Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

After a very long drive I arrived here at 7am to a nearly empty parking lot. I didn’t recognize much until I was well into my 7 hour walk. There are open and stocked pit toilets at the trailhead, but bring your own sanitizer.

The trails are wide and mostly gravelled. Birdsong, quite literally, fills the air with every step. Something for everyone here. I checked e-bird before I left and the bird list was long and wide. While I saw just a fraction of what is here at the refuge I had the best walk. There are a few miles of trail, and I managed to spend all seven hours here in diverse, new-to-me places.

The first couple of hours were spent in solitude. I never really know how much I need that until I become mindfully aware of the company I am keeping. Birds, birds and more birds. The last couple hours were a mix of birdsong and conversation. I love seeing birders and photographers on the trail. I met two women on my walk that I hope to run into again.

While the black-throated gray warbler evaded me this trip, I did add another bird to my growing life list: a Western Kingbird. All in all, a big thumbs-up to this newly reopened refuge. Worth the drive. On my way home I stopped at Nisqually for a leg stretch and discovered a new sparrow nest along the boardwalk. Nothing much better than two tiny mouths and an attentive Mama.

A Wood Peewee
Western Kingbird
Bullocks Oriole
Lazuli Bunting
House Finch
Killdeer, displaying
Purple Martin
Lincoln Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow babies
Song Sparrow

18 Comments on “Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge

  1. What a great variety of birds you saw!! I will have to check that place out!

    • It’s a drive, but the refuge is huge and spread out. I suspect it will get better and better for wildlife since the bulk of the restoration project is finished. Worth a trip!

  2. So many different colours! I can hardly believe the variety. Well done. Those turtles seem so haughty with their chins in the air. The kildeer displaying is a great catch, and how much fun it must have been to find the nest.

    • Yes, Crystal, that refuge is so expansive and diverse. I was so happy to get there. I had only been once before it shut down for the restoration. My friend Nancy sent me a cool article about the how and why of it all. Fascinating. A wonderful stop !

  3. Beautiful as always and 7 hours? I am more than impressed.

  4. I met you at Steigerwald yesterday. I’d love a label of the bird we were both shooting. (Agree with Nancy Friedland that labels of the all the birds would be fabulous!) You caught some amazing birds. Many I’d never seen before. Hope our shooting paths cross again.

      • Thanks, Mare. It was an amazing day and I’m already plotting how I can get back! My last two days have been great!

    • Yes, Suzanne, so happy to have run into you! I know that you discovered that elusive bird already, but for the others I went back and named them all. Thanks for writing! Hope to see you again.

    • Oh, yes. It was wonderful! That refuge just re-opened and it’s huge. It was quite serene early morning, just me and all those birds!

    • Ha! Thanks, Gretchen. Turtles are the laziest creatures and I love that they don’t aspire to anything more than just that! The colors in the wing world yesterday were amazing!

  5. Amazing!! Stupendous! So many beautiful birds, we are oohing and aahhhing. If you have a chance would you label them? Please? And 7 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are indomitable.

    • Is indomitable anything like intrepidity? 🙃 So grateful for your bird instinct and curiosity. And yes, I went back and captioned them all!

      • Thank you! I hope they wait around until I can get over there. That oriole! And lazuli bunting! And purple martin! And. Ok, all of them.

    • Also, 7 hours is why I mostly go birding alone. Not many of us hardy spirits! You really have to love birds, and well … me, to hang out that long 🤣!

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