Washington Coast's Best Birding Spots

This 7 mile loop travels through open farmlands and is best after rains have created shallow ponds which attract good numbers of wintering waterfowl. The fields during migration, especially when flooded, can be good for shorebirds including golden-plovers. A variety of raptors regularly hunt these fields in winter including Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s, Red-shouldered (few records - look in trees shown on map), Red-tailed, Rough-legged Hawks, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Gyrfalcon (rare), and Short-eared Owl. Barn and Great-horned Owls also have been recorded.

Travel east from Aberdeen on US 12 and at MP 12.5 turn right onto the Monte Brady Road. Start all mileages from here. At 0.9 miles, turn right onto the Brady Loop Road.

Editor's Note: A private wetland exists to the east of the Brady Loop Road, about 1/3 (?) mile from the Monte Brady Road (see map) that is accessible to birders who gain prior permission from Greg Shirato at 360-490-4398. Access is completely restricted during the hunting season but may be obtained at some other times of the year. In all cases, remain on the dike and do not cross any fields. If permission is obtained, enter by squeezing through the small metal fence by the metal gate with the sign "Landowner plus USDA/NRCS." Please comply with the landowner's requests so birders can continue to access this area.

In winter, the field ponds along the Brady Loop Road may have Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, Eurasian and American Wigeons, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, and American Coot. The nearby open fields have flocks of wintering Canada Geese. Many of the fields along this loop route are regulated hunting areas. Some parts of the Brady Loop Road are subject to flooding in winter if the nearby Chehalis River overflows its banks. Beware of any water over the road.

Check the weeds, fence lines, and shrubby thickets along the road for sparrows, Spotted Towhee, and warblers in season. In winter, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Short-eared Owl, or even a Gyrfalcon may be hunting these fields. At 1.9 miles, the road takes a left turn and the stand of red alders and shrubby thickets (on the right between the road and the river) should be checked for Downy Woodpecker, flycatchers, chickadees, Bewick’s Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet (winter), warblers (in season), "Sooty" Fox (winter), Song, and White-throated (rare) Sparrows.

At 2.6 miles there is rest stop and access to the Chehalis River. Ring-necked Pheasant may be in the area.

At 3.2 miles the Brady Loop Road turns right while the Foster Road continues straight ahead to meet the Monte Brady Road in a mile further. This section of the Foster Road has hosted Cooper’s Hawk, wintering Rough-legged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Dunlin, Common Snipe (in wetter, grassy areas), and Western Meadowlark.

Return to the Brady Loop Road and continue along this road. Scan the ponds along the road for ducks. Alder trees around the ponds may have Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, or other raptors. Swans may be either in the larger ponds or open fields. Western Scrub-Jay should be searched for around farmhouses. This area has only recently been heavily birded and continues to yield surprises. Whimbrel and several Sandhill Crane were noted in spring 2001.

At 7.1 miles, turn right at the Monte Brady Road and, in a few hundred feet, return to US 12.

Mt. Quail have been seen in the past in limited numbers in the clear cuts and short vegetation along the Middle Satsop Road north of Brady. To reach this area, cross over US 12, following the Monte Brady Road. At the stop sign take an odometer reading and proceed straight ahead onto the Middle Satsop Road. At 4 miles check the gravel pit on the left. Just after crossing into Mason County at 8 miles, turn right at the Schafer Park Road and check the old clear cuts in this area. Suitable habitat for Mt. Quail exists in old clear cuts with Scotch Broom, salal, and other short vegetation.

Or, continue north on the Middle Satsop Road and veer left onto West Boundary Road. Check the habitat on the right for the next 1.2 miles, then turn right on the West Boundary Cutoff road to return to the Middle Satsop Road. There are a number of old logging roads crossing these clear cuts that can be walked to look and listen for Mt. Quail. The best time is at dawn in spring when they are calling.

More recent sightings of Mt. Quail have been along the Cloquallum Road northeast of Elma.

For a complete list of 160 birding birding spots, as well as maps, photos, and list
of expected birds, see A Birder's Guide to Coastal Washington.

Order the book, A Birder's Guide to Coastal Washington.

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