If you missed the southbound whale run in January, one of the best months in the year for whale watching, get ready for March and April. That's when up to 18,000 of the world's largest mammals begin their annual parade up the coast to their Arctic home waters.

Brookings, on the south Coast, has two prime viewing locations, Harris Beach State Park, just north of town, and Cape Ferrelo Overlook, about four miles further on.

About 450 volunteers from the "Whale Watching Spoken Here" program are setting up at Brookings and 26 other locations along the Oregon Coast, ready to help visitors turn the sight of these amazing gray whales into a rewarding educational experience.

If you happen to miss the volunteers, all you really need is a pair of binoculars because, in the spring, all the whales are closer to shore than they are in the winter, and they'll frequently pause to eat in the offshore kelp beds. If you're lucky, you may get a chance to see mothers and calves resting in protected coves.

Contact the Oregon Parks and Recreation Whale Watching Center for information at 541-765-3407 or www.whalespoken.org. The Brookings Chamber of Commerce can help with visitor information, www.brookingsor.com.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.