Did you mean?Try your search again
As of this writing, the Gray's Harbor Shorebird Festival is going into its 16th year of welcoming crowds to the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge during the peak of the shore bird migration.
This is a big event, and includes special tours, including guided trips into surrounding regions that many people may not be familiar with. There is a marketplace that includes various wildlife themed artwork, and lectures and demonstrations of all sorts - some relevant to shore birds and others relevant to birds or nature in general. Such presentations as "How to Create a Backyard Bird Sanctuary" may be of interest to anyone with a single family home.
Most of the time, during the festival, there is a shuttle bus running between the high school (parking and event center - $1 suggested donation per rider) and the refuge, as well as volunteers on the trail to help identify the birds seen.
Some of the shore birds are horribly difficult to identify, and such lectures as "Shorebird Identification Basics" may be of assistance before you go out to the refuge.
The festival is generally headquartered at Hoquiam High School, which is located reasonably close to the Wildlife Refuge and is really the best location for such an event, as there really isn't much near the refuge other than a private airport and a small restaurant. On the Friday of the event, the headquarters for the event must be in a different location due to school hours.
There is a fee for all of the field trips and many of the educational lectures. Example prices this year (2011):
+ Shorebirds for Beginners Lecture $10
+ Shorebirds for Beginners Field Trip $15 includes shuttle from Hoquiam High School and special guided assistance on the trail to help identify the birds.
+ Westport Field Trip $35 - trip includes a trip to Westport and various good birding locations near this community. Entire trip is approximately 6.5 hours.
+ Lake Quinault and Rainforest Field Trip $25
+ In Search of Coastal Raptors $20
+ Lecture: Mudflat Meals: What Shorebirds have for Dinner: Free
+ Lecture: Carving and Painting Waterfowl and Shorebirds: $10
The entire event book runs some 20 pages (see photo), and is too much to describe here. As the event has changed over the years it is best to consult the web site below to find out about the events surrounding this event for the particular year you happen to be reading this tourist tip.
A word about the example seen on this year's event book: the artist is a seventh grade student at a middle school in Aberdeen. Kids not only get involved in this festival, they wind up as featured artists sometimes!
Updated Apr 27, 2011
The Polson Museum preserves a number of articles from Hoquiam's past, including Native American art work and artifacts, logging museum articles, and domestic culture from the early years.
This tip focuses on the large articles that you will see outside the museum, and should not be missed:
+ The exterior of the huge historic black house has many details that should be examined up close.
+ A trail winds up the hill behind the house to a viewpoint, and also the last preserved old growth tree anywhere inside or nearby the city of Hoquiam. It is an impressive giant over 6 feet (two meters) in diameter.
+ Historic steam donkey engines from the early days of logging in the area around Hoquiam.
+ A small rose garden is a city landmark as well.
Inside the historic waterfront home, the museum has consumed some 16 rooms with exhibit space, documenting everything from early Native American residents of the region to life in a logging camp to the domestic side of life in Hoquiam.
Adult Admission is $4, Families are $10.
Hours are Saturday and Sunday 12 to 4 during the winter months (December 27 to March 31), Wednesday through Saturday 12 to 4 from April 1 to December 23. The museum is closed for the Christmas Holidays.
Written Mar 28, 2011
Address: 1611 Riverside Avenue, Hoquiam, WA
Set on a steep hill in the northwest side of town, this little park memorializes an artist that for many years lived across the street, and used this little forest as a source of inspiration. Today the spot has been preserved as a native forest as much as possible. There are several short trails through the forest, one of which forms a loop. Many well built bridges cross the many wet spots and small canyons. There are a number of educational signs throughout the park that describe some of the native plant species and the type of environment they require.
The web site below is for the city of Hoquiam, whose parks department owns and maintains the park.
You will likely see small backyard type birds scattered through the forest if you look closely.
However, the forest isn't especially large, and therefore the trails through it are not particularly long. Exploring the park takes about half an hour to 45 minutes.
Written Mar 28, 2011
Address: Grand Avenue & Sunset Drive, Hoquiam, WA 98550
Southwest of downtown Hoquiam, and near the airport, there is a short boardwalk trail that leads to locations where it is possible to view the large tidal mud flats along Gray's Harbor.
The primary attraction here are the large bird migrations that come through in the spring, with the peak period being in late April and early May. Other periods of the year may see various other birds in migration here.
To access the trail from the parking area, it is necessary to go through a pedestrian gate that informs the visitors that beyond the gate is a secure airport operations area, that all suspicious activities are monitored and reported, and any tresspass upon the airport property will be prosecuted. Continue straight down the paved road that runs beside the airport hangers. At the end of this road, there is a small sign marking the start of the Gray's Harbor National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk, which is the only trail in the refuge.
The boardwalk is level and reasonably well maintained for its entire length. However, it was installed in 1997, and some of the wood is starting to show its age in places. The boardwalk passes through several willow thickets with broad observation areas with benches, and then makes a loop that passes through some more mature tidelands forest as well as along the edge of the mud flats. From here it is possible to see much of the small inlet that is called Bowerman Basin.
The tide fluctuation here is about 10 feet at times, and as the water level drops the shore birds move out to the edge of the water. The best times for viewing the birds is from two hours before high tide to two hours after high tide. After that, they tend to be quite far away.
Even so, bring telephoto equipment so that you can see far out onto the water. Mergansers and other birds ride the deeper water.
Keep your eyes on the lookout for other birds and animals along the trail - not just the little brown shore birds way out on the mud flats. On March 26, 2011 I saw a long-tailed weasel, pintails, many marsh wrens, one Bewick's wren, several winter wrens, several gadwalls, and at least two rufus hummingbirds. A harrier was flying over the airport grass chasing rodents, and two bald eagles passed by on their way out to the deep water.
NOTE Large vehicles should NOT attempt to go past the airport gate. There is nowhere for them to turn around after the airport passenger terminal loop.
Also note that other than the airport cafe, there are no restroom facilities here of any sort.
Written Mar 28, 2011
Address: 1400 Airport Way, Hoquiam, WA 98550
I did not eat at Lana's Café, but I did look at the menu on my way to the Gray's Harbor National Wildlife Refuge. The place seems to serve up quite a number of different breakfast dishes, and is extremely popular despite its very out of the way location. Apparently what it lacks in location is more than made up for by the quality and price of the food.
Or, at least, that is the only explanation I can think of as to why so many people would come so far out here to eat.
For those coming and going from the area by private plane this is your only resource close to the airport. For those stopping by the Gray's Harbor National Wildlife Refuge this is the only facility of any sort anywhere near the refuge entrance.
For those who like to watch planes take off and land, what activity there is at this little airport is visible through the huge observation windows that face the airport runways.
Written Mar 28, 2011
Address: 1400 Airport Way, Hoquiam, WA 98550-2613
Phone: (360) 533-8907