WEEKEND: Bird-lovers can flock together for Olympic BirdFest
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A barred owl keeps watch on a photographer from a branch in a tree. Photo by Ken and Mary Campbell.
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A black oystercatcher finds a meal on a Port Angeles beach. Photo by Ken and Mary Campbell.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– It's time to go for a walk in the warming air and blooming trees to notice the rich variety of birds now flying above the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Olympic BirdFest, an annual celebration of fresh spring life, begins its 10th edition today.

The three-day festival gives bird lovers the chance to witness the aerial exploits of more than 200 species in forests and fields from Port Angeles to Port Townsend and everywhere in between.

Busy little birds

“With this warm winter, these guys are all just busy as can be up there,” said Margie Palmer, chairwoman of the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society's event committee.

The primary roost for the many festival events will be the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road.

Activities will begin at 8 a.m. today and continue at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

BirdFest offers all a chance to rejoice in the birds' spring fun.

“They're singing everywhere,” Palmer said.

Guides will lead classes, packing the finest in bird-watching scopes to help veterans and rookies spot the many species of grouse, geese and grebes in the air.

Field trips scheduled throughout the weekend will take place at the best bird spots around as part of the annual fundraiser for the Dungeness River Audubon Center.

While BirdFest marks its first decade, it will be helping Sequim celebrate its first century.

Port Angeles' Aglazing Art Studio will be at the river center from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday with special 6-inch-by-6-inch tiles that can be painted as part of Sequim's centennial celebration. Tiles are $10 each.

Tickets were sold out late Wednesday for Saturday night's banquet, according to the event's website at www.olympicbirdfest.org.

Kevin Schafer, a wildlife photographer and author whose work has been featured in National Geographic, Smithsonian, National Wildlife, Audubon and Natural History magazines, will be the featured speaker at the banquet, catered by Kokopelli Grill of Port Angeles in the Red Cedar Hall inside the Jamestown S'Klallam tribal center in Blyn at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Schafer will share pictures from his travels across the globe, photos that earned him the title of the North American Nature Photography Association's Outstanding Photographer of the Year in 2006, as well as photographer of one of the 10 best National Geographic pictures in 2009.

He has written and photographed more than 10 books about wildlife around the world.

The last bids will be taken at the banquet on silent-auction items that also can be seen and bid upon at the river center and online at the event website.

Ceramic birds

In Sequim, merchants downtown will join the jaybird jubilee as ceramic birds crafted by Sequim High School teacher Jake Reichner's class will be around 12 businesses for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce's BirdFest BirdQuest.

Those who match the sculptures with the stores in which they are placed can be entered to win a free three-hour cruise around the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge aboard the MV Olympus.

You can warble with the warbles and quack like a duck, but polite birdwatchers may want to wait a few hours to screech with the eagles as the dawn chorus erupts at Railroad Bridge Park at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $15.

Totem tour today

This morning is the Jamestown S'Klallam Totem Tour from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

A $30 ticket will purchase a tour of the poles and the stories they tell, along with a visit with totem artists at the tribal center.

On Saturday, a trip to see the birds of the mouth of the Elwha River and Salt Creek County Park is set for 8:30 a.m.

For $25, viewers can see up to 10 species of gulls roosting at the river's mouth.

Early registration filled many of the classes, but there are plenty of public places to take in the Peninsula's menagerie.

The Olympic BirdFest is a partnership of the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, the Dungeness River Audubon Center and the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe.

Proceeds will go to the river center for its public education campaigns.

BirdFest is sponsored by the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, First Federal, the city of Sequim, Kokopelli Grill and the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

For a complete schedule of events, visit www.olympicbirdfest.org.

For more information, phone 360-681-4076, visit the website or email info@olympicbirdfest.org.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 04. 2013 5:46PM
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