I don’t go north to Leadbetter Point nearly as often as I used to and to drive home the time between visits, I hadn’t heard that one now needs a Discover Pass to park in what I thought was the National Wildlife Refuge Parking lot. The nearest place to buy one is at the General Store in Ocean Park, which lopped 45 minutes off by schedule for the day…
Leadbetter Point State Park and the Leadbetter portion of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge share a border, the refuge is north of the last parking lot and the State Park is to the south. I spent my day in the far more interesting and less dog infested National Wildlife Refuge (though not nearly as dog-free as one would think given all the prominently placed NO DOGS signs).
A cooperative LONG-BILLED CURLEW was pulling polychaetes out of the mud near the beginning of the trail on the Willapa Bay side. It has, apparently been there for several days.
My goal was to find Snowy Plovers which meant a quick march along the yellow trail to the beach (about 3km).
While crossing the dunes I encountered one of my favorite bugs, the PACIFIC DUNE TIGER BEETLE.
The first shorebird I found on the beach was a very unexpected SPOTTED SANDPIPER.
There were plenty of other shorebirds on the beach as well.
But as is almost always the case when I go looking for Snowy Plovers on purpose, I was not seeing any of my target species. I walked north for more than a kilometer. I found a salmon…
And a dead seal and plenty more shorebirds. Saw distant SOOTY SHEARWATERS out over the ocean. No Snowies. It was time to turn back.
As I neared the entry point back up to the yellow trail, I saw movement on the upper beach – a Snowy Plover, which mysteriously disappeared when took my eyes off it to changed the lenses on my camera. I couldn’t chase it without stepping into the exclusion area and even when I’m all alone and no one is watching, I will not step over that line. No photos.
A bit farther along another one – a youngster. It seems to be able to sense what the range for my camera lens is and stays just far enough out of range to thwart anything but a record from outside the boundary signs.
Then just before the trailhead, a third one. An adult. This one outside the exclusion area in the wrack line. But as soon as it sees me, it starts running up and into the safety zone before I can get close. I have to think they know where the boundaries are and are messing with me. It too finds that sweet spot where the photos are going to have to be enlarged and fuzzy…
So, 8.5km round trip hike to the beach. I hit all my targets and at the end of the walk, got see a genuine Jeff Gilligan in the bargain. Not a bad day.