By Gene Bullock
Special to Kitsap Week
David Yarnold, president and CEO of National Audubon, and Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson cut the ribbon on Oct. 6 for the Puget Loop of the Great Washington Birding Trail.
The Puget Loop is the last in a series of seven four-color regional maps that guide visiting birders to the best bird-watching sites in Washington state, along with detailed information about how to get there and what you can expect to see.
The Puget Loop includes seven of Kitsap’s premier bird-watching sites. Not surprising to area birders, Kitsap’s Point No Point County Park tops the list of favorite wildlife viewing areas.
Point No Point’s extensive wetlands and shoreline are vital stopovers for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. Its tidal eddies create an upwelling of nutrients that attracts schools of bait fish, which, in turn attract salmon and migrating flocks of birds by the thousands. These often spectacular feeding frenzies are a magnet for fishermen and bird watchers.
Point No Point has also been designated by National Audubon as an IBA, or Important Bird Area. Key locations all over the globe have been identified as vital areas for nesting or migrating birds that warrant special protection. These sites along the Pacific Flyway provide important stopovers as birds travel between summer nesting sites in the Arctic, to wintering sites in the southern U.S. as far south as Terra del Fuego. Habitat loss in these areas can have a huge impact on the survival of key species.
During migration, Point No Point serves as a jumping-off point for song birds crossing Admiralty Inlet, and migrating flocks of Common Terns, Heerman’s Gulls, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Red-necked Phalaropes and a host of others. It’s also a favorite of wintering loons, grebes and scoters, as well as our year-round, but threatened, Marbled Murrelet.
There are many other wonderful wildlife viewing sites in Kitsap County, so bird watchers never have to travel far from home to see great birds. Sinclair Inlet, Port Washington Narrows, Clear Creek, Liberty Bay, Fort Ward, Salsbury Point County Park, the Carpenter Creek estuary in Kingston, Dyes Inlet and Chico Creek are good birding spots if you know where to look. Kitsap Audubon leads regular monthly trips, open to all, to these hotspots. We also lead trips to other premier birding spots, such as the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, the Sequim area, Marrowstone Island, and Ocean Shores.
We love to share the joy and wonder of seeing these beautiful wild creatures. Protecting wildlife and preserving their habitat is central to our mission. The more people we can introduce to the joy and fascination of bird watching, the more they'll care, and the more they'll want to join with us in protecting nature and wildlife.
People sometimes ask why we want to encourage people to feed birds in our backyards. Our answer is that it raises appreciation and awareness of our wildlife treasures. Not only that, bird watching is a huge and rapidly growing market. It’s a hobby that’s creating jobs and gainful employment while creating a passionately devoted constituency for wildlife everywhere.
It’s a win-win for those who love nature, for the preservation of a priceless natural heritage, for the health of our environment, and for our economy.
— Gene Bullock of Poulsbo is conservation chairman of Kitsap Audubon.