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Birding Day: Mount St. Helens Coldwater Lake and Hummocks

What makes Mount St. Helens unique for birdwatching? Volcanoes create disturbances in the landscape and this in turn creates a mosaic of habitat type that affords a high diversity of birds. Join naturalist Gina Roberti for an exploration of the pocket of old growth forest and volcanic history of Silver Lake at the Mount St. Helens Visitors Center and Seaquest State Park. Learn how volcanoes shape the landscape and how we, as people, can be more informed of volcanic hazards.

The field trip will take place at the Mount St. Helens Visitors Center at Seaquest State Park and will include hiking along forest trails in Seaquest State Park and along the ¾  mile ADA-accessible boardwalk trail. At the time of the field trip, the Visitors Center may be closed, but groups are welcome to come earlier and explore the visitors center, exhibits, and ranger presentations.

Note: This class is a great introductory class for birding and not designed for advanced birders. We will take a holistic view on ecology, human history, and geology. We will interact with and discuss all of the landscape features that support habitat for birds.

Background Information on Mount St. Helens

On May 18, 1980, a cataclysmic event occurred at Mount St. Helens as the north flank of the volcano slid off in one of the largest landslides in recorded history, unleashing a powerful eruption. This eruption buried 230 square miles of existing old-growth forest with hundreds of feet of volcanic debris. In some places closest to the crater of the volcano, almost no living organisms survived. Ash from the eruption blew across the United States and megatons of logs and volcanic debris clogged up rivers, lakes, and streams. The eruption dramatically reshaped the landscape, creating a mosaic of habitat types that are now home to a diverse suite of birds. 

In 1982, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was designated to protect the land closest to the volcano as a place for research, recreation, and education. Today, home to more than 80 species of nesting birds, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument offers unique birding opportunities.

Accessibility

  • Accessibility: Trips may include a substantial amount of hiking (up to 4 miles) depending on the hiking ability and needs of the group. Restrooms(depending on the season) are available at the Coldwater Lake Picnic Area; restrooms are not available along the trail.
  • Rest stops: There are several benches along both sections of the field trip though no section has enough benches for all participants to sit down at once. Resting along the Hummocks trail will involve sitting on rocks and moss and uneven ground along the edge of the trail. Picnic tables are available at the Coldwater Lake Picnic Area which is the meeting location for the field trip.
  • Sun exposure: Depending on the season and whether the dominant tree type in the forest (alder trees) have leaves, it may be more sunny or shady. The Hummocks trail is ~ 50% shaded.
  • Amenities: Restrooms are not available at the Hummocks trailhead nor along the trail. Indoor ADA accessible bathrooms are located at the Coldwater Lake Picnic Area & boat ramp and may be open depending on the season. In fall of 2021 the indoor restrooms at Coldwater Lake Picnic Area were damaged and currently there are port-a-potties.
  • Public transit: Public transportation is NOT available for this field trip. Participants are encouraged to carpool. There is a park and ride at the Information Center in Castle Rock, Washington which has free wifi and is a great place to leave vehicles for a day. Another fantastic birding spot along the way and great spot to meet for a carpool is at the Mount St. Helens Visitors Center at Seaquest State Park (note that Discover parking passes are required).
  • Cell phone reception: There is NO cell phone reception at the meeting location nor along WA State Route 504 after leaving the I-5 highway corridor. Please plan in advance.
  • Views: Our field trip will offer a few fantastic views of Mount St. Helens on clear days.  For more views of Mount St. Helens, visit other public sites along highway 504 before or after the field trip. Review this annotated Google map for suggestions.
    • Location: This trip will access field locations on the north side of Mount St. Helens including the Hummocks trail and Coldwater Lake Boardwalk trail.
    • Length: 4 hours
    • Distance: Total walking distance of up to 4 miles on uneven terrain.
    • Elevation changes: ETotal elevation change of less than 500 feet. The Hummocks trail is a 2.5 mile loop trail that meanders through the landslide deposit from the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The trail goes up and down hills (hummocks) that vary in height from 30-50’.
    • Trail tread & average width: The first part of the field trip occurs on a paved ADA accessible trail and boardwalk. The Hummocks trail is mostly compact gravel though can be uneven and rocky in sections. The surface of the trail is uneven. The trail is wide enough for two people to walk side by side for ¾ of a mile and the remainder wide enough for single file.
    • Pacing: The field trip includes multiple parts:
    • Hiking on the paved, ADA accessible, ¼ mile Coldwater Lake Boardwalk trail. The hike along the boardwalk trail will be slow (~1 hours) and will include frequent stops to view and listen to birds.
    • Hiking on the 2.5 mile loop Hummocks trail The Hummocks loop trail takes ~ 2 – 3 hours. The Hummocks is a faster pace to cover more diverse habitat type and terrain.
    • Additional notes: The Hummocks Trail is a Washington State birding trail.

Sunsets and birds at Mt. St Helens!

What makes the landscape around Mount St. Helens a unique place for birdwatching? Learn about why birders and scientists flock to the landscape around Mount St. Helens for birding in a mosaic of diverse habitats and landforms created by the most active volcano in the Cascades.
Note: this class is a great introductory class for birding and not designed for advanced birders. We will take a holistic view on ecology, human history, and geology. We will interact with and discuss all of the landscape features that support habitat for birds.

Register!

Birding Day Details

  • Date: June 7, 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Class fee: $65 members / $85 non-members
  • Leader: Gina Roberti
  • Limited to 12 participants

Details

Date:
June 7
Time:
3:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Categories:
,

Venue

OR United States
Website:
https://birdallianceoregon.org/venue/3749/

Venue

OR United States
Website:
https://birdallianceoregon.org/venue/3749/

Organizer

Tara Lemezis
Email:
tlemezis@birdallianceoregon.org