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|Wax Orchards Road and Old Mill Road
These two parallel roads pass through the largest remaining open area of Vashon. Raptors such as Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and accipiters frequently fly overhead. An American Kestrel occasionally chooses one of the fields for its winter home. American Pipits migrate through, especially over tilled fields. Savannah Sparrows and pheasant call from the fields.
Halfway between 220th and 232nd on Old Mill Road, a pond exists hidden behind a dike at the south end of a large field. The pond sits on private property requiring permission for entry. The adjacent trees and brush along the dike may be viewed from the road and provide very productive cover for passerines in spring and fall migration. The brush attracts all of the island's warbler species but the yellowthroat. It hosts many sparrows as well. Kinglets, wrens, nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches consistently appear.
Mixed forests with many conifers line the southern portions of both roads. Ravens often cruise up and down the road at tree-top level looking for road kill. A trail leads through woods at the Christensen Pond Preserve coming to a shallow pond that often has Bufflehead and sometimes Hooded Merganser. Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers and Red-breasted Sapsucker breed in this area. A good range of flycatchers, vireos and warblers may be heard in spring.
To reach the Wax Orchards area from central Vashon, go west on 204th at the intersection of Vashon Highway and 204th. At the bottom of the hill, 204th curves into 111th, formerly Paradise Valley Road. One can bird along the valley or head straight at the curve to Singer Pond as described on the Paradise Valley page. To continue to Wax Orchard Road, follow the curve at111th south to where it climbs a steep hill. 111th turns becoming 220th. Go west along 220th. The fields will appear to the left along Old Mill Road at 0.7 miles and Wax Orchard Road in another half mile. Instead of turning left onto Wax Orchard Road, one can continue westbound on 220th to the Lisabeula area.
Wax Orchard Road may also be reached from several roads heading west from the Burton neighborhood or from the south as one comes up from the Tahlequah ferry dock. From the Tahlequah dock, Vashon Highway heads straight north. At 1.8 miles, it curves to the right. Instead of following the curve to the right, Wax Orchard Road starts here, continuing the straight path to the north.
To walk the trails at Christensen Pond Preserve, follow Wax Orchard Road to the section between 240th and Reddings Beach Road. Park along the west side of Wax Orchard Road near 240th and look for the two unmarked trail openings. The more northerly one, 0.2 miles from either 240th or Reddings Beach Road has the trail leading most directly to the pond. Currently no signs stand at this entrance but a chain stretches across the trail to prevent vehicle entry. Follow the trail west into the woods a short ways and choosing the fork that heads north and west to the pond.
From Birds of Vashon Island by Ed Swan, Vashon birding guide 206-463-7976
Photo by Richard Rogers