Last year I wrote about the raptors and prey, such as the ducks and shorebirds, we can see during upcoming king tide days.

The University of Washington has, once again, set up a website with information on the king tides for the coming months in the state of Washington. There is a “Washington King Tides Program” — http://washington.kingtides.net — which invites us to “visit the shoreline during a king tide or high water event and take pictures of important waterfront locations in [our] community.” It is recommended that pictures taken show the impact of the tide. This means using a landmark as part of the background because it is stationary, and will therefore, better gauge the impact of the king tide. The landmarks suggested include docks, roads, buildings, and pilings.

The simplest definition of a king tide is just an extremely high tide. The best part of these tides is that many of the waterfowl will be closer to us as the water gets pushed much further inward than usual, and thus, we can witness the hunting and feeding behavior of bald eagles, northern harriers, American kestrel, peregrine falcons and other raptors. At first they will be sitting atop the snags or trees close to the flooded areas watching for an easy meal. The wetlands and the fields along Willapa Bay will become alive with feeding waterfowl such as northern pintails, mallards and American wigeon, the most likely prey sought by raptors. However, other species such as greater yellowlegs, California and ring-billed gulls, Canada geese, cackling geese and white-fronted geese, will likely join their colleagues for the fine dining opportunity the king tides provide. When the time is right, and the wetland birds least expect it, a raptor will swoop down from its perch to snatch its lunch!

As the days of the king tides approaches I am sure that the raptors are getting ready to put on a show. I am already seeing the northern harrier, peregrine and bald eagles patrolling the Willapa Bay shoreline, adjacent grasslands and wet-lands. There will three days of king tides in November (25-27), three days in December (24-26) and three days in January (10-12). Admission is free! So get ready to pull up a seat beside a flooded field and/or wetland. You will be in the front row. The performance will be very entertaining and informative, guaranteed!

”Common Birds of the Long Beach Peninsula,” by Kalbach and Stauffer, is available from the Chinook Observer, Bay Avenue Gallery, Time Enough Books and the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.

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