Monday, April 25, 2011

Ocean Shores - Grays Harbor County 4/23

Bowerman Basin mudflats - Grays Harbor County
 From Tokeland, I knew it was close to high tide at 5:45, so I made my way over to Bowerman Basin near Hoquiam.  I had never walked the boardwalk here to see shorebirds, and had heard that near high tide was best, because it pushes the birds in closer to the boardwalks.  There were a couple of dozens of birds, but nothing like I had seen in Tokeland.  I'm sure that years ago, I may have given it a try at low tide in June, found nothing, and included it with my mounting evidence that shorebirds don't exist!  It's been fun to learn the subtleties about when and why you find shorebirds where you do.  This still puzzled me, and the birds (dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlins) were a bit too far out for any good pictures.  There were dozens of Marsh Wrens on the way out and back, however! 
Sunset at Ocean shores - gull passing by the sun.

Sunset at Ocean Shores
My wife had picked up my son and daughter from school early enough that sunset should have been an easy goal.  Traffic made it otherwise!  I checked us in to the hotel, and then started shooting sunset shots, texting her to let her know the sun was still up.  She made it just in time to see it slowly touch the horizon and end the day.  The sunsets and the sounds of waves are two things that bring us back at least once a year. 
The next day was gorgeous - just flat out gorgeous.  It's so often that we get to Ocean Shores thinking "beach" and leave thinking "cold".  This was by far the warmest clearest day we'd ever had here.  No picture included here, but we did have a plain view of the Olympic Range throughout our trip - something I don't recall seeing from the beach before.  We drove the cars to the beach, unpacked the kites and sand toys and all had a blast.  Bre and the kids are certainly more into shell collecting, and it was fun to go over things with Declan - that the purple Sand Dollars are still alive, and should be left alone; that the shells with the tiny little holes in them were victims of Moon Snails. 

Short-billed Dowitchers
The shorebirds were actually good here today, compared to what I'm used to.  Even though I didn't get out in the morning, I saw quite a few making their way up and down the beach.  Sanderlings, Marbled Godwits, and Short-billed Dowitchers were all moving along the surf, stopping now and then for snacks.  Usually I think the people are part of the deterrent for the birds, but today, it didn't seem to matter that threre were hundreds of people out on the beach.

Razor Clamming

One of the big reasons that there were so many people on the beach - razor clams!   I have never been out when it's been okay to dig, and I was amazed at the process, and at how many people were doing it.  One gentleman was pretty good at it, dropping the tube every minute or two and popping out another clam.  Many were walking away with full bags of clams.  This warrants a return. :)
Everyone was enjoying playing in the waves.

Today may have been Maura's first unassisted kite-flying.

Razor Clam
Point Brown Jetty

After lunch in town (fish and chips!) and some miniature golfing, and a licorice ice cream cone (mandatory), we made another run to the beach - this time at the southern end of Ocean Shores, Point Brown.  Declan really enjoyed hopping around on the rocks.  I was scared bringing the scope and camera out through these, but was surprised to find it was quite easy to make my way over the rocks with equipment in hand.  Black Turnstones and Surfbirds were on the rocks at the far end of the Jetty, but that was all I had here for shorebirds.  I've never seen a Rock Sandpiper, and this is a good place for them in cooler months.

One of many people fishing on the jetty.
Black Turnstone

Point Brown beach before leaving for home
I'm hoping to make it back to Grays Harbor in August for a different bunch of shorebirds, although without trying too hard, I ended up with 40 species on this trip.  14 counties down!  The ones that I haven't visited and/or finished are farther and farther away, so there may be some down time here, but I should have a trip, maybe two in May to Eastern Washington before my big trip in the last week of June.  We shall see!

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