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Article published Oct 11, 2012
Audubon Society report notes Kah Tai bird diversity
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park is a prime location for observing a variety of birds in a rich natural habitat, according to an Audubon Society report prepared over a two-year period.

“The number of species recorded for this area reflects its diversity of habitats,” the report said.

“It is an urban refuge for birds, both resident and migratory.”

The report was released in July but had not been widely distributed, according to Rick Jahnke of Port Townsend, who had lobbied against building a proposed aquatic center in the park because he felt it would disrupt the bird habitat.

Jahnke has been presenting the report to elected officials, visiting the Jefferson County commissioners this week after making a similar presentation to port officials and the Port Townsend City Council.

“All these elected bodies had a hand in creating the park, and I wanted to let them know that their efforts have allowed us to move to this level,” Jahnke said.

“In a lot of cases, they never get any feedback or credit for their efforts.”

The report said that between October 2009 and October 2011, four observers counted 98 different bird species in the 78-acre park that is located along East Sims Way, the busy thoroughfare that is the main access point to downtown Port Townsend.

The traffic doesn't discourage the birds, who can be observed in the wooded area of the park or on the 35 acres of open water situated in its center.

Of the 98 species, 62 were associated with land and 36 with water, and those observed represented 35 of the 47 bird families that are found in and around Puget Sound, the report said.

This compares with a 1978 survey that counted 51 species but singled out Kah Tai as a prime space to observe associated species that could be developed for that purpose.

This was prior to the creation of the park in 1981 as a result of a grant from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, creating the park through donation, land transfer, and purchase,

The grant was cosponsored by the city of Port Townsend and the Port of Port Townsend, with the port taking over ownership of the property.

A proposal to build an aquatic center on the edge of the park was abandoned in Oct. 2011 after the National Parks System ruled that the land could not be developed because it was purchased with grant money.

The park is now the subject of a land swap between the city of Port Townsend and the Port of Port Townsend, with the city expected to take over park maintenance once the agreement is completed.

The survey was conducted with a coordinated observation from six different points around the lagoon.

The 52 observations were scheduled at two-week intervals but only one was not successfully completed due to fog.

The completed report lists all of the species, noting the time of year they visited the park and rating each one as common, uncommon or rare.

Ten species were listed as rare in the report.

The report charted species, plotting the number of birds spotted over the two-year period.

“It's of great interest to birders to know when specific birds migrate through the park,” Jahnke said.

“This is important information because if you want to see a bird, you know when it will be at the park rather than just go out there by chance.”

Jahnke said that birders have a “life list” of birds they want to observe in the wild, and check off each bird as that goal is achieved.

Visits to Kah Tai can help to narrow down that list, he said.

The report is available on line at

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

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