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  • Writer's pictureEdward Leonard

Ebey Waterfront Trail, Marysville 18 May 2024

Title: Chasing the Spirit of the Red-throated Phalaropes: A Journey along Ebey Waterfront Trail

In the heart of Marysville lies a hidden gem, a sanctuary for both nature enthusiasts and avian admirers alike - the Ebey Waterfront Trail. Tucked away from the bustling city life, this serene pathway offers a gateway to a world where time seems to slow down, and the whispers of the wind are accompanied by the melodious calls of migratory birds. Among these feathered travelers, one elusive species reigns supreme - the Red-throated Phalaropes.

Embarking on a crisp morning, the air tinged with the promise of adventure, I found myself drawn to the tranquil embrace of Ebey Waterfront Trail. As I stepped onto the trail, the scent of wildflowers mingled with the salty breeze from the nearby Puget Sound, invigorating my senses and fueling my anticipation.

The trail meanders through a diverse tapestry of ecosystems, from lush marshlands to windswept shores, each offering a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of the region. With every step, I felt a sense of reverence for the natural world, a humbling reminder of our interconnectedness with all living beings.

Guided by the gentle rhythm of the lapping waves, I followed the trail deeper into the heart of nature's embrace, my senses attuned to the slightest rustle in the underbrush. It wasn't long before I caught sight of a flash of crimson against the verdant backdrop - the unmistakable hue of a Red-throated Phalarope in flight.

Eagerly, I quickened my pace, drawn by the allure of these elusive birds. With each passing moment, I felt a deepening connection to the land and its inhabitants, a shared sense of wonder that transcended language and borders.

As I ventured further along the trail, I encountered a diverse array of bird species, each more enchanting than the last. From elegant herons wading gracefully in the shallows to whimsical sandpipers darting across the sand, each sighting filled me with a renewed sense of awe and gratitude.

Yet, it was the Red-throated Phalaropes that held a special place in my heart, their vibrant plumage and spirited antics capturing the essence of wilderness itself. With their distinctive calls echoing across the marshlands, they seemed to beckon me onwards, guiding me towards a deeper understanding of the natural world.

As the day drew to a close and the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a golden glow across the landscape, I found myself reflecting on the beauty and fragility of our planet. In the fleeting moments of twilight, I realized that our actions today shape the world of tomorrow, and it is our responsibility to cherish and protect the wonders that surround us.

With a sense of reverence and gratitude, I bid farewell to Ebey Waterfront Trail, knowing that its beauty would forever linger in my heart. And as I turned towards the horizon, my spirit soaring on the wings of the Red-throated Phalaropes, I vowed to carry the lessons of this journey with me wherever life may lead.


"Did you see the Whimbrel?" a white-haired woman in a puffy red jacket and Rain Boots beamed as she aproached. "There was a Whimbrel?" I replied with disapointment. "Oh yeah. I saw that then was able to see a Marbled Godwit when it landed by a number of Spotted Sandpipers." I felt deflated. This was not turning out to be the bird outing I had hoped.

This morning my initial target was to be the Pectoral Sandpiper, but there was no signs of the bird where it had been spotted the previous day (although someone else reported just after I had searched the location). After missing the Sandpiper, I used the ebird app to see what might be around that would be a first of year. Red-throated Phalaropes caught my eye and it was only a 12 minute drive from my current location.

The Ebey Waterfront Trail is a nice paved path that parallels the river and provides some views of the sewer treatment plant which attracts waterbirds. I had been here once before but it had been too cold to walk the entire trail. Today, it was a little on the cool side, but once I got walking I felt warm enough. The one downside of the walk was at the start I think there was someone smoking meth just off the trail. I walked quickly past without problem.

As I searched the sewage lagoon, a birder in a blue rain jacket approached asking about the Phalaropes. Each of us proceeded at our own pace from time to time catching up and admitting our lack of progress on spotting the Phalaropes. In spite of not seeing the Phalaropes, I was enjoying the stroll along the river. I was able to see a few first of years and firsts for Snohomish County like Yellow Warbler and Brown-headed Cowbird.

I had reached the end of the paved path without success and was on my way back when I ran into the woman with the red puffy coat. She had unintentionaly deflated the experience. As she was walking away I mentioned someone had spotted Red-throated Phalaropes yesterday. She sped smuggly down the path noting she hadn't seen or heard them. I walked more slowly still scanning for more first of year birds when I noticed a flock of small birds in the water. I focused my binnoculars on the birds. It was the Red-necked Phalaropes! I felt elated.

Luck favors those who are paying attention. Earlier, I had been focused on trying to see the Phalaropes and had missed some other birds. Similarly, the woman in the red puffy coat walked right by 5 Phalaropes circling in the distance.

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