Weekend slated to go to the birds

SEQUIM — The scoping — of sky, river mouth and bays — starts today.

The Olympic Peninsula BirdFest, a welcoming of spring, gives local residents and visitors alike the chance to explore some of Sequim, Dungeness and Port Angeles’ liveliest spots.

With field trips and programs that begin this afternoon and continue through Sunday, the event is not just for the hard-core bird watcher, said Karen Zook.

“Really, it’s about coming out and having fun,” added Zook, chairwoman of the eighth annual BirdFest.

“It’s about seeing some birds you aren’t familiar with, and maybe some you are familiar with, from a different view in a beautiful place.”

Several treks

Space is still available on forays such as the Dungeness Bay and Dungeness Spit trips at 1 p.m. today, the Dawn Chorus walks in Railroad Bridge Park at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and the Sequim Bay-John Wayne Marina walk and Elwha River mouth-Salt Creek trip, both at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The cost of each is $25.

And tonight, Jaye Moore of the Northwest Raptor & Wildlife Center will appear, along with a small flock of hawks and owls, for a free 90-minute talk on raptor rehabilitation.

The family-friendly program will start at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Sequim High School, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Then on Sunday, those with piqued curiosity can visit the raptor center just outside Sequim on a BirdFest tour from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission is $10, and participants should phone the River Center to register.

The center, in Railroad Bridge Park at 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, is the place to go to see displays and find out about all the field trips happening this weekend, said Bob Boekelheide, its director and a guide on many of the outings.

“A lot of festivals focus on one species,” Boekelheide observed. For example, Othello fetes its sandhill cranes in March; Neah Bay plans a bald eagle festival in late April.

‘Rejoice in diversity’

“But what we rejoice in here,” he said, “is the diversity we have; we’re on the cusp” of winter into spring.

That means two populations of birds are flying around with the people pursuing them with binoculars and spotting scopes.

Festival-goers are diverse, too, ranging from beginners to “hotshot birders,” Boekelheide said.

The latter come from across the United States, he added, to see our harlequin ducks, black oystercatchers and chestnut-backed chickadees.

Zook, for her part, looks forward to seeing the species that are just arriving: rufous hummingbirds, violet-green swallows, the minuscule Hutton’s vireo.

One doesn’t need to be an expert birder to find them, she said, thanks to the field trip guides.

One of Zook’s favorite field trips is the Dungeness Spit-Dungeness Recreation Area outing, offered today and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The trip features both forest and beach time, which can mean abundant species sightings.

But “I think any field trip [during the festival] would be good for a newcomer,” she added.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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