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Wednesday, July 1, 2015
I got home yesterday afternoon, and this morning I was out chasing a couple of local species for my year list. I had particular locations to try, and people to get info from, thanks to a post on Tweeters, the local birding mailing list.
I got over to the Pinehurst neighborhood near Northgate in north Seattle about 9:15. I looked for one of my species along 20th Ave NE, but didn't see any. I got to the second site just after 9:30 and met Bob G., who showed me where there had been some young owls over the weekend. There weren't any in evidence at the time, but I kept looking after he went back in his house.
After about ten minutes I spotted a BARRED OWL (US first for me), perched out more or less in the open.
It was awake and looking around, so I took a lot of pictures.
Here it is, looking right at me.
I like this next one because it looks so intent.
Here's one final picture.
There had been five of them on Saturday, I understand. Most or all of them were recently fledged young ones. This one I saw today looks like an adult to me, but I don't know how quickly they get their adult plumage, so I don't really know. I had only ever seen one Barred Owl before, and that was in 2004 in Canada, so all I can do is rely on my field guides.
So, with that success under my belt, I stopped again at the 20th Ave NE site, but again didn't see any of the recently fledged small falcons that are around there. I went on up to another nest site, on Ashworth Ave N, north of N 185th St. I didn't see anything there, so I went around the block to Densmore Ave N, and got out and looked around. I heard a bird calling and then saw a MERLIN near the top of a tree in the middle distance. Another one flew in and seemed to feed it, then flew off, leaving the first one in the tree. I got some very distant mediocre pictures, and here are two of them.
So, I was two for two, getting both of my target species, with pictures of both, no less. I expected to get Merlin eventually this year, but I didn't expect to get Barred Owl. I knew that the owls live in the area, but they are only active at night, so the only practical way to see one is to find one roosting for the day. I guess that people go out at night with spotlights and play their calls, hoping to attract one, but I've never tried that. It is much more common to hear a response than it is to see one, though, I understand. I was lucky to see one today, as there were a lot of trees in the ravine it was in, with little access to view them.
The two species today brings me to 357 species for the year, of which 8 are lifers. Barred Owl is the second species I've seen this year that was a first for me in the US. There are a few other species I still need for my year list that I can look for locally, and if I see one, I'll send out another report.