by George Bradd
Who are these people walking around with binoculars hanging from their
necks, sometimes armed with huge tripods, spotting scopes and cameras?
Are they mad? No, they are just part of the fastest growing outdoor
activity in North America: Bird watching. In the last ten years in
the us alone, the number of bird watchers has grown from 22 to 55
Birds are found in just about all habitats. Having the ability to
migrate and navigate, bird populations are never static and here lies
in birding. Finding them takes skills in not only visual identification
but knowledge of bird sounds. A small "cheep" in the bushes
might not mean anything to the non-birder but to the skilled birder
it could be the only clue to the existence of a furtive species. Since
native bird populations are best found in undisturbed habitat and these
areas are often not easy to access, avid birders will go to extreme
efforts to get to the hot bird spots. Kayaking rainforest rivers that
cannot even be safely rafted or paragliding into roadless areas of
Nepal in search of rare birds is all in a days birding nowadays. Anyone
who thinks that birders are all armchair recreationists had better
think twice today.
Birders vary greatly in their approach to the sport. Some birders
are very competitive and try to get as many new bird species as unreasonably
possible in one year, or in a life time. This requires a big travel
plan and budget to accomplish these goals. Some are called "twitchers" and
try to list their new species but don't risk life and limb to
get their birds. Others take a less competitive approach and just enjoy
the birds they see, not paying much attention to lists and records.
Tofino has prime bird habitat and protected areas, and is situated
on the Pacific Flyway. Huge eel grass beds are the resting and feeding
grounds for thousands of shorebirds and geese. This area is known
for storm blown rarities, and Tofino has the first Canadian record
Oriental Turtle Dove and the third Canadian record for Rustic Bunting.
Visitors to Tofino have opportunities to have world class birding
in the protected habitat of the Clayoquot Sound area.
Tofino Birdwatching Articles
Tofino bird watching article by Tofino birding guide George Bradd. Published in Tofino Time Magazine in October 2003.