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Wings Over Willapa Fest Brings Birding, Hiking, Art to South Washington Coast

Published 09/20/22 at 12:05 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Wings Over Willapa Fest Brings Birding, Hiking, Art to South Washington Coast

(Long Beach, Washington) – Four days of lovely birds and even lovelier scenery, one Washington coast festival is a remarkable combo of nature, hiking, bird-watching, art, learning and fun for all ages. (Above: Black Oystercatcher, courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

Wings Over Willapa Festival happens September 22 – 25, and it's got it all. Taking place all over the Long Beach Peninsula, from Ilwaco up through Leadbetter Point, and even over to Long Island. Its mission is to connect people with birds, art and a celebration of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge of the south Washington coast, geared towards a wide audience with varying ages and skills.

Experts will lead bird walks, classes will be given on topics such as birding for beginners to bird-friendly landscaping, and there's even special pottery classes. Some of the highlights include a guided tour of Long Island to an old-growth grove, a special Nature Play Day on Saturday for the kiddies, and a hands-on intro to wildlife tracking.

A special online auction has already started, where you can do some unique shopping with a nature theme.


Peregrine falcon

On Friday, the keynote speaker for the Wings Over Willapa Festival takes the stage: expert birder Noah Strycker is an author and entertaining and knowledgeable lecturer. In 2015, he set a record for the World Big Year of birding, seeing 6,042 species in a single year. You'll also find light snacks and drinks at the cash-only bar, all taking place at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco.

Registration for the festival is $5, but many of the events have separate charges, often from $10 to $35. Strycker's engagement is $35, for instance. Nature Play Day activities and movies are free. See the website for registration instructions.


Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, courtesy photo

Kicking off the annual Wings Over Willapa Festival on Thursday, September 22, is the social event called Taking Flight. It happens at the Salt Hotel and Pub from 5:30pm to 8:00 pm., allowing participants to mingle with each other and meet some of the local artists who will have their work on display.

Hiking programs include the Fog Forest Hike through Cape Disappointment, Shorebird Identification at Ocean Beach, the Leadbetter Adventure at Oysterville Beach Approach, and a variety of tours and hikes through the refuge that include Cutthroat Creek. There's the Waves, Tides and Currents Walk in the Seaview area, Wildlife Tracking at Leadbetter Point, and the Loomis Lake Beach Walk will take you around that area.

You can also take in free presentations on the peregrine falcon and on bird counts done on the Washington coast. Arts and crafts classes take place at some local galleries and at the North Jetty Brewery.

The online auction runs through September 24, and includes a popular airplane ride, a nature-themed quilt, beautiful paintings, fine art photographs, local artisan-crafted pottery and intricate wood carvings.

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