Summering in Seattle area

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Hello folks,
I'm a retired longtime avid amateur photographer. Mainly I like wildlife and landscape photography, but NOT especially a birder, certainly not "bird-savvy".

I'm spending my summers in the Seattle area and wintering, normally, in AZ. I'll be in my present position, near Issaquah, thru October.

Would like to shoot some bald eagles (along with anything else that I can get in front of my lens). Have been reading some of your forum postings and it appears that up around Edmonds there is regular activity. I'm suspecting that right now is mostly the WRONG time of year for this but don't really know that.

Does anyone have any suggestions for places to get me out and shooting?

Thanks in advance for any guidance.

Harold Fritsche


Super Moderator
Staff member
Welcome to the forum and "birding". I think you will find that bald eagles are very abundant all over the PNW and you can get great shots throughout the area as long as you have patience and take the time to really look. Even though bald eagles appear as big as great danes sitting in trees, it is the art of knowing what trees to watch. They are fishers, so they love the ocean, the Puget Sound, rivers and lakes. They are opportunistic feeders as well so wildlife preserve areas with water features are some of the best "sure thing" photo spots.

I will leave the list of more northern photo locations to the boys up north, but here in the South Sound, you can almost be guaranteed sightings and perfect photo opportunities at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge just south of the Tacoma area. The eagles gather to hunt fish, return to nesting grounds and scavenge the bars and beaches of the refuge. There are a large number of birds that congregate and sometimes conflict with each other. If you choose to go, make sure to walk the boardwalk over the tide flats for the best show. You can also catch owls and a huge variety of other birds of prey and waterfowl. Well worth the trip.

Another spot that is almost guaranteed a sighting is the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge just north of Vancouver. It too has the river, marshes and constant food sources that draw the birds. This is another great spot for other birds of prey and waterfowl and never runs out of great photo opportunities. This refuge has a road so you travel within your mobile observation blind. The animals are used to the vehicles and will even sit and watch the cars pass as if they are posing for a shot.

Those are two of my favorite areas to go and get my aviary fix. That being said, I return to my previous statement... All throughout the PNW, these birds are present and thriving. I see nesting pairs just down the road from my house in Rochester, along all the rivers I visit, in the mountains, on the shores, beaches and harbors of our region and in the exquisite Columbia River Gorge. There is so much to see and enjoy here and if you have a little patience and keep your head up, you can find bald eagles everywhere.

Once again, welcome and show us your birds! (The ones that fly, not the ones on either hand... We are a family friendly forum here. lol)

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Our local bald eagles in Edmonds disappear from mid August through mid October. I usually figure on their return by Columbus Day. I don't know where they go for two months, but I suspect they fly north to one of the rivers where salmon are spawning. The usual spots are the banks of the Noosack, Stillaguamish, Skagit, and Samish rivers.

Please check out our bird fest here in Edmonds Sept. 5-7.

There will be three classes on bird photography, one of which is a class on digiscoping taught by our own Joe Meche.
Another welcome to the forum from one of "the boys up north." (I like that)
Don't know how far afield you might want to drive but the area from the Canadian border down to Larrabee State Park, south of Bellingham, hosts a number of eagles throughout the year.
Peak numbers will be here on the Nooksack River when the salmon return in the fall.
The Semiahmoo Spit has a number of snags that are often occupied, sometimes by this of the nearby nesting pair.



Super Moderator
Staff member
welcome to the forum! like you, i shoot mainly wildlife and landscapes, and since urban-area "wildlife" constitutes mostly birds, i tend to shoot those a lot. i've always had good luck at Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland, though this time of year the activity level is pretty low. i've gotten numerous shots of bald eagles there - they like to perch in one of the tall fir trees overlooking the bay, and i've gotten some nice flight shots of them coming and going. lots of other birds as well, at least in spring. July through September or so it's pretty quiet there - as it is everywhere, really - and then in fall the migrations start and things pick up a bit. i've also been watching an osprey nest up here in Everett and have had good luck there as well.


This should be a reply

Thanks one and all for the feedback. I am aware of the Nisqually NWR but haven't been there. Bill, I will probably attend the birding event in Sep. Joe... awesome shot of that eagle. I assume it's in the wild since you referenced him. How much crop? What lens/camera, etc?

I'm trying to attach some files. Not sure if it's working. If they show up, the first 4 were on the S bank of the Columbia on our way up the coast in June. The eagle was just a lucky shot as one lone eagle flew right over me during the hour or so I stood there. The Cedar Waxwing (I think that's what it is), I shot yesterday near Snoqualmie Falls.

Thx again for the help. I look forward to more time on the forum and perhaps meeting you guys eventually.



Super shots, Harold! I'm a Caspian Tern fan so your first pic grabbed me, and the Cedar Waxwing can't get much better.

As to "my" eagle, it's one of the birds at Semiahmoo. They seem to be well habituated to humans walking/biking/driving the spit and I walked right up to this one on a gray, hazy cropping. IIRC, 400 mm and a D80. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to