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.