Wings Over Willapa

Saturday, September 29, 2018, join us for our inaugural Wings Over Willapa Festival! We’re celebrating Willapa National Wildlife Refuge with a day full of classes, workshops, guided tours and more. Whether you’re an experienced birder or just getting acquainted with the great outdoors, nature lovers of all ages are sure to find plenty to do.

Because the Refuge is distributed among several individual units, and because the Long Beach Peninsula has so many wonderful places opening their doors to the festival, we will have events occurring at multiple locations throughout the day. We’ll have more information on transportation options soon, particularly for those who may not have access to their own vehicle.

Watch this space and the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page for news on festival events, preregistration, sponsorship, volunteer opportunities and more. We also have a Facebook event page specifically for this year’s festivities.

Questions? Interested in getting involved? Want to sponsor the event or donate a silent auction item? Contact us at

Special thanks to the Columbia-Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco who will be hosting some of our presentations, and will also be giving registered WoW attendees free admission to the entire museum!

Workshops, Tours and Other Events
The following is an ever-growing list of our confirmed events that will be occurring during the Wings Over Willapa festival. Check back for more additions to the roster!

Please note that you will need to be registered by the time each event begins; otherwise you will not be able to participate. We will have preregistration information available here on the website soon, and you will also be able to register the day of at our registration table at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco. A few of the events will require separate registration and/or materials fees that are not included in the general Wings Over Willapa registration, so we’ll keep you posted on when you can sign up for these.

Saturday Night Keynote Speaker and Silent Auction

We will be featuring a very special keynote speaker this year, along with a substantial selection of hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction featuring artwork, birding supplies and more! Details coming soon.


Wildlife Tracking

Join Kristi Freese for a Wildlife Tracking/Birding Adventure at the Leadbetter unit of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge!  Kristi has achieved a Level 3 Wildlife Tracking status through CyberTracker, a non-profit Public Benefit Organization that promotes the vision of a worldwide environmental monitoring network and which runs a rigorous tracker certification program (  This perspective-expanding trip will meet at 9AM in the parking lot at Leadbetter (Discover Pass required to park).  Kristi will do a short presentation on tracking and then the field trip will take place in the estuary.  There will also be expert birders on the trip so you can match up tracks with actual bird sightings such as Dunlins, Sanderlings, Kingfishers, Yellowlegs, Warblers, Chickadees and many others.  Kristi states, “Tracking is all about paying attention to the environment and wildlife around you, so the two (birding) go hand-in-hand.” This trip is rated as an easy hike along the Bay and will last for about 2 hours.

Bird Walk at Cape Disappointment State Park

Join naturalists Jim & Bea Harrison for a 1-hour bird/nature hike. Meet at the overlook outside the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park at 8:00 am.   After scoping the mouth of the Columbia River for water birds and bald eagles, we will walk the beautiful surrounding forest trails. Jim and Bea have led birding trips for over 25 years and work as summer interpreters at the Interpretive Center.  Note: Fairly strenuous uphill walk from parking lot to Center and moderate, uneven trail surfaces. Wear sturdy shoes, prepare for possible rainy conditions. You will need a Discover pass to park at the museum, $10/day – you may purchase one on site, or look up where to buy your Discover Pass

Pelagic Trip from Ilwaco 

Join Capt. Pat Schenk of Sea Breeze Charters aboard the  50′ Four Sea’sons for a trip over the Columbia river bar and out to sea. Jen Zamon from NOAA will be our on-board naturalist and will help us spot birds and other wonders of the deep ocean. We may see sooty shearwaters, albatross, and other pelagic birds. Whales, sunfish, sharks and other creatures may be seen. Departs Ilwaco 7AM, returns in the early afternoon. Be ready for weather and sea conditions. Box lunch will be provided as part of the tour. Limited to 15 participants, registration open soon!

East Sand Island Kayak Trip

Join Columbia River Kayaking for a trip around east Sand Island, the westernmost island in the Columbia River, with views out to Cape Disappointment and the Pacific. East Sand is famous for being the site of the world’s largest caspian tern colony (up to 19,000 birds) and world’s largest double-crested cormorant colony (currently about 25,000 birds).East Sand has recently had the Pacific coast’s largest brown pelican roost, with over 5000 individuals gathering in the post-breeding season. Although nesting season will be over by the time of our paddle, the bird activity will not. Most of the pelicans should still be present, as well as flocks of shorebirds, waterfowl, gulls, thousands of cormorants, and often a surprise or two. Enjoy the spectacle of paddling among thousands of birds. Paddling distance: approximately 5 miles. Meet at Port of Chinook (Port of Chinook, 743 Water Street, Chinook, WA) at 8:30 AM Saturday, September 29. We will return by about 12:30 PM.

Trip leader Andrew Emlen has been guiding for Columbia River Kayaking for over two decades and is an experienced birder. He has done shorebird surveys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, monitored Streaked Horned Larks on Columbia River islands for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, created and compiled the Wahkiakum Christmas Bird Count, and led birding field trips for Washington Ornithological Society and Willapa Hills Audubon Society. This tour is weather dependent; depending on conditions, we may stay on the protected side of East Sand Island.

Registration will open soon on Columbia River Kayaking’s website. If you do not have a kayak you will be able to rent one when you register.

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay
Leaders: Madeline Kalbach and Susan Stauffer
Maximum Number of Participants: 15
Meeting Place: Salt Hotel and Pub

Time:  8:30 a.m.-12:00 noon

Meet at Salt for a presentation on birds and their habitats of the area with a focus on the Refuge, Ilwaco Harbor and Bakers Bay, followed by a walking field trip around the harbor.

Disco Duck! Birding on Discovery Trail 
Join avid cyclist Jim Sayce and pedal your way to a birding adventure from high up on North Head down through forests, wetlands-lake, dune plains and along the Pacific Ocean shore. A good morning cycling and stopping at key points to quietly get us closer to birds and their habitats. Birding by bicycle allows you to be immersed in nature, able to hear bird songs more clearly, and find species including gulls, pelicans, eagles, terns, a dizzying array of shorebird species and the elusive LBJ.
About a 7 mile easy bike ride. Bring your own bike & helmet or rent from local businesses TBA.

Long Island Expedition

Join the staff of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge for an unforgettable expedition to Long Island, the largest estuary island on the Pacific Coast. Board the barge for a 40 minute voyage (each way) on Willapa Bay along the southern shoreline of the island. Arriving on the western side of the island near Smoky Hollow, you’ll begin a 2 mile round trip hike to the Ancient Cedar Grove. This 274 acre grove is one of the last remnants of the old growth coastal forest once common in southwestern Washington. Some of the western red cedar trees in the grove are over 1,000 years old. Large branches provide platforms for marbled murrelet nests. Standing and collapsed dead trees are habitat for woodpeckers, bats, flying squirrels and amphibians. Long Island’s rain drenched coastal forests are also home to deer, elk, black bear, grouse and numerous species of birds.

Birding Leadbetter Point

Join the staff of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge for an exciting journey to the tip of the Long Beach Peninsula along to the Leadbetter Point Unit. This is a wild place with limited human access that creates a sanctuary for wildlife, rare plants, hundreds of bird species, including the federally threatened western snowy plover and streaked horned lark. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are often seen. Fall migration also brings dizzying concentrations of shorebirds to refuge shores. Participants will travel in 4×4 vehicles on the beach north from Oysterville Approach to the geographic tip of the peninsula. The guided tour will include opportunities for learning about the local ecology and ongoing habitat restoration activities.

Beginning Birding

So you’ve caught the buzz about birding and you want to give it a try, but you’re not quite sure how to start? This class and field trip is just for you. You’ll learn how to spot the differences among birds through their unique field marks and behavior, as well as where and how to watch birds. Following the presentation, participants will drive to the Tarlatt Unit of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge for a short hike. A mixture of open grasslands, forests and wetlands provide habitat a variety of species including waterfowl, wading birds, raptors and songbirds.


Make Your Wildlife Observations Count: Using Online Geographic Databases eBird and iNaturalist

Want to take your birding and other nature sightings to the next level? Need a place to log your bird lists? Mosses? Wildflowers? Moths? Want to know what others saw here? Where? When? Enjoy taking photos of the animals you see? Want help identifying your photos of bugs, frogs or birds? Learn about online communities eBird (birds) and iNaturalist (all biotic groups), where observations are linked in space and time to spatially track species populations. This hands-on workshop will show you how to use these web-based applications— iNaturalist and eBird. For WOW 2018, this geographic area has been designated as a project space, so sightings can be tracked in real time as people log them on iNaturalist. Join this workshop by Kathleen Sayce and become a Citizen Scientist!

Nature Photography

Join photographer Andy Zahn for a one hour class in nature photography. Learn a variety of techniques and skills, including timelapse photography, how to create composite images, and how to combine multiple technologies for better nature videos. We will also be talking about camera gear and post processing software

Not Just For Kids: Junior Duck Stamps

You may have heard of the Federal Duck Stamp Program, but did you know area kids participated in the Junior Duck Stamp Program this year? Join Master Naturalist and Friends of Willapa volunteer Rebecca Lexa as she talks about what students learned about waterfowl, wetlands and Willapa, and find out if you can do as well as they did on the quiz!


Sea Glass Windows

Join the Picture Attic’s very own Jean Nitzel for this class on turning sea glass into a beautiful decorative window! You’ll get to transform bits of colored glass that have been shaped and frosted by the ocean and the sand into your very own work of art, no experience required! Children should be accompanied by an adult. Class scheduled for 11am to 1pm, up to 8 participants. A second class may be opened later in the day if the first one fills up.

Pour and Sip

In this fun, interactive workshop, you can grab a North Jetty beer and learn the techniques, tips and tricks of Acrylic Pouring with Karen and Dave Hoch. No experience required and all materials will be provided. Each student will get a 8×10″ canvas, paints and all other materials required to create one pour painting in class. Please come dressed for creative messiness.

Feather Raku Pottery

Roll up your shirtsleeves and join clay artist Karen Brownlee to create your own masterpiece. Participants will use bird feathers and a technique called raku to create a unique design on your very own clay pot.

Beach Baskets

Join Long Beach Peninsula graphic designer and artist Susan Spence to create a basket from foraged, re-cycled rope salvaged from our local beaches! In this class we will make a small basket with a handle. Everything to make the basket will be provided including a pre-made base. No previous crochet experience required. Space is limited for this fun class that ends with your own unique basket to adorn your home.

Other Programming, Details TBA:


Willapa Bay Oyster Growers Barge Trip
Self-guided tours at Tarlatt, Teal Slough, Greenhead Slough


Shorebirds – John Rakestraw
Pelagic Birds
North Coast Wildlife Center

Art and Workshops:

Bird Box Building
Decoy Carving Demo
Stationary – Jean Nitzel
Kids Art tables – Cheri Lloyd/various
Paint & Sip – Cheri Lloyd

We would like to offer a big thank you to our partners and sponsors for 2018: