Birdwatching in Tofino - Spring

The lengthening days of spring are a very exciting time for birding the outer coast of Vancouver Island.  The mudflats and protected waterways of Clayoquot Sound, a major overwintering site for ducks and other waterbirds, become a stopover site for tens of thousands of shorebirds of 24 species in April and May each year – 40 species of shorebirds have been recorded in the Tofino area.  These shorebirds are using our rich mudflats as a short resting and feeding stop as they wing their way north from their wintering grounds that may be as far south as South America.  Most of these shorebirds are destined for breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra, many on the north slope of Alaska.  The peak of shorebird migration is the last week in April and the first two weeks in May.  Some particularly good spots to watch the shorebirds on the mudflats are at the viewing platform at the end of Sharp Rd in Tofino, and at Grice Bay in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.  Both of these sites are best viewed with a spotting scope at low to medium tides, when mud is exposed for the shorebirds to feed on.  Here in Clayoquot Sound we have the largest numbers of Whimbrel on the BC coast in migration, and up to 100,000 Western Sandpipers have been recorded on the Tofino mudflats in a single day during early May – one of the true spectacles of nature.  Rarer species such as Red Knots, a beautiful salmon-pink hue in their breeding plumage, are regularly seen among the large flocks.  The sandy beaches of the outer coast harbour another suite of shorebirds, while offshore, Pacific Loons stream north by in the thousands.  On land, colourful songbirds return to our forests from their tropical wintering grounds – it’s a great exercise in birding-by-ear to pick apart all of their songs as they sing from high in the rainforest canopy.  With luck, you’ll catch a brilliant flash of yellow as a Townsend’s Warblers or Western Tanager shows itself.  And in late April and early May, you’ll see many thousands of Greater White-fronted and Cackling Geese passing northwest overhead – the outer coast is a key migration corridor for them.  It’s a spectacle to watch the river of birds heading north.

Written by LBNT Guide; Ian Cruickshank


“My back is stooped from scholarship,

My eyes are dimmed by history’s words.

Surrounded though I may be by learning,

I still cannot compare with nature’s perfection.”

Learning is a passion shared by many of us. There is a great allure to education and a fascination with the accomplishments of civilization. We go to libraries and museums. We go to exhibits showing the diggings from royal tombs. We are enchanted with new inventions. And yet, if we look out our windows and see a tree in its perfection, or gaze into a tide pool, or see the flash of a blue jay, we can only see another order of beauty and intelligence in this life.

The works of humanity cannot compare to the works of nature. The works of civilization lack the balance and refinement of nature. Too many times, our accomplishments are tainted by impure motives: profit, hardship, desire for fame, simple greed. We achieve, but we cannot foresee the results because we are unable to place our actions into a greater context.

Think about what you do. How much of it can compare to the perfection of nature?

-Tao, “Daily Meditations”

Our favourite hike in Tofino BC: Wildside Trail, Flores Island

Visiting Tofino this summer? Looking to escape the crowded beaches in town? This west coast gem is one of our most underrated destinations, and is truly the most breathtaking hike in the area. Learn why this is our favourite coastal walk and what makes this region so special.

  • This trail is home to 8 of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in Clayoquot Sound.
  • We get to hike amongst giant ancient spruce rain forests in this protected section of Flores Island.
  • This tour combines land and sea to give you the best opportunity to possibly encounter wildlife including, whales, bears, wolves, eagles and sea otters.
  • Clayoquot Sound is an adventurer’s playground, a traveler’s paradise and a wonderland for eager hikers. Towering peaks, endless beaches, countless islands, stunning vistas, pristine forests and rivers, unique wildlife, combine to make our Flores Island hiking tours truly unforgettable!

Top 5 easy hikes in Tofino & Ucluelet BC

Thinking about making the journey to the west coast of Vancouver Island?

Tofino is more than just a sleepy surf town, its has become a world renown eco tourism mecca for adventurers seeking to disconnect and explore nature. Situated on the edge of the North Pacific Ocean, the west coast of Vancouver Island is home to countless sandy beaches and islands, home to surfers, artists, environmentalists, bears, wolves, cougars, whales and many others. This wilderness that has attracted travellers from all over the world is our home and we are proud to share our diverse backyard with you. Bringing together the best of what Tofino and Vancouver Island has to offer; here is our favourite top 5 hikes in the Tofino area:

Top 5 easy hikes:

  • Tonquin Trail, Tofino
  • Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet
  • Schooner Cove Trail, Pacific Rim
  • Nuu-chan-nulth Trail, Pacific Rim
  • Halfmoon Bay Trail, Pacific Rim