One of my favorite places to go for a daytrip is the Washington coast and, in particular, the area around Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.  The town of Raymond, located where the Willapa River enters the bay, is just 70 miles and 1½ hours from home.  I have passed through it many times on my way to explore Washaway Beach or the fishing town of Westport.

On this trip, my main goal was to look for migrating shorebirds.  I knew the Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival was coming up soon, and it spotlights the migrating birds, as well as year round residents.  We have had a warm spring, so the migrating birds might already have come and gone, but it was worth a try and as good an excuse for daytripping as any.  Besides, I had a new camera to try out.  A quick check of the tide tables told me it would be low tide in Willapa Bay around 2:30 the next day (Sunday, April 26) and low tide is a great time to look for shorebirds foraging in the mudflats exposed by low tide.  And that was that.

I got an early (for me) start on Sunday morning and arrived in the town of Raymond about 10:30.  For the first time in all my trips to the coast, I decided to stop and visit the Northwest Carriage Museum.  The friendly museum manager gave me an overview of the collection and how the museum came to be.  Several of the carriages were used in movies in the 1930s and 40s, including: “Gone with the Wind”,“Jezebel”,“Gentleman Jim”,“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”, and “The Little Princess”.  I also learned that six more carriages will soon be added to the collection, so I will have to stop by again some time.

NW Carriage Museum

A freight wagon and rusty steel figures leave no doubt in the visitor’s mind that this is the place to see old horse-drawn carriages.

I inquired if it was okay to take some pictures and learned that cameras are welcome.  As a courtesy to other museum visitors, I refrained from using flash.  The only real snag I ran into was the lighting; it was impossible to avoid reflections and lens flare.  Even so, my new Fujifilm HS50-EXR camera was able to take some pretty clear photos.

Coachman's Sleigh

Coachman’s Sleigh

C-Spring Dress Landau

C-Spring Dress Landau — A Landau was essentially a convertible, as it had a soft top to raise in inclement weather.  The coachman was seated up high as a status symbol for the wealthy to point out that they could afford a coachman.

Summer Coupe Brougham

Summer Coupe Brougham — Note the window ribbon, used for raising the windows to keep out rain or dust

Studebaker Stanhope

Studebaker Stanhope — The Stanhope was also known as an “Izzer”, derived from a rural colloquialism meaning something that is modern and up to date, as opposed to a “Wuzzer” that was old-fashioned.  “Yes sir!  I want an Izzer, not a Wuzzer!”  In 1893, when this buggy was made, it sold for only $77.50, thanks to Studebaker’s modern steam-powered factory machines.


Stagecoach — Made in 1888 in Stockton, California, the stagecoach was used in movies in the 1930s.  Amazingly, up to 12 people would have been packed into this stagecoach.

You can see a slideshow of the entire carriage collection at

When I left the museum, I noticed a strange-looking building that demanded a closer look.  Apparently, the main road used to cross the Willapa River by this bridge, which was dismantled, except for one end.

Das Brückenhaus

Das Brückenhaus is German for The Bridgehouse.  This is a private home built on what remains of a bridge that used to cross the South Fork Willapa River in Raymond.

It turned out the best place to view that eccentric home without intruding on the residents’ privacy was at the public fishing pier and boat dock, where I found this intriguing piece of public art.

Sturgeon Fisherman

Sturgeon Fisherman — A hundred years ago, it was common for fishermen to pull “three yards of sturgeon” out of the Willapa River.  The sturgeon depicted here is only about 7 feet long, but it still inspires fish stories at the public fishing and boat dock in Raymond.

As it turns out, Raymond (population around 2,800) has a lot of public art by local artists.  Made of steel and allowed to rust in the marine air, there are many pieces around town and along US-101.

I continued to wander around on foot and saw a lovely mural up ahead.  As I approached, I saw that the building belongs to Ugly Ed, enterprising purveyor of new and used items and also apartment rentals.  Too bad they were closed on Sunday or I would have gone inside.

Ugly Ed's in Raymond

After lunch, I continued west along the northern shore of Willapa Bay and although the tide was out and plenty of mud flats were visible, not a lot of birds were to be seen, even in the distance.

Willapa Bay panorama

Washaway Beach, not surprisingly, was gone.

Willapa Bay

I went on north, along the coast, another 15 miles to Westport.  There is always something going on in the harbor there.  In this case, a couple of fishing boats from Newport, Oregon, were offloading their catch.

Washington Fishing Industry

Several people were fishing and crabbing on Float 20, as usual.  And, in case you were wondering, it is Dungeness Crab they were catching, minimum size 6¼ inches across the body.

Candid Crabbing in Westport

And I even managed to photograph some birds!

Common Loon

Common loon — It surfaced only for a few seconds before diving again and each time I spotted it, the bird was 30-50 feet away from where I had last seen it.  I thought a Common Loon was strictly a fresh water diver, but I am pretty sure of the ID, even if it was fishing in salt water.

Western Gull

Western Gull — a common sight at the coast, but with my new camera, I was finally able to shoot one as it glided by.

Oh, and if you were wondering what took me 10 days to get around to posting this blog, I have been busy with yardening — everything from mowing the yard to tilling and planting the garden — but that’s another story for another day.

My Yarden in Spring


11 thoughts on “Raymond and Points Beyond

  1. Wonderful story BC. Yes, the common loon ID is good I think. We call them Great Northern Divers over here and they over winter along the coasts and estuaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to see you having the time to get out and travel a bit! Is the panorama at the top stitched together(can’t see the “stitching”, so good job there!), or did the new Fuji take it whole? It really does a good job with the photos!

    Garden looks good!


    1. The camera has a Panorama function, so as long as I hold the camera fairly level and turn at a constant speed, it takes care of the rest, up to a full 360 degrees.

      Peas are up!


  3. The best time to view shorebirds is 2 hours before high tide; pick a likely spot (whether on the inner harbor or outer beaches) and get comfortable. The incoming tide pushes them closer as the water rises and they feed frantically until pushed off the beach or mud by the intruding waters. Another good spot is a golf course if raining, or an airfield.

    Nice camera!


      1. I just read your last post on MY WU blog about the boardwalk out at the Grays Harbor NWR, and not being able to find it. You park at the old Lana’s Café parking lot, where the kiosk is, then walk through the gate on that asphalt road that accesses the hangers, out to the end of the road. On the right is a sign that says Sandpiper Trail. That is the boardwalk. I would love to play host to your next visit! Even now with most of the shorebirds on their breeding grounds in Alaska, there are things to see and hear. There are lots of swallows nesting on the hangers up under the eaves, warblers in the alder forest, eagles hunting over the flats, an osprey pair on the road out to the refuge, and lots of interesting birds to and from the boardwalk.


        1. No wonder I couldn’t find that boardwalk; it seems to be well-hidden from your description. I would love to meet up with you! You are such a knowledgeable birder and I am simply a birdwatcher with a camera. I have your email address, so next time I start getting the urge to head west, I will email you so we can make plans.


  4. Hi BC.

    The advice we got when we started birding was to birdwatch on a rising tide. However, my experience is that an ebb tide is best. My experience is that birds fly in as soon as the tide starts to recede, so they are as close as you’ll ever get them, and they follow the tide out, being joined by more and more birds as time goes on.
    When the tide comes in, they don’t follow it all the way in, but halfway or so through the tide, they disappear to their roosts, so getting a few hours rest before the next tide I guess. Hence they don’t get as close to us on a rising tide as they do on a receding one.

    But… it varies from place to place, and with the shape and steepness of the beach / mud flats. One of our favourite places is steepish, and even when the tide is fully out, they are no more than a hundred yards away, so virtually any time from an hour after high tide until an hour before the next high tide, is good viewing. Another spot is opposite a harbour, and the tide flows past our view point, and the best times are 2 1/2 to 1hr before and after high tide. The birds roost above the high tide point, so they stay with the rising and falling tides, much longer than at other places.

    The best thing is to note and learn from your own experiences on your favourite spots, but tips from people using those sites too can be invaluable as a starting point for your first visits. We used to take picnics with us to our favourite spots, and sit in a hide for 4 to 6 hours or so, and so make a day of it.

    Photographically, there is a narrow window for taking good pictures, at coastal birding sites, but lots of fun just sitting a watching.

    I hope this isn’t info overload, and not too jumbled as to be useless. I hope you have a lot of fab days out.



    1. Not info overload at all. The more info, the better, at least to a point. I will probably always have trouble telling one sandpiper from another or one sparrow from another, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to observe them and to capture their portraits.

      You are so right that it does vary from place to place. Sometimes that is because the bird species are different. Other times, as you say, the steepness, I have found a big difference between what one sees in muddy tidal flats vs. sandy or marshy areas. Along Puget Sound, for example, I have found that 2 hours either side of the lowest tide seems to be best. Dianna suggests watching the tide come in along Grays Harbor. Since I live inland, all of those places are some distance away, so that cuts into the available time to just sit and wait. Grays Harbor, where I will be meeting Dianna tomorrow, has at least 50 miles of shoreline, so knowing where to sit and wait is as much a factor as knowing when.

      Another worthwhile source I have found is Flickr bird groups. There are groups dedicated to a particular wildlife refuge or region, so I can look at those photostreams and see where they have been located on the map and also what time the photo was taken. I have found, too, that requests for more sighting info included in a photo comment or sent via FlickrMail are generally welcomed and the photog is happy to dispense more particulars of a sighting.

      There is always something more to learn and I love that.

      Liked by 1 person

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