Audubon Washington's tips on bird-watching at Fort Flagler State Park near Port Townsend.
Location: Marrowstone Island, southeast of Port Townsend.
Habitat: State’s 784 acres of meadows and forest, and 4 miles of saltwater beach.
Best seasons for birding: Year-round.
Birds commonly seen: Shorebirds grab headlines: Western sandpipers, black-bellied plovers, black turnstones, surfbirds. Summer-fall, see Heermann’s, Bonaparte’s and California gulls; plus Caspian and common terns. In winter on sand spit, Thayer’s gulls mix with glaucous-winged and mew gulls. Fall-spring, saltwater is home to Pacific loons, brants, red-breasted mergansers, pigeon guillemots, horned and red-necked grebes, long-tailed ducks, double-crested and pelagic cormorants.
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Viewing: Walk west on sand spit for Western meadowlarks in driftwood. At low tide, walk beach east one mile to Marrowstone Point. Take trail up to bluff and back on park road for American pipits. Check snags year-round for pileated, hairy and downy woodpeckers, and red-breasted sapsuckers. Scope tallest trees for bald eagles, merlins, Peregrine falcons.
Getting there: From Highway 19 at Milepost 10.7, turn east onto Highway 116/ Ness’s Corner Road/ Flagler Road. Drive 9.8 miles (stay left at Y at 1.9 miles) to end of Highway 116 at park. Continue a half-mile to four-way intersection. For spit/campground, turn left (west), drive 1.2 miles to end, park at kiosk. For Marrowstone Point, drive north to learning center/museum/housing. Drive 0.1 mile. Turn right at sign to Marrowstone Point. Drive 0.4 miles; road curves along bluff, drops to parking at beach.
More birding: From Fort Flagler entrance, return west 5.4 miles on Highway 116. Turn left (south) at Jefferson County Park sign, drive 0.2 mile to beach parking lot. Halfway to beach is access to 2-mile trail to small county park by highway bridge over Oak Bay Lagoon.
Source: Audubon Washington, Great Washington State Birding Trail maps. To order maps (Cascade Loop, Coulee Corridor, Olympic Loop or Southwest Loop), go online to www.wa.audubon.org. Call toll-free, 866-922-4737, for more information.