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Saturday, April 1, 2017


I got out of my San Diego digs by 8:40 this morning, an early start for me.† My first stop was the San Joaquin Sanctuary in Irvine.† I got American Avocet and American White Pelican for my Saturday list as I drove in.† Here is an American Avocet that I shot later in the day.


Here is an American White Pelican in flight.


I parked and walked out into the preserve.† I picked up Black-necked Stilt and Long-billed Dowitcher for Saturday in the first pond.† Here is a Black-necked Stilt.


I also got Least Sandpiper for Saturday there, and here is a picture taken later at that same pond of a Least Sandpiper.


The small size and the greenish-yellow legs are the markings that tell me that it was a Least Sandpiper.


As I walked out among the ponds, there were lots of swallows, which I tried to ignore.† Like last week there, though, a pair of Tree Swallows perched on a nest box right next to the path, so I was forced to take Tree Swallow for Saturday.† It would have been a great one to save, but I take them when I see them if I can identify them.† There was a Black-crowned Night-Heron on the other side of one of the ponds, so that one went onto my Saturday list, too.† I didnít need it for any list, but I got this picture of a male Ruddy Duck in his brightly colored breeding plumage.


There was an Eared Grebe on that pond, too, another good one for Saturday.† There were lots of Common Yellowthroats singing all over the place, and although I never saw one, that one went onto my Saturday list as a ďheard onlyĒ bird.


A little farther along I saw a small woodpecker in a tree.† I was hoping it was a Nuttalís Woodpecker, a California specialty, but it turned out to be a male Downy Woodpecker, which I didnít need for Saturday.† Here is a picture of him.


Nuttalís and Downy Woodpeckers are very similar, but the Downy is distinguished by having that white patch on its back.


In the next pond there were some Western Grebes.† I didnít need that one, but I needed the very similar Clarkís Grebe.† It turned out that at least one of them was a Clarkís.† Here is a Western Grebe.† Note that ďthe eye is in the blackĒ, meaning the black on the top of the head extends below the eye.


Here is a Clarkís Grebe, and ďthe eye is in the whiteĒ, meaning that the black ends above the eye.


The color of the bill is different, too.


I completed the small loop I was on and drove to the overflow parking lot, which overlooks one of the ponds.† I picked up Western Sandpiper there for Saturday and also White-faced Ibis.† Here is what I think is a juvenile White-faced Ibis.


The reason I think it is a juvenile is that it isnít very colorful and the feathers and skin around the eye are plain.† Here is an adult White-faced Ibis, and the skin between the eye and the bill is red, and the bird is much more colorful.


That was it for San Joaquin, and I drove up to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.† On the way I found a Subway and got a tuna sandwich and some Fritos.† I ate half the sandwich in the parking lot at Bolsa Chica, and while eating I got Marbled Godwit for Saturday.† Later I got this picture that I like of a Marbled Godwit.


I like the rings in the water where a drop of water has obviously dropped off the end of the birdís bill.


As I finished the first half of my sandwich I saw a bird taking a bath.† It turned out to be a Ridgwayís Rail, the bird I had gotten pictures of yesterday as it walked down a path toward me.† Rails are very shy, so seeing another one today was a treat.† The light was terrible for pictures, and all my attempts are poor, so since I had such good shots yesterday, I wonít show any of todayís efforts.† I was pleased to get it for my Saturday list, though.


I soon got Willet (to complete the species) and Black-bellied Plover for Saturday, and I saw a few Forsterís Terns, too.† Here is a picture of a Forsterís Tern, with the sun in the wrong place, unfortunately.


When I got across the bridge I scanned the fenced-off area there, hoping to maybe see a Horned Lark, which I have seen there in the past.† I was very surprised to see a couple of Least Terns sitting on the ground, because I thought they werenít due back for 2 or 3 weeks.† I got pictures and then noticed a Snowy Plover sitting out in the field.† Again, I got pictures, quite pleased to see one there.† At about that point another birder came along and we chatted about some terns he had seen.† In the course of the conversation I mentioned that I was surprised that the Least Terns were back already, and he told me that the ones I had seen in the field were dummies, presumably put there to encourage the actual birds to come nest there.† Likewise the Snowy Plover.† When I processed my pictures tonight, it was obvious that they were dummies, but I hadnít noticed at the time.† Here are pictures of a fake Least Tern and a fake Snowy Plover.



They look very obviously fake in the pictures, but with the lesser magnification of my binoculars, I was fooled.† It was funny, but it would have been even funnier if the guy hadnít clued me in, and I had looked at my pictures later and seen the obvious fakery.† I wonder what I would have thought was going on.


I continued to walk out into the reserve and I picked up Elegant Tern, Royal Tern, and Caspian Tern for my Saturday list.† I also completed Ring-billed Gull.† It was getting to be time to leave, but I walked a little farther on, and I was glad I had done so.† I saw a shorebird that was different, and I decided it was a RED KNOT, my first for the year (and probably my last, since I donít expect to do much birding anywhere there are shorebirds after this,and they arenít common).† Here is a picture of the Red Knot.


The shape of the bill is very characteristic of Red Knot.† Here is another picture of the Red Knot.


Here is a picture of the knot and a Least Sandpiper, for size comparison.


At that point I turned back toward my car.† I saw a Whimbrel on the way, another good one for Saturday.† I also saw a Horned Lark in the same area where the dummy terns and plovers were.† It moved away as I tried to get into a better position for a picture.


While walking across the bridge back to the parking lot, I saw some Short-billed Dowitchers for Saturday.† Here is a picture of a Short-billed Dowitcher that is molting from winter plumage to summer plumage.


I also got a picture of a couple of Western Sandpipers that were getting their summer color.† In the winter they are drab brown, gray and white.


So, that was it for the birding today.† After eating the second half of my sandwich, I headed back to the freeway and joined the throngs of cars on the L.A. freeways on a spring Saturday.† The freeway was packed all the way out past the San Fernando Valley, with intermittent slowdowns and stop-and-go bottlenecks.† I figure the traffic added about half an hour to my drive today, and that was in a stretch that would have taken about 1:40 without traffic.† My heel was pretty good today, but I had done a relatively large amount of walking today, and stop-and-go driving is very hard on it.††† The after effects of my cold were maybe a little better today, but Iím not 100% yet by any means.† I still get tired early and feel generally punk.† Iíll be glad to get home, but I have several days to go still, and a lot of miles to drive.


In my three hours of birding today, I added 25 species to Saturday, to bring me to 147 species.† I completed two species to make it 69 species that I have completed now.† I got one more for the year (Red Knot), to make my year total 264.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Red Knot.


Tomorrow I plan to drive to the Monterey area and spend the night there, after doing some birding in the afternoon.† It will mostly be more shorebird birding, and since I got a lot of shorebirds last Sunday, my total might not be very high tomorrow.† I just need one new Sunday bird, though, so keep my streak alive.† I figure I ought to get something new for Sunday, although I havenít yet looked at my spreadsheet to see what that might be.



Sunday, April 2, 2017


I slept poorly last night, and I was away just before 9 this morning.† I had about 4 hours to drive, but it ended up taking closer to 5, since I stopped for gas, to pee, and for lunch.† I also had a brief bird stop.


I drove up I-5 to Lost Hills and got gas at the Pilot Travel Center there.† I like the Pilot Travel Centers for some reason, and I seek them out.† I headed up over the coast range from there, on highway 46.† I was watching the fence posts and wires for a species that I thought should be common in that area at this time of year, and when a rest area showed up, I pulled over just to look around.† It paid off, because I saw my first WESTERN KINGBIRD of the year Ė the species I had been looking for.† Here is a picture of my first Western Kingbird of 2017.


At the time I didnít look closely at the bird because I thought that Western Kingbird would be the only kingbird in that area.† Later I looked it up, and it turns out that there are also Cassinís Kingbirds there; it is right on the northern edge of their range.† I was glad I had the picture then, because I think it shows that it was indeed a Western Kingbird.


I drove on and eventually got to the Salinas/Monterey area, after a stop at a Mickey Dís in King City.† As I drove through Salinas, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew across the freeway in front of me, and that was an excellent Sunday bird.†


My first destination, after I fought my way through the terrible traffic of a sunny spring Sunday, was the Moonglow Dairy.† It is a large working dairy, but the owner allows birders to come onto the property, and they do so.† I saw two other birding parties there today, for example.† My main target was an uncommon blackbird.† I drove through the parts that I understand are open to birders, but I saw no blackbirds at all.† Pigeons seem to have taken over the place.† On my way back out I saw a few blackbirds in some trees, so I stopped and took a look.† Most of them were Brewerís Blackbirds, which I didnít need, and I saw one Red-winged Blackbird, which I also didnít need. Then I spotted a single blackbird at the top of a tree, and it had the white streak on its wing that designates TRICOLORED BLACKBIRD.† Here is a distant picture, showing the white on the wing.


Tricolored Blackbirds have red patches on their wings, like male Red-winged Blackbirds, but there is also white above the red.† When they are sitting, you usually can see a smidgen of the white part.† Some subspecies of Red-winged Blackbirds have yellow along with the red, but this was clearly white, so it was the species I was looking for there.†† I also picked up my first Sunday Eurasian Collared-Dove of the year there.† I would have rather have saved that one for home, but there it was, in the middle of the road.


On my way out of the dairy, I saw a couple of birds in the road, and they turned out to be Horned Larks.† That is a good bird, but it happened that I had seen the species before this year on a Sunday.† I did get two pictures that I like, though, of Horned Lark.



I worked for those pictures, first waiting for a big truck to go past, then moving to the south side of where they had been (for the sun angle), then pulling across the road so I could shoot from the car, and finally, waiting until they came back onto the road.


Next I drove to Jetty Road, which is part of the Moss Landing State Wildlife Area.† The tide was too high to see many shorebirds, but I had already seen a lot of shorebirds for Sunday last week, at Bolsa Chica, down in Orange County.† I soon picked up Greater Scaup for my Sunday list.† Here is a picture of a pair of Greater Scaup, with the male the more dramatically colored one, of course.


Here is a female Greater Scaup on her own.


There was a Sea Otter out in the water there, too, and I got this picture.


Across the road there were still a few shorebirds, even though the tide was getting pretty high by then.† The light was all wrong, but here is a Long-billed Curlew, which I didnít actually need for Sunday.


There was a group of little peeps there, too, and I decided they were Western Sandpipers, one I needed for Sunday.† The other possibility would have been Least Sandpiper, but they would have had yellowish legs.† I think the legs on these birds were black, although the sun was in a bad place to tell for sure.† Here is a picture of what I think are Western Sandpipers, with black legs.


When I zoomed in on the picture, the legs still looked black.


I drove down to the end of Jetty Road, and I wished I hadnít.† It was jammed with cars and people.† Iíve never seen it so crowded.† I managed to get turned around on the narrow road and got the heck out of there.


I drove through the Moss Landing harbor area, hoping to see a Brown Pelican, which I needed for Sunday, but I didnít see one.† I drove through the Moss Landing cemetery, but I didnít see anything of interest there, either.† I think I mentioned my very good friend, Ted, who died a year and a half ago, and todayís itinerary was designed to visit some of the places that he and I birded over the years.† I intended it as a sort of memorial or tribute to him, and as a memory trigger for me.† It was kind of emotional to do that, but the effects of the heavy traffic and the way Iím feeling physically did detract from what I had hoped it to be.† I plan to visit some of the places tomorrow morning, and I hope it will be a whole lot less crowded.


I drove past the entrance to the condo development where he and his wife had lived, and then drove down Del Monte Road and what we had called Shrike Road, since we had seen Loggerhead Shrikes there a number of times over the years.† Shrike Road was a real downer because there were at least a couple of dozen vehicles (campers, trailers, recreational vehicles, and cars) parked along it, and it was obvious they hadnít been moved for some time and people were living in them.† It was kind of a sign of the changing times.† I didnít see any birds, either.


I quit early today, and after a stop at a grocery store to stock up, I was all moved in to my latest little home away from home by 4 PM.


I added 7 species to my Sunday list today, to bring it to 147.† I got 2 new species for the year, to bring my year total to 266.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Tricolored Blackbird.


My plan now is to head for home.† This cold, or whatever it was, is hanging on, and I just want to be home.† I could drive home from here in two fairly long days Ė I have done so many times Ė but I would rather take it easier and stop earlier each day, so I plan to take three days to drive home.† That way I can have a better chance to get a new day-bird each day, to keep my DOTW birding streak alive.† I have a rough idea of where Iíll stop each night, but I need to do more work on it, and I need to check out the birding sites along the way and compare what can be found at each one to my spreadsheet that will show me what I ďneedĒ each day.† Itís complicated, but I enjoy the game aspects of it.† It will be very nice to be home.† This will be Night 15 on the trip, and I donít enjoy the long trips as much as I used to.† Being sick the whole time has put somewhat of a damper on this one, too.



Monday, April 3, 2017


I hit the road about 9 this morning after a good nightís sleep.† I felt somewhat better than the last couple of days.† My first stop was Jetty Road at Moss Landing harbor.† It was somewhat foggy, but I was able to pick up Black-necked Stilt for Monday as I drove in.† I had gotten a lot of shorebirds last Monday in San Diego, so there were slim pickings for me today at the harbor.† I did see some Black Turnstones, which was a new one for Monday.† Here is a distant picture of a Black Turnstone through the fog.


I also got a third ďBlackĒ bird for Monday, Black-bellied Plover.† Here is a Black-bellied Plover that has mostly molted to its summer plumage.† Soon it will head north, to breed somewhere up in Canada or Alaska.


I left the foggy beach and drove to Moonglow Dairy, to try again for Tricolored Blackbird and Horned Lark.† I got the Horned Lark, but didnít see any Tricolored Blackbirds today.† I picked up Savannah Sparrow for my Monday list, too.† Here is a back view of a Savannah Sparrow.


Here is another picture of a Savannah Sparrow, showing its front.


I had five birds for Monday, which was more than I expected, and I wanted to make some miles today, so I took off north at about 10 oíclock.† On my way to the freeway I saw a hawk on a wire, though, and I thought it might be a Red-shouldered Hawk, which would be a great one to get.† I turned back and got this picture of what turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk, which I didnít need.† I like the picture, though.


The drive was tedious and I had some physical symptoms that were disturbing, but I pushed on to Redding.† I had hoped to make it to Weed, about another hour and ten minutes up the road, but I stopped at about 3:15 because I wasnít feeling great and didnít want to head into the mountains.† I seem to be okay tonight, but weíll see how tomorrow goes.† Iím hoping to get home in two more days of driving Ė i.e., one more overnight stop.


As I mentioned, I got 5 species for Monday, which brings me to 149 species on Mondays this year.† No new year-birds, and I didnít complete any species today.† For my BAD bird Iíll take Willet, which I didnít need for Monday, but I saw some this morning at the harbor.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Yesterday I felt light-headed or ďspaceyĒ for several hours of my drive.† It got bad enough that I was afraid I might faint at one point. †That followed after I had excessive urination for a couple of hours.† I peed at least 7 times in my six hour drive, and most of those were in the middle 3 or 4 hours.† It was good volume, too, considering the frequency.† I have no idea what caused all the peeing, but Christina advanced the theory that maybe the excessive urination had upset my electrolyte balance, and that caused the light-headedness or spaciness.† I was better by the end of the day, but I stopped early, as I mentioned yesterday.


This morning I was away before 9, and I soon had some of the same light-headedness as yesterday, although not nearly as bad.† I stopped when I could (I was going up into the mountains, and there were few towns) and got some Gatorade and chugged down about 24 ounces of it in a half hour.† Soon after that I started feeling better, so maybe the electrolyte theory was correct.† Anyway, for the rest of today I was close to normal, although I felt a bit off all day.


I stopped in Ashland, just across the Oregon border, to look for birds.† I found this place called the Ashland ponds on eBird, and I got off the freeway and found it this morning.† I walked for about 15 minutes, and I managed to call up a Wrentit, a great bird I had seen last week, but not on a Tuesday.† Here are three pictures of the cute little Wrentit that was calling back to me and posing.




It was difficult to get those pictures because my camera kept wanting to focus on the branches in front of the bird.† In these three shots, the branches are in focus, but the bird is close enough behind them that the focus is acceptable, if not sharp.


While walking back to my car after that, I saw a pair of Ring-necked Ducks on the pond.† Here is a picture of a pair of Ring-necked Ducks sleeping.


The male became aware of me and opened his yellow eye and looked at me as I took another picture.


They stirred around and I got this picture of the male that shows the red-brown ring on his neck, something I have only seen once or maybe twice before.


After that, the two of them flew off to another part of the pond.† Meanwhile, while observing the Ring-necked Ducks, I saw a female Wood Duck across the pond.† I hadnít needed the Ring-necked Ducks, but I did need the Wood Duck for Tuesday.


So, I had my Tuesday bird, plus an extra one, so I boogied back to the freeway and resumed my trek north.† I had a couple of other places I could have stopped, but I had my bird, so I just plowed on ahead.† It was an easy drive, with light traffic and good weather, and I stopped early at about 3:30 in Albany.† It should be an easy four hour drive home tomorrow, leaving time for a couple of short birding stops to pick up a Wednesday bird.


My 2 species today brings Tuesday to 159 species.† Selecting a BAD bird was tough.† I used Wrentit last week, commenting at the time that I was very unlikely to see one again this year.† Now I wish I had used something else that day.† I saw some other birds today, at rest stops mostly, but the ones I would have liked to use for my BAD (Bird-A-Day) bird (California Scrub-Jay, Ring-necked Duck, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet) had already been used (A BAD bird is one I saw or heard that day and had not used already this year as a BAD bird).† I ended up choosing Brewerís Blackbird for my BAD bird for today.† I can get that one at home (at Costco), so it is disappointing to use it while on the road, but I didnít do much birding today.


Tomorrow I plan to look for a rare duck (on the west coast of the US, anyway) and then later look for the Great-Horned Owl nest I saw on my southbound trip two weeks ago.† There is supposedly a downy chick in the nest now.


It will be great to be home again, after 18 days on the road, GWATCDR.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017


I was up and out of my motel by 8:40 this morning.† My first stop was at Ankeny NWR, to look for the rare Tufted Duck that has been seen there.† When I got to Pintail Marsh, where it has been seen for the last several weeks, including yesterday, there were two birders already there, with a scope set up.† I asked if this was the place to look for the Tufted Duck, and they said yes, this was where to look for it, but not where to find it, at least so far.† I set up my scope to help them look, but after another five minutes or so, they gave up and left.† I scanned the pond two or three times, and I think I looked at just about every duck on the pond, but I never found it.† I did add Ruddy Duck to my Wednesday list to complete the species for the year.† I gave up after about 20 minutes and headed toward home.† On my way back to the freeway I spotted a bird at the top of a little tree, and it was a Savannah Sparrow, which I needed for Wednesday.† So, I got two common birds that I could have seen at home, but not the rarity.† Such is birding sometimes.


My next stop was Woodland Bottoms, in southern Washington.† I drove to where the Great Horned Owl nest was (the one I had seen on my way south), and the owl was on the nest.† No sign of the chick that others have reported, though.† Here is a picture of the Great Horned Owl on its nest.


It wouldn't look my way, so I sounded my horn, and it looked at me.


As I headed back to the freeway, I saw a male American Kestrel on a wire.† The light was absolutely terrible, with a bright cloudy sky behind him, but I took a couple of pictures anyway, and these were the best I could process out of them.



I didn't need that for any lists, but on my way in I had seen a flock of Sandhill Cranes for my Wednesday list, and on my way back to the freeway I took these three very distant pictures.




So, that was it for Wednesday.† It started to rain right after that, and I drove the last two and a half hours in the rain and increasing traffic.† The traffic was stop and go, in the rain, for about the last hour.† When I finally got home, I sat in the car in the garage for about five minutes and just decompressed.† I'm too old for five days of driving in a row.† They were short days, 4 or 5 hours of driving each day, but four one-night stands in motels in a row is too much for me, not to mention the driving.† It was a successful 18 day trip, and I got a lot of birds and saw a lot of people, but I was very glad to get home.† It would have been a lot better not to have had the cold, or whatever it was, too.


For Wednesday, I got 4 more species for my Wednesday list, to bring it to 164, the highest of any day of the week.† I completed Ruddy Duck, to make 70 species that I have seen on all seven days of the week.† My year total stands at 266 after I added 39 species to it on the trip.† For my BAD bird today, I'll take Great Horned Owl.


It is supposed to be pretty rainy for the next several days, so it will be interesting to get back into "home birding" in the rain, looking for DOTW birds and BAD birds.



Thursday, April 6, 2017


It was raining this morning, as expected, but I headed up to Edmonds anyway.† The rain was supposed to let up and turn to showers.† I went straight to Sunset Avenue and looked out over the water from the car.† I needed two or three birds that could be there, but I didn't see any of them right off.† The rain did let up quite a bit, so I got out of the car and got my scope set up in the light rain.† I scanned the water and after about ten minutes I got a brief look at a Common Loon, and then it dove.† I looked for it for the next ten or fifteen minutes, but I never saw that one again.† Loons seem to be able to stay down a long time and go a long distance before they come up again.† Eventually I saw a second Common Loon and had a long look at it.† I knew it was a different one because the first one was in breeding (summer) plumage, and the second one was still in its winter plumage.† That was it.† I had my Thursday bird, to bring me to 159 for Thursday.† Common Loon is a great BAD bid, too, since they will be flying away north soon to breed.


It cleared up this afternoon and was actually sunny for a couple of hours.† I didn't feel like going out birding again, though.† I'm still not completely over this cold I have had for over three weeks now.† It feels like it has settled in my chest, and I get tired easily.† We'll see how I do tomorrow, looking for a Friday bird and a BAD bird.



Friday, April 7, 2017


This morning it was raining lightly when I headed out, but I went down to Juanita Bay Park anyway, hoping the rain would quit.† It was indeed stopping when I got there, and I got out and walked around.† There were 5 or 6 birds that I needed for Friday that were quite possible, and I played the calls of some of them, including Pacific Wren, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Marsh Wren.† I never got any response to any of those, though, and I didn't see any of them either.


I walked to the viewing platform on the east boardwalk and looked at the lake.† No Wood Ducks, either, another one I needed for Friday.† I got this picture of a Double-crested Cormorant, showing the plumes it gets on its head and neck in breeding season, but I didn't need it for Friday.


I saw a few Buffleheads, not needed for Friday, but a possible BAD bird, since they will be flying off north soon.


On my way back on the east boardwalk, I got this picture of what I think was an immature male Red-winged Blackbird.


He seemed to be eating that cattail fluff, which has seeds in it, I suppose.† The red patch on his wing marks him as an immature male, I think, rather than a female, which would look very much the same.


I walked over to the west boardwalk and got this picture of a Great Blue Heron with lots of breeding plumes.


Here is a close up of its head and neck.


After over an hour of walking around, I gave it up and went home, never having seen any of the 5 or 6 species that I had hopes for, for my Friday list.† I had a doctor's appointment then, because this "cold" has hung on, and he prescribed an antibiotic, so maybe I'll feel peppier in a few days.† At this point, the main symptom is fatigue.† I slept for over 9 hours last night, which is unheard of for me.† Yesterday afternoon I spent about 20 minutes digging dandelions in the yard, and after squatting down and getting up again 25 or 30 times, I was exhausted.


Back to today, after I had my lunch I went over to Marymoor Park, since I still needed a Friday bird.† I parked where I could see the feeder by the office and waited.† After about five minutes the birds started coming in to the feeder and I took a lot of pictures.† One of the first ones was a Chestnut-backed Chickadee, which was one of the ones I needed for Friday.† I should have given up then and gone home, maybe, since I had my bird for Friday and all I could do by staying was to get more species that I might rather save for a later Friday.


I didn't leave, though, and soon a Red-breasted Nuthatch flew in, another Friday bird.† My first picture of the nuthatch was interesting because I was actually trying to take a picture of a chickadee at the feeder, and between the time my brain said "push the shutter button" and the time the picture was actually captured, the chickadee flew off and the Red-breasted Nuthatch flew in.† Here is that first picture of the Red-breasted Nuthatch, taken by accident.


Here is another picture of a Red-breasted Nuthatch, presumably the same one, that I took later.


As always, it was a challenge to get a picture that shows the eye of a bird that has black feathers around the eye.† Chickadees have the same problem, and in addition to the one or two views I had of the Chestnut-backed Chickadee (no pictures of it), there was at least one Black-capped Chickadee that kept coming in for a seed.† Chickadees are difficult to get pictures of at a feeder because they dart in, grab a seed, and fly off almost immediately.† Here are two pictures of Black-capped Chickadee, sort of showing the eye.



There were Dark-eyed Juncos, and I got these next two pictures of male Dark-eyed Juncos.



Another Friday bird showed up, too, a Pine Siskin.† I don't see them very often.† Here are a couple of pictures of the Pine Siskin.




A crow flew through at one point, and I got this picture of an American Crow.


There was a Spotted Towhee on the ground, too, and also this White-crowned Sparrow.


So, that feeder was pretty productive, once the activity got going.† It was nice to be able to sit in my car and take pictures from about 15 or 20 feet away.† I added 3 species to my Friday list there, to bring Friday to 161 species.† I didnít complete any species today, so my completed species list stays at 70.† I didn't add any year-birds, either, so my year list remains at 266.† For my BAD bird for the day I'll take Bufflehead, which is one of the last remaining winter species that I have on my list for BAD birds.


It's getting harder and harder to add species to my day lists, but the spring migrants are starting to arrive now, and that will help.† I've continued to try to ignore swallows, and they will come into play soon, too, since they are mostly back now.† I really can't tell how long I can keep up this DOTW streak.† It could end at any time if I had a bad luck day.† Weather is a factor, too, as is my health.† The next trip I have planned is near the end of May, but I might take a short trip over the mountains to work on some counties over there.



Saturday, April 8, 2017


Today my plan was to go to Marymoor Park and find one of the Say's Phoebes that have been seen there in the last week or so.† Two of them have been seen, and they are usually seen around the East Meadow.† I parked at the east parking lot for the off-leash dog park and walked around the East Meadow.† I never saw a Say's Phoebe, but I did eventually get Savannah Sparrow for a Saturday bird.† That completed that species for me.


This evening I looked at eBird and found that no one has reported Say's Phoebe at Marymoor for the last two days, in any of the 6 or 7 reports.† That makes me think that maybe the big wind storm on Friday might have caused them to move on. †They are only passing through here on migration.


I wanted a decent BAD bird for today, though, so I drove to the west parking lot and walked along the slough, looking for Golden-crowned Sparrow.† I didnít need it for Saturday, but they will be flying off north soon, and I thought it would be a good BAD bird.† I eventually found one Golden-crowned Sparrow and gave it up after that.† I was ignoring the swallows that were swooping around all over the place, because I prefer to continue to "save" them for a rainy day.


I saw a male Common Merganser on the slough, and I took some pictures.† It is a challenging bird to photograph because of the extremes of color, white and dark.† Here is my best of several efforts.


The Savannah Sparrow brought me to 147 species for Sunday and 71 species completed now.† I'll take Golden-crowned Sparrow for my BAD bird.† It's too bad about the Say's Phoebes, because I was hoping to use that one for both a Saturday and a BAD bird, in which case I could have saved Savannah Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow for another day.



Sunday, April 9, 2017


My original plan for the weekend was to get Say's Phoebe at Marymoor on both Saturday and Sunday, but since I didn't see it yesterday and no one else has reported it since Thursday, I switched plans for today.† It was a nice sunny spring day, and I drove around the north end of Lake Washington to Magnuson Park, looking for Ring-necked Ducks.† I found several of them on the pond I expected to see them on, so that took care of my Sunday bird.† I wanted to get a good BAD bird if possible, though, and there were other Sunday birds I could see, too.† Besides, it was a nice day and I felt like a walk in the woods.† My heel was feeling pretty good.


I walked around the Promontory Point area and played some bird calls.† I struggled up the big hill and at one point I attracted a cute little Pacific Wren, one I needed for Sunday.† I tried for a while for pictures, but got nothing usable today.† I had such good pictures of a Pacific Wren a few weeks ago that I gave up early and moved on.† While fiddling around with the Pacific Wren, I saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a couple of Black-capped Chickadees, and a Bewick's Wren, none of which I needed for Sunday.


I walked down the hill on the other path, but it was remarkably un-birdy today, despite the nice sunny weather.† I saw very little - a couple of Song Sparrows, a single Spotted Towhee, and four more Yellow-rumped Warblers.† Well, there were crows around, as always, and I did get a picture of an American Crow.


Crows are a challenge to photograph because of their color, so I'm always trying for decent shots that show the feather definition.


That was it for the day.† I had a nice walk in the park, and I got two birds for Sunday, to bring me to 149 species on Sunday now.† The Ring-necked Duck completed that species for me, to make it 72 species now that I have seen on all seven days of the year.† My year list stands at 266 species still.† I'll take Bewick's Wren for my BAD bird for today.


This was my third day of taking an antibiotic, and I felt stronger and less fatigued than I have felt for a couple of weeks, so maybe the after effects of my "cold" are finally on the run.† We shall see.† This afternoon I actually did about 3 hours of easy yard work and supervised a kid who did a couple of hours.† It feels good to start getting the yard in shape.† This was the first mowing of the year, and I got about 80% of it done, I figure, along with a lot of other work.† Tomorrow the rains are supposed to return.



Monday, April 10, 2017


It wasn't raining when I got up this morning, but showers were forecast for later.† I headed up to Edmonds to try for a Monday bird and a BAD bird.† I went straight to Ocean Avenue because I had seen Black Scoter there the last two times I had been there.† Black Scoters had been reported in the area as recently as three or four days ago, so I was hopeful.† As it turned out, I didnít see any today.† I gave up and as I left it started to sprinkle a little.


I went down to Sunset Avenue and tried again.† No Black Scoters, but I did finally see a pair of Harlequin Ducks, which I also needed for Monday.† There were Surf Scoters at both locations, and I figured I would use that as my BAD bird today.


I went home, but when I looked at my computer I saw that a Loggerhead Shrike had been seen over at Marymoor about 20 minutes earlier.† Loggerhead Shrike is a pretty rare bird in Western Washington, and I had never seen one anywhere in the state.


I hopped back in my car and boogied over to Marymoor, to the East Meadow, where it had been seen.† I got there about 45 minutes after the reported sighting, so I expected to find it, and I also expected that the guy who had reported it would still be there.† Well, no one was around, and I didn't see if from the parking lot, so I set out to walk around the East Meadow.


About a third of the way around the loop, I saw it across the meadow and got this distant picture as a record shot.


That was too far away to determine which of the two possible shrike species it was, and the other one, Northern Shrike, is probably more likely at this time of year in that location.† I trusted the guy who had reported it, though, whom I have met several times.† He is an excellent, very experienced birder.


Anyway, I hustled around the loop to get closer to the bird.† It stayed where it was, and I got more pictures.† As I approached it flew a couple or three times, but I got this closer picture eventually, along with a lot of others.


That picture was good enough to confirm that it was a Loggerhead Shrike.† Black nasal tufts (the feathers over the base of the bill), all black lower bill, the short bill, and the lack of any barring on the breast or sides was enough to convince me - not that I had doubted Michael, who had reported it, but I like to do my own identifications when I can.


It flew again, but I came on it again on my way back to my car and got a picture from the side.


At about that time a couple of other birders came along with a scope and they soon saw it, too, helped perhaps by looking at where I was looking and pointing my camera.† It was getting on for lunch time by then, so I left, passing another birder on my way out.† Later I saw a couple of posts on Tweeters, the local birding mailing list (which is where I had seen the report initially), saying that others had found it this afternoon, too.† It rained off an on all afternoon, and some of the birders got rather wet, I guess.


I wonder if the shrike will stick around tomorrow.† I'll probably go over to see if I can get it for my Tuesday list tomorrow morning.† I'll keep going each day until it leaves, adding it to each day's list if I can.† Before this week, I had only seen Loggerhead Shrike on a Friday, down in Texas, so it if sticks around, it will be helpful.† It sort of makes up for the Say's Phoebe that left early last week.† This is the time of year when migrants are moving through, and birders are out there looking for them and reporting them.


So, I added two species to my Monday list - Harlequin Duck and Loggerhead Shrike - to bring it to 151 species.† The Harlequin Duck completed that species, to make 73 completed species now.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Loggerhead Shrike.† My year list stays at 266.† Since I am reporting on all my lists, the shrike brings me to 143 species in King county and 265 species for Washington State.


Tomorrow is supposed to be dry but mostly cloudy.† Each day is another adventure for the Old Rambler.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017


It was a beautiful, clear, sunny spring day today, and I headed up to Edmonds to try again for Black Scoter or other birds I needed for Tuesday.† I first tried Marina Beach and didn't see anything.† Next I went up to Sunset Avenue.† It was windy and there was quite a bit of wave action, and very few birds out there.† I did eventually manage to see three Black Scoters, one male and two females.† I saw Surf Scoters as well, a BAD bird candidate.


I checked my email when I got home and the shrike had been seen at Marymoor again this morning, so I went over there.† I walked out onto the edge of the East Meadow and saw a woman with a camera in the area where the shrike had been yesterday.† I walked in that direction and spotted the Loggerhead Shrike at the top of a tree.† It flew down to the ground, but I had seen enough and turned back to my car.† I had my second Tuesday bird, and that was all I wanted.† I had to work hard to ignore all the swallows flying around, but I continue to save the 6 swallow species that we get around here.


My two birds today brings Tuesday to 161 species.† I'll take Surf Scoter for my BAD bird today.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Today we were back to rain, but I headed over to Marymoor anyway, to look again for the shrike.† When there is a good bird that is easy to see, I like to get it on each day of the week as soon as I can.† There was a brief break in the rain when I got there, and I walked out toward where the shrike has been hanging out.† I saw a couple of people with a scope and binoculars, so I looked where they were looking and saw the Loggerhead Shrike again.† That was my Wednesday bird, and all I needed then was a BAD bird.† I saw a Savannah Sparrow on the way back to the car, and that would have sufficed, but I wanted to try for a better one.† First I went to the west parking lot and walked to the slough.† It was starting to rain again, though, and it was difficult to ignore all the swallows swooping around, so I went back to the car.


I stopped at the feeders at the office and sat in the car and watched the feeders.† I soon saw Chestnut-backed Chickadee, which would have been a satisfactory BAD bird, but I was hoping for Red-breasted Nuthatch.† After about ten minutes a Red-breasted Nuthatch flew in for a seed, which gave me still another choice for BAD bird.† While I was waiting for the nuthatch, though, I saw my first RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD of the year at the hummingbird feeder.† It was a female, so it wasn't as strongly marked as a male would have been, but the brown sides were unmistakable.† That was a second Wednesday bird, and I ended up deciding to take it as my BAD bird for the day, too.† That will leave the other three species (Savannah Sparrow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Chestnut-backed Chickadee) for later dates.


My 2 Wednesday species today brings me to 166 species for Wednesday.† I'll take Rufous Hummingbird for my BAD bird.



Thursday, April 13, 2017


There were a few showers today, but there was sunshine and clouds, too, at various times.† I headed over to Marymoor Park to add the shrike to my Thursday list, and I wasn't disappointed.† This time I saw it from a distance, but I took the time to approach and I got closer pictures than before.† Here is the Loggerhead Shrike, a rare bird on the west side of the Cascade Range in Washington.


A cloudy bright sky behind a bird is always a problem, and I got this next picture when it came down lower.† It was father away for this shot, but the background was much better.


I'm always going on about the light, and those two shots illustrate one of the reasons why.† It was overcast for both shots, but the backgrounds were different.† I saw four other birders/photographers looking for the shrike while I was there, and others were there looking for it the rest of the day (I saw 2 or 3 reports online, and only a fraction of the people who show up actually post about it online.).† When a rarity shows up, especially a reliable one that is easy to see, the people turn out to see it.† It was a lifer for some of them.


On my way back to the car I looked for sparrows, and got this picture of a Savannah Sparrow, a BAD bird candidate.


I parked as close as I could get to the feeders by the office, maybe 20 to 30 feet away, and watched for a Red-breasted Nuthatch, to use for my BAD bird for today.† There was nothing for several minutes, but then they started to come in to grab a seed.† Here is a male Dark-eyed Junco, which I don't need for any lists, but I'm always looking for photos.


I've mentioned before how difficult it is to get photos of chickadees, but today I got a couple of pictures of Chestnut-backed Chickadee that are good enough to show.† Neither one is great, but it is a hard bird to photograph.



Here is a picture of a Black-capped Chickadee, taken at the end of my birding day, for comparison of the two species.


A White-crowned Sparrow flew in at one point, and I got this picture of it on the ground.


At least one hummingbird kept showing up, too.† Yesterday I got my first Rufous Hummingbird of the year at the same place, and today I got this picture of a female Rufous Hummingbird at the feeder.


The brown color on her side and back differentiates her from Anna's Hummingbird.† Here is a picture of a female Rufous Hummingbird hovering near the feeder.


Here is another picture, in which she is hovering as she sucks up nectar.


She has quite a chubby little belly on her, doesn't she?† I love the way their legs are pulled up when they hover, but you can see the tips of her feet.† I haven't seen a male Rufous Hummingbird yet this year.† He would have a brown back as well as brown sides, with a red gorget.


(This seems to be a good time to mention that I really like my new camera, despite the shutter delay, and I also really like the Canon software for processing the pictures.† I've taken over 3000 pictures with it since I got it in mid-February, but of course, I have discarded the vast majority of those.† I've shown 477 pictures here in my reports since then, out of that 3000+ pictures taken, which is about 16% of the ones taken.† One out of six is actually a higher ratio than I would have guessed, but I just looked it up and did the calculation.)

While all that was going on, I heard a repeated bird call, which I thought was maybe a Red-breasted Nuthatch.† I played the call on my phone, and yes, that is what it was.† I was going to count it anyway (for my BAD bird for the day), but then it flew in just once and got a seed from the feeder.† I took three pictures, but none are good enough to show.


So, at the end of the day, I had two new Thursday birds (Loggerhead Shrike and Rufous Hummingbird), to bring me to 161 species for Thursday.† I'll take Red-breasted Nuthatch for my BAD bird today.


I've been living off the shrike, adding it to each day's list, but I saw Loggerhead Shrike on a Friday down in Texas in February, so tomorrow I'll have to come up with another bird for my Friday list.† The beat goes on.



Friday, April 14, 2017


It was pretty much dry this morning, with only a few sprinkles.† I decided that today was the day to start getting swallows for my lists, and I drove around looking for swallows.† Nothing at the Evan's Creek Natural Area and nothing at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I did get this difficult picture of a male Northern Flicker at the ponds, though, looking up into the bright sky.


It isn't a great picture, but I like the way it shows the orange color on the underside of his tail.


I drove over the hill into the Snoqualmie River valley and went down toward Sikes Lake.† I saw some swallows on the way, over some ponds, but there was nowhere to pull off the road there.† On the little back road that I use to access Sikes Lake, there were some swallows, and they turned out to be my first VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS of the year.† On my way home I saw a little flock of Canada Geese, and I'll take that one for my BAD bird today.


The Violet-green Swallows brings Friday to 162 species.



Saturday, April 15, 2017


I needed the Loggerhead Shrike for Saturday, but there hadn't been any reported sightings on Friday, and there was one report from a guy who had looked for it and not found it.† I figured it had moved on, and I went up to Edmonds instead.† I went out on the fishing pier, but there wasn't much around, although I did see a Double-crested Cormorant, which was a possible BAD bird that I haven't used yet.


I went over to Sunset Avenue and set up my scope.† After about five minutes of scanning, I spotted a pair of Black Scoters, which was my main target for the day.† I kept scanning and saw 6 or 7 more Black Scoters.† It's funny how I can look in vain for a species on one day, and a couple of days later see 8 or 9 of them in the same place.† I used to consider Black Scoter to be a difficult bird to see, but I only need to see one on a Monday this year, and I'll have completed the species.† They will all be heading north to breed in a week or two, so I'll see if I can find one on this coming Monday.


The scoter brought my Saturday total to 149.† I'll take Double-crested Cormorant for my BAD bird.



Sunday, April 16, 2017


It was a beautiful, sunny, spring morning today, and I decided to go down to Juanita Beach Park.† I would have gone over to Marymoor for the shrike, but now there haven't been any reports of it since Thursday, so I didn't bother going over there.


Down at Juanita Beach I went out to the dock with my scope, looking for Wilson's Snipe, but didn't see any.† I did see some Wood Ducks, though, which I needed for Sunday.† On my way back to the car I got this picture of a Killdeer in the grass.


I took some more pictures of the Killdeer, and I liked this next one because it shows the pretty caramel color of its tail.


There were White-crowned Sparrows singing all over the place today, and I got this picture of one near the parking lot.


Here is a close-up of the same White-crowned Sparrow, showing the fine network of feathers around its head and neck.


Since the weather was so nice, I decided to go over to the wetland they made at the west end of the parking lot.† There are some benches to sit on and there was lots of bird song today.† The birds I saw were common ones, but there were quite a few of them, and I was able to give my camera a workout.


I heard a Northern Flicker calling and got this shot, taken from a little bit different angle than usual.


There were a few ducks on the pond.† Here is a picture of a male Green-winged Teal.


I like pictures of male and female birds that show the differences, so here is picture of a pair of Green-winged Teals.


I took this picture of a pair of Mallards as well.


There were Song Sparrows singing all over the place, but I was never able to get a picture of one.† I also saw a single Bushtit a couple of times, and that was one for Sunday.† There was also a single Black-capped Chickadee and a single Chestnut-backed Chickadee that were loosely associating with the Bushtit while they were all feeding in the trees, but getting pictures of those little birds is difficult.


Red-winged Blackbirds were also calling a lot.† Here is a male Red-winged Blackbird calling.


Here is a picture of a female Red-winged Blackbird.


Here is one more picture of a male Red-winged Blackbird.


I saw a Spotted Towhee in the distance and played its calls.† It flew in to check me out and I got this picture of a male Spotted Towhee.


So, I had a nice morning walk in the park and got some pictures of common birds.† I added two more species to my Sunday list, to bring it to 151.† I'll take White-crowned Sparrow for my BAD bird.



Monday, April 17, 2017


The sun was shining this morning as I headed up to Edmonds once again.† It seems like I have driven that route a lot of times this year.† I went to Sunset Avenue and set up my scope.† I soon saw a Pigeon Guillemot near the ferry terminal, where they hang out.† I figured that would be a decent BAD bird, but I still needed to get a Monday bird.


It didnít take long to see 3 or 4 Black Scoters, and I had my Monday bird.† I looked around to see if there was anything different around, but that was it for today.† It seems silly to drive for half an hour, spend five minutes looking for birds, and then driving a half hour back home, but that is the game I'm playing.† I had my Monday bird and my BAD bird, and there wasn't really anything else to look for.


I went to lunch with my friend, Chris, and after lunch we went over to Phantom Lake, like we usually do, weather permitting.† There were quite a few birds around, and Chris spotted one with a red head and pointed it out.† It was my first RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER of the year.† Then, to top off the day, he heard the song of a bird we have seen there before.† I didn't recognize the song, but he thought he did, and he had me play it on my phone.† Once I heard it, I could also recognize the song of PURPLE FINCH, my first of the year.† We couldn't find it, but it kept singing away, seeming to answer my phone.† So, I ended up getting two more Monday birds there, and they were both new for the year.


My three species today brought me to 154 species for Monday.† The two new year-birds makes my year total 269 now.† I completed Black Scoter this morning, and that makes 74 species completed now.† I decided to take Red-breasted Sapsucker for my BAD bird today; I figure I can always see a Pigeon Guillemot near the ferry terminal, but I only see Red-breasted Sapsuckers a few times a year, unless I learn of a nest somewhere.† No pictures today, though.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017


It was another pretty much dry day today, with only a little drizzle early on.† Based on what I needed for Tuesday and what has been reported lately, I went over to Log Boom Park in Kenmore this morning.† I went out on the dock and soon saw a little group of American Coots, which was one of my targets.† I completed that species some time ago, but I wanted it for a BAD bird because their numbers locally drop in the summer.† They supposedly live here year round, but I don't recall ever seeing any baby coots locally, and there are a lot fewer of them reported in the summer, so I don't understand where they breed.† Anyway, I wanted to use that as a BAD bird this month, so it was good to get it this morning.


Here is the dock at Log Boom Park, with the north end of Lake Washington in the background.


As I started out onto the dock I heard the baby-girl sound of an eagle's call.† There were a couple of Bald Eagles in a tree on the shore, and one of them was calling.† Here are the two Bald Eagles.


Here is a closer shot of the one that had been calling.


I never seem to get tired of eagle pictures, so here is one more.


There was an immature Double-crested Cormorant on a piling, and I got this picture.


Immature Double-crested Cormorants are lighter colored than fully mature ones, especially on the breast.† Here is a mature adult Double-crested Cormorant.


My target Tuesday bird was Greater Scaup, since they will be migrating north shortly.† There were quite a few around, and I got this picture of a female Greater Scaup.


Here is a picture of a male Greater Scaup.


That was it for Log Boom Park this morning.† Back at home there was a male American Goldfinch at our feeder, and I got this picture.


A Bewick's Wren was flitting around, too, and I got this picture through a gap in the leaves of some bushes.


Greater Scaup brought my Tuesday total to 162.† I'll take American Coot for my BAD bird.† I'm really using up the winter birds for my Day Of The Week game, and I'm going to have to start relying on the spring arrivals soon, including swallows, which I have continued to ignore for the most part.†


I have a short trip planned for later this week - two nights on the east side of the Cascades, to do some Washington county birding.† The weather is supposed to be dry, with the temperatures in the mid-60's during the day and mid-40's at night.† I plan to leave on Thursday morning and come back Saturday afternoon, God Willing And The Creeks Don't Rise.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It was supposed to be dry this morning, but it was drizzling when I got up.† I headed up to Mukilteo anyway, in the hopes it would let up.† In fact, although it rained lightly almost all the way there, when I got there it had just stopped.† I was going to Edgewater Beach Park, just north of the ferry terminal in Mukilteo.† I think the beach has been public for some time, but they recently put in parking and a road to access it with.† It was my first time there.


I was mainly looking for Barrow's Goldeneye, and there had been a report from Monday that said there were 37 of them seen there, so I thought I had a pretty good chance.† I parked and there were very few birds out on the water.† I never saw a Barrow's Goldeneye, but there were a few Red-necked Grebes, one Horned Grebe, and three or four Pigeon Guillemots - none of which I needed for Wednesday.† Eventually I did spot two pairs of MARBLED MURRELETS, a new species for the year for me.† That was it for today's birding.† The rain resumed as I headed home and didn't let up until the middle of the afternoon.


Marbled Murrelet brought Wednesday to 167 species, the highest day of the week.† The new year-bird brought my year list to 270 species.† I'll take Marbled Murrelet for my BAD bird for the day.


Tomorrow morning I plan to head over the mountains for a little Washington State county birding.† I'm working on getting all the counties up to 50 species, and I only have 46 in Chelan county, 46 in Okanogan county, and 40 in Douglas county.† My plan is to get all three of those to at least 50 species.† Of course, I will continue to try to get good DOTW birds and a BAD bird each day - preferably species that I couldn't see here at home.



Thursday, April 20, 2017


Iím on the road again!† Iím staying in Wenatchee, Washington, for the next two nights, doing some Washington county birding.


I got away this morning right on nine oíclock, which is great.† 9:00 is my normal goal for a getaway day, but I usually am glad to settle for 9:30.† I had to pay a buck to use the express toll lanes to skip the traffic tie-up in the main lanes on I-405, but it was well worth it.† I went east on I-90 and had rain and then mixed rain and snow as I went over Snoqualmie Pass.† The sun came out again on the east side, though, and my first stop was in Cle Elum at the Railroad Ponds.† I soon saw a couple of PYGMY NUTHATCHES, my target for the site.† Here are three pictures of a Pygmy Nuthatch that had a seed or something and didnít want to let it go.




I didnít see anything else there except the swallows, which I am continuing to ignore.


I got back on the freeway and got off at Kittitas, drove to the Old Vantage Highway, and went east.† It goes up over some hills and down to the Columbia River.† It was very windy, which had been forecasted, but I thought I would give it a try anyway.† I saw a male California Quail by the roadside, a good one for my Thursday list.† I stopped at the Quilomene Wildlife Area access point, to look for sage species.† It was so windy, though, that I simply took a leak there and got back in the car to move on.† As I drove out, though, a bird flew across the front of the car.† It turned out to be a my first SAGE THRASHER of the year, one of the birds I was looking for there.† †Here is a picture of a Sage Thrasher.


Iím really pleased with this new camera.† That bird was at least 100 feet away, and maybe 150 feet.† I played the songs of Sage Thrasher, and it came a little closer, but never closer than 50 to 75 feet.


I finally got tired of waiting for it to come closer and I moved on.† I was watching for another species, and I saw it a little later, a male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD.† I like blue-colored birds anyway, but I think that the male Mountain Bluebird might be the prettiest of them all.† Here are two distant pictures of a male Mountain Bluebird.



That second one is a bit soft, but it shows the beautiful blue color, so I like it.† Again, I was at least 150 feet away from the bird in each of those shots, so I was happy to get anything at all.


After trying for Rock Wren and dipping at the Recreation Road riverside site, I went on up to the Gingko Forest Interpretive Overlook and picked up one of the Sayís Phoebeís that nest there each year.† That was a Thursday bird for me.† I started eating my ham and cheese wraps that I had brought from home, along with my mini-peppers and cucumber, as I drove.† I went across the Columbia River and then got off I-90 at George.† I went north to Quincy and then back west to Douglas county.† It was a roundabout way to get to Wenatchee, but I wanted to have some birding time in Douglas county, since I needed to get 10 species in Douglas county to get it up to 50.


I went up Moses Coulee on Palisades Road, looking for birds for my Douglas county list.† My first score was a Mourning Dove on a wire.† A little later I saw some House Sparrows around a house, and that was a second new Douglas county bird.


Farther up the valley I saw a pair of Northern Harriers hunting over the fields.† I didnít need that species for any lists, but I got some very distant flight pictures.† Here is a female Northern Harrier.


She had to be at least 100 yards away, the length of a football field.† Here is another picture, showing her going down for some prey.


Here is a blurry picture of the male Northern Harrier.† He is much lighter in color than the female.


I turned around after going about 10 miles up the coulee (valley).† On my way back I added Western Meadowlark to my Douglas county list and I got this picture, which I like very much.


I got back to the highway and headed on toward Wenatchee.† I got off the main highway in Rock Island because I had read of some birds I needed on some ponds there.† I hadnít ever been to Rock Island before, so it was fun to check it out.† I noticed a set of bird feeders at a house as I came into town, and I backed up and found a place to park to watch the feeders.† There were a lot of American Goldfinches at the feeders, and that was a new Douglas county bird.† I got these two pictures, showing male American Goldfinches in their breeding (summer) plumage.



There was also a Red-winged Blackbird at the feeders, another one I needed for Douglas county.


I blundered around the town and found my way to several ponds, some of them associated with a golf course.† On one of them there were a number of Ring-necked Ducks, a good one for Douglas county.† On another pond I picked up Mallard for Douglas, and on still another one I got Double-crested Cormorant.† I think of cormorants as ocean birds, but Double-crested Cormorants do show up inland, including in Eastern Washington.


There was a pair of California Quail at one place, but they flew off before I could get a picture.† I didnít need them for any lists at that point, but I would have liked to get pictures.† On still another pond I saw a single Bufflehead, a male.† That was another Douglas bird.† I found still one more little lake as I left the town to the west, and I saw a number of Common Mergansers there, another one for Douglas county.† As I left that site, a car was coming along the road, so I pulled into a side road to let it go by.† It turned out that there was a Killdeer standing in the grass by the side of the road, and that was still another new Douglas county bird.† Here is a picture of the Killdeer.


I was ready to head for my motel by then, but along the way I saw a park along the river, so I pulled in and took a look.† Down by the river I saw a female Hooded Merganser, which I needed for Douglas, and a Horned Grebe, which I didnít actually need.†


When I got up to East Wenatchee, I took the bridge across the river to Wenatchee, which is in Chelan county.† I needed four more species in Chelan county to get to 50, so I stopped at a couple of parks along the river.† At the first one I saw a couple of Ospreys in a nest, and I needed that one for Chelan.† Here is a picture of an Osprey on its nest.


I saw some ducks at the other park I visited, but I already had them for Chelan county.† I checked in to my motel and got settled in.† While I was processing my pictures, though, I kept hearing some bird calls outside.† It finally dawned on me that they were House Sparrows, so I confirmed that and then looked it up.† What do you know?† I needed House Sparrow for Chelan county.


So, it was a very successful birding day.† It was a car birding day; I saw almost all the species from the car today and took almost all the pictures from the car.† I got out to use my scope two or three times, but I never was more than ten feet from my car all day, except twice when I was peeing and actually used a rest room.† I added 5 species to Thursday, to bring it to 166 species.† 3 of those species were new for the year, which brought me to 273 for the year.† I added 12 species to my Douglas county list, bringing it to 52 species.† Since my goal was to get each of three counties (Douglas, Chelan, and Okanogan) to 50, I achieved one-third of that goal today, on my travel day.† I had planned to spend most of tomorrow in Douglas county, since I needed 10 species there, and I only needed 4 in each of the other two counties, but now I need to re-think that.† Now the priority will be to get up to Okanogan county to get 4 species there.† That should be easy, knock on wood.† I got two species for Chelan county, to bring me to 48 species there, so it will need a little attention tomorrow as well.† It now appears that I could have done the three counties with a simple overnight trip, but I am booked in here for a second night, so Iíll see what I can find in the next two days, with emphasis on good DOTW birds and BAD birds.† Speaking of BAD birds, Iíll take Sage Thrasher for my BAD bird today.



Friday, April 21, 2017


I was on my way shortly after 9 this morning.† My main goal was to get at least 4 species in Okanogan county, to bring it up to 50.† My secondary goal was to get at least one Friday bird, preferably one that I couldnít see at home.† My third goal was to get Chelan county up to 50 species, but that wasnít important because I only needed two more species, and I would have tomorrow morning to get them if I needed to.


I am staying an hour away from the southern border of Okanogan county, so I headed north by the fastest route, which was along the east side of the Columbia River through Douglas county.† I stopped at three riverside parks, mainly because I was looking for Black-billed Magpie for my Friday bird, and I would have used it as my BAD bird as well.† I didnít see any magpies and I didnít see anything I needed for my Douglas county list except Osprey.† I saw a lot of Ospreys today, in all three counties.† Here is a picture of one I got later in Okanogan county.


I also saw Common Loons all day today, maybe in all three counties, but I didnít need that one for any lists.† Here is a distant picture of a Common Loon that is in almost full breeding plumage.


That bird was WAY out there, and Iím very pleased that my camera would do that well with the picture.† Later I was trying for pictures of distant water birds, and the camera was screwing up badly.† I figured out that the Image Stabilization wasnít working, which is the same problem my last two Sony cameras developed.† I was starting to panic, but I turned off the camera and turned it on again, and it worked correctly.† Disaster averted, but now Iím worried about it.† I did learn a lesson, though.† I brought along my old camera as a back up, but it was back in my room.† I guess I need to have it with me all day when Iím on trips, and maybe at home as well.


I crossed the river into Chelan county at the bridge near Chelan and saw a Black-billed Magpie on a road sign, so I had my Friday bird.† Actually, Osprey was a Friday bird, too, and I already had that, so the magpie was actually my potential BAD bird for the day, I guess.


I stopped at the Wells Dam rest area, but I didnít see anything interesting there.† Soon after that I entered Okanogan county and I stopped at the Starr boat launch.† I saw a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers there, for my Okanogan list, and out on the river there were some ducks and a couple of Horned Grebes, another Okanogan bird I needed.† Some of the ducks were Greater Scaup, and I needed that one for Okanogan, too.


I went on to Pateros Lake (as opposed to Lake Pateros, which refers to a large part of the Columbia River upriver from the Wells Dam) and drove up the Methow Valley Highway along the lake, which is the last part of the Methow River before it flows into the Columbia.† I saw Ospreys there, and added that one and Common Merganser to my Okanogan list.† I also saw a Killdeer along in there, another Okanogan bird.


I saw a sign for Alta Lake State Park, so I went up into the hills to the lake and park.† On the way I saw a couple of Sayís Phoebes, another Okanogan county bird for me.† Here is a picture of a Sayís Phoebe.


Alta Lake was a pretty lake, and I saw some birds there, but nothing for any lists.† Back along the Methow Valley Highway, I got this picture of a male Common Goldeneye, not one I needed for any lists.


Here is a picture of a Greater Scaup on the same lake.


I had my Okanogan county total over 50 by then, so I headed back south to see what I could find in the way of good birds.† It was also an opportunity to check out some places in Chelan county that I hadnít been to before.


Here is a picture of the Columbia River near Chelan.


I got a tuna sandwich at Subway on the outskirts of Chelan and ate it in my car at a park with this view of Lake Chelan.


I continued south and I added American Crow and Brewerís Blackbird to my Chelan list.† My first new place to visit in Chelan county was Swakane Canyon.† It was a poor dirt road, but I made my way up it to see what I could find.† I saw a magpie fly across the road, so I stopped to see if I could get a picture.† I wasnít able to, but I heard California Quail calling across the canyon.† Eventually I even saw one fly briefly, on my side of the canyon.† That was a Chelan bird.† I went up to the end of the road Ė after that it was authorized access only, so I turned around.† On my way back I picked up White-crowned Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow at a farm that had cracked corn set out for their chickens.† The sparrows had found it and were chowing down.† Here is a picture of a White-crowned Sparrow.


I saw several magpies on that road, and I got this picture of a Black-billed Magpie.


Next I went back through the outskirts of Wenatchee and up Highway 2 to Cashmere.† I drove up Nahahum Canyon, another place I had never visited before.† I saw a Sayís Phoebe there, for my Chelan list.† Here is a picture of Nahahum Canyon, which had farms along the valley floor.


The paved road turned to gravel after about 5 miles, and I turned around soon after that.† On my way back down the valley I saw a Stellerís Jay, another Chelan bird for my county list.


Then at one point I stopped for some reason I donít remember now, and I noticed a couple of large birds in a field below the road.† They turned out to be CHUKAR, a great year-bird for me.† I even got pictures.† Here is a picture of a Chukar.


Here is a picture of both of them.


This maybe my best picture of Chukar, although it is a little soft, probably because of camera motion.


That was very exciting, but I moved on eventually.† I saw an American Goldfinch around one house, another Chelan county bird.


I still had some time after that, so I headed through Cashmere to Mission Creek Road, another place I had never visited.† I saw a few birds, but nothing interesting, and when I got to the end of the pavement, I went up Sand Canyon Road for a half mile or so before I gave up and turned back toward ďhomeĒ.† I stopped 3 or 4 places to play the calls of Mountain Chickadee, which have been reported there, but never got a response.


Back on the pavement, I stopped again once to play Mountain Chickadee, and I thought I heard a response.† It sounded like a chickadee, but the three Washington chickadee species all sound pretty much the same to me.† I kept watching and finally did see a Black-capped Chickadee, which I assume was what I had heard.† It was a Chelan bird, anyway. †There was also a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Dark-eyed Junco there, too, but I didnít need either of those for Chelan.


As I approached the outskirts of Cashmere, I saw a group of California Quail on the side of the road.† I pulled over and stopped, kind of part way out in the driving lane, and took pictures.† There were three pairs of them, and the pairs stayed together as they foraged around.† Here is a male California Quail.


Here is one of the female California Quail.


That was it for today.† I headed back to my motel and got here about 4:45.† It was a nice long day of birding for me, and I achieved all my goals.


I added 3 species to my Friday list, to bring me to 165.† One of those was a new year-bird, to make it 274 species so far this year for me.† I added one more to my Douglas county list, to bring that one to 53 species.† I added 7 more to my Okanogan list, to bring that one to 53.† Finally, today I added 10 more to my Chelan list, to bring that list to 58 species.† I achieved my main goal of the trip, which was to get each of those counties up to 50.† For my BAD bird today, Iíll take Chukar, a species I only had at 30% probability for the entire year.


Tomorrow Iíll head back across the mountains to home, and my goal will be to get a good Saturday bird that I wouldnít see at home, and likewise a good BAD bird.



Saturday, April 22, 2017


I got packed up and was on the road by 9:15 this morning, which is good for a getaway day.† My first stop was Nahahum Canyon.† Like most birders, I'm superstitious, and since I saw Chukar and Say's Phoebe there yesterday, I figured I might see them again today.† No luck on either of those species today, though.† I saw some Black-billed Magpies, which was great for my Saturday list.† I stopped to look carefully at the field where the Chukar were yesterday, but today all I managed was to do was to hear and finally see a Western Meadowlark, which I needed for Saturday, to complete the species.† I needed the meadowlark for Chelan county, too.† I also got Eurasian Collared-Dove for my Chelan list, and I got this picture.


It was overcast, and an overcast sky is not a good background for pictures.


Next I went over Blewett Pass so I could cross the Cascades on I-90.† Once I got over the pass, I drove down Bettas Road, where I have seen Mountain Bluebirds and Vesper Sparrows in the past.† It looks like the bluebird nesting boxes haven't been maintained, though, and I didn't see any bluebirds of either species (Western or Mountain).† There were a lot of White-crowned Sparrows, but no interesting sparrows.† I did get one picture, though, when I was able to get close to a Western Meadowlark singing in a bush.


Again, the overcast sky wasn't a great background, but I was close enough that it didn't matter much.


I backtracked and took the turnoff to Swauk Prairie.† I stopped at a point where I had seen a chickadee species before, and played the song.† To my pleased surprise, two MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES actually flew in to check me out.† Here is a picture of a Mountain Chickadee.


They look very much like Black-capped Chickadees except for a white "eyebrow" above their eye.† You can see the white eyebrow in this picture.† That was my first year-bird of the day.


I moved on to Swauk Prairie Road and drove it slowly.† I was hoping for Mountain Bluebird, but the best I could do was a pair of Western Bluebirds, which I didn't need for any lists.† Here is a male Western Bluebird.


I saw a small bird on a wire, and it turned out to be a Chipping Sparrow, a great one for my Saturday list.† Here are two views of a Chipping Sparrow.



The sky was a lot darker by then, and I had some raindrops off and on after that.† There was a Western Meadowlark along that same fence line, and I got this picture that shows its yellow front.


This one insisted on singing for me, too, just so I would take its picture again.


A Common Raven was flying along the road and stopping from time to time in the adjacent field, and I got this picture.


I took a side road for a short distance and I saw a male California Quail on the side of the road - another good Saturday bird.† I drove back along Swauk Prairie Road a second time, and some of those pictures were from the second pass, as I remember.† After that I drove through the old pioneer cemetery at Swauk Prairie, but I didn't see any birds there.† I took a different route back to the highway than I usually take, and I stopped at one point to take a leak.† While I was doing that, I noticed a bird fly in to dead snag.† The snag had holes in it, and I watched for a minute or so and saw a couple of Pygmy Nuthatches flying in and out.† That was a great Saturday bird.† I had intended to go to the Railroad Ponds in Cle Elum to see the Pygmy Nuthatches I had seen there on Thursday, but this saved me the trouble.


A little farther down that road I saw a bird by the road and stopped to take a look.† Before I could even see what that bird was, though, I saw another bird sitting quietly in a bush.† The second one was a flycatcher, and the various flycatchers in this family are very hard to tell apart.† Then the bird bobbed its tail up and down a few times, and I knew it was my first GRAY FLYCATCHER of the year.† That is the only species in that family that bobs its tail up and down, as opposed to side to side.† Here are a couple of pictures of what I believe is a Gray Flycatcher.



I would have been hard-pressed to identify it if it hadn't bobbed its tail up and down, but everything in its appearance seems consistent with Gray Flycatcher.† It is somewhat early for Gray Flycatchers to be back from their migration south.† I looked on eBird, and until today, only four had been reported in the whole state of Washington this year, all in the last few days.† There is a whole load of species that are due back here in the next couple of weeks, after wintering down south.† There are at least 10 or 15 species that I might have seen the last few days, if it was 2 or 3 weeks later in the year.† The Chipping Sparrow was also very early.† I didn't see any other reports of Chipping Sparrow this year yet in Kittitas county, but there will be lots of reports in a couple of weeks.


I would probably have gotten a lot more species on this trip if I had delayed it by 2 or 3 weeks, but I had the time now, and I was able to achieve my main goals, which were to bring three counties (Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan) up to 50 species each.† I also got good Day Of The Week (DOTW) and Bird-A-Day (BAD) birds each day, which was my secondary goal.† I hope to go back over the mountains once or twice more in the next month or two, to get more of the summer birds.


For today, I added two more to Chelan county, to bring it to 60.† I added one (Gray Flycatcher) to Kittitas county, to bring it to 92.† I completed one species (Western Meadowlark), to make 75 species that I have now seen on all seven days of the week.† My two year-birds brings my year total to 276 species.† I got 7 new Saturday species today, to make my Saturday total 155.† Finally, I'll take Gray Flycatcher for my BAD bird today.† That is a lot of lists.† Maybe I'm overdoing this list thing.† Of course, my motto is "Too much is never enough", also rendered as "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing".


I'm back at home now, and I need to start looking for local birds for my DOTW birds and my BAD bird each day.



Sunday, April 23, 2017


The morning was supposed to be dry, and I headed up to Mukilteo to try for a Sunday bird and a BAD bird.† I went to Mukilteo Community Beach Park first, a place I hadn't even heard of before, let alone visited.† It is a small beach just north of the ferry terminal.† There were half a dozen SCUBA divers there, preparing to head out into the water.† I scanned around and right away saw my target species, Brandt's Cormorant.† There are three cormorant species locally, and they all are superficially alike.† Brandt's can be distinguished all year round by the color of its throat patch, but it is easier in the spring because they get a bright blue throat pouch then.† Here is a Brandt's Cormorant in breeding plumage.


You can just barely see the blue throat in that picture, but here is a blurry enlargement that shows it better.


I didnít see any other interesting birds from there, so I went around to Edgewater Beach Park.† There wasnít much to be seen there, either, although I did see 2 or 3 Pigeon Guillemots, which were candidates for my BAD bird.† I also got this poor picture of a Horned Grebe in breeding plumage.


That was it for Sunday.† I added Brandt's Cormorant to my Sunday list, to bring it to 152.† I took Pigeon Guillemot for my BAD bird.


Monday, April 24, 2017


Last night I decided to concentrate on my BAD birds from now on, to try to extend that game until my Arizona trip in August.† Analyzing it, it seemed pretty close to impossible to make it until August 15, when that trip was planned to start, so I have changed the trip to August 1.† That will still be a good challenge, but at least it seems possible.† I'll have to really work on getting good BAD birds, though, to keep that streak going that long.† As far as my Day Of The Week (DOTW) birding is concerned, I'll continue to try to get new species each day for my day list, but that is a secondary priority now.† BAD birding is what I am concentrating on.


In keeping with that, I headed up to Skagit county on Monday morning.† I had seen reports for 3 or 4 species that would be excellent BAD birds, and I wanted to try to get at least one of them.† Since I was going up there anyway, I stopped at the Skagit Game Range to look for the owls that have a nest there.† I parked my car and saw a guy with a camera with a lens the size of Delaware, so I went over and talked to him.† He had his massive-lensed camera pointed at the owl nest, and he invited me to take a look.† There were two Great Horned Owl owlets in the nest.† He told me where I could get the best view of the nest, and I got this picture of one of the owlets.


That picture is actually cropped from this next one, which shows an adult owl sitting near the nest, guarding the owlets, no doubt.


Too bad the adult was behind a branch;† I couldn't find an angle through the branches to see the adult clearly.† Back where the photographer had set up his camera (on a tripod, of course), I got this picture of the two owlets in the nest.† Note how you can actually see the vestiges of the "horns" or "ears" that distinguish this species.† They appear to be sleeping this picture.


So, that was an excellent Monday bird, but I had already used Great Horned Owl as a BAD bird earlier this month, on my California trip, so I had to find a good BAD bird still.† I stopped at the Valentine Road feeders to see if any woodpeckers were at the suet feeder there, but no luck.† I drove through the tulip fields, in all their spring glory, but there wasn't really any place to stop to take a picture, and I was looking for birds, not flowers.


My next stop was the lagoon by the Swinomish Indian casino, but the tide was way out and there weren't any shorebirds there.† I stopped next at my main destination for the day, the southern end of March Point, to look for the Black Oystercatchers and Marbled Godwits that had been reported there in the last week.† I wasn't expecting to be able to count either of those as a BAD bird this year locally, which is why I had gone up to Skagit county.† I scanned the offshore sand islands where they had been seen, but all I saw of any interest were some Caspian Terns.† I didnít need that one for Monday, although it could be a BAD bird for today.


So, my main plan hadn't worked out, but I had a second string to my bow.† I drove to the Fidalgo Island side of Deception Pass State Park to look for Black Oystercatcher there.† I stopped at Bowman Bay and ate my Subway tuna sandwich, then went on around to Rosario Beach.† I didn't see any oystercatchers at Bowman Bay, and at first I didnít see any at Rosario Beach.† I walked out toward the headland with my scope and while I was scanning the rocks offshore, a Black Oystercatcher actually flew right through my scope view.† I followed it and had a great look at it, but it flew out of sight around the headland.† I never saw another one, so I was really lucky to get that species there.† I probably wouldn't have noticed it if it hadn't flown through my scope view, as it was pretty far away.


As I walked back to my car, I saw some sparrows feeding on the ground.† Most of them were Golden-crowned Sparrows, but there was at least one White-crowned Sparrow with them, too.† Here are two pictures of Golden-crowned Sparrow.



I headed for home at that point, but I decided to go home via Whidbey Island and the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry, rather than retrace my steps back through Skagit county and down I-5.† I drove by Crockett Lake, but didn't see any shorebirds, like had hoped for, and I barely caught the 2:30 ferry, driving straight on to the ferry, with only a couple of cars that got on after me.


I had time to go upstairs, though, before we left, and I got this picture of a raft of Surf Scoters all swimming together.


Here is a closer shot of that batch of Surf Scoters.


There was one male Barrow's Goldeneye with them, and here is a picture of him.


Here is a picture of the Clinton ferry terminal as we pulled out.


You can sort of see the raft of Surf Scoters on the left side of that picture, if you look closely.


I didn't see anything on the crossing, and as we approached Mukilteo, I got this picture of Edgewater Beach Park, where I had gone yesterday.


There is a parking lot on the left side of that picture, and the park extends for 1000 feet along the beach toward the ferry terminal.† There is a path along the beach, which seems to be popular with walkers and dog owners.


I drove to the parking area for Edgewater Beach and took a look, but the waves were too high to see anything on the water, and maybe there wasnít anything out there anyway.


So, with all my driving (about 160 miles) and all my time (about 6.5 hours), all I had to show for the day was two species for my Monday list, Great Horned Owl and Black Oystercatcher.† It is getting hard to add new species to my day-lists now.† I'm still ignoring swallows, though, and that will carry me for a few weeks when I start looking at them, if I do it carefully and don't see too many different species on the same day.† There are potentially six swallow species I could see around here, although 2 or 3 of them are a bit tougher to see and identify.† There are still at least a half dozen spring returnees that haven't come back yet, too, and they are due any time now.


My two species today brings Monday to 156 species.† I'll gladly take Black Oystercatcher for my BAD bird today.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017


This has been the rainiest October to April that Seattle has ever had since records were kept, but today was actually dry, for the second day in a row (there was a little rain overnight, though).† I went over to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area because I had seen some eBird reports of some great birds over there.† I knew I wouldn't see many of them, but even a few would be great.† There was one species in particular that I wanted to get.


I parked first at the north parking lot, near Fay Road.† I walked around a little, but it was very quiet.† I decided to move on to another access to the area, and as I got back to my car I saw a Red-breasted Sapsucker on a tree right next to my car.† Here are a couple of pictures of a rather fat looking Red-breasted Sapsucker, a good Tuesday bird.



Note all the holes in the tree.† Sapsuckers drill those holes and in a day or two the holes fill up with sap from the tree, and the bird comes back and slurps up the sap.† This tree has obviously gotten quite a workout.


After that, I gave it up there and moved on to the next location to the south, where I had to park along the road and walk in a short distance.† It was a little better there, and I got a series of pictures of a pair of Hooded Mergansers there.† I didn't need Hooded Merganser for any lists, but I think they are a very attractive duck, so here are some pictures.† First, here is the male with his crest down.


Here is the male with his crest partially raised.


He had his head turned away, but here is a picture that shows him with his crest pretty much completely raised.


Here is a picture of the female Hooded Merganser, for comparison.


Finally, here is a picture of the two of them together.


I saw a Downy Woodpecker about then, but I didnít need it for any lists.† I met a birder named Bob and we chatted and walked.† He had also seen the great eBird reports about this site, and he was looking for many of the same birds I was looking for.† I mentioned the specific target species I was looking for, and he said he had seen one last week farther down the trail, past the main parking lot.† I got my car and met him at the main parking lot, and we headed south, looking for my target species.† We soon saw three other birders and ended up joining them. They were also looking for the same species I was looking for.† One of the women heard a bird calling and pointed to where she thought it was coming from.† I looked over that way and spotted my target species, AMERICAN BITTERN.† It was not only my first American Bittern of the year, it was my first one ever in Washington State.† I even got a distant picture of its head and neck, sticking up above the grass.


All five of us saw it, and the rest of them stuck around to see if it would show itself again (it didn't), while I moved on down the trail.† I heard bitterns calling several more times - at least two other birds, maybe more - but I never could see one again.† It is a very distinctive call; it doesn't even sound like it would be a bird.† It is kind of a gulping sound, often referred to as a "pumping" sound.† I guess the reports of American Bittern at that location were accurate.† Now that I know exactly where they hang out, I'll go back, for sure, for the other days of the week.


There were a lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers around, and I got this kind of blurry picture of one of them.


As always around water, there were a lot of Red-winged Blackbirds around, and I got this picture of a male Red-winged Blackbird, showing his red.


My heel was starting to hurt, so I headed back toward my car.† When I got back to where the other birders were, one of them pointed out a Pileated Woodpecker, which was an excellent Tuesday bird for me.


That was it for today.† I was out there for a couple of hours, and I really didn't see all that much, but the quality of my sightings was great.† It was chilly and mostly overcast, as well as breezy.† I hope to go back there on a sunny day to see what I can find.


My three Tuesday birds brings me to 165 on Tuesday.† The bittern gets my year total up to 277 species.† The bittern also brings my King county list up to 144.† I debated it, but I ended up choosing Pileated Woodpecker for my BAD bird for today.† I heard enough American Bitterns today that I feel pretty confident I can go back and at least hear one again, if not see it.† I only see Pileated Woodpecker a small handful of times each year, so I'll take that one today and gamble on being able to get American Bittern another day.† The nice thing is that looking for it will involve going back to that location, which should be excellent for other species, too, now that spring is almost here, birdingwise.† The migrants are returning!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017


It was supposed to be dry this morning until at least 11:00, so I headed back over to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area, where I was yesterday.† I parked at the main parking lot and went south on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, which goes along the edge of the Wildlife Area.† Here is a picture of the trail.


My main target was American Bittern.† I had seen one yesterday and heard at least 2 others, and I wanted to get it for my BAD bird today.† Yesterday I had gambled and taken Pileated Woodpecker instead, figuring I could come back for the bittern.


I walked up and down the trail, but neither heard nor saw any bitterns.† I played the strange call of the American Bittern on my phone, but I got no responses.† I did get this picture of a male Wood Duck in breeding plumage, though.


A little later I got this picture of a male Spotted Towhee.


I didn't see or hear many birds, but I kept walking, looking, and listening.† There were lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers around, like yesterday.† Here are a couple of pictures of one of the Yellow-rumped Warblers.



Like yesterday, I saw a single White-crowned Sparrow and a single Golden-crowned Sparrow.† I also heard Common Yellowthroats several times.† I didn't need any of those species for Wednesday, though, and time was marching on.† It looked and felt to me like it was about to start raining, and I was running out of time, since I needed to be in Bellevue at 11:30 for a lunch date.† When I saw one of the swallows (which I had been studiously ignoring) land on a snag, I decided to take a look, just to be sure of getting a Wednesday bird.† I was afraid it would start raining and I would risk getting skunked.† It turned out to be a Violet-green Swallow, not my first of the year, but my first one on a Wednesday.† I've been saying that I'll have to start taking swallows soon, to keep my streaks going.


Right after I counted the swallow, things changed, though.† I saw another birder working his way down the trail toward me, and he was pointing his camera at something.† As I approached I saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly toward me and land in a tree.† I only was able to get a partial view of it before it flew off, but I did get these two partially obscured pictures of a male Pileated Woodpecker, an excellent Wednesday bird.



That was the species I had taken for my BAD bird yesterday, rather than take the bittern.† For the moment, I was wishing I had done it differently, although it still seemed likely I would see or hear a bittern sometime in the next couple of months, since they seemed to be reliable at that location, seemingly all year long, or at least all spring and summer.


I reached the other birder and he was still taking pictures of something, after the Pileated Woodpecker had flown off.† It turned out to be a Hairy Woodpecker, another great Wednesday bird.† It was only the second Hairy Woodpecker I have seen this year.† Here is a picture of a female Hairy Woodpecker.


I chatted with the guy and got some good information.† He obviously was a regular there, and he knew all the good poop.† He walked with me back up the trail toward the parking lot and showed me a dead snag that had at least two woodpecker nest holes in it - Pileated Woodpecker and Red-breasted Sapsucker.† While we were looking at it, I noticed a Red-breasted Sapsucker that was excavating a nest hole.† The hole was deep enough already that the sapsucker could go almost all the way in and do its excavating.† Then it would back out and throw off the wood chips it had made.† Here is a picture of the Red-breasted Sapsucker tossing away some wood chips from its nest hole.† You can see the wood chips around its head if you look closely.


Here is a closer view, so you can see the wood chips better.


Here it is, backing out of the hole after doing some digging.


Finally, here is a picture with the bird almost completely in the hole, doing its work.


I thought that was all very cool.† I'll remember where that snag is and return a number of times over the coming weeks, I'm sure.


Even better than the woodpecker action was the fact that while I was watching the sapsucker, I heard an American Bittern calling a couple of times.† I was on a roll.† Here is a picture of part of the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area, taken from the area of the woodpecker tree.


The bittern I had seen and photographed yesterday was in the middle of that very green patch of grass in the middle of the picture.


I took this picture of a Great Blue Heron because I liked the way it was frozen in place, intent on catching a fish or something.


A little later the heron moved, and I took this next picture because I liked the colors and the light.


By then it was time to boogie, to get to my lunch appointment.† The rain had not only held off, it was actually sunny for a few minutes.


I had decided to take Violet-green Swallow because I was worried by then that I might get skunked, and then I ended up seeing four more species for my Wednesday list.† Very ironic.† The total of 5 species today brings Wednesday to 172 species, my highest-total day of the week.


I had an internal debate again today about my BAD bird, and like yesterday, I ended up deciding to take a woodpecker and "save" the bittern.† I took Hairy Woodpecker today, since I donít see them often (today was only the second time this year), and I still feel I can get American Bittern again, although it might very well be a "heard only" situation, like today.


The beat goes on.



Thursday, April 27, 2017


Today I took a day off from my quest to get American Bittern for each day of the week, over at the Stillwater Unit in the Snoqualmie River Valley.† I still needed 3 or 4 saltwater species and some of them are due to head off for the summer soon.† So, I went up to Mukilteo, mainly to try for Barrow's Goldeneye and Brandt's Cormorant, along with a couple of other possible species.† I figured if I missed everything there, I would simply walk on to the ferry and ride across to Clinton, where I had seen a number of Barrow's Goldeneyes around the ferry terminal on Monday.† It is only a 20 minute crossing, ferries leave each direction on the half hour, and it only costs $2.45 round trip for a senior walk-on.† Ferry rides are fun, and it seemed like a good way to insure getting a Thursday bird.


As it turned out, though, as soon as I got to Edgewater Beach Park, I saw a group of about 5 or 6 Barrow's Goldeneyes, so no ferry ride was needed.† I looked around with my scope and saw a total of 5 Marbled Murrelets, too, another excellent Thursday bird.† I drove to the Mukilteo Community Beach access and saw a half dozen Brandt's Cormorants on the dock there.† That was three Thursday birds, but I wanted to try to get a decent BAD bid for the day.† It was good to see the cormorant and the goldeneye because now I only need those two species for Wednesday, and they will be leaving this area very soon for the summer.† I hope to get back up to Mukilteo next Wednesday to complete those two species.


Since I was already most of the way there, I made my way north to the Everett waterfront, where I saw a couple of distant Caspian Terns.† There were also a number of Ospreys around, and I saw a little flock of Dunlin (a shorebird) wheeling around, too.† I already took Dunlin for a BAD bird, back in February and I wanted to "save" Osprey, since they are easy to see, so I took Caspian Tern for my BAD bird today.† The three Thursday birds brought my Thursday total to 169 species.



Friday, April 28, 2017


This morning I went back over to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area to look for bitterns again.† I parked and walked down toward where the bitterns seem to hang out.† There were a couple of young women birders already there, looking out to where I had seen the bittern on Tuesday.† As I approached them, a bittern called, so I had the bird for my list, but I wanted to see it, of course.


The three of us hung around, listening, and when the bittern would call, we would try to locate it.† While doing that, I saw a Red-breasted Sapsucker at the same nest hole I had seen one working on when I was here on Wednesday.† That was a good Friday bird.† I also saw this male Cinnamon Teal lurking in the grass, another Friday bird.


Cinnamon Teal are summer visitors here, and I assume they breed in this area.† They are just now starting to show up.† I saw some down in Texas, though, so I don't need that one on every day.† Blue-winged Teal are also starting to show up here, but I completed that species in Texas and San Diego.† Those two species are good examples of how my travels actually can work against me in my DOTW game - I would have been able to use those two for day-birds if I hadn't seen them so much on my earlier travels.† I'm not penalized as far as the BAD birding game, though, as I haven't used either one as a BAD bird yet this year.† I plan to use them in the next month or two, locally.† I know that my two games are very confusing to most people, but the point is that for DOTW birds, I have to count every species I am able to identify on a given day, but I don't have to count them all for BAD birding - only one species a day, and I can choose the species.


While hearing the bittern calling from time to time and trying to see it, I saw this water critter.† It might be a muskrat.


Eventually the bittern showed itself and we all saw it.† Here is a picture of an American Bittern's head, sticking up out of the grass.


It called and moved a little, and I got this picture from a slightly different angle.† It shows more of its body, anyway.


Another bittern was calling from the other side of the trail, and one of the women spotted it and showed it to me.† I was concentrating on this one, though, and the other one was farther away and not showing any more of itself.


It started to sprinkle about then, and I headed back to my car.† On my way home I saw a Belted Kingfisher fly up to a wire as I was going past Sike's Lake.† I didn't need it for Friday, but I hadn't used it as a BAD bid yet, so I thought about it.


My three species today brings Friday to 168 species, and I ended up deciding to once again forgo American Bittern for my BAD bird, and I'll take Belted Kingfisher today instead.† This makes three days that I have passed over American Bittern because I saw another species I decided would be better to take for my BAD bird.† Each time it is a gamble because I might not ever see another bittern this year, but I am three for three at Stillwater this week on American Bittern (heard all three times and seen twice), so I feel like I can see or hear one again.† I'll probably go over there again tomorrow.



Saturday, April 29, 2017


I had thought I would go back over to Stillwater today, but when I looked at my spreadsheet, I decided instead to go for completing Greater Scaup, since they will be heading north very soon, and I like to complete species - that is, observe them on all 7 days of the week.


So, I went to Logboom Park in Kenmore and immediately saw a number of Greater Scaup.† I had my Saturday bird, and I completed Greater Scaup, like I wanted to do, but I wanted to try for a decent BAD bird, so I next went Wallace Swamp Creek Park to see what I could find.† I had a list of 11 species that had been seen in the last few days there, all of which would be good for my Saturday list.† Four of those were year-birds.† I was looking in particular for Black-throated Gray Warbler, which had been reported there multiple times, but I never saw one today, despite playing their song a lot.


I walked through the park, playing the Black-throated Gray Warbler song, off and on, all the way, and at first I saw little.† I did pick up Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Bushtit, both of which I needed for Saturday.† There were a lot of Spotted Towhees, American Robins, and Song Sparrows around, but I didnít need any of those.† I saw two Downy Woodpeckers, which was nice, but they were too high up for pictures and I didn't need that one for any list.


Finally I saw a good one, as a female Purple Finch flew in and perched for me to look at and photograph.† Here is a female Purple Finch, which was another Saturday bird.


Here is another one that shows the facial markings a little better.


I walked all over the park, but never saw anything else for any lists.† I got these three pictures of Pine Siskin, though, at one point.




I also saw a male Anna's Hummingbird that perched for me at the top of a blossoming tree.



That was it for my birding today.† I walked around Wallace Swamp Creek Park for over an hour, and that's all I got.† I only saw three of the eleven species that were on my list.† My 4 species for Saturday brings Saturday to 160 species.† I completed both Greater Scaup and Chestnut-backed Chickadee, to make 77 species completed this year.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Purple Finch.† My year list stands at 277.



Sunday, April 30, 2017


It was supposed to be dry this morning, but it was raining lightly when I got up.† I decided to go over to Stillwater anyway, to try again for American Bittern and anything else that showed up.† Before I even left home, though, I saw a Golden-crowned Sparrow and a Pine Siskin under our bird feeder.† I didn't need the sparrow for any lists, but the Pine Siskin was a Sunday bird.


I could have stayed home and taken a yard bird for my BAD bird, but I wanted to go birding, despite the unexpected rain.† I took my Kindle along so I could read in the car if necessary, while I waited for a shower to pass.† I got a late start and got to Stillwater about 10:15.† It was raining lightly, so I sat I the car.† After about 25 minutes the rain was letting up, so I got out and went out onto the trail, using my umbrella.† I birded in the light rain with my umbrella for about 15 minutes and the rain finally quit.


It was actually rather birdy, considering the rain.† I saw two or three little flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers today, along with the usual species, like Song Sparrow and American Robin.† My first good bird was my first WESTERN TANAGER of the year, a male.† It was too high for pictures and was moving north and soon was out of sight.† I had two good binocular views of it, though, in trees that it stopped in briefly.


At the first bridge I saw a couple of male Common Yellowthroats, a good Sunday bird.† Here are the only two pictures I managed to get of male Common Yellowthroat.



I don't know if those were the same bird or not.† I'm guessing not, since the first one seems darker, but that might only be the lighting.


A little farther down the trial I got this picture of a wet Song Sparrow.


The rain let up soon after that, and while looking at a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers, I saw a female Downy Woodpecker, another bird I needed for Sunday.† I got this picture of a female Downy Woodpecker.


While I was chasing her around, getting pictures, I got a brief view of a Red-breasted Sapsucker, another Sunday bird.† In with the Yellow-rumped Warblers were a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers, not one I needed for Sunday, but a candidate for BAD bird for the day.† I walked farther south along the trail than I had gone before, to the third bridge.


The sun actually came out briefly about then, and there were patches of blue sky.† Here is a view of the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Valley Wildlife Area.


On my way back I got distant views of a couple of male Hooded Mergansers, another Sunday bird.† I also heard American Bitterns calling a few times, at least two of them.† No sightings of bittern today, though, so it goes down as (ho), meaning "heard only" on my Sunday list.


There was another female Downy Woodpecker close to the trail, and I got some close up pictures that I like.


Here is a picture that shows her back, with its downy white feathers.


Here is one more, since too much is never enough, for me.


I hung around, hoping to see a bittern, but it was not to be.† I saw a female Wood Duck fly in, and although I didn't need that one for Sunday, I got this distant picture of her, showing the pretty blue patches on her wings.


Too bad about that branch that goes right across her, and too bad she was so far away.


I realized that it was past time to be heading for home and my lunch, so I went back to my car.† Here is a picture of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail just north of the main (south) parking lot.† You can see that there is a lot of water on the site.† This has been the rainiest October to April in Seattle since records have been kept.


It started to sprinkle again as I headed toward home.† I had timed my visit perfectly, as it turned out, other than the 25 minute wait at the start, in the car.


While driving past Sikes Lake I saw a male American Goldfinch sitting on a fence.† He was singing and I got this picture.


I don't know why his bill has those dark areas on it; usually the bill is all orange.† Maybe he had been eating something that stained it.


I also took this picture of an American Robin a short time later.


So, that was my Sunday birding.† I got 7 new species for my Sunday list, to bring me to 159 for Sunday.† The Western Tanager makes it 278 species for the year so far.† For my BAD bird, I'm going to again bypass American Bittern and take Orange-crowned Warbler.† I also considered Western Tanager, but I think I'm more likely to see more of them than Orange-crowned Warblers this summer.† It's a close call, though, and I might regret it.† As for American Bittern, it is a really great bird, one I never thought I would get locally, but I've been to Stillwater four times now, and I've either seen or heard them each time, so I'm getting complacent about it, I guess.† I'll keep going back, and one of these days I'll take American Bittern for my BAD bird (knock on wood).