Naturalist Journeys Announces New Nature Tour — Winter Birding in Washington

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Naturalist Journeys announces the site of a new nature tour – a place where, each winter, tens of thousands of swans, geese, and ducks, along with predatory raptors and owls converge. Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Fraser Delta provide the birds with safe haven from extreme winter conditions, a place where birds can feed and otherwise flourish, far north of the Neotropical haunts of many migratory species. Seattle-based guide Woody Wheeler leads the week-long adventure February 12-22, with lodgings in Port Townsend and LaConner.

Naturalist Journeys, a nation-wide nature travel company based in Arizona, announces a new tour on which participants witness a little known birding spectacle. Each winter, throngs of birds congregate in open water habitats of coastal Washington. Guide Woody Wheeler, based in Seattle, is fascinated by the phenomena he regularly observes. “Our area is literally flooded with birds that come here to escape harsh conditions. Birds leave behind snow and ice-covered mountains and frozen lakes of the north and the interior, to take refuge in places that have open water and snow-free terrain. Puget Sound and the Fraser Delta are two of the first places where these birds, including swans, geese, raptors, owls and waterfowl, can find these conditions to successfully feed and otherwise flourish.”

Last year, Woody was on assignment with a tour group of Naturalist Journeys in Costa Rica, finding a rainbow of tropical species and the mythical Resplendent Quetzal. This year, he proposed staying closer to home in Washington, as concentrations of wintering birds make for spectacular birding! Wheeler designed the trip to occur in mid-February, when there is more light, temperatures moderate, and typical winter rains abate somewhat. Wheeler is excited about the opportunity scheduled for February 16-22, saying “I have taken many trips to the areas featured on the Washington in Winter: A Little-known Birding Wonderland tour, but have never before linked them together in a multi-day journey.”

Naturalist Journeys owner Peg Abbott says, “The combination of outstanding winter birding with beautiful scenery, great food and lodging in two of Washington’s quaint, preserved towns will make this a memorable experience.” A portion of the proceeds will go to The Trumpeter Swan Society, an organization that Abbott does outreach and communications for on the side, to keep her hand in conservation of wetlands, so critical to wildlife. Having the tour benefit an organization that has worked at length to secure winter feeding areas for the birds, safe from toxic lead, makes designing and guiding the tour more important to Wheeler. His past work for the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society and the Seattle Parks Foundation make him uniquely qualified to guide travelers through the natural history of the area. Connecting people with nature is his passion, and he does so through trips, classes, presentation, and by writing positive nature blogs, his professional endeavors grouped under the theme, the “Conservation Catalyst.”

Wheeler has led more than 50 trips and tours in 4 countries. He believes that learning about nature should be active, engaging, and joyful. Naturalist Journeys is pleased to partner with Wheeler to offer the week-long, Feb. 16-23, birding adventure. Participants fly into Seattle, and enjoy three-nights’ lodgings in Port Townsend and LaConner. For more information, see their website.

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Susanne Apitz
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