You Just Never Know


This week’s photo, taken June 17, 2015 from the pier in Edmonds, WA, features the first HORNED PUFFIN ever reported from that area.

During the past nine months, I’ve spent a lot of time bird-watching from the fishing pier in Edmonds. I’m attracted to that spot for many reasons. The local people are friendly, the views are spectacular, it’s a terrific outdoor classroom for studying sea birds, the bird photography opportunities are excellent, and there are clean restrooms at the nearby ferry terminal. In addition to all that, you just never know what might fly by the pier.

Birdwise, June is one of the slowest months of the year. Nevertheless, this past month I made 10 trips to the pier, each time putting in 3 hours of avian observation. Heck, you just never know what might show up.

Tufted Puffin is high on my dream list of rare birds I hope to see someday from the pier. Two weeks ago, I was there scanning the vastness of the Puget Sound, when I noticed something “different” approaching from the north. The unidentified bird was flying very fast. With my binoculars, I couldn’t tell what it was because it was so far away. Instead of examining it through my spotting scope, I aimed my long camera lens at it and took several photos as it sped by.

Not until I looked at my images a few hours later on my computer, did I realize that it was a puffin! Amazingly, it was not a Tufted Puffin, the expected puffin in our state. It was a HORNED PUFFIN, a species that’s usually found in Alaska, rarely seen in British Columbia, and hardly ever spotted in Washington waters.

July is historically another slow month for viewing birds from the pier, yet I plan to make the 20-minute drive from our house as often as I can. After all, you just never know what you might see from the Edmonds Pier.

Cards/Prints for sale:


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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5 Responses to You Just Never Know

  1. Brenda Peterson says:

    That is incredible, Joe!

    Thank you very much and Happy 4th of July weekend!

  2. Chris says:

    Jim and I went to Alaska almost 20 years ago, when we were not into birding yet. We took a boat out from Kenai, from the sheltered bay to where the real ocean is and back. There were puffins there, lots of them. Unfortunately, we did not realize this would be a life bird someday, so we have no idea whether they were Horned or Tufted. Our life lists still say Puffin (sp). We did see a whale breech up close, though.

  3. Brad Snyder says:


    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Andree Dalschaert says:

    Wow! Nice !

  5. Lynda Kuebler says:

    I like this bird a lot—first saw them in Northern Ireland (Rathlin Island) along the cliffs nesting when we took bike tours there, however, not sure if they were tufted or horned??

    Sent from my iPhone


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