Long Beach Peninsula Points To Bird Watching As Top Spring Activity

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Shorebirds galore, plus blue winged teals, red crossbills, Western blue birds and more rest and feed on Long Beach Peninsula during Pacific Flyway migration. With hundreds of species of birds migrating through here each spring, the region is one of Audubon Washington’s “Important Bird Areas” and is featured on the organization’s Great Washington State Birding Trail.

Shorebirds, Washington coast, spring migration, field trips, Audubon, Long Beach Peninsula, Willapa Bay, refuge, dunlin, sandpiper, sanderling

A flock of shorebirds including Dunlin and Western Sandpipers fly over Willapa Bay, in the southwestern-most corner of Washington State.

Pacific County is a birder’s paradise!

As the northward migration along the Pacific Flyway reaches its peak, springtime is prime time for bird watching on the Washington Coast, especially for shorebirds on the Long Beach Peninsula.

With several distinct ecosystems in a span of 28 miles, the Long Beach Peninsula includes Pacific Ocean seashore and marshland, lakes, inland waterways, wetlands, the Lower Columbia River Estuary and Willapa Bay. Hundreds of species of birds migrate through here in the spring. (Access http://funbeach.com/activities/birding/ to download a bird checklist.) The region includes several of Audubon Washington’s “Important Bird Areas” and is featured on the organization’s Great Washington State Birding Trail.

“Pacific County is a birder’s paradise,” says Andi Day, executive director, Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “Getting to the beach in the spring to watch the migration is especially exciting.”

For spring bird watching sites, nature and bird observer Suzy Whittey suggests Chinook County Park, Stringtown Road and the Ilwaco Boat Basin, along the Columbia River Estuary, as well as Cape Disappointment State Park.

The beach and bay are also good choices. Commonly seen on the beach are eagles, peregrine falcons, shorebirds, gulls and ravens.

“If birding the beach, bird the outgoing tide,” says Whittey. “During high tide the birds relax on the beach side of the peninsula.”

As for Willapa Bay, Whittey recommends birding a few hours before and up until high tide, when the birds are being pushed toward land by the tide. Good birding spots along the bay include the Nahcotta Boat Basin and the Leadbetter Unit of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, as well as on the south side of the bay at the Refuge’s headquarters – with a public launch for those who like to bird by canoe or kayak. Among the numerous birds to watch are Western sandpipers, dunlins and short-billed dowitchers.

Further, the Shoalwater Birders, the Long Beach Peninsula birding club, offers a more extensive list of birding sites -- http://shoalwaterbirders.com/birdingsites.pdf -- as well as a seasonal birding list. The club also offers monthly bird-watching field trips.

Marking the season, the Willapa Hills Audubon Society has organized a Shorebird Fieldtrip for Thursday, April 25. The group will meet near Lynn Point on Willapa Bay in South Bend at 11AM. Early sign up is recommended. Visit http://willapahillsaudubon.org for details.

Shorebirds galore
According to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, the lower Columbia River Estuary is particularly significant during spring migration with hundreds of shorebirds stopping to rest and feed on the estuary’s open mudflats.

Located within the estuary is Ilwaco’s Baker Bay. Stretching from the east side of Cape Disappointment along the water to the Astoria Megler Bridge, it and Willapa Bay are among the best areas in Washington to observe concentrations of shorebirds.

About Southwest Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula
With its mix of sensational restaurants, local seafood, ocean-view lodging, colorful festivals, unique museums and attractions, landmark lighthouses, fine art galleries, easily accessible trails, birding spots, state and national parks, and, above all, its long, wide, windswept beach, the Long Beach Peninsula continues to be one of the Northwest’s most enjoyable and refreshing coastal destinations. Located 2.5 hours from Portland and 3.5 from Seattle, the Peninsula is a longtime favorite for those seeking easily accessible outdoors, great food and affordable creature comforts. For visitor information, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 800.451.2542 or access http://www.funbeach.com.

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Carol Zahorsky

Andi Day
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