To locate the restoration sites and/or to find at least one of the birds on the provided list. Check off any of the birds you see around Lake Louise, or along the trail. You can send us a photo of a bird or your bird sighting checklist. OR look for the new plants planted in the restoration sites and take a photo of the new plants and send it to us!.
Hint: A pair of binoculars will be helpful for this mission!
Grass Lake Reserve is a favorite for migratory birds. The reserve’s natural habitat supports over 100 bird species. The reserve is also undergoing restoration where invasive plants have been removed and native plants are being restored.
Grass Lake Park is the headwaters for Green Cove Creek, a naturally flowing beautiful salmon stream that flows north into Eld Inlet. In the 1980’s, a citizen’s group, The Friends of Grass Lake, promoted the idea of preserving the park to protect its valuable habitat and to provide a recreation opportunity in Olympia’s ever expanding urban area.
To learn more, visit https://capitollandtrust.org/conserved-lands/conservation-areas/green-cove-creek-wetlands/ or https://olympiawa.gov/city-services/parks/parks-and-trails/grass-lake-nature-park.aspx.
PLEASE NOTE: In order to protect wildlife habitat, pets are not allowed in Grass Lake Park.
Welcome to Grass Lake Park
From the parking area, walk east through the opening in the cyclone fence, across the grass, and past two large trees.
Look for an area on your left undergoing native plant restoration. Volunteers have helped plant 100’s of native plants, including Oregon grape with its sharp leaves and young Douglas fir trees. Prior to restoration, the area was covered in invasive garden comfrey and Himalayan blackberries.
Did you know? The fenced-in area way over to your right is one of the City of Olympia’s wellheads, supplementing the drinking water provided by McAllister Springs and other wells in the area.
Learn more about Oregon grape (Mahonia): http://www.pnwplants.wsu.edu/PlantDisplay.aspx?PlantID=299
Learn more about Douglas fir http://www.pnwplants.wsu.edu/PlantDisplay.aspx?PlantID=313:
Lake Louise First Viewing Point
When you come to the first trail sign, take the small overgrown side trail to your left, which will lead you to the shore of Lake Louise. You will have to “part the sword ferns” on your way down this narrow trail. Along the way, see if you can find the wood duck box installed on one of the trees. Notice the size and shape of the hole. Did you see any of the brightly colored male wood ducks today?
The water level in the lake changes throughout the year, so the shoreline is often muddy. Get as close as you can to observe the lake and look for any swimming water fowl or birds perched in trees. The provided list shows the most common birds you may see and where you might see them.
FACT! Wood ducks differ from other water fowl as they live in wooded swamp areas, near streams and forests near beaver ponds and nest in the trees. Learn more by visiting https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Wood_Duck/id.
Second Viewing Point
If you would like to check out another lake view and restoration site, return to the first trail sign and walk down the gravel path to the second trail sign.
Turn 90 degrees to your left and follow the dirt trail as it passes through another native plant restoration site back down to the lake. The trees at this site have wire cages around them.
What is the purpose of the cages? To keep the deer from eating them!
Return to the second trail sign and begin your forest loop walk by starting down the trail on the right. This trail will take approximately 30 minutes. Along the way, there will be several small side trails coming in from the right. Avoid these as some lead to nearby neighborhoods. When you complete the loop, take the gravel path back to the parking area.
Along this trail, you will see many Douglas fir trees, the cones of which provide seeds for small mammals and birds. The cones are distinctive with their many “bracts” hanging out of the scales.
Salal, a low-growing shrub that provides berries for birds and other wildlife, is also abundant. You can learn about this and other native plants by visiting http://nativeplantspnw.com/salal-gaultheria-shallon/
You have completed your mission to locate the restoration sites and to find at least one of the birds on the provided list. Now it’s time to send us a photo of a bird, your bird sighting checklist or a photo of the new plants being restored.