To go birding on the Peninsula is a treat. There are so many places and so many species!
This article is a partial answer to a question that I am often asked, namely, “Where should I go for a great day of birding?”
The Peninsula is a treasure. It contains the Willapa Wildlife Refuge, which is one of the premier birding spots of our area and, in fact, in the county.
Birding on the Refuge will be the subject of the next article. If you haven’t frequented the spots I am writing about today, give them a try. You won’t regret it!
1. The mudflats along U.S. Highway 101: Watch for ducks such as the northern pintail, American wigeon, gadwall, common and red-breasted mergansers. In addition, you will likely see great blue herons, Canada geese, the belted kingfisher, and various gulls. Red-tailed hawks sit in the trees along the roadside, along with common ravens and the American crow.
2. Ilwaco harbor: Purple martins have nested in holes in the dock pilings since 2010. Northern harriers can be seen flying over the grassy areas.
When the tide is out, look for shorebirds such as least sandpipers on the mudflats and other water birds feeding on or near the rocks.
Check out the docks for resting birds such as the double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, killdeer, and gulls.
The harbor itself is often home to the common and red-throated loon, bufflehead, pied-billed grebes, and double-crested cormorants.
There are often hundreds of ducks and geese resting and feeding along the shoreline and resting in Baker’s Bay in the fall and spring.
Look up to see bald eagles, the common raven and the American crow.
3. Beards Hollow: Walk the trail to the ocean and look high in the trees for ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, black-capped chickadees, warbling vireos, common bushtits, orange-crowned warbler, Wilson’s warbler and the downy woodpecker. The hairy woodpecker and the northern flicker often nest at Beard’s Hollow, usually in the large trees and stumps near the boardwalk. The boardwalk is an excellent place from which to view birds and other wildlife. Tree swallows, hairy woodpeckers, song sparrows, and marsh wrens are among the birds you will see from here.
Binoculars are needed to see the pond. You will be rewarded with an excellent view of hooded mergansers, lesser scaup, and mallards.
4. North Head Lighthouse: The rocky hills below the lighthouse are home to nesting cormorants in the spring.
Look for both pelagic and double-crested cormorants. Black oystercatchers, wandering tattlers and other shorebirds may also be seen on the rocky slopes.
Surf scoters, pigeon guillemots and other seabirds can be seen swimming in the ocean or flying past.
5. Cape Disappointment State Park: There are many species of birds here. Waikiki Beach parking lot is a good place to look for Brandt’s and double-crested cormorants which nest on the rocky slopes below the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Look for pigeon guillemots, brown pelicans, various species of gulls, and Caspian terns.
A large variety of birds are usually present in the park throughout the year.
The largest variety is seen during spring and fall migration.
Check the lakes, ponds and wetlands for Canada geese, lesser scaup, great blue herons, marsh wrens, ring-necked duck, pied-billed grebe and other waterfowl. Trumpeter swans tend to winter over in the park’s lakes.
6. Port of Nachotta, Willapa Bay and mudflats: Look for black turnstones, common, red-throated and Pacific loons, least sandpipers, killdeer, tree swallows, horned grebe, pied-billed grebe, rock pigeons, mallards and various gull species, such as the glaucous-winged gull. Other species can be seen in season. Water birds are most common and several species can be seen on most visits.
In winter, common loons and horned grebes are common. If you are lucky you may see a peregrine falcon chasing after the rock pigeons as it tries for a tasty snack!
“Common Birds of the Long Beach Peninsula,” by Kalbach and Stauffer, is available at the Chinook Observer, “Bay Avenue Gallery, Time Enough Books and the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.