This site north of Seattle is great for ducks, shorebirds, owls, eagles, and other birds.
By Michael McAuliffe | Published: 12/22/2016
I visit this stop on Audubon’s Great Washington State Birding Trail year-round, and I especially enjoy the waterfront in the fall and winter, when diving ducks and grebes return from their summer vacations. From the easily accessible paved pathway, beaches, fishing pier, and jetty, I snap close-up photos of goldeneyes, guillemots, Brant, and scoters bobbing on the chilly Puget Sound waters. The snow-capped Olympic Mountains provide a majestic backdrop. There are surprises, too: Twice I have spotted Snowy Owls on the marina breakwater, and I’ve seen Surfbirds and a Brown Pelican from the pier.
Just east of the waterfront is one of the few remaining urban saltwater marshes on Puget Sound. Year-round, a large assortment of sparrows, wrens, warblers, and woodpeckers inhabit the trees and other flora that line the marsh’s perimeter. The muddy marsh also attracts migrant shorebirds in spring and fall. Favorite moments include watching 15 Great Blue Herons take flight in unison after being flushed from tall grass by a circling Bald Eagle, observing a Merlin streak back and forth across the marsh on a summer evening, and being granted 30 minutes to photograph a shy Northern Shrike on a cold gray February afternoon. — Michael McAuliffe
Michael McAuliffe is a writer and nature photographer from Edmonds. He birds the marsh and waterfront year-round.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Marine habitat on waterfront and a mixed saltwater and freshwater marsh.
Along waterfront, over a mile of flat, paved pathways that connect three beaches, a fishing pier, and jetty. At marsh, a paved pathway and wooden boardwalk and viewing platforms.
More than 250 species. Waterfront: Year-round: Belted Kingfisher, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet. Summer: Caspian Tern, Osprey. Fall/winter: Brant, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Dunlin, Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Surf Scoter. Marsh: Year-round: Anna’s Hummingbird, Bald Eagle, Bewick’s Wren, Northern Flicker, Wilson’s Snipe, Yellow-rumped Warbler. Spring/fall: Least and Western Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs.
When to go
Waterfront best in fall and winter. Marsh good year-round; spring and summer for shorebirds.
Restrooms, restaurants, and coffee shops on waterfront and within walking distance. Puget Sound Bird Fest held each fall in Edmonds; slated for September 15-17, 2017.
City-owned parks, beaches, fishing pier, and jetty. Easy access at all hours with free parking at both marsh and waterfront. Local bus routes 116, 130, 196, and 416 stop at nearby Edmonds Station. Edmonds-Kingston Ferry terminal located just north of waterfront.
Scope helpful for viewing birds on Puget Sound and at marsh. In winter, warm clothes are a must when wind blows in from water.
For more info
Union Bay Natural Area, Hotspot Near You No. 8
On the shores of Lake Washington, 15 miles southeast of Edmonds. Features diverse habitat and birds.
Skagit Wildlife Area
About 45 miles north of Edmonds. A great winter spot for Snow Goose, swans, Short-eared Owl, Northern Harrier, and Bald Eagle.