Take a boat ride to a remote wildlife refuge to see seabirds, seals, and maybe puffins.
Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge, Site 38 from “Olympic Loop” of Audubon Washington’s Great Washington State Birding Trail.
Location: Near the mouth of Discovery Bay in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, west of Port Townsend, Jefferson County
Habitat: 364-acre island managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; home to 70 percent of Puget Sound’s nesting seabirds. Closed to public; birds and marine life viewable from private boat or scheduled public boat tours.
Best seasons for birding: Spring through fall; scheduled tours next four Saturdays.
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Birds commonly seen: State’s largest colonies of nesting rhinoceros auklets and glaucous-winged gulls, plus abundance of double-crested cormorants and pigeon guillemots, and a few tufted puffins April to August. Pacific loons, long-tailed ducks and ancient murrelets forage in refuge waters. Bonus: harbor and elephant seals. About 1,000 harbor seals depend upon the island for a pupping and rest area.
Viewing: Birding by boat only. Port Townsend Marine Science Center offers “Puffin Tours” aboard Puget Sound Express’s Glacier Spirit tour boat, departing from Port Townsend’s Point Hudson Marina, 6-9 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 8.; $55 for adults, $45 for children 2-10. Reservations: 800-566-3932 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. More information: www.ptmsc.org.
Source: Audubon Washington, Great Washington State Birding Trail maps.
To order maps (Cascade Loop, Coulee Corridor, Olympic Loop, Southwest Loop or Sun & Sage Loop), see the Web site www.wa.audubon.org. Details, call 866-922-4737.