Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour: Jun 04—10, 2017

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Departs: Seattle
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (91.2 KB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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Bob Sundstrom

Bob Sundstrom has led VENT tours since 1989 to many destinations throughout North America, a...


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Erik Bruhnke

Erik Bruhnke has had a love for birds since he was a child. He graduated from Northland Coll...


More Information

White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker— Photo: Ginger Livingston Sanders/shutterstock

 

Wonderful spring Northwest birding based at a comfortable lodge in a lovely natural setting, along a rushing mountain river. Diverse birds and wildflowers of mountains, canyons, sage, and potholes.

Leavenworth, Washington is an ideal venue for a late spring nature tour. The picturesque town sits at the foot of Icicle Canyon in the Cascade Mountains, on the north side of the Alp-like visage of Mt. Stuart. Our lodgings, tucked alongside the Wenatchee River, have a fine reputation for hosting groups in a relaxed setting. Every room at the inn has a balcony overlooking the rushing river, where you can sit on the balcony and watch families of Yellow-bellied Marmots and such birds as Pygmy Nuthatch and Western Tanager. White-headed Woodpeckers sometimes nest nearby. The inn is just a few minutes from Icicle Creek and other fast-flowing streams, where American Dippers bob on the rocks and Harlequin Ducks nest. In late May, wildflowers carpet the forest floor and canyon roadsides.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager— Photo: Laura Mountainspring/shutterstock

 

The tour begins in Seattle, and most of the birding will take place east of the crest of the Cascades Mountains. With four nights in Leavenworth, we’ll explore a variety of sites within reasonable driving distance, including beautiful Icicle Canyon. On one day, we’ll explore the full length of a canyon in the nearby Entiat Mountains. Beginning at the rocky cut of the Columbia River, our drive passes through towering rimrock cliffs, sagebrush, and then higher into Ponderosa pine stands, mixed conifers, and right up into aspen-rimmed beaver bogs. Bird possibilities are as diverse as the habitats. Brilliant Lazuli Buntings, noisy Yellow-breasted Chats, and tiny Calliope Hummingbirds are regular sights along the canyon road. We’ll watch for such birds as Northern Pygmy-Owl, Red-naped Sapsucker, Say’s Phoebe, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole, and Cassin’s Finch, among many others. We will explore the back roads of the Wenatchee Mountains too, where Williamson’s Sapsuckers nest at higher elevations, and Hermit Thrushes sing all day. At passes in the Cascades Mountains, we’ll search out the lovely Varied Thrush and tiny Pacific Wren.

Another day takes us into the nearby sage and potholes country, home to nesting Sage Thrashers and Brewer’s Sparrows, Mountain and Western bluebirds, as well as lovely Cinnamon Teal and clangorous Yellow-headed Blackbirds. During the course of the tour, we may see eight or more woodpecker species (including three sapsuckers) and nine flycatchers.

Although one cannot hope to see all the birds of Washington in such a short tour, this tour incorporates some of the richest spring birding possibilities in the Northwest, with the convenience of staying most nights at one lodging while exploring diverse areas within a reasonable driving distance.

Nice accommodations and very good cuisine; easy, non-strenuous walking; comfortable, moderate weather.