CHECK IT OUT: Distance: 215 miles Difficulty: Easy Driving Time: 5 to 7 hours Season: March Maps: Washington highway maps and DeLorme Washington Atlas and Gazetter.
Birdwatching trip notes
Access: Head north on Highway 395. When Chewelah comes into view in distance, proceed down long hill and turn west onto Newton Road to prime swan viewing area. Return to 395, and head east on Hafer Road, then north on Cottonwood Creek Road to pass another prime viewing area.
From Chewelah, go north to Colville. Head west on Oakshot Road then north on Valley Westside Road to swan resting area.
Take Highway 20 east past the Little Pend Oreille Lakes to Tiger and drive south down Pend Oreille River Valley. At Usk, head southwest on McKinzie Road, then Bennett Road to Calispell Lake viewing area.
Return to Usk. Cross river and head south on LeClerc Creek Road to Oldtown. Finish route on Highway 2.
Attractions: Assuming a normal runoff that floods lowland fields, hundreds of migrating tundra swans rest in Colville and Pend Oreille River valleys. Peak of migration typically is March 5-March 22.
Comments: When conditions are right, many other varieties of waterfowl are lured to these valleys, including Canada geese, pintails and other ducks. Colville swan hotspot could be ruined under a proposal to build a new airport there. Calispell Lake, to which there is no public access, can be noisy with swans. LeClerc Creek Road near Indian Islands is good viewing area for bald eagles.
Tundra swans are smaller than the endangered trumpeter swans. While not listed as threatened or endangered, tundra swans are vulnerable to increased development of wetlands.
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic trips in the Inland Northwest