2022 Bird Surveys
Shorebird surveys at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge are conducted every few days during spring migration, mid-April through mid-May. The Refuge Biologist and Volunteers are positioned along the Sandpiper Trail for up to three hours before the predicted high tide and may not be able to answer questions while they are counting shorebirds.
This page will be updated regularly with survey results.
4/15/2022 Survey (10:40 am - 2:17 pm)
High tide around 1:16 p.m. at 9.69 ft inundated the intertidal flats and shorebirds tucked into the high marsh vegetation or roosted on posts, waiting for the tide to recede.
Other highlights- ~500 ducks (mainly American Green-winged Teals, Northern Pintails, and Mallards), Sandhill Cranes (240 flew over refuge), Yellow-rumped Warblers (Mrytle and Audubon's), Marsh Wren, Song Sparrows, Caspian Terns, and Eagles.
4/18/2022 Survey (11:50 am - 2:45 pm)
Rain and wind made shorebird surveying difficult. High pressure system caused the tide to come in early. Tide was about 0.7 feet higher than predicted, leaving no mud at high tide (9.6 ft @ 3:42 pm).
|Black Bellied Plover||1|
Other highlights included warblers and 60 Greater White-fronted Geese.
4/22/22 (5:31 pm - 8:31 pm)
High tide (7.9 ft.) was at sunset. High tide was relatively low meaning lots of mudflat in Grays Harbor. Mini Moon Island had roosting habitat during the tide cycle, therefore, few birds came close to the boardwalk for good viewing. Despite few shorebirds, it was a wonderful evening to watch other wildlife as the sun was going down.
|Black Bellied Plover||2|
4/25/22 ( 7:25 am - 11:30 am )
High tide (8.6 ft.) at 9:25 am. The morning was gorgeous as there was no wind. ~2000 shorebirds (mainly Western Sandpipers and Dunlins) were feeding on the mudflat. As the tide came in, shorebirds moved close to the boardwalk for good views. About 45 minutes after high tide, thousands of hungry birds came in to feast on the freshly exposed mudflat. A peregrine falcon visited several times. Eight Bald Eagles were seen eating a carcass (possibly a harbor seal) on Mini Moon Island.
|Black Bellied Plover||33|
|Unknown spp (on Mini Moon Island)||2500|
Day was overcast with showers, occassional sun breaks. Not terribly windy. High tide was 9.1 at 1:25 pm.
|Black Bellied Plover||28|
|Long Billed Curlew||2|
|Unknown spp Mini Moon Island||3000|
5/1/22 (12:45 pm - 4:45 pm)
High Tide (9.0 ft.) at 2:53 pm. Sunday was a wonderful day for shorebird viewing, several visitors were out on the boardwalk enjoying a mild spring day. The tides pushed the shorebirds onto the high marsh, dense flocks of Western Sandpipers and Dunlin huddled together waiting for the mudflats to reappear. As the tide receded, the birds had a feeding frenzy and appeared more birds showed up after high tide. Total estimate ~12,700 shorebirds.
|Black Bellied Plover||14|
|Least Sandpiper||3, likely more|
|Unknown spp Mini Moon Island||850|
5/3/22 (2:30 pm - 6:15 pm)
High Tide (8.5 ft.) at 16:15. Another excellent afternoon for viewing shorebirds. Birds were feeding on the mudflat until a peregrine falcon came in and snatched a meal. Visitors watched the falcon eat the shorebird and a distant stump on the mudflat. The presence of falcon flushed all the birds at high tide. About 30 minutes later, thousands of shorebirds returned to the mudflat. Highlights included 18 black-bellied plovers near the boardwalk and ~80 Caspian Terns diving for fish. Shorebird diversity was low with 5 species; however, the overall number of shorebirds was high at ~14,300. Visitors noted that the day before appeared to have even more birds.
|Black Bellied Plover||18|
|Least Sandpiper||1, likely more|
|Unknown spp Mini Moon Island||1700|
5/5/22 (3:39 pm - 6:59 pm )
High Tide was ~0.5 ft. higher than predicted (7.9) at 5:39 pm. Lots of rain during the survey. After the rain stopped, the wind picked up. Whitecaps were present at high tide and caused enough disturbance to clear off roosting birds that generally remain on Mini Moon Island during a lower tide. An estimated 8500 shorebirds came to the Refuge's mudflat for feeding and sanctuary. Other highlights include a bald eagle capturing a crow and four river otters foraging on the mudflat! Despite the cold, rainy weather, it's always a treat to visit the Refuge as you never know what you will see.
|Black Bellied Plover||33|
5/9/22- (06:30 am - 08:40 am)
High Tide (7.7 ft) at 07:35 am. The late migrating Red Knots showed up! Over 500 were observed from the boardwalk. Today's survey also produced the highest number of birds for the season! Total shorebirds ~25,700! There were also 256 Caspian Terns, several dive-bombing into the water, catching fish for breakfast.
|Black Bellied Plover||1|
5/11/22 (8:05 am - 11:15 am)
High tide (7.9 ft.) at 10:03 am. Overall bird numbers are decreasing. Nine species were observed for a total of 2300 shorebirds. Tide was low, and many larger shorebird species (Black-bellied plovers, Red Knots, and Whimbrels) were observed on distant Mini Moon Island. Some knots came to visit near the boardwalk after high tide.
|Black Bellied Plover||24|
|Unknown shorebirds on Mini Moon Island||500|
GH Shorebird Survey 5/13/22 (10:03 am - 1:03 pm)
High Tide (8.7 ft.) at 12:02 pm. A majority of the shorebirds have passed through, but viewing opportunities still exist. The tide was perfect today! The tide was high enough to clear of roosting birds on Mini Moon Island. Black-bellied plovers, Red Knots, a Dowitcher, Whimbrels, and the usual Western Sandpipers and Dunlins were all close to the boardwalk! A Peregrine Falcon caught a Western Sandpiper just a 100 feet from viewing area. Total Estimate- 1000 shorebirds.
|Black Bellied Plover||11|
|Unknown shorebirds on Mini Moon Island||140|
5/16/22 (12:30 pm - 3:45 pm)
High Tide (9.4 ft.) at 2:45 pm. Last survey of the season! Most shorebirds have passed through the Refuge; however, there were some lingering birds. Total shorebirds were 50. The tide was very high today. Mini Moon Island was underwater, and all of Bowerman Basin was inundated. Whimbrels and Black-bellied Plovers roosted on driftwood, waiting for the tide to recede.
Previous Year's Bird Surveys
Citizen Science Bird Observations
eBird is a resource used by an international community of birders to share observations, birding "hotspots", and migratory patterns. This could be referenced as migration occurs to see what patterns and species are being observed. eBird is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Grays Harbor NWR on eBird