Author Archives: jltnature

Where to Go in February

In past years, we have led outings to:         

  • Morgan Hill and Chetzemoka Park for a nature walk.

    Song Sparrow

  • Fort Townsend to look closely at mosses— their shapes, growth patterns, and locations.

    Hylocomium splendens (Step Moss aka Stair Step Moss)

  • Gardiner Lagoon to observe overwintering migratory birds, looking at the lagoon and out into Discovery Bay.
  • Kah Tai Lagoon for ducks and other birds on the lagoon and many bird species in the trees and shrubs.

    American Wigeon

    Red-breasted Merganser

Where to Go in January

Where to go in January? When we led groups on walks, here are some of
our favorites for this time of year:

1. On a clear day, walk along the bluffs at Ebey’s Landing, with views
of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.



2. Walk the Quimper Wildlife Corridor from North Beach through Cappy’s
Trails: https://saveland.org/protected-properties/quimper-wildlife-corridor/

3. Explore Fort Flagler’s beaches, bluffs, forests, and historical
structures, keeping an eye out for the resident Bald Eagles.



4. Plan your own route for an “Urban Bestiary Neighborhood Nature
Walk” in Port Townsend, definitely including Point Hudson, Kah Tai
Lagoon, and Chetzemoka Park.

5. Take your binoculars to Gardiner Lagoon, down by the Gardiner boat
launch, an overwintering site for a variety of ducks and geese.

Where to Go in December

In past years, we have led outings to:

  • Anderson Lake — for winter photography.
  • Ft. Casey on Whidbey Island — to explore forests, shores, and the
    lagoon.
  • North Beach, Chinese Gardens, and Kah Tai Lagoon — for birding.
  • Kinney Point on Marrowstone — to study that habitat.

Where to Go in November

November is a chilly month on the Olympic Peninsula, and a time of transition to winter. In past years, our Natural History Society has visited these special places to explore the biodiversity:

Fort Worden– Bring your plant guide and a hand lens, and try to identify plants that look quite different this time of year. Clues like lingering berries, bark, or autumn leaves can help.

Cappy’s Trails– Walk slowly and watch for ways that plants and animals are preparing for winter. Find a map and learn about the Quimper Wildlife Corridor on the Land Trust’s website: saveland.org/protected-properties/quimper-wildlife-corridor/

Waterfalls– Follow a one-mile trail to magnificent Murhut Falls near Brinnon, and a much shorter trail to Rocky Brooks Falls near the Dosewallips River. See how many different mosses and ferns you can find. While driving, keep an eye out for Roosevelt Elk. If you see them, stay in your car to respect their needs.

Mushrooms– Bring a mushroom field guide and explore the dark, damp trails at Fort Townsend. Look for the features that distinguish one mushroom from another. Don’t plan to cook them unless you’re an expert!

Indian Island– Cross the bridge to the island and turn right to park at the first County Park. Follow the trail that parallels the road toward the second County Park. Notice the beautiful Madrona trees, seabirds, and maybe a view of Mt. Rainier.

Watching Birds in Fall

Here are recommendations from our Guiding Committee for watching birds this fall:

Dave Rugh:
As the sun dips lower with autumn’s arrival, many birds look south, flying to warmer, brighter lands. You can catch glimpses of these travelers from many strategic viewpoints, such as headlands, beaches, lakes, or ponds. Within short distances around Port Townsend, you could try Point Wilson, the beaches on either side of Point Wilson, Point Hudson, Kah Tai Lagoon, North Beach, and Fort Worden.

Ken Wilson:
It’s a nice break in the day to take in a bit of nature when you’re doing a few errands. Here are some specific suggestions.

If you’ll be near Safeway, Henery Hardware, or the Food Co-op, walk across the street, and saunter your way along Kah Tai Lagoon. Bird life changes during migration even from one day to the next. Keep your binoculars in the car, so you’re equipped for these spur of the moment walks. And it’s always relaxing to sit on the bench for a few minutes, frustrating the mallards who want to be fed. Do this venture BEFORE you have frozen food defrosting in your car.

Alternatively, on the other side of Sims Way, walk a short stretch of Larry Scott Trail from the Boat Haven parking lot. Always a few birds on the shore or on the water, or songbirds in the brush.

At the other end of town, when you’re on Water Street, walk out one of the docks. Especially as we get later into October and November our wintering waterbirds are arriving. Surely you have time to walk to the end of a dock!

Even more fun for a plethora of various gulls, sandpipers, and often oystercatchers, is to enjoy the spit at Point Hudson. You’ll see the unique Heermann’s Gulls, often a hundred or more — they fly here  from their breeding grounds in Baja. Definitely worth 15 minutes to be blissfully enjoying the water and the views as well as the birds.

Lots of possibilities wherever you are. I didn’t even mention —till now— Fort Worden, Anderson Lake, and absolutely the bird bonanza of Oak Bay.

Wendy Feltham:
For the past six years, I’ve volunteered with a team of birders for the Seattle Audubon Seabird Survey at Ft. Flagler, one of the best places to see birds in our county. When you drive into Ft. Flagler, turn left at the stop sign, and park near the campground. Walk out along the spit to the left, looking towards Port Townsend, and on the water you’ll see our resident Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots, as well as many birds returning from the north for the winter months. Look for black and white Surf Scoters with their colorful bills, gray and white Horned Grebes with their red eyes, and Common Loons still in their beautiful breeding plumage in September. If you are lucky, you might see Marbled Murrelets and Red-necked Phalaropes. Sometimes a couple dozen Harlequin Ducks line up and paddle parallel to shore. There are always lots of cormorants, sometimes all three species, and frequently a Bald Eagle in this area. Also look on the inside of the spit, facing the dock, for seabirds on the water. All along the spit you may see scores of shorebirds. (Careful not to scare them!) Check the grassy area near the playground to the left of the parking area, and you will often see dozens of Black-bellied Plovers (but this time of year, without their breeding plumage, they should probably be called by their other common name, Gray Plovers). Sometimes other shorebirds, like Dunlin, mix in with them on the grass.