Saturday, June 19, 2010

Grays harbor shorebirds

Shore birds, grays harbor

Equipment: Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 100-400mm

Image details: 400mm, f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 400

The Sandpiper trail in Grays harbor is one of the best places to view and shoot migrating shorebirds in Washington state. Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop over in the estuary of Gray's harbor to feed and rest during their northbound migration.

For more information about shorebirds refer to The Sandpiper trail is located in the Grays Harbor national wildlife refuge right next to the Bowerman airport. The airport parking lot also doubles as the parking lot for the trail. From the parking lot it's about a mile of boardwalk trail to hike out to the mudflats.

The birds start arriving middle to the end of April. The best time to visit the mudflats is during high tide - this way the birds are closest to the trail. If you visit the trail during the shorebird festival (April 30th to May 2nd) you will also find naturalists on the trail who can give you a lot of good information about the shorebirds. However expect the trail to be very crowded during the shorebird festival. Refer to the tide chart provided at to find the best time to visit the refuge. My recommendation is to pick the evening with the highest tide to maximize your chances.

Despite the high tide you will need a big telephoto lens here to be able to get close up shots of the tiny shorebirds. With a 400mm you can try to get motion blur shots as the entire flock takes off - however do note that the picture I have above is probably a 30-40% crop of my image. If you are interested in close ups you will need to bring your 600mm and your teleconverter :)

When I visited the Sandpiper trail this year the naturalist recommended that I also visit Bottle beach - however I was not able to visit it this year. If any of you folks have had a chance to visit Bottle beach I would love to hear about your experience.

Directions to Sandpiper trail

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