Friday, March 10, 2017

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

Our summer home this year is at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Sequim, Washington.  It was designated a National Wildlife Refuge by President Woodrow Wilson on January 20, 1915.  Its highest priority is to provide and preserve habitat for the enhancement of wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds with emphasis on Brant.

Most of the 770 acre refuge is on Dungeness Spit and Graveyard Spit.  Spits are sand and cobble beaches surrounded by tidal mudflats and eelgrass beds.  Graveyard Spit is closed to the public and set aside as a research natural area because of its unique vegetation.  There are also two tidal ponds.
Dungeness Spit and Tidal Ponds
Dungeness Spit is one of only a few such geological formations in the world. During high tides it is sometimes only 50 feet wide.  The Refuge has about fifteen miles of undisturbed sandy beach.  At the East end of Dungeness Spit is the New Dungeness Lighthouse (more about the Lighthouse later).

The Spit was formed 10-20 thousand years ago.  The easterly flowing long shore current causes an eastward drift of material which provides the sand and rocks that form and maintain the sand spit.  The east end of the spit grows at a rate of about 15 feet a year.

Daily entry fee is $3 per 4 adults and all the usual passes are good here.
Fee station.
Kiosk at the entry station with interpretive displays.  Manned by local volunteers.

The woodland trail leads from the parking lot to two lookout platforms over Dungeness Spit.
Trail to Spit.
One of the lookout decks.
There is a lot of interesting driftwood that comes in with the tide.
Lots of driftwood.

This refuge is part of the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex which also includes Protection Island, San Juan Islands and a few other islands in the Washington Islands National Wildlife Refuges.
More than 250 species of birds, 41 species of land mammals, and eight species of marine mammals have been recorded in the refuge.

We’ve seen Harbor Seals right off the beach.

Brant are one of the refuge's most important inhabitants as it depends on the refuge's eelgrass for its survival. The Brant is a true sea goose and is able to drink salt water and eat saltwater plants.

Approximately 1,500 Brant spend the winter in the area. In March, during migration, the number of Brant increases to a peak of up to 8,000 birds in late April.

We’ve been here a couple of weeks and have been given a couple of projects but certainly not enough to keep us busy.  I’m sure as Spring/Summer progresses things will pick up.

There is so much to say about this wonderful place it’s hard to know where to start!  This will give you a little information about the Refuge itself.  Despite the weather we’re out birding and exploring every day.  We’ll keep blogging!


  1. Mark looks quite bundled up... cold winds? We've never been to that refuge... looks great. Guess it's about as far away from Aroostook NWR as a person can get....

    1. I has been in the 30's to mid-40's the entire time we've been here. With a stiff sea breeze that starts to feel pretty cold!!

  2. Looks like you found a place that is perfect for you if you can deal with cold and damp.

    1. It will probably warm up sometime - right?

  3. Thanks for the update. It does look cold, compared to the southwest that is. We hope you have a great season and look forward to seeing get you later in this summer sometime.

    1. We look forward to seeing yall again!

  4. We have been there and walked on that spit to the lighthouse...a lot of pretty rocks on that spit!