I read about the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge and saw that it was not too far from me and so… I planned a morning birding exploration trip with my birding buddy, Elizabeth. Let me start by sharing what the official website says about the refuge,
A Protected Estuary
The Nisqually River Delta, a biologically rich and diverse area at the southern end of Puget Sound, supports a variety of habitats. Â Here, the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus. Â These nutrients support a web of sea life – the benefits of which extend throughout Puget Sound and beyond.
While most major estuaries in the state have been filled, dredged, or developed, Nisqually River’s has been set aside for wildlife. Â In 1974, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the delta and its diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. Â The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. Â This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound.
We woke up early to get there right before the gates open at sunrise. I even made a birding soundtrack CD to get us in the mood! =) I think our favorite track for the day was “I like birds” by The Eels. We kept hitting repeat on it and bounced to the Starbucks, then all the way to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. I don’t know what we expected but whatever it was, we were pleasantly surprised with an even better experience than we could have imagined. While the ranger was a bit late opening the gates, which to excited birders… feels like an eternity, right in the gate we saw a bunch of birds. A flock of tree swallows, some crows, a chickadee. As soon as we parked, right above us a juvenile Bald Eagle soared above us and landed on a tree.
Oh, yes, this was going to be a good day.
Our plan was to go early, leave early. We did go in early and left shortly after 11. We birded for around 5 1/2 hours straight. Fun. My only regrets… I did not think to bring bug repellant. And I am still itchy! There were birds galore. Bullfrogs croaking so loud. Bunnies. Mice. Interesting insects (banded alder borer or the Rosalia funebris). And an abundance of lovely scenery. The following are some photos I was able to take. I took hundreds but I was so excited or shaky and most of the photographs turned out blurry or just a second after the bird flew away. Oh well! You get what you get…
To add to my life list (of birds) I saw:
- Pacific-slope Flycatcher
- Warbling Vireo
- Tree Swallow
- Barn Swallow
- Violet-Green Swallow
- Common Yellowthroat
- Wilson’s Warbler
- Yellow-Rumped Warbler
- Yellow Warbler
- Juvenile Bald Eagle
I saw many other birds but I either had already seen them before or I could not positively identify them. =)