tofino winter visitors

Tofino Winter Visitors

by Helen Clay in Tofino


Clayoquot Sound is renowned as a special place for bird watching. Each species comes to find its own habitat, both the year round residents and the migratory birds passing through.

At the Whalers on the Point hostel in Tofino on West Street, migratory humans also come to roost, fluffing out their feathers and looking around the area for a day or two. Some have flown from close by, the nearest being Port Alberni, and the furthest New Zealand. Some travel only for a few days and one exceptional specimen for 20 years! I joined the flock from England, via Vancouver, and stayed for six of the best days I have ever experienced, anywhere in the world.

I came to Tofino expecting beaches, storms and rainforest, and certainly I wasn’t disappointed–but I hadn’t expected how captivated I would be by the atmosphere. I was lucky enough to walk the Meares Island trail twice, and immediately became a rainforest addict who would happily walk it every day. I had a bike, so I visited Chesterman Beach, both on a quiet evening when the glory of the clouds reflected on the damp sand, and on a stormy day when the crashing of the waves just took my breath away. I had a lovely cycle up Radar Hill – in horizontal rain. Reaching the top was exhilarating; not a view to be seen but the wind wildly whipping the treetops. I took a photo of the view board “for the folks back home”, and I know that when I do next get up there and see the sound in all its glory, I will be all the more impressed.

The natural environment of Clayoquot is stunning, and brought to mind a favourite poem by Lord Byron:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

I was also lucky to be able to attend three excellent talks in one short week. Pat Rasmussen spoke about the World Temperate Rainforest Network, and her amazing efforts to protect rainforest, particularly in Chile. Beautiful photographs of Clayoquot Sound, and focs success in protecting it, were greeted with a rousing cheer! The key point I took home from her talk was that while bc is blessed with having 43% of its temperate rainforest intact, only 5% is protected. There’s a lot to lose. In New Zealand, where the West Coast of the South Island is home to their old growth forest, they have 28% remaining intact: all of it is now protected from logging.

Dom Repta of FOCS spoke of his run across the Moroccan desert: he came 30th out of 700 runners, but would have preferred 10th place! Such ambition goes far beyond what we mere mortals would aspire to– however we all enjoyed the gruesome pictures of runners’ feet!

Then there was R.Wayne Campbell’s book launch. He is the foremost bird expert in BC, having published over 300 scientific papers, many reports and books. The honour of his visit was equivalent to a condor touching down in Clayoquot. What amazed and delighted me was that so eminent a man could give a talk so down to earth and just plain enjoyable! My favourite detail of the evening was when he described his concerns over his impact on feeding a group of seven house finches in his garden. He started banding them, and stopped when he said “I got to 1100 birds!”

A very dear friend of mine, Michaela Palmer, was the one to recommend I visit Tofino, for which I am forever in her debt. Her thoughts on her visit were :

“ What did we love about it? The peace, serenity that you feel inside the moment you arrive—it’s like the rest of the world and all the crap has just disappeared. Everyone’s so chilled and friendly. Long Beach is just great for walking along and clearing your head of crap—the roar of the pacific ocean, all the driftwood strewn about and the forest right behind your head—there could be a million people there but you’d still feel like there was only you. Then there were the bears… and the kayaking… and the seaplanes whizzing by your head.

More than anything it was simply the most amazing feeling inside being there—so hard to describe—just feels like you’re ‘home’.”

Tofino changes you. Outwardly, I arrived dressed for cold weather with hiking boots and little gloves—I left looking resplendent in gumboots, waterproof trousers and gloves 3 sizes too big (who cares as long as they keep the rain out!). I cut a dash in the posh restaurant at Horseshoe Bay!

Inwardly, I arrived a person unsure of how and where to make a difference to this earth—I left happy in the knowledge that in Clayoquot I can do some good.

By the end of one short week I had met and made countless new friends, all fired with a passion for this amazing place and delighted to share in its beauty. I am now determined to return—for New Years, and for life.

Helen Clay visited Tofino in December 2004 and will return for volunteer work in Spring. She can be contacted at

Tofino Birdwatching Articles

tofino | tofino time | activities | accommodation | events | directory
maps | travel | food | art & artists | photos | horoscope | tides
search | magazine | issues | articles | advertising | contact us

hosted in tofino by & studio tofino
© 2002-2014 copyright Tofino Time Magazine in Tofino Canada
© 2002-2011 Tofino Time Magazine & ThinkTank Design Inc.
tofino time january 2005

quick links:
tofino accomodations
tofino calendar

tofino surf report
tofino horoscope
september horoscope
tofino map
tofino fishing report
tofino tides
tofino weddings

tofino events:
tofino concerts
tofino events
tofino movies
tofino festivals
tofino yoga classes

tofino time magazine:
tofino time september 2012
captain vincente tofino
readers choice: the best of tofino
floating gardens at freedom cove
tofino event listings for september 2012
tofino concerts in september 2012
tofino movies in september 2012
tofino tide table for september 2012
tofino surf reports for september 2012
cox bay | wickaninnish beach
chesterman beach
tonquin beach
tofino brewing co.
horoscope for april 2013
tofino wedding guide

tofino accommodation:
tofino cabin
tofino camping
bed & breakfasts in Tofino
tofino hostels
tofino motels
tofino hotels
tofino vacation rentals
petfriendly accommodation

tofino bike rentals
tofino bear watching
tofino bird watching
tofino boat charters & cruises
tofino fishing
hot springs cove
sea kayaking in tofino
tofino storm watching
tofino surfing
tofino whale watching
tofino yoga

tofino art galleries
tofino books
tofino boutiques & gift shops
food stores in tofino
tofino outfitters

tofino yoga, spa & wellness
tofino restaurants
tofino internet cafes
tofino travel & transportation
tofino real estate
tofino vacation rentals
tofino weddings

tofino events
tofino concerts
tofino movies
tofino calendar
tofino cabins
tofino maps
tofino jobs
tofino media