Remnant pilings often hold Double-crested or Pelagic cormorants, Ring-billed, Mew, Glaucous-winged, and hybrid gulls, or a kingfisher. A Willet was seen here regularly for two winters and a Snowy Egret perched on the pipe during its May 1996 visit. In summer, the piling-mounted nest boxes hold several Purple Martin pairs. The interpretive sign at East Bay Park features Barrow's Goldeneyes.
The shallow waters at the head of the bay frequently hold Horned Grebe, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, and goldeneyes (both Barrow's and Common). Greater Yellowlegs often use the shoreline. Dunlin appear in winter and other peeps during migration.
Walk or drive the straight shoreline for another viewpoint. An excellent vantage is unavailable in the construction zone (through spring 1999).
Continue to public parking at the north end of Swantown Marina, where rest rooms are available. A public dock offers the first good look north toward the broadening Budd Inlet, but the expanse can be seen better from the KGY radio station. Explore the marina for grebes, ducks, or an occasional Rhinoceros Auklet.
The radio tower at the tip of the "Port Peninsula" is the next stop. Spend some time here scanning with a scope (window-mounted works well). Almost any "typical" waterbird is possible here. Yellow-billed Loon, Eared Grebe, and Oldsquaw are infrequent treats. Bonaparte's Gull and Caspian Tern are regular seasonally and shorebirds use the mud flats. Walk toward the entrance of Genoa's and follow the path on the left down to a guest/public moorage that allows a westerly view.
The log yard and container storage zone are off limits, so reverse direction and head to the Farmer's Market. (Walkers can follow the line of trees beside the log yard to get away from cars and make a brief sparrow search.) The Farmer's Market is a great food stop, open 10-3, Thursday to Sunday, April to December. [Read the bricks next to the market's logo slab for a secret message.] Follow the broad, red walkway west to the Port's guest moorage for the best look at lower West Bay. Scan for grebes, sea ducks, and surprises.
Walkers should continue south along Percival Landing, a pleasant walk with few birds (although martins nest). Weave over to West Bay by walking the plank beside the Oyster House.
Drivers should follow Capitol Way south and turn right on one-way State Avenue. Stop at Bayview Thriftway or KFC (it takes a while to turn around after crossing the bridge). Brief parking at either establishment is okay, but long-term parking is discouraged unless you're buying. Both have dining areas, however, that overlook the water.
Walk across the bridge for a look into West Bay Lagoon, which can hold good numbers of Greater Scaup, Barrow's Goldeneye, and Great Blue Heron. Band-tailed Pigeons and kingfishers use the big-leaf maples along the shoreline, shorebirds roost on the cobbles, and Green Herons occasionally patrol the channels.
The dam at Fifth Avenue attracts salmon watchers and seal watchers, and it's a good place to see Pelagic Cormorants, Barrow's Goldeneyes, Great Blue Herons, Bonaparte's Gulls, and Belted Kingfishers, too. Walk to the dam operations building for a good look at freshwater Capitol Lake.
Drivers can head back east on 4th or 5th till I-5 signs appear, or take East Bay Drive a little further north to Priest Point Park. Walkers can retrace their footsteps or take Fourth or State avenues for a direct route back to East Bay.
(notes by Scott Richardson)