We walk down to the spit and always find a variety of gulls in the marsh, along with dowitchers, Great Blue Herons, sanderlings, sandpipers, and terns. Bald Eagles sail overhead while kingfishers call raucously as they fly by. It’s a wonderfully bird-rich island. Unless we’re leading a bird walk. And then, there’s nary a bird to be found. (Except for the gulls, who are ever-present.)
Last summer, as part of our job as Interpretive Hosts, we came up with the idea of offering a weekly morning bird walk in the park. To lure campers out of their cozy sleeping bags and tents, we provide freshly brewed locally roasted coffee (kids get hot chocolate). The title of our program, naturally, is “Coffee With The Birds.”
This small island boasts more than 200 species of birds. There’s habitat to suit all preferences—forested areas, open grassland, marshes, ponds, rocky shorelines, and beaches. In addition to the wealth of birds that reside in Spencer Spit State Park, we’ve found the exotic-to-us Rhinoceros Auklets and Tufted Puffins offshore at Iceberg Point; and Common Loons, Black Oystercatchers, and Surf Scoters while kayaking in the bays.
“Coffee With The Birds” has been a resounding success, both with campers in the park, visitors to the island, and locals. We begin with a 45-minute slideshow of Lopez birds, compiled from the best of our photos taken over the past four years. (It’s a good thing we have the photos to prove that there are, indeed, birds on Lopez.) We then stroll through the woods and down to the marsh on the spit, searching for birds along the way. Despite the fact that we rarely see more than a few birds on the bird walk, everyone loves the program and leaves with a good idea of the birds that call Lopez home.