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Monday, July 7, 2014

 

Here's an update on my Bird-A-Day project, and a few pictures as well.

 

On Tuesday, July 1, I went over to Marymoor and looked for Mourning Dove and other goodies.† My first stop was the Osprey nest near the velodrome, and one of the Ospreys was sitting on a tall post eating a fish.† Here's a picture.

 

The fish was presumably dead, but it still flopped around from time to time, and one of the times it flopped, the Osprey raised its wings briefly, to keep its balance, I assume.

 

The other adult Osprey was in the nest, along with the two young ones.† I'm assuming the young ones have at least a couple more weeks before they'll fledge, and I need to take Osprey as a BAD bird before that.

 

I walked along the river and got this picture of a juvenile Great Blue Heron that was perched at the top of a small tree across the river.

 

There is a rookery there, and the young herons have mostly left the nests now.† You can tell it is a young one because the top of its head is blue, rather than white, like an adult bird.

 

I didn't see anything special there, so I went around to the part of the park across the river, on the road to the kayak club.† I managed to pick up Black-headed Grosbeak there, for my BAD bird.† I also got this picture of a female Wood Duck.

 

On Wednesday, July2, I drove on up to the Monroe prison farm pond in the Snoqualmie River Valley.† I was again looking for Mourning Dove, which is pretty scarce around here, and I settled for Eurasian Collared-Dove, which I always see there.† At this stage of the Bird-A-Day thing, I'm taking commonly seen birds, as I've already seen almost all of the difficult ones.

 

On Thursday, July 3, I went down to my local park, Juanita Bay Park, and tried to attract a Brown Creeper by playing its call on my phone.† No luck with that, so I took Chestnut-backed Chickadee for my BAD bird for that day.† We have Chestnut Backed Chickadees in our yard, and in fact, they nested there this year.† I had been seeing them regularly until a couple of weeks ago, and now they seem to have disappeared, so, I was glad to see one at the park and use it for my BAD bird.

 

On Friday, the Fourth of July, I went over to Marymoor Park to look for Western Tanager or Green Heron, both of which had been reported there on Thursday.† No luck with either one of those, and I took White-crowned Sparrow for my BAD bird.† I also got this novelty picture of a Swainson's Thrush.† The bird turned its head just as I was taking the picture, and this is what was recorded in the camera as a result.

 

The bird appears to have no bill, which I find amusing.† I don't understand how the bill is so completely wiped out, and yet the eye is pretty much all there, but that's how it came out.† I didn't do any doctoring of the photo, other than cropping it and doing the usual processing.

 

On Saturday, July 5, I drove up to Edmonds with the intention of taking Heermann's Gull as my BAD bird.† I saw the gulls, but when I got back near home I stopped by Juanita Bay Park and managed to see a Brown Creeper without even having to play the call, so I took that one as my BAD bird on Saturday.

 

On Sunday, July 6, I went back up to Edmonds because there had been a report of a Pectoral Sandpiper there.† That would be rare for this time of year, and very uncommon any time.† I saw a couple of other birders there, also looking for it, but no Pectoral Sandpiper.† I did see at least 20 Killdeer, one Western Sandpiper, and two Least Sandpipers.† Both the Western and the Least Sandpipers were good birds, and my first in Snohomish county since I started keeping track by county two years ago, but I had already taken both of those as BAD birds, a month or two ago.† I think that probably the Pectoral Sandpiper report was in error.† Other than the size, it looks very much like a Least Sandpiper, and I suspect that was what was seen.† If it indeed was a Pectoral, it must have moved on or was staying out of sight.† There have been no other reports of Pectoral Sandpiper there since then.† I went down to the waterfront and took Heermann's Gull for my BAD bird.

 

Today, Monday, July 7, I went down to Juanita Bay Park, looking for any of several easy species for my BAD bird.† At this point I have a list of about 15 species that I consider "gimmees", meaning I can get any one of them on any given day, and about a dozen that I call "easy", meaning I would expect to see any given species about 75% of the time, if I were looking for it on any given day.† Today I ended up taking a duck species called Gadwall for my BAD bird.

 

I got a couple of pictures I like of a Marsh Wren today.† This one shows its markings the best, I think.

 

It was singing incessantly, and here is a picture of it mid-song.

 

This is an interesting stage of the Bird-A-Day project, as I'm now down to taking the easy ones.† It isn't very challenging, and it seems kind of silly and a waste of time and gasoline to drive up to Edmonds, for example, just to see a Heermann's Gull, and then turn around and go home.† I didn't even have to get out of the car in that particular case.† I haven't even started yet on birds I see in our yard every day.† That won't be challenging or interesting at all, I would think.† I need to follow through and finish it up, though.† I expect to get into early August before I've exhausted all the gimmees and easy ones, and I could still get one or two harder ones at some point, thus extending my run another day or two.

 

Nothing new this week for my year list.† I'm at 435 species for the year now, and 17 of them are lifers.

 

 

Monday, July 14, 2014

 

Here's an update on my Bird-A-Day project for the last week.

 

On Tuesday, July 8, I went out to the Snoqualmie River Valley, hoping to see Mourning Dove.† My plan was to settle for Pied-billed Grebe if I didn't see anything unusual.† I saw some grebes, but nothing else of interest at the Stillwater Unit, so I drove through the town of Carnation, hoping to see a dove on a wire.† No such luck.† I went home via Carnation Farm Road and at Sikes Lake I saw a medium sized bird on a fence.† It was about dove size, but it didn't quite look right for a dove.† I got the binoculars on it, figuring it might be a robin, but it was a lovely female American Kestrel, much to my surprise.† It is the first time I had seen a kestrel here in King county, in all my years of birding here.† I'd say that qualifies as unusual, so I took that for my BAD bird for that day.† Here are a couple of distant pictures of her.† Kestrels are small falcons.

 

 

She was flying down into the grass from the fence, catching something, insects I presume, possibly grasshoppers.† Kestrels are quite uncommon in King county, especially in the summer.† Afterwards I looked on eBird and saw a report from two days before - someone else had seen her and gotten pictures as well.† I hadn't seen that report, though, so it was a total surprise to me.† No more reports since.

 

On Wednesday, July 9, I was going to go down to my local park to get an easy BAD bird, but before I left I went around my yard and dug up weeds.† While I was digging weeds I saw a Bewick's Wren, so I took that as my BAD bird for that day.† As I have said before, I'm mostly taking easy ones now, since I already have most of the harder ones, and the remaining non-easy ones are tough, so it isn't very likely I'll see them.

 

On Thursday, July 10, I headed up to Canyon Park Wetlands, just north of here in Bothell.† I had seen reports of Green Heron there, which is pretty uncommon around here, and there were also reports of Pied-billed Grebe there, so I could use that if I didn't see a Green Heron.† There were indeed Pied-billed Grebes around, and here is a picture of one.

 

To my pleased surprise, I soon spotted a Green Heron flying, and I got to look at it perched, too.† Here is a mediocre distant picture.

 

It flew a couple more times, but each time it landed on the other side of the pond, so I couldn't get a better picture.† It was only the second time I've seen Green Heron around here, and the first time in Snohomish county.† There were a couple of Belted Kingfishers flying around, but they also never perched close enough for a good picture.† They are blue and white, and they were really striking, flying around in the sun.

 

On my way back to the car I got this picture of a White-crowned Sparrow.

 

On Friday, July 11, I went out to the Snoqualmie River Valley and went up the other side of the valley to Lake Joy, a place I hadn't ever been before.† I had seen reports of Mourning Dove in that neighborhood, so I drove around slowly and looked.† No doves, but I did get this picture of a doe and her two fawns.

 

I went back down to the Stillwater Unit and walked around.† I got this picture of a water mammal, maybe a muskrat.

 

I also took some pictures of a Red-tailed Hawk that was circling overhead, and I like this one the best.

 

Flying birds are always a challenge, and I'm pleased with how sharp that picture came out.† I ended up taking Pied-billed Grebe for my BAD bird that day.

 

On Saturday, July 12, I went over to Marymoor Park.† I checked out the Osprey nest, as I always do, and then went looking for a swallow for my BAD bird.† I found some swallows swooping around, but I noticed at least one Vaux's Swift with them, so I took the swift for my BAD bird.† It is only the second time I've seen Vaux's swift in King County and only the third time I've ever seen the species.† I have been doing amazingly well at getting unusual species for my BAD birds.

 

On Sunday, July 13, I went to another place I hadn't been to before.† I saw a report on Tweeters about Olive-sided Flycatchers in a neighborhood to the north of here, in Bothell, in southern Snohomish county.† I considered that species to be a real longshot for my BAD list, as I had never seen one in Western Washington, although I have seen reports.† The woman who put up the report had thoughtfully included her address, to I went up to that neighborhood and drove slowly around.† I stopped once when I heard a bird calling loudly, but I never saw it, and eventually I decided it wasn't an Olive-sided Flycatcher, which has a distinctive song.

 

Down the street from that first stop, though, I distinctly heard an Olive-sided Flycatcher singing, so I parked my car and walked around.† It kept singing repeatedly, every 15 or 20 seconds, and I tried to zero in on it.† There were lots of very tall evergreen trees, and it was hard to tell exactly where the song was coming from.† I had to stay on the public road, of course, and that made it harder, too.† The rules of BAD birding specifically allow "heard only" birds, so I was going to count it, but I wanted to see the sucker.† Eventually I talked to a guy who came out of one of the houses near where the bird was, and he said I could go in his yard.† That helped and eventually I saw the bird, by playing the song on my phone repeatedly, until it came to investigate.† Even then it was hard to get a good view, as it stayed up the trees.† I must have spent a half hour walking around that neighborhood, trying to see the little rascal. So, I had still another species I never expected to see for my BAD list.† I ended up getting four species this past week that I didn't expect I would get - American Kestrel, Green Heron, Vaux's Swift, and Olive-sided Flycatcher.† Amazing.

 

Today, Monday, July 14, I went over to Marymoor with the intention of taking one of the swallow species I still needed for my BAD bird.† I checked out the Ospreys, and there are still young in the nest, but I need to take that one in the next week or two, before they fledge and become harder to see.† I saw all three swallow species that I haven't used yet as BAD birds, and I took Tree Swallow for my BAD bird today.† Here is a picture.

 

So, nothing new for my year list this week, and I remain at 435 for the year, of which 17 are lifers.† I've decided to take a little trip down to California in early August, and that should extend my Bird-A-Day thing by another 16 or 17 days.† I could also get 2 or 3 new birds for my year list.†

 

At this point, I would expect to run out of new BAD birds about the 24th or 25th of August.† At the start of the year, I hadn't expected to get through June, let alone July, so getting deep into August would far exceed my expectations.† If I'm careful about my choices, it should be fairly easy to get to August 24 or 25 at this point.† I have a list of 26 easy species to see around home, and it should be fairly easy to pick up a species each day on my trip that isn't on that home list, with the possible exceptions of the first and last days, when I'll be mostly driving.† God Willing And The Creeks Don't Rise, of course, knock on wood.

 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

 

Here's another Bird-A-Day update, covering the last week.

 

On Tuesday, July 15, I went down to Juanita Bay Park to look for Bald Eagle.† They were there just about every day in the winter and spring, but there are always fewer of them around in the summer months.† Eventually I did see an immature one across the bay, so I took that for my BAD bird that day.

 

On Wednesday, July 16, I decided to see if I could see a Northern Flicker.† I was going to go down to Juanita Bay Park, but before I left home I played the calls of Northern Flicker in my yard, and a couple of them flew in immediately, from across the street.† Here is a picture of the male, at the top of the cherry tree.

 

On Thursday, July 17, I went over to Marymoor Park to look for Spotted Towhee in the gardens there.† I played the calls and one flew out and called back to me.† So, I took it for my BAD bird.† There were a couple of fledgling American Crows, begging from a parent.† Here is a picture of one of the fledglings.

 

In addition to the fact that it was begging for food from the adult, the pink spot at the base of the bill is a sign that the bird recently fledged.† I like the feather detail in that picture.

 

Here are some dahlias in the gardens.† Christina is growing dahlias this year, but ours are only about two feet high at this point.† Some of these were as tall as I am.

 

I particularly like the dark purple dahlias, and I like the ones shaped like a ball.

 

I can't remember where I went on Friday, July 18, but I got American Goldfinch for my BAD bird.† It was probably Marymoor Park, but I can't specifically remember, which is unusual.

 

On Saturday, July 19, I went looking for one of the two swallow species I hadn't used yet for a BAD bird.† At this point, I'm just taking easy birds each day.† Before I even left home, though, there was an unusual juvenile Dark-eyed Junco in our yard.† It had a pure white tail.† They normally have white outer tail feathers, but this one had nothing but white feathers in its tail.† There wasn't much light as it was an overcast morning, and I took this picture through the window in the back door.

 

I went over to Marymoor Park and I saw lots of Cliff Swallows, lots of Barn Swallows, and a few Tree Swallows, but none of the swallow species I was looking for.† It was another case of them being very common a month ago, but now there are fewer of them around. †I suppose they are through nesting now, and are starting to migrate back south.† After lunch I went up to the Crescent Lake area, and again dipped on the swallow I wanted.† On my way home I went up the western side of the Snoqualmie River, where I had seen swallows before.† I saw a lot of Barn Swallows and I saw a lot of Cliff Swallows, but finally I saw two Violet-green Swallows, in different places.† So, I took that for my BAD bird for Saturday.

 

At one of my stops where there were swallows swooping around, I saw a bird fly across the road and perch on a wire.† It turned out to be a male Lazuli Bunting, my first for King County.† I played the song on my phone, and it came back and sang back to me.† I got a number of pictures.† None of the pictures is great, but they do show this attractive blue bird.

 

 

 

Lazuli Bunting is a good bird for King County, and I was happy to add it to my county list.

 

On Sunday, July 20, I never actually went out birding.† I heard a Steller's Jay before I even got out of bed, so I took that for my BAD bird.† Later one came around again, and again I heard it, but never actually saw it.† I did get a picture of a female Black-headed Grosbeak at our feeder that day, though.† I've only seen that species in our yard a handful of times this year.† Not much light, so it is kind of "soft".

 

Today, Monday, July 21, I didn't go out birding either.† I had lunch planned with my buddy, Chris, and after lunch we often go over to Phantom Lake in Bellevue.† There have been Barn Swallows there all summer, and after a couple of minutes by the lake, Chris spotted a couple of them flying up high.† Chris isn't interested in birding, but he is a good spotter, and later he spotted a Band-tailed Pigeon at the top of a tree.† Here is a distant picture of that guy.

 

Band-tailed Pigeon is larger than the feral or domestic pigeons you see everywhere.† You can just barely see the white mark on the back of its neck, which is characteristic of this species.† They are native to this area, and I don't see them very often, so it is always a treat when I do.† I used it as a BAD bird way back in January, though.

 

So, there's an update.† As I think I mentioned before, I plan to drive down to California in a couple of weeks, so that will extend my BAD bird streak.

 

 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

 

On Tuesday, July 22, I took Song Sparrow for my BAD bird.† I saw it here in my yard.† Two of my old friends from high school and college days came into town that day, and I did do a little birding in the Kent area while waiting for the second one to come into the airport.† No good BAD birds there, though.

 

On Wednesday, July 23, it rained all day long, so we drove over to Marymoor Park and I got Osprey at their nest over there for my BAD bird.† The young ones were getting close to fledging, I think.

 

The weather was still rainy on Thursday, July 24, and we drove out to Snoqualmie River Road in Duvall, where I picked up House Sparrow in the drizzly weather.† They come to our yard, but I havenít seen one for a couple of weeks, so I went out to the Snoqualmie Valley to a house with feeders where I always see House Sparrow.

 

On Friday we took a little trip up into the foothills of the Cascades.† We stopped at Tokul Creek, near Fall City, where the creek goes into the Snoqualmie River, and we saw an American Dipper.† I didnít even have that one on my list, as it is pretty uncommon in King county.† It was my first one ever in King county, in fact.† Here are a couple of pictures.† Check out the short little tail and the round body.

 

 

It is a very nondescript bird, but it is one of my favorites.† It was a lifer for Fred.

 

We stopped at Snoqualmie Falls to see the waterfall, and then went on to Rattlesnake Lake and Iron Horse State Park.† I got this picture of a Red-breasted Sapsucker at Iron Horse State Park.

 

It was all puffed up for some reason.† We stopped at the Snoqualmie Casino on the way home for an hour, and all three of us won.† The big winner only won 11 bucks, but at least none of us lost.

 

Yesterday (Saturday, July 26) one of my friends, Chris, left for home, and in the afternoon, Fred and I went down to Juanita Bay Park and I got Virginia Rail for my BAD bird.† We heard a number of them and saw 3 or 4 babies.† The babies are just little fuzzy black balls with legs.† Rails are shy birds, and they are hard to see, so seeing at least three of the young ones was cool.

 

Today, Sunday, July 27, Fred and I headed north to Whatcom county, right up on the Canadian border.† I hadnít ever birded in Whatcom county before, so it was my chance to start a county list there.† I also had a year-bird I wanted to see up there.

 

Our first stop was Birch Bay State Park, and I started to add birds to my Whatcom county list.† My goal was to see 15 or 20 species in the county today.† All day long we saw crows.† In that area, most, if not all the crows are NORTHWESTERN CROWS, a separate species from American Crow, which is the most common crow in the US.† Northwestern Crow was the bird I was looking for for my year list, so the day was a success.

 

We drove around Birch Bay and then around the bay called Drayton Harbor, going out onto Semiahmoo Spit along the way.† The tide was way out, so we didnít see much, but I slowly added to my county list.† I ate my humble lunch, brought from home, at the Blaine Marine Park, and soon after that we headed for home.† We took a detour just north of Bellingham and drove out to the coast at the Lummi Indian Reservation.† I added Osprey, White-crowned Sparrow, and Red-tailed Hawk to my Whatcom county list on that side trip, to bring me to a total of 24 species for the county today.† It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had a great time.

 

Northwestern Crow brings me to 436 species for the year, of which 17 are lifers.† I plan to leave for California, via the Oregon coast, on Friday.† In the meantime, I have lots of easy local birds to take for BAD birds, and the trip should give me some new ones to take. †I hope to get back from the trip about August 15 or so with 9 or 10 easy ones still in my pocket, which would take me to August 25 or so with my Bird-A-Day thing.† Since I only expected to get to maybe June 1 before I missed getting a new bird on a day, getting into late August would be outstanding.

 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

 

On Monday, July 28, Fred and I drove up to Skagit county to look for shorebirds.† Our first stop at Eide Road was a washout, but I did get this picture of a Savannah Sparrow.

 

Our second stop was at Channel Drive, on the Swinomish Channel, and we saw a nice mixed flock of shorebirds feeding.† We saw Least and Western Sandpipers, some dowitchers, three Greater Yellowlegs, and a Pectoral Sandpiper.† I took the Pectoral Sandpiper as my BAD bird for that day.† There was also a flycatcher there, and I got some pictures.

 

 

 

As I have often observed, flycatchers are tough.† It was making a little "whit" call all the time, and I thought it might be a Least Flycatcher at one point, but then I listened to the call of Willow Flycatcher, and it sounded the same to me.† Willow Flycatcher is much more likely there, so I have assumed that is what it was.

 

We went on across Fidalgo Island and drove down Whidbey Island, stopping a few places and enjoying the scenery.† At the ferry terminal at the south end of Whidbey Island, I got this picture of a Pigeon Guillemot in breeding plumage.

 

On Tuesday, July 29, I took Fred to the airport and afterwards went down to Juanita Bay Park and got Wood Duck for my BAD bird.† I was looking for Red-winged Blackbird, but they seem to have all gone somewhere in the last week or so.† There were lots of them a couple of weeks ago, but none on my last several visits to the park.

 

On Wednesday, July 30, I again went down to Juanita Bay Park to look for Red-winged Blackbird, but ended up settling for Anna's Hummingbird for my BAD bird. †I'm taking the easy ones now.

 

Today, Thursday, July 31, I went out to lunch with my friend, Chris, and after lunch we went over to Phantom Lake in Bellevue, and I managed to see a couple of female Red-winged Blackbirds, so I took that for my BAD bird today.

 

I had been planning to head out for California tomorrow morning, but I delayed my departure by one day, and now I plan to leave on Saturday morning.† I'm hoping to see a small handful of year-birds on the trip, and if I do see a new year-bird, I'll write a report.† I'll try to take some pictures, too, even if only of the scenic Oregon Coast.