The inviting pathway above is at the entrance to the trails at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, where we went two Saturdays ago, on my birthday. It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for exploring this little natural gem, which I have driven past many times on my way to and from meetings and events in Olympia, which is only about ten miles further south.
The wildlife refuge is especially known for the wide array of birds that live or pass through it, so Mr. D brought the binoculars and I brought my camera's long lens. We were not disappointed.
Not long after starting our walk, we encountered this male Downy Woodpecker. I have never been able to get a good clear photo of one of these intriguing birds before.
The trail initially followed the Nisqually River, and we spotted these Hooded Mergansers swimming purposefully through the water. I love how my photo captured both the still and broken up tree reflections.
Eventually, we reached the estuary, where the Nisqually River and another waterway meet and intermingle with Puget Sound. It is such a beautiful vista! In the photo below you can see a bit of Mount Rainier on the horizon.
The trail continues on a long earthen dike, that eventually leads to an even longer boardwalk. While still on the dike, we came upon a Great Blue Heron.
By the time we reached the boardwalk, the tide was beginning to recede, and we encountered this shore bird (either a Dunlin or a Dowitcher), looking at its reflection in the sand.
A little further on, we observed these Green-winged Teals nibbling something tasty.
We even saw an eagle, but he was too far away, and flying much to fast, to get into a photo. When we returned to the Visitor Center, I was able to get a photo of this flock of geese, heading north.
As you can tell, we had a magical morning, and it was a perfect way to start the next year of my life. Happy Birthday to me!