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Thursday, January 7, 2016


I'm ba-a-a-a-ck.  This year I plan to write fewer reports, but I still want to document my birding year and share some pictures.  This report will cover the first week of the new year, January 1-7.  Further reports will follow when I feel like it.


This year I'm pursuing a silly idea I had, which I call Day Of The Week birding, or DOTW birding for short.  I have seven separate lists, one for each day of the week, as well as my normal year-list.  Each of those lists will list the species I have recorded on that particular day of the week.  So, for example, America Crow will eventually be on all 7 lists, whereas if I see a rarity on a Monday, then it won't appear on any other lists unless I see it again on another day of the week.  I don't know how this is going to work out, and maybe I'll abandon the idea, but it gives me a chance to make more lists and do more analysis.  If it's Thursday, then I'll look at my list and see what species I haven't yet seen on a Thursday, and I'll target them that day.  The idea will be to try to increase each list as much as possible, and it will sort of a race to see on which day I see the most species this year, and which day the least.  This report covers the first seven days of the year.


So, on Monday it was clear and quite cold (low 30's).  I started my new year-list today and I added HOUSE FINCH, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, SONG SPARROW, EUROPEAN STARLING, SPOTTED TOWHEE, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, DARK EYED JUNCO, ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, AMERICAN CROW, and STELLER'S JAY to my list before I even had time for breakfast.  Eleven species in my yard before breakfast was a great start for the birding year.  As in previous years, I plan to indicate new species for my year list by using ALL CAPS the first time I mention them.


After breakfast, I went down to Juanita Bay Park to see what I could see there.  The boardwalk was icy and I had to be careful not to slip.  Here's a picture of the bay in the icy morning light.


The lake is as low I remember seeing it.  They do lower it in the winter, but this year it seems lower than usual.


I soon picked up WOOD DUCK for my list, and here is a picture of a female.  Male Wood Ducks are much showier, but I rather like the subtle colors of the female.




There were seven Trumpeter Swans there, a family of five and another pair.  They flew off before I could take any pictures, though, and they didn't come back while I was there.  I talked with the two photographers that were there; they weren't really birders, and they were most interested in the eagles and the swans.


Eventually I left, and as I walked down the boardwalk, I stopped at the corner where I have heard and seen rails before and played the calls on my phone.  It took a minute or two, but I eventually got responses from a couple of VIRGINIA RAILS.  I didn't see one, but I count "heard only" birds now, if it is a call that I am very familiar with.


On the way out of the park, I added ROCK PIGEON on the wires across the street.  I ended up adding 27 species to my year lists that day, and since it was a Friday, that meant there were now 27 species on my Friday list.  Tomorrow (Friday the 8th) I will have the opportunity to add more to the Friday list, and then on each Friday for the rest of the year.


On Saturday, January 2, I got ten birds for my Saturday list at home, and headed down to the park again.  One of the birds I saw at home was NORTHERN FLICKER, which was also new for my year-list.  Another one for my year list at home was AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, which we don't see much in the winter.


At the park, I picked up most of the same birds from the day before for my Saturday list, and added RING-BILLED GULL and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL to my year list.  I also saw a couple of RUDDY DUCKS, which I hadn't gotten on Friday.  In the parking lot there was a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, a nice addition to my year list.  I ended up with 28 species on my first try at the Saturday list.  So, after two days, Saturday was ahead of Friday, 28 to 27.  The race was on.


On Sunday, January 3, I didn't really feel like birding (I've been having recurring bowel problems, and I felt lousy that day.), so I only got 10 species, all in our yard.  I did manage to add HOUSE SPARROW to my year list, though, bringing me to 34 for the year.  With only 10 species, Sunday was running a distant last, and I'll have to try to do something about that this weekend.


On Monday, January 4, I went out to lunch with a friend, so I didn't do any actual birding, other than at home.  I only got 9 species on Monday, edging out Sunday for last place.  One of those was a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, though, coming to our feeder, so at least I got something for my year list, to bring it to 35 species.


On Tuesday, January 5, I again went out birding, although it was overcast and showers were forecast.  It was still quite cold, mid-30's, I guess.  I got 12 species here at home and went to Log Boom Park in Kenmore, to see if there were some different ducks there.  In the duck category, I added HOODED MERGANSER, CANVASBACK, LESSER SCAUP, and COMMON GOLDENEYE to my year list.


Here is a picture of a pair of Lesser Scaups.  They look very much like their close cousin, Greater Scaup, but the head shape is subtly different in the two species.  I have a hard time keeping track of which is which, and so I tend to rely on my pictures to determine the species of scaup.  These two show the high forehead and peaked crown of Lesser Scaup, I think, although the differences are pretty subtle, so I'm never 100% sure.  Both are present on Lake Washington in the winter.


I also saw a BELTED KINGFISHER and my first GREAT BLUE HERON of the year.  That brought me to 41 species for the year.  My Tuesday list was 30 by the end of the day, putting Tuesday in first place.


On Wednesday, January 6, I did something different, because I was hoping to get a new species for my year list.  I hadn't missed adding a new species to my year list yet, so I was trying to see how long I could go before I got skunked one day and wasn't able to add a new one to my year list.


So, I went to a neighborhood in Lake Forest Park, a sort of somewhat upscale neighborhood at the north end of Lake Washington, because I have seen a particular native pigeon species there for the last several years.  There is a house there with a number of feeders, and the pigeons hang around the neighborhood and feed qt the feeders.


I parked my car and walked up and down the street a little.  No sign of the pigeons at first, and there are a lot of big evergreen trees in the neighborhood.  There was lots of bird song, but I couldn't really identify anything, because I'm so poor at remembering birds sounds.  I managed to get onto a couple of small birds foraging in a big tree, and I was able to add GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET to my year list.  I played the song to lure one in, and it did come in for a close look, but I didn't get a picture.  A guy in the house where the tree was came out on his deck and asked me what I had seen.  He said he had just gotten a camera a week ago, and he was learning to take pictures of birds at his feeder.  He wasn't aware of Golden-crowned Kinglet, and he said he would look it up.  He was quite friendly.


I walked up and down the street some more, being careful to stay off people's property.  I saw a few other common species and I got this picture of a Song Sparrow that was singing and posing for me.


While I was taking pictures of the sparrow, a guy came out of that house, interested in what I was doing.  I told him and we talked for a couple of minutes, and he was quite friendly, too.  I had mentioned the pigeon I was looking for, and he confirmed they did hang around the neighborhood.  He went back in, but came out again a few minutes later to point out a tree that they often perched in.


I mention the two friendly guys because a few minutes later, a woman who had come out to check her mailbox asked me what I was doing, and she was cold and unfriendly, although she didn't say anything to me about not liking me there.  She had come out of the house with all the feeders, but she didn't seem to have any interest in birds at all.  That surprised me, because I had talked to a guy from that house last year and he was quite friendly.


I was getting ready to give it up when I saw a small group of BAND-TAILED PIGEONS near the top of a big tree.  Most of them flew off, but one stayed, and here is a distant picture of that one.


So, with that success under my belt, I got in my car and headed for home.  But, as I was leaving the little neighborhood, a Lake Forest Park police car was coming in, and the cop waved me down.  It turned out that someone had called the cops about a strange birder guy in their sacred neighborhood.  I assume it was the unfriendly woman from the feeder house.  The cop knew I was a birder, so it had to be someone I had talked to.  He was nice enough, but he kept me talking for about ten or fifteen minutes while they ran me through their computers.  He had no doubt gotten my license plate right away, but he eventually asked for my ID as well.  As I said, he was nice enough, but it still left kind of a poor taste in my mind.  I probably won't go back there to get Band-tailed Pigeon for my other day lists, although maybe I will, since I can be contrary sometimes.  We will see.  Band-tailed Pigeons aren't very common, and I rarely see them anywhere else around here.  I think it is pretty ironic that the woman whom I think called the cops on me came out of the very house that has all the feeders that attract the pigeons.  Based on something I think I remember from earlier years, I think she is actually a roomer there, and not the homeowner, which would make some sense, I guess. 


It is only the second time I can remember interacting with law enforcement while birding.  The other time was on the Rio Grande River (Mexican border) in a deserted, vegetated area in Laredo, Texas.  That Border Control agent was nicer to deal with than the Lake Forest Park guy, although the LFP guy was certainly polite and civil, and he tried to be friendly, talking about birding while they ran me in their computer.  The Border Control guy gave me the impression he was more concerned about my safety in that area, rather than worried about what I was doing there.  From the point of view of the woman who called the cops, the LFP guy did his job perfectly, because it left me not wanting to go back there, and I guess she must not have liked me being there.


So, that brought me to 43 species for the year, and I had 15 for my Wednesday list.  Obviously, good numbers at the beginning of the year are easier to rack up in lake areas, with all the water birds.


Today, Thursday, January 7, I again went down to Juanita Bay Park, after getting some birds here in the yard.  I got more pictures today than any other day this last week.  Here is a Great Blue Heron, showing his feathers nicely.  It is a darker, more intense blue that most of them, maybe because of the light, although maybe I gave it too much saturation when I processed it.  I like the picture, anyway.


Trumpeter Swans were there again, for the second time this year.  There was family of 5 (two adults and three juveniles) and a pair.  Here is one of the adults and the three juveniles, which are the darker birds.


Here is one on its own.


While I was there, it seemed like they were either sleeping, with their heads tucked in, or preening, with their heads in their feathers.  There were lots of white feathers around in the water, so I guess they preen a lot.


Here is a picture of a male Green-winged Teal.


At one point I saw a bird fly from the shore nearby, just as a couple of other birders showed up.  It landed across the small bay, and I was distracted while greeting the new arrivals, but I got my binoculars on it, and I thought I could identify it as a snipe, although it had its back to me.  I made the decision to switch to my scope, as opposed to my binoculars, but I couldn't find it again in the scope.  It must have gone into the bushes.  The other birders were quite interested; I suspect they doubted my identification, since I admitted I couldn't see the long bill that's characteristic of snipe, but I was pretty sure, just from the colors of the back and the general shape and size.


We all looked at the birds out on the lake for a while, and I added to my Thursday list nicely, with water birds.  Just as the other guys were leaving, I spotted a WILSON'S SNIPE out in the open, near where I thought I had seen one earlier.  I got my scope on it, and showed it to the two guys, and they were very appreciative.  There was a second one, and then a third one, and they saw all three.  I was taking pictures, but it was very distant, and it was overcast and there wasn't much light, so the pictures are mostly crap.  The other guys left, and eventually, a fourth snipe appeared.  Here is a distant picture of all four of them - two on the right, back near the reeds, and two on the left, near the water's edge.


They really blend in to the background, which makes them hard to see.  Here is tighter crop of the two on the left.


You should be able to see their long bills in that picture.


The snipe brought year list up to 44, and it extended my streak of adding a new year-bird every day so far this year.  At the end of the first week, the DOTW birding totals are as follows:


Friday  27

Saturday  28

Sunday  10

Monday  9

Tuesday  30

Wednesday  15

Thursday  26


Pretty exciting, huh?  As I said, it was a silly idea, and I've never heard of anyone else doing anything like it.  We'll see how it goes.



Thursday, January 14, 2016


I did some birding each day this last week, and here is a report of the action.


On Friday, January 8, I made my first visit of the year to Marymoor Park.  Before I left home, though, I saw my fist PINE SISKIN of the year at our feeder.  Then on the way to the park, I had my first RED-TAILED HAWK of the year, along Willows Road.


There was a flock of geese near the entrance of the park, and I picked up CANADA GOOSE, CACKLING GOOSE, and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE.  Cackling Goose is a smaller version of the familiar Canada Goose.  It used to be considered a sub-species of Canada Goose, but several years ago it was broken out as a separate species.  In addition to the size difference, the head and bill shapes are different between Canada Goose and Cackling Goose.  Here is a close-up of the head of a Canada Goose.


Here is the head of a Cackling Goose.


Note the steeper forehead and shorter bill of the Cackler.


I drove around and added three gulls to my year list from the car - MEW GULL, RING-BILLED GULL, and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL.  I also picked up my first AMERICAN ROBIN of the year, and a flock of WESTERN MEADOWLARKS, which is a good one for King county, for me.  By the time I left the park, I had added ten species to my year list, to bring me to 54 for the year, at that point.


On Saturday, January 9, I picked up some birds in our yard for my Saturday list and I took these pictures of American Goldfinches in our yard, from the back porch through windows.



They'll all get a lot more yellow as spring approaches, and the males will develop black patches on their foreheads.  One of the things I enjoy about birding is observing the changes in plumage throughout the seasons.


I headed up to the Edmonds waterfront for the first time this year after that.  I soon started adding salt-water birds to my year list, including RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, HORNED GREBE, SURF SCOTER, PELAGIC CORMORANT, BRANDT'S CORMORANT, PIGEON GUILLEMOT, RED-NECKED GREBE, and RHINOCEROS AUKLET.  There was also one SANDERLING (a shorebird) on the rock breakwater.  I was looking for some rare shorebirds that had been reported there recently, and several other birders and photographers were also looking.  Finally I was able to spot them by myself and showed them to others.  Here is a picture of a SURFBIRD on the breakwater.


There were six of them, and according to my Washington county spreadsheet, there were fewer than five records of them in Snohomish county before this year, so it was a genuine rarity.  Both the Sanderling I had seen earlier and Surfbird were new for my Snohomish county list.  (So many lists to keep track of.  I need to keep track of my Day Of The Week list, my year list, and my Washington county lists.  They all have notebooks and spreadsheets.  What fun!)


Here is a picture of a Brandt's Cormorant, taken from the fishing pier.


Here is a male Common Goldeneye.


There was a young Harbor Seal on a dock, too.


Here is a close-up of its face.


I stopped at Edmond's Marsh on the way home and added KILLDEER to my year list.  Then at home I saw our resident BEWICK'S WREN for the first time this year.  I ended up seeing 12 more species for my year list that day, which brought me to 66 for the year.


On Sunday, January 10, I added some yard birds to my Sunday list and went down to my local park, Juanita Bay Park.  I started out by playing the song of a bird I have seen near the parking lot, and that attracted a cute little BROWN CREEPER, my first of the year.  I wanted to keep my streak alive, seeing a new year-bird each day, which is why I was trying for the creeper that day.  Out on the boardwalk I added the usual suspects to my Sunday list, but nothing new for the year.  Back at home there was a small group of BUSHTITS in our yard, so I didn't need the creeper after all, as it turned out.  That was 2 more species for my year list that day, bringing me to 68 for the year.


On Monday, January 11, Christina and I drove up to Bellingham to visit Josh and see his new apartment.  Bellingham is about an hour and a half north of here, almost to the Canadian border.  I knew I wasn't going to have much time for birding, and it was raining off and on as well, but I had a plan.


We were early enough that I had an extra half hour to look for birds on the waterfront at Fairhaven, just south of Bellingham proper.  I knew that the crows in Whatcom county are a different species than we get down here at home, and it was easy enough to see a number of NORTHWESTERN CROWS around the waterfront.  They look just like American Crows and birders have different opinions about how "pure" the ones in Whatcom county are, because Northwestern Crow interbreeds with American Crow and there are many intergrade or hybrid birds around.  I choose to count small Whatcom county crows seen near the water as Northwestern Crows.  I also added a great one there, BLACK OYSTERCATCHER.  Here is a picture of a couple of them.


That was new for my Whatcom county list, as was the Common Goldeneye I saw in the bay.  I picked up a number of other good "day" birds for my Monday list, and then added BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, COMMON LOON, and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER to my year list.  The scoter was new for my Whatcom county list, too.


Later, while we were running errands, I saw a couple of BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS in a parking lot.  They were new for my year list and also my Whatcom county list.  So, even though it was a rainy day and I only had a half hour for birding, I managed to add nicely to my Monday list, pick up 4 for my Whatcom county list, and add six to my year list, to bring me to 74 on the year at that point.  Mission accomplished!


On Tuesday, January 12, it was again raining, but I went up to Crescent Lake, north of Duvall, for the first time this year.  I added NORTHERN PINTAIL, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER to my year list.  It was my first Yellow-rumped Warbler in Snohomish county, which surprised me, since I now have 114 species in that county.  I must have seen them before in Snohomish county but figured I already had them there.  Those three year-birds brought me to 77 species for the year and kept my "new year-bird" streak alive.  The day was sort of notable because I added those three species to my year list and nine to my Tuesday list, and I never got out of my car (because of the rain).


Yesterday, Wednesday, January 13, it was raining again in the morning, but I had a friend coming over for lunch, and I wanted to keep my streak alive.  I went down to Juanita Bay Park and played the song of a wren I have seen there before, and sure enough, a cute little PACIFIC WREN flew in and sang back to me.  That brought me to 78 species for the year, and the streak was still alive.  In the afternoon the rains stopped and we went over to Log Boom Park, at the north end of Lake Washington, and I got some good Wednesday birds, but nothing new for the year.  I knew it was going to be tough to keep the streak alive, which is why I had gone down to the park in the morning rain to call up the Pacific Wren.


Today, Thursday, January 14, the weather was fantastic, so I went up to the Edmonds waterfront, because there were several birds I could get to keep my new year-bird streak alive.  On the way I had to go right through Lake Forest Park, where I had had the interaction with the police officer last week, when I was looking for Banded Pigeons.  Since Banded Pigeon is a good bird and difficult to see, I wanted to get it for my Thursday list, so I drove through the neighborhood.  There were several Band-tailed pigeons flying around, and I got a good binocular look at one that was perched.  If anyone called the cops on me today, I didn't know it because I didn't stick around long.


Up at Edmonds, I got this picture of the Edmonds ferry with the Olympic Mountains in the background.


You can see what a beautiful day it was.  Temperatures got up into the low 50's eventually.


Here is a picture of a log offshore, and there are at least seven different species of birds sitting on it.


Here is a full frame, fully zoomed picture of the right side of that log.


The shorebirds on the log included about a half dozen Sanderlings, which I had counted for the year last Saturday, and a couple of DUNLIN, which was a new one for my Snohomish county list, too.  The ducks to the right of center in that last picture are HARLEQUIN DUCKS, a species I don't see very often.  I scoped the water several times and saw three PACIFIC LOONS in the distance, another one for my year list.


Those pictures were taken from Sunset Avenue, on the north side of the ferry dock, and when I left there I went out on the fishing pier to the south of the ferry dock.  I was looking for the Surfbirds I had seen on Saturday, but the tide was too high, and they weren't around.  There was another birder there, and we talked about what we had seen.  I was looking for the Surfbirds when he called out that there were some BRANT flying by, and I added that to my year list.  Brant is a small goose.


So, I got four more for my year list and added a good number to my Thursday list today.  That brings me to 82 species for the year so far, in two weeks.  Not bad, considering I haven't gone far from home.  I can't really compare that to other years, though, because up until now, I have always done a California trip in January, and that adds a lot of different birds.  I hope to head for California soon.


So, after two weeks, here is the scorecard for my DOTW birding.


                        After     After

                        1 wk     2 wks

Friday               27         40

Saturday           28         45

Sunday             10         33

Monday            9         34

Tuesday            30         39

Wednesday       15         37

Thursday           26         46


I'm also keeping track of how many species I have made a "clean sweep" on, meaning I have seen that species on each day of the week this year.  At this point, I have made a clean sweep of 13 species.  So, I have seen 82 different species, but the most I have seen on any given day of the week is 46, and I've seen 13 of them on each day of the week.


The jury is still out on this Day Of The Week birding thing - it has given me focus and motivation, which I like, and I do like keeping all the lists and spreadsheets, but it also seems pretty silly.  We'll see how it goes.


I imagine that my streak of seeing a new species for the year each day will end tomorrow, or if not tomorrow, then on Saturday.  Adding new year-birds will get a lot tougher now, until I get out of the area.  When that streak ends, I'll continue to work on another streak - adding a new bird to my Day Of The Week list each day.  If I'm careful, lucky, and smart with my birding sites, I should be able to keep that one going for a while.



Thursday, January 21, 2016


As I expected last week, my streak of getting a new year-bird each day ended last Saturday.  Now I'm trying to see at least one new Day Of The Week bird each day - that is, on Friday, see a species I haven't yet seen on a Friday in 2016, and then again on each subsequent day - a new Saturday bird, a new Sunday bird, etc.  With careful planning, I should be able to keep that streak going for another 3 or 4 weeks, I figure, providing I get out birding every day.  In the meantime, it will give my daily birding focus, looking for a new species for that day, each day.


So, on Friday, January 15, I went over to Marymoor Park before going out to lunch, and then I went back after lunch, because I hadn't seen my target bird in the morning.  In the afternoon, I spotted the NORTHERN SHRIKE that had been hanging around there this winter.  It was much too distant for a picture that day, but I saw it again yesterday, and I got a picture then (see below).  I also saw a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER there, another new one for my year list.


On Saturday, January 16, my back was hurting and it was raining, so I only looked for yard birds.  I was able to add American Crow here at home to my Saturday list, thus keeping my DOTW streak alive and completing American Crow (that is, I have now seen crows on each day of the week).


On Sunday it was again raining, but I headed north and east to the north end of the Snoqualmie Valley, north and west of Duvall.  My first stop was a new place for me, Bob Heirman Preserve, just south of the town of Snohomish.  I saw some Trumpeter Swans there, which is what I was looking for, but it was raining too much to go walking on the trail to look for anything else.  I stopped by the Crescent Lake area and picked up some ducks for my Sunday list, then went to W. Snoqualmie River Rd NE, just outside Duvall.  The road runs right along the river there, and I've seen good birds there I the past.  It was flooded when I was there in December, so I hadn't actually been able to drive up the road for months.  I soon got a couple of COMMON RAVENS sitting in a tree, for my year list, and later got this picture of my first GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW of the year.


Along that road I saw this house.


I've noticed that house before because they have feeders in the front yard, and I've seen birds there.  It is right across the road from the river, and I guess they got tired of being flooded out regularly, so they decided to raise the house.  I assume the plan is to build up the foundation under the house and then lower it down onto the raised foundation.  It will be interesting to watch their progress.  In the meantime, they are well above any possible flood level, and they appear to be living in the house.  I didn't notice if there are water and sewer connections to the raised house, though, so maybe it is unoccupied.


On Monday, January 18, my back was hurting pretty badly again, so I stayed home and got three more yard birds for my Monday list.  Nothing for my year list, though.


On Tuesday, my back was a little better so I ventured down to Juanita Bay Park to get a DOTW bird.  I didn't lug my scope out to the edge of the lake, though, in deference to my back.  I soon saw a raptor at the top of a big evergreen tree, but I didn't have my scope with me, so I had to rely on my binoculars and my camera.  It was about the size of a small to medium size crow, and my thought at the time was that it was a Cooper's Hawk, which would have been my first of the year.  My camera has much more zoom than my binoculars, so I took some pictures, despite the poor light and the fact I was looking up at the sky for a background.  Not the best conditions for pictures.  Here's what I saw when I got home and put them on my computer.



The markings on the head weren't right for Cooper's Hawk, and I decided it was a PEREGRINE FALCON, an even better year-bird.  The white ring around the eye and the white chin were characteristic of Peregrine, but not of Cooper's Hawk.  The fact that the streaks on the breast are vertical, rather than horizontal, indicates that it is a juvenile bird, hatched last year.  I got a couple of other Tuesday birds at the park and one more at home.


On Wednesday, January 20, it wasn't raining, so I again stopped at Marymoor Park on my way to lunch in the Factoria area.  I easily added the expected geese and Mew Gull to my Wednesday list, and I also got a closer look at the juvenile Northern Shrike that I had seen last Friday.  I walked out onto a soccer field and got this distant picture of the shrike.


An adult Northern Shrike would be black and gray, rather than brownish, and it would have a horizontal black stripe through its eye.  This one is very obviously a juvenile bird, hatched last year.  They breed in the far north, so this one has made its way here for the winter.  Northern Shrike is fairly rare on the west side of the Cascades in Washington, so this particular bird has gotten attention.


Today, Thursday, January 21, it poured rain all day long.  It's about 5 PM now, and my rain gauge indicates 1.33 inches of rain since midnight last night.  I have some places I can go to get a new Thursday bird from the car, in the rain, but I didn't need to do that today.  I hadn't yet seen Steller's Jay or Pine Siskin yet this year on a Thursday, and I saw both in our yard this morning, thus saving me the trouble to going out in the rain.


I'm still enjoying the DOTW birding thing, and I've still seen a new day-bird each day.  Here is the scorecard after three weeks.


                        After     After     After

                        1 wk     2 wks    3 wks

Friday               27         40         43

Saturday           28         45         46

Sunday             10         33         42

Monday            9         34         37

Tuesday            30         39         43

Wednesday       15         37         43

Thursday           26         46         48


So, Thursday retains the lead and Monday is bringing up the rear.  I really didn't do much birding this last week, with the weather and my sore back.  I hope to get out more soon.


For the year, after correcting a couple of mistakes, my total is now 85 species.  I've now seen 17 of those 85 species on each day of the week.

That's it for this week.



Sunday, January 24, 2016


On Friday I went up to Crescent Lake and the Duvall area.  I went by a different route than I usually go, and I stopped at Cottage Lake to see if there were any ducks there.  There was a group of half a dozen cormorants, and nearby were two ducks.  Oddly enough, both were ones I needed for my Friday list.  One was a female GREATER SCAUP, which I also needed for my year list.  The other was a male Ruddy Duck.  Here is a picture of the two of them.


It was nice to get the scaup.  I already had Lesser Scaup for the year, and two species are very similar.  This picture helped me decide that this one was a Greater Scaup, because of the head shape.


Swans were back to the field near Crescent Lake where they hang out each winter.  Here is a picture of some Trumpeter Swans.


The darker ones are juveniles, hatched last year on their breeding ground, far to the north.  They spend their first winter with their parents, and then when they get back up north in the spring, they are on their own.  Here is a view of the field with the swans.


I didn't get anything else in the area, mainly because an eagle scared away most of the ducks on the pond nearby.  I went on down to West Snoqualmie River Road NE, just north and west of Duvall, and saw some good birds there.  Here is my first AMERICAN KESTREL of the year.


Here are a couple of Northern Pintails, the male on the left.


Last week I showed a picture of a house on that road that had been raised up on timbers.  By this week, they had built walls under it and lowered it two feet on to the new walls.  Four men were working on it, putting up plywood on the walls.


They plan to finish it like that, presumably with a more permanent set of steps in front.  They certainly won't have to worry about floods any more, and they'll have a great view from up there.  It seems pretty weird, though, to me.


I got eight more birds for my Friday list, to bring it to 51 species now.


Yesterday, Saturday, it was raining, so I went over to Marymoor Park with the idea of picking up some geese for my Saturday list from the car.  They have been there every time I've been there this year, but yesterday there were tons of cars and tons of people in the park.  It turns out something called the Rain Run was going on, and people were indeed running in the rain, with numbers on them.  At the finish line, there was a big digital clock and it was at an hour and thirty-five minutes and running, so it must have been a pretty long race.  Maybe everyone didn't start at the same time, because people were strung out all along the route.  Anyway, with all the activity, there wasn't a goose to be found, anywhere in the park.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do about getting a bird for my Saturday list, and then I remembered the Great Blue Heron rookery there at the park, and I hadn't yet seen a Great Blue Heron on a Saturday this year.  Sure enough, there were 8 or 10 of them in the trees with the nests, so that was my Saturday bird yesterday, to keep my streak going.  That brought my Saturday list to 47 species.


Today was dry, so I headed up north to the Skagit Flats, about an hour north of here.  I got a tuna sandwich at Subway in Stanwood and my first birding stop was Tholme Road.  I didn't see anything of interest there, so I moved on north.  There were some swans in a field, so I took the side road that leads to the site called The Big Ditch.  I picked up my first NORTHERN HARRIER of the year there.  There were also some Western Meadowlarks for my Sunday list, and a single Dunlin in a field.  Here is the Dunlin.


The swans were all Trumpeter Swans, and I was looking for the other swan species.  Just outside of the little town of Conway, there was a field of swans, and both species were there.  Here is a Trumpeter Swan.


Note that the bill is pretty much straight on top and the black of the bill extends right up to partially enclose the eye on the top.  Here is a TUNDRA SWAN for comparison.  The bill is smaller and is curved on top.  The black of the bill comes together just in front of the eye.  It also has a yellow dash in front of the eye, but that dash is missing in some Tundra Swans.


Here is a Tundra Swan with a larger yellow dash.


Here is one with a neck tag.  I guess someone keeps track of where it is, when they get reports, but I don't know where to report it.


I got both Canada Goose and Cackling Goose in that same field.  I saw hundreds of swans today, in dozens of fields, everywhere I went.  I added Brewer's Blackbird to my Sunday list and then got this picture of a Red-tailed Hawk.


Soon after that, I saw my first WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW of the year and got this picture.


I continued north and stopped at Bay View State Park and ate half my tuna sandwich. I picked up Red-breasted Merganser for my Sunday list there.  Continuing north, I spotted one of my target birds for the day, sitting on a wire.  I pulled over and got some close pictures.  Here is a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK.


I must have seen eight or ten Rough-legged Hawks today, which is probably more than I had seen previously in my life, total.


Another target for the day was SNOW GOOSE, and I saw a large flock of them flying around in the distance.  Here is a picture of some of the Snow Geese.


Here is a picture of some of them coming in to land.


When they are on the ground, you don't see any of the black on the wings.


A little later another Rough-legged Hawk posed for me.


Here is a picture of it just as it took off.


At the site referred to by birders as the West 90, I got this picture of a Western Meadowlark.


Here are two Western Meadowlarks.


I was looking for Short-eared Owls there, but only saw Rough-legged Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Northern Harriers today.  I also had a distant Northern Shrike there, perched out in the open in a tree.  I ate the rest of my sandwich and moved on.  I guess I got my first Sunday Great Blue Heron there, too.  I spent the rest of my time driving around looking for American Wigeons, a species of duck.  I didn't need American Wigeon for any lists, but there are a few vagrant Eurasian Wigeons around, and they hang with their American cousins.  I didn't find any Eurasian ones today, despite looking through dozens of American Wigeons in a couple of places.


There were Bald Eagles everywhere, all day long.  I can't resist taking their pictures, so here is a little eagle show to finish with.  First, here is one that was flying overhead at the West 90.


Here is one that was perched near the road.  I waited for 5 or 10 minutes for the sun to come out to get this picture.


The breeze was ruffling its feathers, and the head had been wet.


At another place, there were two adult eagles and this immature Bald Eagle.


Bald Eagles take four years to get their adult plumage, and they go through various stages along the way.


It was fun to get out and do a (short) day of birding.  Counting the driving time, I was out there for about six and a half hours - a good day of birding for this dilettante birder.  I added 13 species to my Sunday list, to bring me to 55 Sunday birds for the year.  I added five to my year list, too, to bring that one to 92 species so far this year.  What a life!



Thursday, January 28, 2016


It's a short report today, to close out week four of my Day Of The Week Birding experiment.


On Monday, January 25, I went down to Juanita Bay Park, since there was a break in the rain.  Soon after I got there I saw a DOWNY WOODPECKER, my first one of the year.  I added the usual ducks I see there (this was my first visit to the park on a Monday this year), as well as Northern Flicker.  After going out to lunch, my friend, Chris and I went to Phantom Lake in Bellevue and I added Golden-crowned Sparrow and Ruby-crowned Kinglet to my Monday list.  We saw another Downy Woodpecker there, too.  Monday was by far the birdiest day of the year at the local parks, for passerines - songbirds, in other words.  It was warmer than it has been (low 50's) and the sun was out some of the time, so maybe that brought out the birds.


On Tuesday, January 26, it was raining again, but I decided to head over to Marymoor to get Canada and Cackling Goose because I figured I could do that from the car in the rain.  As I was pulling out of my driveway I saw a couple of American Robins in our yard, though, and since I hadn't seen a robin on a Tuesday yet, that went onto my Tuesday list.  I decided not to bother venturing out in the rain and gave it up for the day.  I'll do Marymoor another Tuesday.  That brought me to 44 for Tuesday, which is my lowest day after four weeks.  I haven't been to Edmonds yet on a Tuesday, and that will add 8 or 10 species, probably.


On Wednesday it wasn't raining, so I went up to Edmonds to get the saltwater birds there.  It was my first trip to Edmonds on a Thursday this year.  I set up my scope on Sunset Avenue, north of the ferry terminal and started putting birds on my Thursday list.  There was a huge flock of Dunlin (a small shorebird) flying around the whole time I was there.  There must have been more than a thousand of them.  They just kept swooping around in a cloud.  Every available log and perching place in the underwater park was full of Dunlin as well.  I managed to pick out one Surfbird on a log, too, in the midst of the Dunlin there.  I had both Pacific Loon and Common Loon, and most of the rest of the normal Edmonds birds.  Other notable ones were Harlequin Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye.  I ended up adding 12 species to my Wednesday list, to bring me to 55 for that day of the week.


Today, Thursday, it was again raining and I headed over for my first Thursday visit of the year to Marymoor Park.  I figured I would get the two geese there, but I was surprised to find no geese at all.  They must be spending their days somewhere else, at least part of the time.  I hadn't seen them there last Saturday either, but that was the day of the big Rain Run and the park was overrun with people, so that didn't surprise me.  I had seen my first Thursday Red-tailed hawk on the way there, along Willows Road, so I didn't need to get anything, but I looked anyway, from the car.  I saw the Northern Shrike that I had seen a couple of times before, and I saw some robins, which I still needed for Thursday.  Then, as I was leaving I saw a small sparrow-like bird scratching in the leaf litter in front of some blackberry vines.  I figured it was a Song Sparrow, but when I looked with my binoculars I saw it was my first FOX SPARROW of the year.  Here is a picture of that little guy.


It was raining and the rain came in my window as I snapped pictures from the car, but I persisted.  There was very little light and the bird never stood still, so it was a challenge.  Eventually a second one showed up, too.  Here is a picture of the other Fox Sparrow.


I ended up adding four species to my Thursday list, to bring me to 52.  The Fox Sparrow brought me to 94 species for the year so far.  I've had a clean sweep (seen on all seven days of the week) on 22 species now.


Here is the scorecard after four weeks.


                        After     After     After     After

                        1 wk     2 wks    3 wks    4 wks

Friday               27         40         43         51

Saturday           28         45         46         47

Sunday             10         33         42         55

Monday            9         34         37         50

Tuesday            30         39         43         44

Wednesday       15         37         43         55

Thursday           26         46         48         52



Tuesday is the laggard now.  The differences are mainly due to which places I have visited on which days.  I keep track of that and plan each day accordingly.  My DOTW birding wheeze has given me focus for each day, which has been interesting.  I have to take the weather into consideration, too, so each night I check the next day's forecast and my spreadsheet and plan the next day.  What fun!  I know all of you readers out there wish you had such an exciting hobby.