By Gene Bullock
Some birdwatchers will climb on a plane and fly halfway round the world to add a rare bird to their life list. The Brits call them “twitchers.”
Few of us have the surplus funds or fanatical inclination to go that far. Rising energy costs are also putting a damper on many travel plans. This makes birdwatching close to home an even better — and greener — choice.
The good news is that local birdwatchers don’t need to feel deprived. Kitsap offers wonderful seasonal viewing for stay-at-home birders.
Emulating the very successful ecotourism models of Texas and Florida, Washington Audubon created the Great Washington Birding Trail. With grants from the Department of Transportation, teams of Audubon volunteers and the support of regional tourism and business groups, Washington Audubon has published a series of seven colorful maps with detailed information about the best birdwatching hotspots in each region of the state. Ultimately, these color maps will be supplemented with local signage — and even an app for those who use their iPods and similar devices to plan their travels.
The Puget Loop is the seventh and final map in the series. Thanks to an experienced team of volunteers from Kitsap Audubon, the loop includes six of Kitsap’s premier birding areas. Kitsap Audubon helped fund publication of the map and the Kitsap team provided detailed recommendations. The maps are a great stocking stuffer for your favorite birdwatching friends, and can be purchased from Kitsap Audubon for $5. You can find details on their website at www.KitsapAudubon.org.
The website also has a downloadable check list for Kitsap County birds and a downloadable brochure, “Where to Find Birds in Kitsap County.”
In choosing the final six, the Kitsap team weighed things like accessibility, parking and the seasonal abundance of birds. The six favorites don’t begin to exhaust the wildlife viewing possibilities in Kitsap County, but it’s a good place to start. Most are just a short hop from home.
Starting with the northernmost site, the map includes Point-No-Point and Norwegian Point Parks in Hansville; Poulsbo city parks clustered along Liberty Bay; the Old Mill Park and Clear Creek greenway that interlaces Silverdale’s commercial districts; Fort Ward Park and the Schel-Chelb Estuary, tucked away on Bainbridge Island; downtown Bremerton parks that border the Port Washington Narrows; and the Port Orchard and Sinclair Inlet waterfront.
In future columns, I’ll describe these special places, plus others left out only because there wasn’t space to include everything.
For those who love birds and the outdoors, winter can be one of the best times of the year to enjoy wildlife in Kitsap County.