Here’s an amazing winter travel destination to check out. Annually thousands of snow geese migrate and settle for the winter. The area known as Fir Island, in Skagit County Washington is a short hour and a half north of Seattle. The exit from I-5, is Conway, a quaint small village to visit as well. Cross the bridge over the Skagit River and you’ll be in the flat, rural farmlands known as Fir Island.
Even though Fir Island is small and agriculture in nature, many people travel through the months of November – March for the incredible natural beauty of the many birds found there. There are bird watchers, photographers, nature lovers, and hunters as well.
Fir Island is home to a 225 acre snow goose reserve. On this reserve is plenty of parking spaces, open fields with a beautiful view of Mount Baker to the north, and the dike to walk along the Skagit Bay estuary. There are many varieties of shorebirds, songbirds, and birds of prey to be found there.
Snow geese are a major attraction at Fir Island. They migrate from Wrangel Island in Russia, in numbers ranging from 30,000 to 70,000+. This population and one that winters in California, are the only snow geese that migrate between Eurasia and North America. The sound of the flock of snow geese can be heard from ½ to a mile away or more, depending on the size of the flock. The photo of this image was a flock several thousand in number, you can see as the back part of the flock begins flying, they are so thick in numbers, you can’t even see sky through them. To experience the magnitude of their numbers, and hear the noise is an amazing experience!
Found also at Fir Island, but in smaller numbers are Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) and Tundra (Cygnus columbianus) Swans. Trumpeter swans are quite large and have black bills and faces. Tundras are smaller and also have some black on their bills, but not as large of an area, as the trumpeters . Both swan types’ immature birds are more gray or dappled in color.
On Fir Island there are also in abundance the following:
When looking at the birds, if you stay in your car, they are less likely to be scared off. If you park a car along the roads, be mindful of traffic. Have respect for property, and heed no trespassing signs. Use binoculars, spotting scopes, and telephoto lenses to get a closer look, be careful to move slowly and quietly if you do get out of the vehicle.
Other nearby places of interest to visit for the day is Padilla Bay which is an estuary at the saltwater edge of the large delta of the Skagit River in the Salish Sea. It’s only about a 20 minute drive from FirIsland. Many of these same birds and other sea creatures may be found.
From Fir Island, go up the road over Pleasant Ridge, and drop into the beautiful, small village of LaConner for many options of great restaurants and shopping, along the LaConner channel. Warm up after trekking through fields and beaches enjoying the fresh air, beautiful country, and nature, the Pacific Northwest has so many gorgeous places to visit.
You might enjoy my post – Travel Saving Advice also.
Until next time,
Here’s a good book you might like. Click on image for more info