with some off-trail exploration; 2-3 miles walking

Limit of 3 cars, 9 total participants.

July 15, 2021: Mt. St. Helens

Date: Thursday, July 15
Destination: Mount St. Helens Hummocks Trail, Coldwater Lake, and Johnston Ridge.
Trip leaders: John Bishop and Susan Saul.
John Bishop is Professor of Biology at WSU and has studied the plants and insects colonizing the Mount St. Helens blast zone for 31 years. He is also an obsessed bird watcher. 
Susan Saul led the effort to create the National Volcanic Monument and later efforts to protect it, is an avid naturalist. [Susan may want to expand this].
Synopsis: On this trip we’ll talk about the ecology, geology, and history of the blast zone as we view the key plant colonists, some at at peak flowering, and bask in the spectacular views. And we’ll be trying to identify all the birds we can.  The avifauna of Mount St. Helens is unusual because the unvegetated landscape attracts many species that are typically found further east or north, including Horned Lark, Fox Sparrow, Dusky Flycatcher, Rock Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Gray Crowned Rosy Finch and Prairie Falcon as well as many rarities. Rarities in the last month or so include Black Tern and Least Flycatcher. We hope to see and hear a few of these. We’ll be in both Cowlitz and Skamania counties.
All participants must be vaccinated.  Bring binoculars, camera, lunch and water (none is available in the monument).  Johnston Ridge has no shade, so bring  sun hat and sunscreen.
Expect to hike up to 3 miles, with an optional 2.5 miles hike in the afternoon. The hike will be on smooth trail but have about 300 feet elevation gain and loss.
Itinerary: 6:00 am: Meet at Salmon Creek Park and Ride – form carpools
8:00 am: Coldwater Lake- bathroom stop and birding
8:40 am: Hummocks trail parking: Bird parking area (hoping for Least Flycatcher)
9:20 am: Park at Johnston Ridge Observatory. Observatory is closed, porta-potties available.
9:25-1:00 pm  Walk Johnston Ridge for flowers, birds, and Mount St. Helens ecology and natural history.  Bring lunch.
1:20 -3:30 pm: (optional) Hike the Hummocks Trail, for birds and more natural history.  Hike is 2.5 miles with about 100’ of elevation gain.
On the way home:  Stop at Castle Lake viewpoint for the view and listen for Horned Larks.
5:30 pm: Arrive at Salmon Creek Park and Ride

This trip will have a minimum requirement of 6 participants to occur. Contact Randy Hill to register:

August 25-27, 2021: Grays Harbor with Pelagic Trip

Black-footed Albatross

Leader: Randy Hill ( call or text to 360-975-2573; co-leaders Cindy McCormack and possibly Jim Danzenbaker, a spotter on the pelagic trip.

Trip travel type expectations: Pace: 1-2; Terrain:  A-C with mostly stops in route walking trails, along sandy beach, and from viewpoints.  The pelagic trip includes limited mobility standing or sitting while on the boat, but consider susceptibility to motion sickness and long hours of sun with appropriate preparation for variable ocean conditions.  Potential wet or breezy conditions suggest having layers, rain gear, and waterproof boots for comfort.

Targets are near and off-shore birds and mammals during a period of high species diversity:  albatross to alcids, whales, dolphins, ocean sunfish and more. Onshore a wide variety of late summer migrants including waterfowl, waders, shorebirds, gulls and songbirds in coastal bay and estuary, freshwater wetland and riverine, and some forest and other habitats.

Itinerary:  The group will be finalized by 8/20, with ride-sharing determined before the trip. 

We will meet on 8/25 at 07:15 at the Salmon Creek park-and-ride to carpool; no overnight parking.  Birding on the way with various stops along US-12 and Grays Harbor, possibly to Ocean Shores, and including Hoquiam WTP and possibly Bottle Beach; tidal timelines will determine the specific locations.  Lodging on your own, but suggested in Westport area as we meet on the boat the next morning by 05:45. 

8/26 is the pelagic trip with Westport Seabirds from 06:00 to 15:30.  When we return to dock, we can bird areas around Westport before dinner. 

8/27 will include more birding near Westport, with travel south to Tokeland and other locations around Willapa Bay before returning home by 6pm via SR-4.

Fully vaccinated only for this weekdays trip. Spotting scopes highly encouraged and bring Discover Pass if you have one for state parks visits.  You should bring motion sickness medication unless you have a positive track record on the open ocean without medication.  This link could be helpful to prepare:

Limit of 4 cars, 10 total participants but initially only 6 of the remaining 10 spots on this pelagic trip will be held for a limited period. It is recommended that you sign up early, certainly before the end of June, before spaces are filled.

Options for this trip include the described full three days, or one day pelagic trip only under the VAS allotment, or two days either with an early return after the pelagic, starting with the pelagic, or without the pelagic trip (land only) included. 

Sign-up should be through VAS field trips, but all lodging and payment for the pelagic trip will be the responsibility of participant.  Contact Randy with any questions and to secure the pelagic trip reservation and field trip registration.

Monthly Bird Walk calendar

Field trip reports

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