Dead birds offer learning opportunity for researchers

  • By Sharon Wootton
  • Friday, April 20, 2012 1:39pm
  • Life

It’s sad to watch dead birds wash up on ocean beaches, birds that were so full of life a short time ago now battered and bedraggled in the sand and stones.

It may be small consolation, but those birds can give up facts in death.

Julia Parrish, University of Washington professor of ocean fishery sciences, will speak to those facts at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Camano Beach Watchers fourth Wednesday series.

The program is free and will be at the Camano Multipurpose Center (blue building), 141 N. East Camano Drive.

Parish’s topic is “Dead Birds Do Tell Tales,” the results of her studies of dead birds along the Pacific coast following the deaths of thousands of seabirds in 2009. The Camano Beach Watchers website is

Parish’s work led to the creation of a program for citizens called the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, which includes a strong component of marine conservation, basic science and outreach.

If the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team’s work appeals to you, consider taking the next six-hour training session for volunteers at the Stanwood Library on April 28. Volunteers will learn about the program, review the Beached Birds field guide and apply identification skills to specimens. All activities are indoors.

The training is free but plan to provide a $20 refundable deposit if you would like to take home a COASST volunteer kit that includes the field guide.

The session is from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Stanwood Library, 9701 271st St. NW. Reserve your spot by emailing or calling 206-221-6893. Their website is

For safety’s sake: Helicopter timber thinning has closed access to the Ira Spring Trail this weekend and next. The closure is at Milepost 2.0 on Mason Lake Road (Road 9021). The road parallels the north side of I-90 off Exit 45.

Some things are free: National Park Week, today through April 29, means a free pass into our national parks, waiving the $15 entrance fees for Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks.

Many feet of snow (snowpack was about 160 percent of average this winter) blanket higher elevations, but what’s not to like about exploring the lower reaches, such as taking a walk along the Hoh River.

Spring is the time to plan camping and hiking trips. Take the following information into consideration when planning an adventure in Olympic National Park:

• Dosewallips Road is closed because of a washout. Access to the primitive campground is now a 5.5-mile hike.

• Heavy snow at Deer Park created a later than usual opening for Deer Park Road and campground, now scheduled to open mid-July.

• The last 1½ miles leading to the picnic area at Hurricane Ridge and the Hurricane Hill Trail are covered with 10- to 12-foot-deep snowdrifts. Those areas are expected to open by mid-June. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is staffed 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends through June 17, then open daily.

• Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Olympic Hot Springs Road in Elwha Valley is closed just beyond the Altair Campground to allow safe removal of Glines Canyon Dam, estimated to be completed by late this year. There’s no access to Olympic Hot Springs from the valley. Elwha Campground is open; Altair Campground opens May 22.

• Fairholm Campground at Lake Crescent opened Friday, Lake Crescent Lodge opens May 3, and Fairholm General Store opens May 25.

• Sol Duc Road Campground and Hot Springs Resort in Sol Duc Valley are open.

• In the Hoh Rain Forest, Hoh Road and campground are open; the visitor center is open Friday through Tuesday through April 30, opening daily on May 4. The information center in Forks is now open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Monday and every day starting June 18.

• Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette campgrounds on the coast are open. South Beach Campground, just south of Kalaloch, opens May 22. Kalaloch Information Station opens May 12. Kalaloch Lodge operates year-round.

• Quinault Loop Road and North Fork Road and campground in the Quinault Rain Forest are open. Graves Creek Road and campground are open, and drinking water and flush toilets will be activated by May 15.

• The Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center at Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drop by for up-to-date information or call 360-565-3100.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964.

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