I really hadn’t expected to do another post on my WA visit this time. My original plans were to head back to Seattle, do some shopping, and hit the hotel for an early night. But I did a little shopping and realized I was bored with that, so I headed over to Des Moines (yes, there’s one in WA too) and to the marina and city park there. This little park is about 20 minutes, if that, from SeaTac and while it’s been absolutely packed on every weekend day I’ve ever gone, on a Tuesday afternoon? It was pretty mellow.
They call it Des Moines Beach Park but don’t let them fool you, there’s really not much of a beach there. But there is a nice fishing pier plus a mostly flat paved trail that runs alongside Des Moines Creek. I’ve been here a few times and mostly concentrated on the water type birds I could see plus what terrestrial birds were visible from the benches on the water overlook, but that was a mistake. This time, since I was already in a lot that required pay parking ($1 an hour) and had a decent spot and nowhere else I needed to be, I decided to wander a bit.
The park has a number of event buildings with additional parking surrounding them, so if there’s no visible spots in the first parking area you can see from the ticket machine, keep going down the road. There’s also usually parking at the marina too, but I didn’t check the prices on that area. First I wandered the waterside area, and then I walked the trail upstream: not too far, a little ways past the overpass, and then I headed back via the park road out to the marina and then walked out the fishing pier.
In less than 2 hours of ambling around, I saw 26 species plus probably a couple more I didn’t identify.
American crow, surf scoter, bald eagle, Barrow’s goldeneye, herring gull, American wigeon, harlequin ducks, mallard, great blue heron, European starling, chestnut-backed chickadee, ruby-crowned kinglet, Anna’s hummingbird, black-capped chickadee, pacific wren, dark-eyed junco, American robin, house finch, golden-crowned kinglet, northern flicker, Bewick’s wren, spotted towhee, glaucous-winged gull, double-crested cormorant, pigeon guillemot, western grebe
[edit to OP: make that 27 by adding the golden-crowned sparrows I saw. I would have sworn they were in the log but I guess I wasn’t fully awake while transcribing my list. I’m also pretty sure I saw some bushtits: I’ve been reviewing all the little guys and cannot figure out what else would be that drab overall.]
Not too shabby for an unexpected walk! Just be sure to look at the hillsides surrounding the trail and the road down to the buildings: a fair number of those terrestrial birds (plus the heron which was perched in a tree and the mallards who seem to have colonized that section of the creek) were visible from about a 20 foot long section of the road alongside the buildings.
You also might have noticed that most of my lists are largely devoid of gulls. This is because of the many species that leave me clueless to distinguish them, gulls are near the top of the list. I’m pretty good with glaucous-winged and Heermann’s and ring-billed, but not so much with the others when you have to see the feet and the wingtips and and and… So I included one photo of a bunch of gulls and some crows in the set below. If you spot anything that isn’t a glaucous or a herring, feel free to speak up.
Oh, and I also watched a couple of harbor seals who were hanging out at the surface of the water and just watching the world go by. You and me little buddies, that’s a great way to spend some time.