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Saturday, February 1, 2014

 

I was up and out of here by about 9:30 this morning, with Edmonds as my first destination of the day.† I had three species to look for there, and if I didnít find one, I planned to stop at Wallace Swamp Creek Park to look for the dipper, on the way home.† Then if I still hadnít seen anything, I thought I would go over to Marymoor Park to make another try for Purple Finch.

 

I had bundled up well this morning, and it wasnít too cold out on the Edmonds pier.† As usual, there were Horned Grebes, Buffleheads, Red-necked Grebes, and Surf Scoters around.† Here is a close-up picture of a male Surf Scoter, showing all the ugliness of its face.† Well, it looks ugly to me, but maybe it looks great to a female Surf Scoter.

 

Here is a female Surf Scoter, who isnít exactly a raging beauty either, to my eyes.

 

You can see that the face and bill structure is the same in both of them; only the colors are different.

 

There wasnít much out on the water this morning.† Here is a picture of a Red-necked Grebe.

 

There are always Red-necked Grebes around that area, so I will save that species for later in the year, as a BAD bird.† Likewise the Surf Scoter.† I was looking for something a little unusual for my BAD bird for today, and there were three Rhinoceros Auklets close to the pier, so I got a picture of one.† I just added that one to my year list a few days ago, and they are not always around, to it would be a suitable BAD bird for today.

 

So, I had some pictures, and I had a good candidate for BAD bird, but nothing new for my year list.† I moved on to Sunset Avenue, north of the ferry terminal, to see if there was anything up there.

 

To my pleased surprise, I spotted a whole group of BRANT, a small member of the goose family, sitting on the shore to the north.† Later I saw several of them out in the water as well, at a distance.† That was one of the ones I was hoping for up there, so I had success.† They were all too far away for pictures.

 

I scanned the water some more, just to be complete, and to my surprise, I saw a group of five ducks fly in.† They turned out to be HARLEQUIN DUCKS, one I hadnít expected to see today.† They have been reported at Edmonds in the past, but not recently, and I had never seen them there before.† A few minutes later, I saw another pair of them a little closer, and I wanted to try for pictures, but the closer ones disappeared when I wasnít watching, I guess.

 

So, I added two more species to my year list today, and my streak is now 32 days.† Iíve seen a new bird for my year list every day so far this year.† This must be the end of the streak, but Iíll have to try again tomorrow.† I can go to Wallace Swamp Creek Park and to Marymoor Park, but it seems unlikely I will see anything.† Maybe the Pine Siskins will show up here in our yard tomorrow.† Last winter we had flocks of over a dozen every day at our feeders, but this year I have only seen them twice, and only one or two each time.† They seem to be absent all over the area this year, for some reason.† I see Pileated Woodpecker in our yard a couple of times a year, too, and maybe one will make its appearance tomorrow.† It all seems very unlikely, and the streak is almost certainly over at 32.† Iíll send a report tomorrow regardless.

 

The two species I added today bring me to 187 for the year.

 

Since I see Harlequin Duck so infrequently (last year I didnít see one until November), Iíll take that for my BAD bird for today, saving Rhinoceros Auklet for another day.

 

 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

 

This morning was frosty, but sunny.† I headed up to Wallace Swamp Creek Park first today, hoping to see the dipper that had been seen there a week or two ago.† It wasnít likely, as it hasnít been reported again since then, but I had to give it a try.

 

I walked to the bridge over the creek, playing the call of Huttonís Vireo, which has also been reported there at the park.† No response, which didnít surprise me; they are not very common.

 

There was no sign of the dipper at the creek, and I walked on.† A particular woodpecker has been seen there recently, so I played its call after a while.† At first I didnít get any response, but then I heard an answer!† I was pretty sure it was the right bird, but I wanted to see it.† It called several times, but I couldnít see it.† Based on the calls, it moved across the path and called again.† I saw a bird of the right size flying away, and then there was another call from that direction, farther away.† Since I decided at the start of the year to count ďheard onlyĒ birds (that is, birds I hear and can conclusively identify but donít see) this year, I am counting PILEATED WOODPECKER for today.† Heard only birds specifically count for the Bird-A-Day thing, too, so Iíll take it as my BAD bird for today, too.† I would really have liked to see the bird, but counting heard only birds is done by most birders these days, so Iím just going along with the accepted practice.† This is the first time I have done it, but I guess Iíll get used to it.† I think I actually saw this one today, as it flew away, but the look wasnít good enough to identify it.

 

I walked around the park some more, but didnít see anything else of interest and I didnít get any decent pictures to share, either.

 

Interestingly, when I was back at home, I went out to the garage to get a Diet Coke for my lunch, and I heard a Pileated Woodpecker call, very near by!† Iím not sure I would have conclusively been able to identify it, except I had just been playing the call repeatedly, a half hour earlier.† It responded a few times, and there were actually two of them, because I heard one to the east and one to the west of our property.† I see the species in our yard a couple of times a year, usually, but I think it is really ironic that I would hear two of them on the same day I heard one up at the park.† So, I actually heard three separate Pileated Woodpeckers today.

 

With the addition of one species today, Iím now at 188 for the year.

 

Itís amazing how this streak just keeps going on.† I didnít think it would survive my drive home from California, and I got the two rarities (Yellow-throated Warbler and Tufted Duck) to keep it alive.† Then, once I got home, I have been lucky every single day, and the streak is now 33 days long.† Amazing.† Surely this must be the end, though.† Iíll try for the dipper again tomorrow, and go to Marymoor to try for Purple Finch, if the weather permits, but neither one is likely at all.† We will see.

 

 

Monday, February 3, 2014

 

I was up and out of here by about 9 this morning, and my first stop was Wallace Swamp Creek Park again, to look for the dipper.† I tried for an hour or so, but didnít see it or anything else of interest.† It was only reported twice recently, so I thought maybe it had moved on.† At any rate, no dipper for me today, so my streak was really in jeopardy.

 

I moved on to Marymoor Park, to try for Purple Finch.† I had seen a couple of them there last fall, but had missed them a couple of times since then.† I walked to the area where I had seen them, and I played the song on my phone, as I walked through the area.† No joy.† There were very few birds around at all.

 

I was ready to give up and take the skunk, but I decided to try over by the slough, where I had seen Purple Finch a few years ago.† I drove over there and again played the song as I walked along the slough.† Nothing interesting.† I finally gave up about noon, and headed for home.

 

So, the streak is over.† Finally.† I must say I feel a certain relief, like I have gotten a monkey off my back.† There are very few birds I can get around here to add to my year list, and I would like to move on to looking for a good BAD bird each day, instead of obsessing on year birds because of the streak.† 33 days in a row is great, it starts my year off well, and it was fun while it lasted.† Maybe next year Iíll try to beat it, but we will see.† It was only possible to go so long this year because I went to California for almost three weeks, and I was very lucky en route both ways, finding rarities that had been reported online.

 

For today, I saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet at Wallace Swamp Creek Park, so that will be my BAD bird for the day.† Iíll probably start on the winter ducks now for my BAD birds, unless I see something unusual.

 

Ironically, on the very day my streak ended, there was a report online this afternoon that the woman who had originally reported the dipper at Swamp Creek saw it again today.† I have written to her, and Iíll be interested to hear exactly where she saw it, and at what time.† This is only the third time she has seen it, and I get the idea she goes there several times a week, at least.† I assume that means that it ranges up and down the creek, as dippers do, probably spending most of its time outside the park.† I must have tried at least a half dozen times in the last couple of weeks.

 

There is a group birding trip to north central Washington on the weekend after this coming one, the 14th through the 17th.† I participated the last couple of years, and I expect to add some year birds on that trip this year.† Until then, you probably wonít hear from me, unless I get lucky here at home somehow.† I suppose I might go back up to Swamp Creek to look for the dipper, since it is so close to home.† We will see.

 

 

Monday, February 10, 2014

 

Let me say right off that I didnít get a new year-bird today.† Iím writing this report to share a few pictures Iíve taken over the last week, and also to record my BAD birds of the last seven days.

 

I have indeed gone back to Wallace Swamp Creek Park a number of times, trying for the dipper, but so far it has eluded me.† On Tuesday, February 4, I got good looks at a Ruby-crowned Kinglet there, and I took that as my BAD bird for that day.

 

Back at Swamp Creek on Wednesday, February 5, I again missed the dipper, but there was an interesting white duck there, with three Mallards.† It was the size of the Mallards, but was completely white.† Here is a picture of it.

 

I assume it is some breed of domestic duck, and it has left its home and is now hanging out with the wild Mallards.† I donít think it is an albino, because the eye doesnít seem to be red.

 

After missing the dipper, I went to Log Boom Park and chose Greater Scaup for my BAD bird for Wednesday, February 5.† Greater and Lesser Scaup look very similar, but it helps to see them in good light, as the males have a sheen to their heads in strong enough light.† In regular light, the heads of both species just look black.† There are some other subtle differences in the head shape, too, and those are supposed to be more reliable for distinguishing the two species.† Iím getting better at seeing the differences.† Here are a couple of what I think are Greater Scaup.† The sheen is obviously green, and the heads look rounded to me, rather than peaked in the back, as in Lesser Scaup.

 

The one in front has completely changed to breeding plumage, while the other one still has some of the dark coloration on its side, leftover from the winter plumage, which is gray on the side.

 

I got this picture of a male Canvasback there that day, too.

 

Canvasbacks have a very distinctive profile, so they are easy to recognize at a distance.† Here is a female Canvasback.

 

You can see she has the same profile as the male, but different colors.

 

The next day, Thursday, February 6, I again tried for the dipper and again went to Log Boom Park, which is located at the north end of Lake Washington.† I scanned the rafts of ducks and finally found a few Lesser Scaup some distance away.† I took that as my BAD bird for Thursday.† I was able to get good long looks at them, and I feel like Iím finally starting to be able to recognize the differences in head shape between the two Scaup species.

 

On Friday I did the same things and had some duck I was going to use for my BAD bird (I forget which one exactly), but when I got home there was a hawk in the yard.† I got a good look at it, and it was a Cooperís Hawk, probably the same one that has been in the yard before.† Here is a picture I got last year, probably of the same bird.

 

I took that picture last September in our yard.† Note that there are both brown and blue-gray feathers.† The brown feathers indicate a juvenile bird, while the blue-gray color indicates a mature bird.† In September, this bird was just changing, which tells us that it is young, just maturing.† The one I saw last week had all blue-gray feathers, so if it is the same bird, it is now in its fully mature plumage.† Unfortunately, it didnít stick around long enough for pictures this time.† I suspect it will be back.† Cooperís Hawks prey on smaller birds, and it likes to hang out around our bird feeder, hoping to get lucky.

 

On Saturday, February 8, I drove up to Edmonds because there was a report of some Black Scoters up there.† I have that one for my year list, but it would make a great BAD bird, so I went looking for them.† I didnít see any, but I did see a distant group of eleven Pacific Loons, and then later saw another one much closer in.† That is also one I donít see often, so I chose it for my BAD bird for Saturday.

 

I might mention for those who donít live in the Seattle area that most of last week was very cold.† It got down into the teens at night and some days never got above freezing.† I bundled up when I went out birding, and the cold wasnít really a problem.

 

On Saturday morning the sun was shining on the Olympic Mountains, across Puget Sound, and I took this picture from the Edmonds fishing dock.

 

Here is a picture of what I believe is a second winter Mew Gull.† Gulls take either three or four years (depending on the species) to fully mature and get their adult plumage.† Expert birders can recognize and identify gulls in their immature plumages, but I have to consult my field guide to be able to do that.† The reason Iím calling this a second winter Mew Gull is because the bill has a dark tip.† Other than that, it looks pretty much like a winter plumaged adult Mew Gull.† Oh yes, in addition to taking three or four years to get their adult plumage, most gulls look somewhat different in the winter than they do in the summer.† It is a very complicated subject, and many birders donít make any attempt to identify anything but mature gulls.† Here is what I think is a second winter Mew Gull, anyway.

 

As the cold snap ended, it snowed overnight on Saturday-Sunday, and there were a couple of inches on the ground on Sunday morning.† Birding in the snow presented new challenges for me, but I drove up to Edmonds again, because I can park overlooking Puget Sound and set up my scope a few feet from the car.† I looked again for the Black Scoters, but again dipped on them.† There was a group of birds at a very great distance, though, and I studied them through my scope and consulted with another birder who happened to be there.† Eventually we both were convinced they were Brant, which is a small goose.† I had seen some in the same area on February 1st, and had added Brant to my year list that day.† On Sunday, I made Brant my BAD bird for the day.

 

It rained overnight and most of the snow has melted now, although there is still a little left in places.† This morning (Monday) I had a dentist appointment, and when it was over, at about 11, the rain had stopped, so I headed out to look for birds.† I tried again for the dipper and again dipped on it.† At Log Boom Park I saw a lot of Ruddy Ducks, and I figured that would be my BAD bird for the day, but I decided to stop by Juanita Beach Park to see if I could see any snipe, which I had seen there in January.† I didnít see any snipe, but there were a few dozen wigeons in the enclosure formed by the docks, and I scanned them.† I was lucky, and I there was one male Eurasian Wigeon among all the American Wigeons.† Last year I never did see a Eurasian Wigeon, which is an uncommon winter visitor from Asia here on the west coast, and this year I have seen one in three different places already.† Here is a picture of a male American Wigeon and the male Eurasian Wigeon (the one with the red head).

 

Here is a picture of the Eurasian Wigeon that shows the delicate patterns on its back, as well as the pinkish color of its breast.† I like the feathers on the back, too.

 

Here is a picture of the Eurasian Wigeon from the front, along with American Wigeons all around.† The one in the lower left is either a female or a first winter male, and the others are male American Wigeons.

 

So, there is an update.† Iím still at 187 species for the year.† I had been planning on going on a group trip to north central Washington this weekend, but I decided to cancel that, for several reasons.† It will probably cost me about 10 species for my year list, which is too bad.† On the other hand, I now have firm plans to go to San Diego and the Salton Sea for two weeks in March, and that will get me a number of species for my year list.† Iím also close to deciding to go to the Texas Gulf Coast again (I went for the first time in April 2012).† If I do that, it should add about 100 species to my year list that I wonít see on the west coast, including about 8 lifers, if Iím lucky.† I would say that the Gulf Coast of Texas in April (migration season) is the best birding I have ever experienced, both in terms of quantity of species and abundance of birds.† I hope it works out to go again this year.

 

Iíll continue to send out a report about once a week, even if I donít see a new year-bird, just to record my BAD birding experience.† Iím still not sure how much Iím going to like this BAD birding, but it is interesting, and so far it is fine.† It will be interesting when I start running out of easy birds to get.† If I do both the San Diego and the Texas trips, I figure I ought to be able to get into May before that happens, but Iím not sure.† This is the first time Iíve tried this, and I donít really know how it will play out. †My plan is to leave for San Diego on March 11, which is four weeks from tomorrow.

 

OK, I havenít said it for a while, so here goes Ė What a life!

 

 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

 

Here is a real report today.† I saw a new bird for my year list.

 

Last night there was a post on the local birding mailing list, Tweeters, about a warbler that a woman in Seattle saw in her yard.† She wasnít sure of the identification, and she posted a link to pictures.† Her first idea was that it was an Orange-crowned Warbler, but she wanted other opinions.† Iím certainly no expert on warblers, but based on her pictures and my main field guide, I thought it was a female MacGillivrayís Warbler probably, so I wrote to her.† I have corresponded with her several times in the past, but had never met her.† She replied that a large majority of the people who responded had also thought it was a MacGís Warbler.† She also invited me to come over today to take a look at it.

 

So, I drove around the north end of Lake Washington to Barbís house, which is near Sand Point, for those local readers.† She lives in a house on a heavily wooded double lot, and it is a fantastic habitat for birds.† She has more feeders than you can shake a stick at, and this warbler was coming to some stuff she had on a table.

 

I took up station where I could see the table and waited.† It was pretty quiet for quite a while, but then birds started coming around.† The bird in question showed up several times and I got these pictures.† The light was poor, so they arenít very sharp, and they arenít very satisfying to me, but here they are, for the record.

 

 

 

 

As I said, I thought it was a MacGillivrayís Warbler, but after seeing my pictures and consulting all three of my field guides, I changed my vote to ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.† Either one would be a new year-bird, and the MacGís would be a more difficult one to see, but at this point, I have to go with Orange-crowned.† There has been some discussion about it on Tweeters, and I actually posted my own opinion and gave my reasons a little while ago, so it will be interesting to see what other people say publicly, if anything.† I donít often post on Tweeters, but I thought this was interesting.† Barb told me today that the guy she considers the best ornithologist in the area said it was an Orange-crowned, but the only public comments so far have said MacGillivrayís.† I might change my call tomorrow or the next day, but for now, Iím going with Orange-crowned.† It would be quite rare for a MacGillivrayís Warbler to be here in the winter, but also pretty uncommon for an Orange-crowned.† For my opinion, Iím putting a lot of faith in the blurry streaks on the breast, which the Orange-crowned is supposed to have, but the MacGís is not.† There are some other pieces of evidence, too, but there are also things that indicate MacGís, which is why so many people have gone for that one, as I did at first.

 

Okay, that is more than any of my readers wanted to know about that, but these reports are at least as much for my own records as for your reading pleasure, and I wanted to record that.

 

There were lots of other birds in the yard there today, too.† Here is a cute little Bewickís Wren.

 

And here is a Red-breasted Nuthatch.

 

There were a couple of other warblers around, too, including a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a couple of TOWNSENDíS WARBLERS, another one for my year list.† Here are a couple of pictures of a striking looking Townsendís Warbler.† I think this is a female, because of the lack of black on the throat.

 

 

Barb also has a small flock of Band-tailed Pigeons who come to one of her feeders.† Here are a couple of pictures of one those attractive birds.

 

 

Finally, Iíll finish off the pictures with a blue-colored bird, and you all know Iím very partial to blue-colored birds.† Here is a handsome Stellerís Jay.

 

So, I added two species to my year list today.† I might change the identification of one of them, after hearing other opinions, but MacGillivrayís Warbler would also be a year bird, so it wonít affect my total.† I now have seen 189 species for the year, even if Iím not sure exactly which ones I saw today.

 

For my BAD bird, it is a tossup between the two year-bird warblers today, so Iíll go with the Townsendís Warbler, because Iím sure of the identification of that one, and if I change my mind on the other one, I wouldnít be able to change it on the BAD birding website.

 

 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

 

This is another pseudo-report, just to record my BAD birds for the last week.† Nothing new for my year list.

 

On Wednesday, February 12, I saw one Western Grebe at Log Boom Park, so I took that for my BAD bird, as I donít see Western Grebes around home very often.† I think that is the only one I have seen in Washington so far this year.

 

On most of the days in the last week I visited Wallace Swamp Creek Park to look for the American Dipper that has been seen there, but so far I havenít seen it.† I have also been up to Edmonds a number of times.† On Thursday I saw a handful of Ring-necked Ducks at Log Boom Park (which is right on my way to Edmonds, so it is easy to stop there to scope the ducks), and I took that for my BAD bird.† They were too far out for pictures, but later that same day I got this picture of this little group of Ring-necked Ducks at Juanita Bay Park.

 

Also on Thursday, I got this picture of a Song Sparrow at Juanita Bay Park.

 

Song Sparrows are very common (we have a couple here in our yard all the time), but this one was posing so nicely that I felt compelled to take its picture.† Here is a pair of Gadwalls.† The male is in the foreground.

 

Here is a male Green-winged Teal.

 

Here is a view from the west boardwalk at Juanita Bay Park.

 

Here is a male Red-winged Blackbird at the end of the same boardwalk.

 

On Friday it was really windy and cold.† I think I drove up to Edmonds that day anyway, but Puget Sound was so choppy and rough, and it was so cold out on the pier, that I didnít stay long.† On the way home I went by Juanita Beach Park to look for the snipe I had seen there in January.† I thought I might have seen a couple of them at the edge of some grass on the shore, but the wind was blowing so hard that my tripod and scope kept shaking, and I couldnít confirm the sighting.† I did manage to see a couple of Killdeer, though, and I took them for my BAD bird for Friday.

 

Saturday found me back up at Edmonds.† I didnít see anything special from the pier, but from Sunset Avenue, north of the ferry terminal, I did see some Black Scoters (now called American Scoter officially, I guess, although everyone still calls them Black Scoter, as far as I can tell), and that made a good BAD bird for Saturday.† There was a pair of Harlequin Ducks there, too, but I had already taken that as a BAD bird, back on February 1st.

 

On Sunday the 16th, I again drove up to Edmonds, and this time I stopped at the fish hatchery there, and got Pacific Wren for my BAD bird.

 

I was back at Edmonds again on Monday, but there was very little of interest around.† I ended up taking Pelagic Cormorant for my BAD bird.† There are still at least a half dozen water bird species that are common at Edmonds that I still havenít used for BAD birds, so Iíll continue to make the 25 minute drive up there.† Every time Iím looking for a couple of difficult species, but so far I havenít seen them.† One of the strategies Iím using for my BAD birding is to go looking for difficult to find birds, and when I miss them, I take one of the easier species that are in the same place as the difficult ones Iím looking for.

 

Here is a group of three Horned Grebes at the Edmonds pier.

 

Red-breasted Merganser is a species I usually see at Edmonds, and so far I havenít used it for a BAD bird.† Here is a female.

 

That brings us to today, Tuesday, February 18.† It was raining today by the time I got up, and it was supposed to last until late afternoon.† So, I adopted a rainy day plan and I drove to Marymoor Park to look for Cackling Goose, which is a smaller version of Canada Goose.† They are common around the area in the winter, but I donít know where to go to see them.† They get reported at Marymoor regularly, but they move around all day long, in flocks, and so far I havenít caught up with them.† I saw a small flock at Marymoor in early January, but I took a better BAD bird that day, figuring I would see the geese again.

 

After missing them again at Marymoor today, I drove down the east side of Lake Sammamish to Lake Sammamish State Park, where they have also been reported.† Well, it turned out that the state park was closed (for the winter, I guess), and I would have had to walk some distance to see where the geese might be.† I could see some Canada Geese out that way, and there might have been some Cacklers around, but it was raining, and I didnít feel like walking in the rain to look for them.† I drove up the west side of Lake Sammamish and stopped at Marymoor Park again on the way home and did manage to see a Red-tailed Hawk from the car, and I figured I would take that for my BAD bird if I didnít see anything better.† As it turned out, I did better later.

 

I stopped at the Willows Run golf course, to see if there were any geese on the course or on the ponds there.† I spotted some swans on a pond, and I still havenít taken Tundra Swan for a BAD bird, so I pulled up and took a look at them.† As I was trying to figure out if they were Trumpeter Swans or Tundra Swans, I noticed that none of them were moving.† It turned out that they were all decoys!† I suppose they have them sitting on the ponds to provide atmosphere for the golfers.† What a riot!† They fooled the Old Rambler for a minute there.

 

I drove around the Sixty Acres soccer complex and the turf farm to the north of there, but didnít find any geese.† I saw some flying, but I couldnít find where they were on the ground.† By then it was lunch time, so I returned home.† My plan was to hope the rain let up by late afternoon (which it did), and then go down to Juanita Beach and Juanita Bay Park to pick up a good BAD bird, hopefully.

 

It was still raining when I finished my lunch, but I noticed an interesting looking sparrow under our main bird feeder.† It looked different right away, but I didnít immediately recognize it.† That was encouraging, so I got my camera and went out to the garage, to get a closer view.† It was still raining, but I stayed in the open garage doorway and could get a good view of the ground under the feeder.† It turned out to be a tan morph White-throated Sparrow, a new bird for me in our yard.† I have only seen White-throated Sparrow once before here in Washington, so it was an excellent BAD bird for today.† Here are a couple of pictures.† There wasnít much light in the rain, so they arenít sharp, but you can see the field marks on the little guy Ė the white throat, the stripes on the head, and the streaky breast.

 

 

That is a Song Sparrow in the background, behind the White-throated Sparrow in that second picture.

 

I had seen the white morph of this species in California back on January 18, and here is a picture I took that day for comparison.

 

Note that the stripe down the center of the head is white in the white morph (rather than tan), and the stripes on both sides of that center stripe are black, rather than brown.† The white morph has a much more yellow patch in front of its eye, too, as well as a whiter throat, supposedly.† I enjoyed getting pictures of both morphs this year.† At the start of the year, I wouldnít have figured I would see either morph.

 

So, that was great, to get a quite uncommon bird locally for my BAD bird for today, and here in my own yard no less.† I had spent three hours driving around in the rain, but I now know that Lake Sammamish State Park is closed for the winter, and I know lots of places where there were no Cackling Geese today.† I also learned about the decoy swans at Willows Run golf course.† I still need to catch up with Cackling Goose before they all fly north to their breeding grounds (the Aleutian Islands) in late March.† I have it for my year list, but I would like it for a BAD bird.

 

So, there is an update on my Bird-A-Day thingie.† Iím glad I didnít go on the Okanogan trip this weekend.† According to the weather reports, they must have had a lot of rain and snow while trying to bird, and the passes had a couple of feet of snow in the last couple of days, and were closed part of the time.† Iíll be interested to read the report of the trip, to see how they did with birds.

 

My plan is to fly to San Diego on March 10, and I hope to add some birds to my year list on that trip.† It still looks like I will go to Texas in April, too, and that will really help my yearly totals.† With those two trips, I think I can get into May on my BAD birding, without missing a day, but getting through May will be a challenge.† Iím at 189 species for the year now.† That is well behind the 217 species I had seen by this date last year, but my upcoming trips should put me well ahead of last year by the end of April.

 

 

Monday, February 24, 2014

 

This is another Bird-A-Day update, to document my BAD birds of the last six days and show a few pictures.

 

On Wednesday, February 19, I went down to Juanita Bay Park in the morning and played the song of Brown Creeper on my phone.† One flew in, so I had an excellent candidate for a BAD bird for the day.† Back at home in the afternoon there was a small flock of Bushtits in our yard, though, and I decided that would be a better BAD bird for that day.† Iíve called up a creeper at that same place a couple of times now this month, and I figure I can do it again when I need to.† Bushtits are fairly common, but they move around a lot and I only see them every couple of weeks usually, so that seemed a better choice.

 

On Thursday I drove up to Edmonds because I had read about an uncommon duck on a pond up there.† I found my way to the pond, and there was a lovely male Redhead on the little pond.† Here is the view of the Edmonds waterfront area from the bluff above the pond.

 

I walked down the hill a little and took this closer picture of the pond.

 

Here is the male Redhead, my BAD bird for that day.

 

Here is a picture of a female Ring-necked Duck on the same pond.

 

There were a couple of pairs of Hooded Mergansers on the pond, too.† The males have a crest or ďhoodĒ that they can raise when they want to.† Here is one with his crest down.

 

Here is one with his crest up.† It makes the duck look very different, I think.

 

So, on Wednesday my BAD bird was Redhead.† They are quite uncommon around this area, so it was a great one to get.† I had seen one in California, so it wasnít a year bird.

 

On Thursday, February 21, I went down to Juanita Beach Park, and the first thing I saw was three Bald Eagles sitting on posts in the lake.† The first two are immature birds, and the third one has its mature plumage.† It takes a Bald Eagle four years before it gets its adult plumage, and each year before that, the plumage is slightly different.† An expert could probably tell how old the two immature birds are.

 

Here is a closeup of the two young ones.

 

Here is another immature one on the beach.

 

There were at least eight Bald Eagles there that day Ė two mature ones and six immature ones.† Eagles usually have two chicks each year, so maybe these were all members of the same family.

 

After enjoying the eagles for a while, I used my scope and saw some Wilsonís Snipe on the beach in the distance.† I was able to drive closer and approach them from the other side.† I spooked them as I approached, but I stood quietly and they came out again.† Here is a picture of one.

 

At the same place, I got this picture of a Killdeer.

 

There were a number of Wood Ducks there, too, and I got this picture of a pair of them.† The male is the more colorful one, of course.

 

I like the way the feathers on the backs of their heads are kind of like a helmet.

 

So, the Wood Ducks are there all year long, as are the eagles, and both are easy to see, so Iíll save both of those to be BAD birds later in the year.† I already used Killdeer a week or two ago, so for that day I chose Wilsonís Snipe for my Bird-A-Day bird.

 

Interestingly, on both Thursday and Friday I had seen a Varied Thrush in our yard, under our bird feeder.† It was the first time this year they have been there.† I would have been happy to use Varied Thrush for my BAD bird, except that the Redhead and the Wilsonís Snipe were even better BAD birds.† I was hoping the thrushes would come back.† One was a male and one was a female, but I never saw both on the same day.† Well, one showed up for the third day in a row, and I used Varied Thrush for my BAD bird for Saturday, February 22.† I didnít get a picture that day, but they have come back a couple more times, and here is a picture I got the next day.† This one is the female, I believe.

 

Today I got a picture of the male.† The black on the head and breast is much darker on the male, but otherwise they are identical.

 

It was a great day to see the Varied Thrush in the yard on Saturday morning, because it rained all day long, my first totally rainy day so far this year.† I didnít have any great plans for rainy day birding, so the presence of the thrush was fortuitous.

 

On Sunday morning it was again raining, and the forecast again called for rain all day long.† Last week it had rained mostly at night, but this weekend the pattern reversed and it was dry at night and rained all day.† I had read of a place to go to look for a couple of ducks and a couple of geese, though, and I drove up there in the rain to check it out.† The place is called Crescent Lake WMA (Wildlife Management Area), and it is located in Southeast Snohomish county, between Duvall and Monroe.† It is about a half hour drive from home.† I had never birded there, but I had driven past it before.† I didnít know if I would be able to see anything from the car or not, but looking for ducks and geese is a good thing to do in the rain, as they are large and they tend to stay in one place, unlike little birds.† I figured if worse came to worst, I could venture out with an umbrella and try to spot ducks and geese.

 

As it turned out, the ducks and geese were in the fields mostly, as well as one big pond that could be seen from the car.† There were also lots of swans in the fields.† Almost all the swans were Trumpeter Swans, which are the common one up here, but I spotted one that I think was a Tundra Swan, so I took that for my BAD bird for Sunday.† Here is a picture of two swans.

 

I think the one on the left is a Trumpeter Swan and the one on the right is a Tundra Swan.† There are four areas of difference.† The Tundra Swan is somewhat smaller than the Trumpeter Swan, and the on the right was definitely smaller than the others.† The way the black of the bill meets the eye is different, too, if you look closely.† In the Trumpeter Swan, the black surrounds more of the eye, while in the Tundra Swan, the black mostly meets in front of the eye.† Thirdly, the head of the Trumpeter Swan is kind of flat above the eye, while the head of the Tundra Swan is rounded over the eye.† Lastly, the top of the bill of the Trumpeter Swan is pretty straight, while the top of the bill of the Tundra Swan is curved as it approaches the forehead.† There is actually a fifth indication, which is easiest of all Ė most Tundra Swans have a yellow dash on the bill, in front of the eye.† This one didnít have that, although it did have a small light-colored spot on the bill, just in front of the eye.† The yellow dash would have made identification easy, but this bird seems to be missing it, which is normal in some Tundra Swans.

 

So, I was able to get an excellent rainy day BAD bird without leaving the car.† There was at least one duck species there that would be good, too, so I planned to return.† Back at home, while getting the first of those Varied Thrush pictures above, I also got this picture of an unusual male Dark-eyed Junco.

 

Normally its head would be completely black, but this one is partially leucistic, which means that some pigmentation is missing.† It has been around the yard a few times in the last week, and I was glad to get a picture of it, even though the picture is pretty blurry.† It is interesting that the white pattern is pretty much the same on the other side of its head.† I suppose that shows it is a genetic variation, not some kind of disease or something that is causing the white area.

 

So, this morning, Monday, February 24, I again headed up to the Lake Crescent WMA, so look for ducks and geese.† I again saw some Northern Pintails, which is one of the ones I was looking for, but I also saw this male Ring-necked Pheasant walking across a field.

 

So, again I was able to get a good BAD bird without leaving my car, which was great because again it has been raining all day long.† Iíll go back again for the ducks, no doubt.

 

So, that is my BAD bird report for this week.† I probably wonít get any more year birds until I go to San Diego next month, but Iíll continue to report on my BAD birds from time to time.