Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge is located adjacent to Bowerman Airport in Hoquiam. It occupies just 2% of the intertidal habitat in Grays Harbor estuary yet hosts up to 50% of migrating shorebirds. The mudflats here are the last to be flooded at high tide and the first to be exposed as the tide recedes.
In my previous entry, Developing A Passion for Photography, I mentioned that I had plans to meet with some online friends. Another online friend, Andy, commented, “I’ve met a couple of my Flickr friends, and it’s so fun cementing the Flickr friendships with some face to face glue.” After my experience on June 17th, I am happy to agree about that whole face-to-face-glue thing, because a friendship has been cemented.
Due to a change in travel plans, I did not get any face to face time with S, but the meeting with Dianna, which began with a comment thread in another of my previous entries, Raymond and Points Beyond, couldn’t have gone better. What follows is the story of that visit. And proof that you can meet people and find friends with common interests online.
Having promised to meet at 10:30 in a grocery store parking lot, I made it a point to arrive early so that I would have time to get a cup of coffee and stretch my legs a bit first. After parking at the rendezvous spot, I strolled around, sipping my coffee, and saw the sparkle of water and channel marker just beyond the parking lot.
I glimpsed a couple of masts and soon came into full view of the brig Lady Washington, a traditionally built replica.
As it was nearly time to meet my new friend, I headed back to the parking lot, but had to stop when movement just ahead caught my eye. It was a pair White-Crowned Sparrows and one of them allowed me to snap her picture.
Soon, Dianna arrived and it was as if we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in ages. I left my car there and we went on to Grays Harbor NWR in her car. On approach to the Refuge and adjacent airport, we saw ospreys, including an active nest with a fledgling, and peregrines soaring and calling to each other. I soon saw why I had been unable to find the Refuge by myself in earlier visits. We parked where a gate barred access to unauthorized vehicles, then walked around the gate, past several hangars, to where the Refuge boardwalk began. Along the way, we saw a lot of Cliff Swallow activity, including nest-building in the tracks of the hangar doors. I can only hope that those doors don’t have to open any time soon.
The boardwalk passes through both wooded and open areas. We heard many bird songs and saw lots of fleeting movements in the trees and underbrush. There was one exuberant Song Sparrow that seemed so happy to see us that he serenaded us as we passed and was still singing joyfully on our return.
Toward the end of the boardwalk, there are a couple of places where benches await anyone wishing to sit and watch the mudflats of Grays Harbor. This place is popular with migrating shorebirds but now, in June, there was little activity to be seen. I didn’t mind, as it was such a gorgeous day.
There was one piece of driftwood that caught my eye and my companion commented that she wishes it were in her front yard. I mean, really, what do you call driftwood that was the gnarled roots of a big tree? Nature’s art? The word “driftwood” doesn’t seem to do justice, so I dubbed it DriftART.
As we passed through a shaded area on the way back to the car, the sun caught this bracken fern just right, so of course, I had to take a picture.
We had a leisurely lunch on a riverfront deck outside a deli and then it was time to bring our visit to an end. Before I got into my car to head back home, I noticed some public art that was now photogenic as the sun angle was much better than it had been when I arrived hours before.
Naturally, I felt compelled to get a closer look and see what was at first hidden behind the shrubbery.
Quoting from the plaque on the base of this sculpture: This memorial is erected in honor of and in gratitude to all those who worked in the woods, on the rivers and in the mills in and around Grays Harbor. The efforts of their labors in helping to supply the timber needs of a growing nation made this a thriving and prosperous community. Dedicated this 23rd day of November, 1996. Anderson & Middleton Lumber Company, Founded in Aberdeen, Washington 1898. Sculptor, Tom Morandi.
An hour and a half later, I was back home with my shoes off and my feet up, tired but content after enjoying a beautiful outing with an online friend now cemented with some face to face glue.
And already, we are planning our next bird-watching get-together.
My thanks to Andy for a new addition to my collection of quotable quotes.
And many thanks to Dianna for being who she is, and also for identifying the White-Crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Cliff Swallow.
For more information…
Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge: