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Serious birders flock to North Kitsap's Point No Point

Serious birders have been know to travel halfway around the world to add a rare bird to their life list. But the good news for those with more modest goals and means is that you don’t have to travel far to find great birds. You can stretch your budget and conserve energy but seeking out local treasures.

Kitsap County is blessed with wonderful winter birding. For many of the species that breed in the Arctic, the sheltered, ice-free shorelines of Kitsap County are almost tropical, compared to the Arctic in winter.

Point-No-Point County Park

It’s hard to pick a favorite birding spot, but Point-No-Point County Park in Hansville is high on most local lists. As an important stopover for migrating birds, it’s one of National Audubon’s official Important Bird Area.

Thousands of songbirds pause here before crossing the Admiralty Straits on their annual journey north. It’s also an important rest stop on the return trip. The tidal eddies around the point provide an upwelling of nutrients that attract both fish and the birds that feed on them. Birders watch with anticipation for the annual vists of migrating Common Terns, Red-necked Phalaropes and both Heerman’s and Bonaparte’s Gulls. Parasitic Jaegers often tag along, and put on great aerial “combat” displays.

Point-No-Point is also a popular winter hangout for Ancient Murrelets, Marbled Murrelets, Rhinocerus Auklets, and a variety of wintering loons, grebes, scoters and other marine birds. There is often a surprise or two, bringing birders from every corner of the state.

A trail that skirts the shoreline features a viewing platform funded by the Kitsap Audubon Society. It looks east across Puget Sound and west toward an extensive wetlands. The tangle of shrubs that line the trail are often alive with smaller birds. The trail leads from the lighthouse to a hilltop park that offers prime wooded habitat.

Norwegian County Park

A short distance away, next to the Hansville general store, Norwegian County Park is fairly new. Like nearby Point-No-Point, it looks across the Admiralty Straits toward Whidbey Island, and gets much the same marine activity. Rafts of birds wander back and forth so it’s worth checking out both view locations.

The Hansville Greenway links this area with trails through Buck Lake County Park, where Ospreys nest in the summer and Eagles reign in winter.

A few miles further on past the general store is a Nature Conservancy site known as Foulweather Bluff. It is poorly marked and hard to find, and offers very limited parking. A rugged trail through a marshland leads to views of the Hood Canal. Most birders skip it and head for more accessible sites, but ambitious birders are often rewarded with good birds and views.

Our popular Kitsap Audubon brochure on “Where To Find birds In Kitsap County” is now in its third printing. Copies may be downloaded from our website (KitsapAudubon.org), and are available free at our monthly meetings, the second Thursday of each month from September through May, at the Poulsbo Library. You can also request copies from Kitsap Audubon by emailing genebullock@comcast.net or calling 360-394-5635.

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