In this episode of “Bainbridge Outdoors,” BCB host Annie Osburn joins Bainbridge Island birder George Gerdts at Fort Ward Park to talk about fall bird migration on the island. A passionate birder since childhood, Gerdts is a virtual storehouse of knowledge when it comes to our local birds, their habitat, behaviors, songs, calls, and more.
On this misty fall morning, Gerdts and Osburn meet at the southern end of Fort Ward Park, near the fish pens, to take a closer look at the migrating waterfowl that come to winter on this stretch of saltwater shoreline. Many of the birds who’ve been absent all summer are now returning from their Arctic breeding grounds. Look for Surf Scoters, White-winged Scoters and the occasional Black Scoter; Double-crested Cormorants, California Gulls, ducks, geese, and more.
Waterfowl migration is not just one single event, but rather a long and complex movement that starts around July 1st and continues as late as mid-November, and Bainbridge is the perfect place to observe. The National Audubon Society has named Fort Ward Park, which is actually part of the Puget Loop section of the over 3,000-mile Great Washington State Birding Trail, one of seven key sites on the Kitsap Peninsula for migrating birds.
Gerdts, who leads private birding tours as well as for the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District, points out the obvious reasons why this spot on Bainbridge is so attractive: “The waters around Bainbridge are incredibly rich in bait fish. We’re blessed with waters that have a lot of phytoplankton and some upwelling that happens, which feeds the bait fish and the birds that come to feed on those. We don’t ever get freezing conditions in the water and the food supply is abundant.”
So whether you’re a novice birder or a passionate hobbyist, Bainbridge Island has plenty to offer. Get out now to see what’s happening with birds on the island. Gerdts’ parting advice: “There are so many ways to enjoy birding. Choose one.”
This is the first in a four-part series about birding on Bainbridge. Next up: the Christmas Bird Count. Stay tuned.
Credits: BCB host and text author: Annie Osburn; BCB field tech and audio editor: Tim Bird; BCB social media publisher: Diane Walker; BCB assistant publisher: Chris Walker; “Bainbridge Outdoors” music intro and BCB ferry music: Dogfish Bay Studios; Podcast art: artopia creative.