Tim Boyer Photography

Small Groups, Cool Birds, Fun Locations

Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week - Grays Harbor NWR

Bird PhotographyTim Boyer

The most important bird stop over site on the Pacific Coast outside of Alaska!  That's how the American Bird Conservancy described Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge.  Huge flocks of migrating Dunlin and Western Sandpipers, smaller numbers of Short-billed Dowitchers, Red Knots, Semipalmated Plovers, Least Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers and other shorebirds, songbirds, water birds and raptors use this refuge.  

Dunlin and Western Sandpipers from the Sandpiper Trail, Grays Harbor Hational Wildlife Refuge.
Dunlin and Western Sandpipers from the Sandpiper Trail, Grays Harbor Hational Wildlife Refuge.
Grays Harbor National Wildlife REfuge, Bowerman Basin from the Sandpiper Trail.
Grays Harbor National Wildlife REfuge, Bowerman Basin from the Sandpiper Trail.
Birders on the Sandpiper Trail during spring migration when ten's of thousand of shorebirds can be see feeding in the refuge.
Birders on the Sandpiper Trail during spring migration when ten's of thousand of shorebirds can be see feeding in the refuge.
A Western Sandpiper in breeding plumage searching for vital food so it can refuel itself and continue the last leg of it's migration to the Arctic.
A Western Sandpiper in breeding plumage searching for vital food so it can refuel itself and continue the last leg of it's migration to the Arctic.
Red Knots stop over in Grays Harbor to find fuel for their next leg of migration. Without the abundant food supply of the harbor many shorebirds will not have einough food to finsih their migration, or be under nourished and won't survive the first few weeks in the Arctic breeding grounds.
Red Knots stop over in Grays Harbor to find fuel for their next leg of migration. Without the abundant food supply of the harbor many shorebirds will not have einough food to finsih their migration, or be under nourished and won't survive the first few weeks in the Arctic breeding grounds.
A feeding Dunlin in breeding plumage raises its wings to keep its balance when a small wave comes in.
A feeding Dunlin in breeding plumage raises its wings to keep its balance when a small wave comes in.
Dunlin in flight.
Dunlin in flight.
Morning at Bowerman Basin
Morning at Bowerman Basin
Shorebirds in flight as the tide moves in and closes the low-tide feeding session.
Shorebirds in flight as the tide moves in and closes the low-tide feeding session.

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge and the huge population of shorebirds and their food is threaten by oil development.  Any oil spill could contaminate, or kill off part of the food supply to these global migrants.  Stopover sites like Grays Harbor are critical for the survival of our migrating shorebirds, some of them will only stop at three or four locations to refuel while migrating.  Any degradation of the food supply will dimish their chances of getting to their breeding grounds, surviving the first few weeks on the breeding grounds, or successfully breeding.  Shorebird numbers are already declining - why would we want that trend to continue by making survival harder for them?

Here's a way to take action to protect the Grays Harbor Shorebirds or learn more about this issue. (This takes you to a National Audubon site, sponsored by the Washington State Audubon as well.)

Shorebirds are my favorite family of birds, and Grays Harbor is where I go to photograph them.  It just doesn't make any sense to me that we would put an oil transfer station next to one of the world's most important and vital stopover sites for migrating shorebirds.

Thanks    Tim