Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge - New Boardwalk Opening Day

I've been wanting to visit the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge for a long time now, but never made the time.  Now we live just 10 minutes away, and we finally stopped by.  While I was there, I bought an annual pass because I knew we would be coming back often.  I figured I would bring the kids at least once a month just so we could observe the changes in the seasons. Sam and I also decided that the refuge would make a great location for Saturday morning walks.

During one of our recent visits, we found out that they were opening a new boardwalk on February 1st (today).  I knew we wouldn't be able to attend the opening, which was at noon; there was just no way I was going to get Josh to walk a minimum of 2 miles, nor could I carry Madelynn that far.  And that only covered walking to the beginning of the boardwalk and back, let alone walking the boardwalk, too, which would add another 2 miles round trip.

So, Scott worked his schedule so that he could be home early enough that Sam and I could go a bit later in the afternoon.  I didn't tell Sam until it was time to leave.  He agreed that it was a good surprise, though.  We had a nice walk together and had a few lucky sightings.

I took this picture as we walked along the dike towards the boardwalk.  It's quite dead now in the middle of winter.  I can't wait to see how the area changes as spring comes.  The arrow points to our destination, the end of the boardwalk.  Once we reached that point, we'd be half down with our walk...time to turn around and come back.  (Click on the photos to bring up a larger version.)

I took this picture from the dike as well.  I'm pretty sure it's a hawk, but we were so far away it was difficult to tell for sure.  (Sorry for the poor photo quality; my camera is just a cheap little point and click.)

This photo was taken from the beginning of the boardwalk.  It wanders out across the estuary.  It was near high tide, which means the water was a whopping foot to foot and half deep under the boardwalk.

I know you can't really see anything in this photo, but the white speck is a great egret, which is not common in this area.  A refuge volunteer told us that the last time a great egret was seen at the refuge was seven years ago.  This one is wintering here and will be gone in March.  If you look just a big to the left, you'll see a grayish speck which is a great blue heron.

This photo was taken to the left front side of the end of the boardwalk.  To the right front, you can make out the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

This is looking east from the end of the boardwalk.  Rainier looks so small from here.

Look close.  A bit to the right of center is a great blue heron.  He looked to be headless because he had his head tucked down while he slept.  To the right a bit was another line of land covered in ducks.

We found out that not all of the ducks out on the water are mallard ducks.  This one is a northern shoveler.  We saw American widgeons the last time we visited.  There was another bird on the water today, but I don't know what it was.  I overheard someone say cormorant, but I haven't been able to verify that and they didn't look as big as the ones I'm finding online.

Almost all the way back to the visitor center, we spotted a juvenile bald eagle at the top of this tree.  We were pretty sure it was a bald eagle and were able to verify it by viewing it through a telescope mounted at the visitor's center.

We also saw definite beaver activity.  They've got a good chunk of these trees gnawed through.

Finally, there's the ubiquitous Canadian geese.  There's hundreds of them here.

Like I said, it was a nice walk with lots to see.  We can't wait to see what spring brings to the refuge!

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Suswan said...

Ubiquitous! My favorite word! :-P
Looks like it was a beautiful day.