A site for seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and more in northwestern Washington.
By Anne Murray | Published: 6/18/2017
Situated on the exposed southwest tip of Point Roberts, Lighthouse Marine Park has an abundance of birds (but no lighthouse!). The ocean drops to 400 feet deep offshore, and the mingling of salt water with fresh water from the nearby Fraser River makes it an excellent feeding area for waterbirds.
I love visiting in September, when migrating terns and Bonaparte’s Gulls are diving for fish and there’s a chance of seeing them harassed by a Parasitic Jaeger. In winter my fingers turn icy as I scan the pounding surf for Long-tailed Ducks and search for Black Turnstones camouflaged among the wet pebbles of the beach. The dozens of scoters, mergansers, loons, cormorants, and grebes bobbing in the waves test my identification skills to the maximum.
Spring brings skeins of Brant headed for the Arctic, flocks of Pacific Loons, and the first swallows, while calm days in June are great for spotting Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots. When I tire of looking out to sea, I stroll among the shore pines, wild roses, and bramble patches, finding White-crowned Sparrows and Bushtits, warblers, and hummingbirds, and always looking for some exciting wind-blown rarity. — Anne Murray
Anne Murray is the author of A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past: A Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay (Nature Guides B.C.). She wrote about geolocators in the article The golden age of tracking and also about Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Delta, British Columbia, Hotspot Near You No. 132; Drayton Harbor, Blaine, Washington, No. 149; and the Boundary Bay Dykes, Delta and Surrey, British Columbia, No. 173.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Tidal shoreline, grassland, shore pines, blackberry clumps, wild roses, and fresh water slough with shrubby areas.
Flat. Wide shoreline gravel/sand trail and narrow winding trails through the bushes and picnic area. Paved driveway to car park and boat ramp wheelchair-accessible. Adjacent campground has paved access and level trails.
Summer: California Gull, Caspian Tern, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, Rufous Hummingbird, warblers, Savannah Sparrow. Spring and fall: Pacific Loon, Bonaparte’s and Heermann’s Gulls, Common Tern, Parasitic Jaeger, American Pipit. Winter: Brant, Snow Goose, Harlequin Duck, Surf, White-winged, and Black Scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated and Common Loons, Horned and Western Grebes, Brandt’s Cormorant, Black Turnstone, Sanderling, Mew Gull, Common Murre, Fox and Golden-crowned Sparrows. Year-round: cormorants, Bald Eagle, Black Oystercatcher, Glaucous-winged Gull, Belted Kingfisher, Northwestern Crow, Bushtit, Bewick’s Wren.
When to go
Year-round. Go early in the morning.
Picnic tables, restrooms, whale-identification sign, boat launch, campsites (April to October), shelters. Park is a good place for spotting orcas and other marine mammals in summer.
County park. No fees for day use or parking; open sunrise to sunset.
A scope is useful for offshore birds and marine mammals. Dress warmly for winter weather as the shoreline is exposed to the wind.
For more info
Lighthouse Marine Park, (360) 945-4911.
Lily Point Marine Park
On the southeast corner of the Point Roberts peninsula. Steep cliffs overlook Boundary Bay. 1.4 miles of shoreline. Excellent for ocean and woodland birds and migrants.
Beach at Point Roberts Marina
East of the marina off Simundson Dr. A short gravel trail leads to a beach and breakwater. Winter: Harlequin Duck, Snow Bunting, and Western Meadowlark. Rarities such as Rock Wren have turned up here.