My friend Seth dropped by a weekend or two ago, back from some amazing adventures in Nepal. We had a bit of time, so we checked out the Skagit Wildlife Recreation Area, which is becoming a favorite local jaunt of mine.
The recreation area is off the Conway exit, and is referred to also as the Wiley Slough. There are some dike trails which are a few feet above the Skagit drainage. This is an estuary area, where fresh water meets salt water. Estuary areas are rich in wildlife, as an edge ecological zone, and therefore make for great fun for traipsing around.
We took the trail to the end, and came upon a local conservationist who lives on Fir Island, and who had all sorts of great information about the migratory birds and what they like to eat. He also pointed out that we might be able to seals if we hiked out to the point, which was basically along the river and through mudflats.
Seth had brought the family dog--who's name is momentarily escaping me, apologies, Seth-- who was thrilled to jump around through the mudflats. Right now, the cattails are at full height, which made our little trek through the flats that much more of an adventure.
I don't mean to make this more than it sounds--we were only out for a couple hours. What I like about this place is you can see so much cool ecology in such a short time. It's not really a runner's destination, though I suppose loops could be done. It is more of a naturalist's exploration and delight. Hunters like it too, for birds. Such is the nature of shared conservation spaces.
We ended up seeing all sorts of birds--herons, eagles, warblers, gulls-- and we made it out to a point, across from Camano Island and Whidbey Island. We weren't so fortunate to make the full point and see the seals, but there's always next time. This site is particularly favored in the winter, when there are more migratory birds in the area. Seeing the area in summer, with berries, cattails, and different birds makes for a wonderful contrast.
Some day I'm going to carry a chair out here and just sit for half a day, taking note.