Site Guide to Birding Columbia County (Oregon)
This is the tent installment of the “Site Guide”. It covers the fourth and fifth of five sites in the environs of St. Helens – Gray Cliffs Waterfront Park and Dalton Lake.
This guide will be published in a series of installments:
Overview of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Habitats of Columbia County (5/9/14 post)
Birds of Columbia County – Overview (5/9/14 post)
Birding Sites of Columbia County – Individual installments, and associated Bird Lists of the Sites in Columbia County:
Introduction (5/12/14 post)
Columbia River Sites – South to North
Sauvie Island (5/12/14 post)
Scappoose WTP and Kessi Pond (5/14/14 post)
Crown Zellerbach Trail – East End (5/15/14 post)
Scappoose Bottoms (5/19/14 post)
Scappoose Bay (5/29/14 post)
St. Helens WTP and Knob Hill Park (5/30/14 post)
Gray Cliffs Waterfront Park and Dalton Lake (6/1/14 post)
(A link to a downloadable copy of this guide is found in the first installment of this series)
Columbia River Birding Areas
9) Gray Cliffs Waterfront Park:
Location/Directions: (45.868271, -122.79874) At the end of the St. Helens Marina in Old Town. Turn west on to Columbia Blvd off of Hwy 30 and go 1.3 miles to St. Helens St., turn left twice down to the marinas and park at the parking lot at the end of the road.
Habitat and Birds: The river view can have all manner of river birds, loons, grebes, gulls and ducks in season. The area is pretty reliable for Horned and Western Grebes in winter and a Clark’s Grebe has been reported. Bald Eagles (year around) and Osprey (in summer) are regular. A few passerines are in the area along the bank and up the cliff in the residential trees. Nesting Purple Martins share the pylons in the harbor with nesting Ospreys. A scan of Sand Island Marine Park can also turn something up. After leaving the park drive to the end of Columbia where there is a little park. This affords a view of the south end of Sand Island. Caspian Terns (in spring) and gulls roost on the sand spit here. It’s worth the stop.
10) Dalton Lake Trail (OBT):
Location/Directions: (45.87444, -122.8123) At the north end of St Helens there is a stop light intersection. Deer Island Rd goes to the east and Liberty Hill Dr to the west. Take Deer Island Rd and just after crossing the RR tacks turn left onto Oregon St. Drive a short distance to a parking area directly across from the Humane Society animal shelter. A paved trail heads north paralleling Hwy 30 for a while.
Habitat and Birds: There is a wooded trail that leads down to an impoundment lake. Expect woodland birds, migrants, and the lake can have ducks and grebes. There is a view of the river which can be scanned for all manner of river birds, loons, grebes, gulls and ducks in season. I’ve only been here once so I don’t have a good feel for the possible birds but would not expect it to be much different than many locations with the same habitat. It gets a touch of Douglas Fir understory that could add a bit of color. A Clark’s Grebe has been reported from here.