Do you consider yourself a bird expert? Maybe you’re a bird watcher? Interested in trying to spot different species of birds and keep track? Just enjoy looking at birds?
A couple of weeks ago during our quick weekend trip to Skagit Valley, Washington, we learned that in this season of life with our motley crew, we aren’t going to win any awards or even get past the point of just being lucky to encounter a bird.
Wanting to hike, but not wanting to travel far to a trailhead, we decided to take-on the Padilla Bay Shore Trail. The trail runs along the bay (part of the larger Salish Sea) and is just a half mile or so south from our rented cabin at Bayview State Park.
Quick Points about the Trail
- Multi-use (pedestrians, bicyclists, even hunters) 2.25 mile dike-top trail equipped with frequent mile markers to track your progress
- Combines views of the water and San Juan Islands juxtaposed with busy farms (we watched red potatoes being harvested) all the while being watched in the distance by Mount Baker and the Cascades
- Easy, flat trail making it perfect for young hikers (and those carrying young hikers).
Just as we started our hike, we passed a fellow trailmate who asked us if we were out looking for birds. Really that wasn’t our original intention, instead we were just out to enjoy the surroundings and get some exercise, but did we somehow look the part of a bird watcher?
Okay, maybe one of us did have binoculars around our neck, but we never really thought to put ourselves in the “bird watcher” category. Even so, since she brought it up and we realized we were in one of the most popular spots for birding in the state, we thought we’d play the role and give our best effort to see as many winged friends as we could.
We figured we were doing pretty well when we encountered a great blue heron hanging out just on the edge of the adjacent farmland.
Later on about halfway down the trail where it skirts to the east, we watched several hawks fly over head, but not really sticking around long enough for us to get any good observations of color or markings. Of course we also saw the usual suspects: tons of seagulls and plenty of ducks, and after that first heron sighting, we saw several more…or who knows maybe it was the same one!
After a while though, I came to the conclusion that while we may be blessed with seeing some birds here and there, especially popular ones, we aren’t really in a place to be expert observers.
Why not? Well, for starters our pooch, Norman isn’t exactly welcoming the flyers to flock toward us. I’m thinking he’s more of deterrent and scaring the birds away even if we do come in contact with them. And then there’s this toddler we’ve got hanging by our side. He’s noisy and makes sudden movements. Probably not behavior tips you’d find in the bird watcher’s handbook.
We’re not going to give up though. For now, we’ll stick with being “wanna-be bird watchers” and just be happy with what comes our way. Maybe when Bergen (now 2 years old) is a little older and better able to stay quiet for a period of time and have more controlled movements we’ll step up our game and become a little more serious. Does this actually happen?
More Info to Know:
- The Padilla Bay Shore Trail is located in Bayview, Washington. Parking is available at the North (lot on 2nd Street) and South end of the trail with porta-potties at each location. Directions here.
- Very stroller friendly
- Access is FREE.
- Trail is multi-use: bicyclists, pedestrians, and even hunters (October-January).
What’s your level of bird watching expertise & interest? We’d love to know!
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