Kennedy Creek Estuary

by Dave Kaynor
Kennedy Creek Estuary, located in the southwest corner of Puget Sound, about half way between Olympia and Shelton (Delorme, page 61, 8-D), is a major shorebird migration stopover and wintering ground.

There are two good viewing areas at the estuary. The first is located at the intersection of State Route 101 and the Old Olympic Highway at mile post 356. This spot offers a high overview of the estuary – goodfor scoping. Asmall path leads down to a level area that allows a closer look at the mud flats. Please stay on the path.

To access the second viewing area, follow Old Olympic Highway for about 100yards. On the left is a wide spot for parking, with a trail! seldom-used-road down to an open area next to the flats. Scoping through the perimeter trees can be better for viewing the waterfowl that frequent the estuary during migration and the winter months. This location also provides the best view of the two small mud islands that during the winter high tide are covered with stranded shorebirds.

Through fall migration you can expect to find Western and Least SanadndpSiepmerisp,alDmuanteldin, PBlolavcekrs-b, elKliieldl- I and B4-l6a0ck0-, – 3-5,000 deer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Red Knots, Short billed Dowitchers and some black speckled shore birds commonly known as “sky rats.”

Kennedy Creek Estuary can be very goodfor waterfowl. Seen there are Greater White-fronted and Canada Geese, Green-winged Teals, Mallards, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Greater and Lesser Scaups, White-winged and Surf Scoters, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Buffleheads and both Goldeneyes. Domestic geese also show up. And keep an eye open for river otters.

During the winter the estuary loses much of its variety but makes up for it in sheer numbers ofDunlin and Black-bellied Plovers — 3,000 to 5,000, and 4,000 to 6,000 respectively. This wonderful birding spot, unfortunately, is also a favorite dumping ground for some of the less environmentally conscious locals. Anyone interested in helping clean up the area should contact me (206-427-5264) and I’ll help organize the event.