Click here to return to 2017 Birding Reports: http://www.barry15.com/2017_Birding_Reports
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
NOT Arizona.† I'm not in Arizona, as planned.† Instead, I'm in my man-cave in our basement at home.† I was all packed this morning and we were ready to leave for the airport, and I called it off.† I feel like a fool, but I'm glad I didnít go.† I've had bowel issues for the last two or three weeks, and just couldn't face the idea of rambling around the desert and mountains of SE Arizona, needing to find a bathroom several times during the day, sometimes urgently.† The way I have been feeling reminds me of the diverticulitis I had a couple of years ago.† My bowels were crampy and I didn't feel good at all this morning, so I bailed.† As I said, I'm glad I did, but I still feel like an idiot to get so close and then call it off.
I thought about just forgetting about my DOTW and BAD birding games, but I decided to take it a day at a time, and today I felt well enough to venture out, after I cancelled some things.† Before I get into today, though, I'll show the "uninteresting" pictures that didn't bother with yesterday.† My first stop yesterday was at the Redmond Retention Ponds, and an Osprey flew over at one point, and I got this picture.† It isn't very sharp, but Osprey is such a magnificent bird that I'll show it anyway.
There were some Green-winged Teal there at the ponds, the first ones I've seen since spring.† Here is a picture of a Green-winged Teal.
I don't know if that was a male or a female, because the males look pretty much like the females in their eclipse (non-breeding) plumage.† Here is a picture of a couple of them.
Here are three of them together.
Green-winged Teal are much smaller than Mallards, and here is a size comparison picture of Green-winged Teal and a male Mallard in eclipse plumage.
Still re-telling yesterday's story, I went through the Evans Creek Natural Area and saw a flock of juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds.† Here is one of them on the ground.
Here is a much closer picture of two juvenile male Red-winged Blackbirds at the top of a dead tree.
That's it for yesterday's pictures.†
Today I went over to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, on Puget Sound north of Seattle and south of Edmonds.† I walked across the bridge over the railroad tracks and scoped the water.† I was looking for two species, and I thought I saw one of them very distantly, but I wasn't 100% sure of the identification.† The birds were off to the north, so I walked back to my car and drove up along the coast, looking for another place to observe from.† I found a little park called Kayu Kayu Ac Park.† I thought the name was odd, so I Googled it, and it has a nice story.† It's too long to reproduce here, but if you're interested, use Google.
The park had a nice viewing platform that looked out over the sound, and I had closer views of some of the birds I had seen.† There was one large group that I thought were Marbled Murrelets at the time, but I took a very distant picture, and now I'm not so sure.
Looking at a blowup of that picture, I think they might have actually been Rhinoceros Auklets.† I needed both species for Tuesday, but I couldnít really tell for sure which species these were.† Rhino Auklet is more likely because of the number of them.† I did see some other birds, a little closer, and they were definitely Rhinoceros Auklets.† Here is a distant picture of three of them.
I'm going to count Rhino Auklet for Tuesday, but not Marbled Murrelet.† That completes Rhinoceros Auklet for me this year and brings me to 206 species for Tuesday.† Completing Rhinoceros Auklet makes 119 species completed now.† For my BAD bird, I'll take House Finch.† I'm down to taking the really common species for my BAD bird now, and some of those are turning out to be difficult to find.† My latest problems are with European Starlings and Black-capped Chickadees.† Both of those species were coming to our feeder regularly, but not in the last week or two that I've seen.† I'll continue to look for them.† I have several other easy ones to use still, and there is always the chance of getting a shorebird on migration.† I figure I can make the BAD streak last for about another week, and the DOTW one might go on for 2 or 3 weeks, if I'm lucky and I make an effort.
So, no Arizona pictures, and both of my birding games will take a hit, but I plan to play out the two games, as long as I feel well enough.† What a life!
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Wednesday is my toughest day for DOTW birding (because it has the fewest "easy" species that I haven't seen on that day), so I decided to drive up north to Skagit county to try for a good Wednesday bird.† There was also a good shot at a good BAD bird.† I went to the Wylie Slough unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area, looking for migrating shorebirds.† The first shorebird I saw was this one.
It was obviously molting, but it didn't look like anything I recognized.† After I saw my picture, I decided it must have been a scruffy Greater Yellowlegs, partly transitioned to non-breeding plumage.† Later I saw another bird that I'm sure was a Greater Yellowlegs, and it has a similar scruffy looking appearance.
The light was terrible today, so all my pictures are substandard.
I soon saw the species I was expecting for my Wednesday list, Long-billed Dowitcher.† Here is a picture of some of them.
Note the tip of the bill of the one in the middle of the picture.† I have read that dowitchers have a prehensile bill, which they use to grab the little mollusks they are probing for, but this is the best example I have seen of what it looks like at the tip when it is open.
Here is a picture of Wylie Slough today.
I walked along the dike, but most of the shorebirds were Long-billed Dowitchers.† There were also some Greater Yellowlegs mixed in with them.† Finally I found a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs, which I not only needed for Wednesday, but it was an excellent BAD bird candidate as well.† Here is a Lesser Yellowlegs.
Here is another Lesser Yellowlegs.
Lesser Yellowlegs look very much like Greater Yellowlegs, but they are smaller and their bill is shorter with respect to the length of the head.† Here is a shot of a Greater Yellowlegs for comparison of relative bill length.
The differences in plumage are irrelevant because they are molting from breeding plumage to non-breeding plumage right now.
Other people have been reporting several other shorebird species there this week, but that's all I saw, other than some Killdeer.† Here are three more pictures of Long-billed Dowitchers, which were the most numerous shorebird there today.
Like I said, the light was terrible.† It was hazy from wildfires in the area and I was looking south most of the time, toward the sun.
I saw a little bird along the dike on my way back, and it seemed to be a finch of some kind.† Here is a picture of it.
I suppose it was a House Finch, but it doesn't look quite right to me for House Finch, and I wonder if it was actually a Purple Finch.
That was it for me today.† I drove for almost an hour each way and spent about another hour birding.† I drove just over 100 miles and got 25 mpg, which isn't bad in my big old 6 cylinder Honda Pilot.† That was enough birding for me, and I kept thinking I was glad I wasn't in the desert and mountains of southeast Arizona today.† I was glad to get home and stay here for the rest of the day and evening.† I felt rather lousy and my bowel issues continued.
I added two species to my Wednesday list, to bring it to 223 species.† I'll take Lesser Yellowlegs for my BAD bird.† That was a medium difficulty one on my list of remaining local BAD birds, so I maintained my 7 "easy" ones.† If all goes well and I can get all those easy ones, I'll make it to next Wednesday before that streak is over.† I could get one or two other medium difficulty ones, or even a difficult one, and that would extend it by a day or two.† I could also travel somewhere to extend it, but I donít really feel like doing that.† It has been a good run, and I'll play out this last week as it comes.† The Day Of The Week (DOTW) streak could go on for another week or two, or maybe longer, if I'm careful and lucky.† We shall see.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
I was trying to decide where to go today, and I read that two people had reported Solitary Sandpiper at the Redmond Retention Ponds yesterday.† That would be a year bird for me, so I headed over there.† There were two birders there when I got there.† They hadn't seen the Solitary Sandpiper reports and they also hadn't seen any Solitary Sandpipers.† They had seen and photographed the same juvenile Spotted Sandpiper that I had seen earlier in the week or last week there.† When all was said and done, I came to the conclusion that the two reports were wrong - that they had seen the Spotted Sandpiper and had gotten the identification wrong.† They look quite similar.† Here is the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper that I believe caused the confusion.
Here are two more shots of it.
I think the main reason for the confusion was the lack of spots on the underside of this bird.† At this time of year, adult Spotted Sandpipers have distinctive spots on their breasts and bellies.† The barring on the wings and back indicate it is a juvenile, though, and juveniles don't have the spots.† This is the only juvenile Spotted Sandpiper I have ever seen, and Solitary Sandpipers are pretty rare around here, so the confusion is understandable.† Here is a picture of the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper and a Killdeer.
That was on the smaller pond, and after that I went back over to the main pond where the other two birders were.† Here they are taking pictures of a Greater Yellowlegs, which isn't in the picture.
Here is the Greater Yellowlegs they were shooting.
It is in transition plumage, much like the ones I saw yesterday up at Wylie Slough.† Here it is next to a female Mallard.
Here they are again.
While we were talking on the shore, several groups of Canada Geese flew in and landed.† Here is a picture of four of them landing.
So, I had some pictures, but I didn't have a Thursday bird and I hadn't seen a decent BAD bird.† All day I kept looking for European Starlings, but they seem to have disappeared on me.† I needed a Thursday bird, though, so I next headed up to Edmonds.† My plan was to stop at the Edmonds Marsh and try for Marsh Wren or maybe an uncommon migrating shorebird, and if that didn't work out, then I would go to the waterfront and get a year-bird gull that I have been saving.
At the marsh, I couldn't call up a Marsh Wren, but there was one shorebird out in the middle of the mud.† I took some really distant pictures and when I got home I decided it was probably a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper.† That's a great bird, but I happened to have seen one at Canyon Park Wetlands several weeks ago and it was on a Thursday.† I used it for my BAD bird that day, too, so I couldn't use it for anything today, other than these next two very distant pictures.† Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper (I think).
The only other possibility I could come up with was juvenile Western Sandpiper, but it would have had some red-brown on its back if that were the case.
So, I still needed a Thursday bird and a BAD bird.† I went up to Sunset Avenue, and looked at the gulls on the beach.† Here are a couple of pictures of my first HEERMANN'S GULL of the year.
I've been saving Heermann's Gull because I knew they had returned to Edmonds in July, and I knew I could go up there any time and get the species, when I needed to.† Today was the day.† I can go back six more times and get Heermann's Gull for the rest of the days of the week if I want to.† They will be around until November or December.
I added one species to my Thursday list, to bring it to 226.† Heermann's Gull was a year-bird, and that brings my yearly total to 324 species.† I'll take Heermann's Gull for my BAD bird today.
It was very hot and very hazy today, from wildfires up in Canada.† Other than my birding expeditions, I pretty much stayed I the house.† I felt better today, but I'm still glad I called off the Arizona trip.† I have an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow afternoon, and maybe he can get me on the path to full recovery.† I have a suspicion that I have diverticulitis again, like I did two years ago, but we'll see what the doctor says.
Friday, August 4, 2017
My plan today was to go up to the Duvall area to get Eurasian Collared-Dove for my Friday list and European Starling for my BAD bird.† On the way I went by the Redmond Retention Ponds, though, to check for migrating shorebirds.† When I got there, the two birders I had seen there twice before this week were just leaving, with another birder.† I asked what they had seen, and there wasn't anything interesting except one sandpiper.† They showed me a picture, and I told them I thought it was a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper, which was the bird I had seen up at the Edmonds Marsh yesterday.† The picture they had was far superior to my distant pictures of yesterday, but I think it was the same species.† They told me where they had seen it, and I looked, but I never found it.† It wouldn't really have mattered anyway, since I had seen one on a Friday already and taken it as a BAD bird already.† I did see the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper that has been hanging out there.
I moved on from there and went up to W. Snoqualmie River Road NE near Duvall.† Almost right away I saw my Eurasian Collared-Dove, which I consider easy along that road.† That took care of Friday.† Here is a picture of a Eurasian Collared-Dove that I took later on.
A little later I saw a dove on a wire, and it turned out to be a Mourning Dove, which is much less common in this area.† Here are three pictures of the Mourning Dove.
Most of my pictures today were taken with the bright, hazy sky as a background, so I'm satisfied with how they came out.† It was in the 90's again today, and very hazy from the wildfires in Canada.
I saw some European Starlings soon after the Eurasian Collared-Dove, so I had my two targets.† I didn't get pictures of those first ones, but I got this picture of a European Starling later.
There was a small flycatcher on a wire and I got some pictures.† I'm not sure what species it was, since that family of flycatchers is very difficult to tell apart.† I think it was likely a Willow Flycatcher, mostly because of the lack of a distinct eye ring.† Here are three of my pictures of it.
That last picture shows the yellow-orange lower half of its bill, but that isn't definitive.
The other major possibility is Pacific-slope Flycatcher, especially since there seems to be a yellowish wash to its undersides.† It should have a distinct whitish eye ring, though, if it was a Pacific-slope Flycatcher.† If I had needed Willow Flycatcher for today, I would have counted it as such, but since I didn't need it anyway, I just didn't count it as anything.† Pacific-slope Flycatcher would have been a year-bird, but without hearing it call, I couldn't make that call.
Here's a picture of what I think was a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird.
Here is a male Brewer's Blackbird, with his white eye.
That was it for today.† I added just one species, Eurasian Collared-Dove, to my Friday list, to bring it to 225 species.† I completed Eurasian Collared-Dove today, too, to make it 120 species that I have now seen on all seven days of the week this year.† For my BAD bird, I'll take European Starling.† This leaves me with just five more "easy" local BAD birds, so that game will end soon.† The toughest of those five easy species seems like it might be Black-capped Chickadee, since they have stopped coming to our feeder in the last couple of weeks.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
I had a complicated plan for today, involving a series of five birding sites.† The idea was to go from one to the next until I got a Saturday bird.† Meanwhile, I would be looking for a good BAD bird, in particular, Black-capped Chickadee.† Well, as I pulled out of our driveway at home, I saw a Black-capped Chickadee at our feeder, so that was taken care of.† The first stop on my itinerary for the day was the Redmond Retention Ponds, to look again for migrating shorebirds.† There were at least three possible species that could be there that I needed for Saturday, although none were likely.
I soon saw the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper that has been there this week, and I got what is maybe the best picture I've gotten of it yet.
You can really see the fine barring on the back that marks it as a juvenile.† In addition, it doesn't have spots on its underside and the bill is dark, not orange.
The Greater Yellowlegs was still around, too, and I got this picture of it.
The partial breeding plumage is really quite different from the winter (non-breeding) plumage that I'm used to.† Of course, I completed both of those species some time ago, so they didn't help my lists.
I walked around and didn't see anything unusual, so I headed back toward my car.† Another birder had come along and was looking through his scope at the pond as I was leaving.† I asked if he had seen anything interesting, and he told me he had a bird in his scope which is one I have been looking for all week.† He offered me a look, and I had my first SOLITARY SANDPIPER of the year.† It was in a grassy area at the south end of the pond, and I hadn't seen it.† We watched it for a while, but it was too obscured by the grass and too far away for pictures.† I asked him if he minded if I approached it closer and he said go ahead.† I looked at it a few times as I approached it, but I never got a picture because it was in the grass.† I ended up getting too close and flushed it.† That wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing if it had simply flown to another part of the pond, where it probably would have been more out in the open, but it flew off into the distance, never to be seen again, at least by me.† I felt terrible that I had chased it away before either of us could get a picture.† I should have been more patient, and I should have been trying for distant pictures as I approached more slowly.† So, no picture, but I had an excellent look at it, both through the other guy's scope and in my own binoculars.
While we were standing around talking and hoping it would return, an Osprey landed on a snag and I got this picture.
A Cedar Waxwing landed at the top of another tree and I got this distant picture with a bright background.
This sure has been the year of the Cedar Waxwing for me.
There were three Hooded Mergansers out on the pond, and I took some pictures.† I think they were probably juvenile birds, but maybe they were simply females in non-breeding plumage.
Here are a couple more pictures of Hooded Mergansers.
They were all diving for food, and here's a picture of a Hooded Merganser swallowing some kind of prey.
They really look a lot different from what they look like in breeding plumage, when they have a large crest that they can raise and lower.† Here is what Hooded Mergansers in breeding plumage look like.† The female is on the right.† I took this picture in April this year.
That was it for today.† I didn't go to any of my other five sites because I had my Saturday bird and I had a BAD bird.† It's ironic that I've been looking for Black-capped Chickadee for days, to use as my BAD bird, and then today I see one, when I can't even use it.† The Solitary Sandpiper is a much more difficult bird to find than Black-capped Chickadee, so I had to take it today, and I'll have to resume my hunt for the chickadee tomorrow.
The Solitary Sandpiper brought my Saturday list to 218 species and my year list to 325 species.† I still have five "easy" local species I haven't yet used for my BAD bird, with Black-capped Chickadee the most difficult of the five.† If I'm lucky I can now get through Thursday before I run out of new BAD birds.† Maybe a rarity will come through and I'll see it, though, or maybe I'll drive a little to find a BAD bird a little out of this immediate area, in order to extend the BAD streak another day.
By the way, I did see my doctor yesterday and he concurred with my suspicion that I have diverticulitis again and he prescribed an antibiotic, which I have now started.† I'd also like to mention that my Achilles tendon is doing great and I'm walking without limping and without much pain at all most of the time.† It has been a really long recovery period (18 months so far), and progress isn't always steady - I have had setbacks along the way - but overall, things are very slowly improving.† I've got my fingers crossed and hope it continues.
Sunday, August 6,2017
Sorry, no pictures today.† I drove up north to Skagit county and my first stop was at the Hayton Reserve on Fir Island, near Mount Vernon.† I was looking for migrating shorebirds, and the tide was out.† I thought that would be good, but maybe it had been out for too long and was too low.† I guess all the shorebirds were elsewhere.† There were acres of mud, but none of the hundreds of shorebirds that others have been reporting.† I walked almost to the end of the path and looked some more.† Still nothing was out there but one juvenile gull.†
As I was about to leave, though, a single small shorebird flew over and landed out on the mud.† I got the scope on it, and it turned out to be a Semipalmated Plover, one of the species I needed both for Sunday and for a BAD bird, and one I was specifically looking for there.† I was amazed.† One shorebird, and it was one of the two or three species I needed, not one of the four or five more common ones that I didn't need.† I looked once more as I left, and some more shorebirds were flying in.† I could identify Killdeer and there was one Greater Yellowlegs, along with some smaller ones that were too far away to identify.† I couldn't identify anything else I needed, though.
I moved on to March Point, to look for the American White Pelicans that have been reported there for a week or more.† I didn't need it for Sunday, but it would have been a great BAD bird - even better than Semipalmated Plover.† I didn't see any, maybe because the tide was so far out.† I also failed to find any Black Oystercatchers, which I did need for Sunday.† Tonight I see that a couple of the local expert birders were up there today, about an hour after I was, and they got both the pelicans and the oystercatcher.† I guess I should have looked harder.
Anyway, that was it for my birding today, and I boogied on home, after buying some cheap gas on the Swinomish Indian reservation.† Ironically, I had again seen a Black-capped Chickadee at our feeder before I left home this morning, but again, the Semipalmated Plover is much more difficult, so again I won't take the chickadee as my BAD bird today.† I might end up regretting that because I plan to go back up there tomorrow, and if I see Semipalmated Plover again, I will wish I had taken the chickadee today and saved the plover.† I went with the odds, though, and took the more difficult Semipalmated Plover for my BAD bird today.† My one species today for Sunday (Semipalmated Plover) brings Sunday to 208 species.† I still have my five easy species left for BAD birds, so I hope to make it until Saturday before I finally get skunked in that game.† I'll need to see Black-capped Chickadee again, though, to do that, probably.† I could also see the pelicans tomorrow, which would extend it another day, so fingers crossed.
Monday, August 7, 2017
Once again this morning, for the third day in a row, I saw Black-capped Chickadees at our feeder before I left to do my daily birding.† That is the most difficult of the five "easy" local BAD species that I haven't used yet.† The last two days, I found better, more difficult species to use, so the Chickadee got discarded.† That's good, of course, because it meant I was seeing good birds.
This morning my friend, Dan, went with me and we went up to Skagit county, where I had been just yesterday.† At our first stop, Wylie Slough, the tide was still going out and there weren't any shorebirds around.† While we were standing there a little flock of Long-billed Dowitchers flew over, though, and I needed that one for Monday.
Next we moved on to Hayton Reserve, and I didn't see any shorebirds there at all.† Other people have been reporting dozens or hundreds of them there, but I guess my timing with respect to the tide has been bad.
From there we went to Bayview State Park and ate our Subway sandwiches.† The tide was way out and most of what we could see of the bay was mud, but I looked around with my scope for the American White Pelicans that others have reported in that area over the last couple of weeks, including yesterday, but I didnít see them.† After we ate we drove around to the west side of Padilla Bay and finally I got lucky.† Pelicans!† They were a long distance away, but I was able to see about a dozen American White Pelicans on one of the sand islands offshore.† Here is a picture of the bay from that point, showing the mud and the distance.† The pelicans were on the shore of that island in the middle of the picture, on the horizon.
That's right, the little spec in the middle of the picture on the horizon is where the pelicans were.† It was hundreds of yards away, at least half a mile I would have said.† Scaling it on Google maps, it appears to be about 1000 yards, which is about 5/8 of a mile.† My trusty little camera wasn't up to getting decent pictures at that distance, but the pelicans are recognizable, at least.† The distortion is mainly caused by the heat waves emanating from the mud.
I think that for a distance of 1000 yards (the length of ten football fields), that's pretty good.
Seven of the pelicans flew a little closer and landed on the mud, still pretty far away.† Here is another picture of them.
That boat is in the Swinomish Channel, which is dredged so boats can pass at low tide, like today.† Again, heat waves distorted the picture.
We moved up the road and got a little higher in elevation and a little closer.† Here is a picture of some of the pelicans walking in a line.
Here are five of them flying, showing their black wing tips.
So, I had my BAD bird candidate that I wanted.† Black-capped Chickadee would have to wait for another day.
We headed back toward home and I detoured to Channel Drive, which runs along the Swinomish Channel north of La Conner.† At the end of the county road, past the last house, there is a dirt road that runs along an old part of the slough that is separate now, since the dredging of the channel.† We finally hit the jackpot and there were dozens of shorebirds there.† I took a lot of pictures and tried to identify as many as possible, but I knew I would need my pictures in some cases.† I think the largest number of them were Western Sandpipers, a species I didn't need for any lists.† Here is a picture of what I think are mostly or entirely Western Sandpipers, perhaps juveniles or maybe they are adults or a mixture.† Shorebirds aren't real easy to identify.
There were two or three dowitchers there, too, and I presume they were Long-billed Dowitchers, which I had seen at Wylie Slough earlier today.† Here is a picture of a couple of them.
I think the bird between the two dowitchers is a Lesser Yellowlegs, a species I needed for Monday.† There were several Lesser Yellowlegs there, and here is a picture of one of them.
I think I could pick out at least a couple of Semipalmated Sandpipers among the Western Sandpipers, which they resemble a lot.† I needed Semipalmated Sandpiper for Monday, and they are pretty uncommon.† I think the lighter colored bird in the middle of this next picture is a Semipalmated Sandpiper.
Here is a picture that shows four different shorebird species.
On the left is a Lesser Yellowlegs, then a Semipalmated Sandpiper, then a Western Sandpiper, and on the right is a Greater Yellowlegs.† That is what I think, anyway.† Here is a picture with three species of shorebirds.
The reddish ones with their bills tucked under their wings are Long-billed Dowitchers, the four smaller birds around the edges are Lesser Yellowlegs, and the larger one in the middle is a Greater Yellowlegs.† The size and its longer bill set the Greater Yellowlegs apart from the Lessers.
I think this next pictures shows a whole group of Semipalmated Sandpipers, but maybe I'm wrong.† I think they are mostly or entirely juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers, but possibly some are Western Sandpipers
Next comes the interesting part of my pictures (to me, but not to anyone else probably).† There were two sandpipers standing out in the water, not joining into the sandpiper fun of flying around from time to time and landing somewhere else.† I thought they looked different, and they posed for me, so I took some pictures.† After consulting my field guides, I think they were juvenile Baird's Sandpipers, a fairly rare species around here.† I posted a link to some pictures on Tweeters, the local birding mailing list, asking for help in the identification.† I'm still waiting for replies, but I'm sure enough that I'm going to count them as BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, my first of the year.† [I've gotten two replies now, both concurring with my identification.]
I think that is only the third time I have seen Baird's Sandpiper and the first time in Western Washington.
Here is another picture of the two Long-billed Dowitchers, showing their long bills.
Here is a picture of a Long-billed Dowitcher and a Lesser Yellowlegs.
So, that was my exciting day of birding.† I added 4 shorebirds to my Monday list, to bring it to 211 species.† One of them was a year-bird, and that brings my year list to 326 species.† Baird's Sandpiper was new for Skagit county, and that makes my Skagit county list 101 species.† For my BAD bird, I'll have to take Baird's Sandpiper.† Black-capped Chickadee will have to wait, and I ought to be able to get it again in the next five days.† I passed on American White Pelican today, after going up to Skagit county mainly to get it for a BAD bird today.† Baird's is much better, so I had to skip the pelican today.† Maybe I'll drive up to Skagit county again later this week, to try for American White Pelican again.† They have been hanging around that same island for a couple of weeks, so they ought to still be there in a few days.† They weren't there yesterday when I was there, though, so it isn't guaranteed.† I still have my five easy local BAD birds, so I can now keep the Bird-A-Day game alive through at least Saturday.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
This morning, for the fourth day in a row, I saw a Black-capped Chickadee at our feeder.† Maybe today would be the day that I would use it for my BAD bird.† I headed over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if any interesting migrant shorebirds had come in there.† The usual Killdeer were around, as well as the regular juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.† In addition there was a single Long-billed Dowitcher there today.† Here are a couple of pictures of the dowitcher.
Since I've proclaimed this as the year of the Cedar Waxwing, here is a distant picture of one I saw at the ponds today.
There were over 60 Mallards on the main pond today.† Here is a picture of a male and a female Mallard, with the male on the left.
Next I drove through the Evans Creek Natural Area, on my way to Lake Sammamish to check to see if the Purple Martins were still around their nests.† I saw a Red-tailed Hawk in the long grass and took this picture.
A little farther down the road there was another Red-tailed Hawk in a tree.† The light was terrible, coming from behind the bird, but here is a picture anyway.
At the lake, the Purple Martins were still around, so that was my Tuesday bird.
I had some time to burn, so I went over by the mansion in Marymoor Park to check out the bird feeders there.† They haven't had seed in them for most of the summer, but today there was seed in one of the feeders, so I parked in the shade where I could see the feeder and waited.† It was pretty slow, but eventually a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos came in for seed.† Here is a Dark-eyed Junco, a female, I think.
I think this next one is also a female Dark-eyed Junco, maybe the same one.† I like the way you can see the white outer tail feathers.
There was a crow there that kept flying up to the feeder and grabbing a beakful of seeds and then taking them to the ground to eat.† It was too big to perch on the feeder, so it would grab the seeds on the fly.† Here is the American Crow on the ground.
That was it for today.† My one Tuesday species, Purple Martin, brought Tuesday to 207 species.† I finally got to use Black-capped Chickadee for my BAD bird.† I now have just four more easy local BAD birds, so that game is reaching its end quickly.† Once you miss a day in that game, it's over for the year.† By the time I'm done, I will have seen a different species on each of the over 220 days of the year so far, with no repeats.† It's a long game, and it takes perseverance.† Just going out birding for over 220 days in a row takes something, maybe obsession.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
It's a very boring report today, I'm afraid.† No pictures and I only went one place.† I went down Juanita Bay Park and first stopped at what birders call the Fire Station Road, east of Market Street.† I played the calls of Pacific Wren, but got no responses.† The local Pacific Wrens mostly migrate up to the mountains in the summer to breed, and I guess they aren't back yet or didn't feel like responding today.† It is several weeks early for them to be getting back, so I wasn't surprised, although there have been a few reports of them around the area recently.
Next I played the song of Golden-crowned Kinglet, and one flew in to check me out.† Bingo!† That took care of Wednesday, which is my most difficult day in my DOTW game.† I went home after that, and I used Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) for my BAD bird today.† The kinglet makes my Wednesday total 224 species.† I have three more easy BAD birds, but tomorrow I plan to go back up to Skagit county to try for the American White Pelicans again, and if I find them, then that will be my BAD bird tomorrow.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
This morning I headed back up to Skagit county, as planned, looking for American White Pelicans, which I needed for Thursday as well as for a BAD bird.† I stopped first at Wylie Slough, but the tide was too high, so I moved on to Hayton Reserve.† As I drove in, I took this picture of a Great Blue heron.
There were shorebirds there, but the light was terrible and the birds were a long distance away.† I did see a few Semipalmated Plovers, which is an excellent bird, but I had seen them on Thursday earlier this year and used it last week for a BAD bird.
Next I went to the south end of March Point Road and the American White Pelicans were in the same place they were on Monday.† They were too distant for decent pictures, and I already showed the heat-wave distorted pictures from Monday, so none today.† That completed American White Pelican for me this year.† While I was looking at the pelicans through my scope, I saw a shorebird swimming in some water in front of the pelicans.† I think it was one of the phalarope species, either Red-necked or Wilson's Phalarope.† It was much too far away for me to tell which species, though, so I can't count it.† Red-necked Phalarope would have been a year-bird for me.
I drove around March Point looking for Black Oystercatchers, but I didnít find any.† It was getting on for lunch time, so I went to the place at the end of Channel Drive that had had so many shorebirds on Monday, figuring I would eat my Subway sandwich in the car while watching any birds that were there.
The tide was going out and was just getting low enough that the shorebirds were coming in, just as I got there.† There were some Lesser Yellowlegs around, and I needed that one for Thursday.† Here's a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs.
A flock of Western Sandpipers flew in and started to feed in water that was too deep for them to stand in at first.† Here are some Western Sandpipers, which I didnít need for any list.
As the tide went out, the Western Sandpipers were able to stand and feed, and eventually there was mud showing.† Here is another pictures of some Western Sandpipers.
Here is one Western Sandpiper in the midst of some ripples it made.
Here is another Lesser Yellowlegs.
There were dowitchers there, and it turned out that both dowitcher species were represented.† Here is a Short-billed Dowitcher with a Greater Yellowlegs.
By studying my pictures from today and comparing them to an article I found online about dowitcher identification, I learned a lot this afternoon.† The difference between Short-billed Dowitchers and Long-billed Dowitchers is very subtle, and some of the points of comparison are ambiguous.† Here is a picture that I believe shows both species.
You would think the length of the bill would be an important factor, but some Short-billed Dowitchers have longer bills than some Long-billed Dowitchers, so other factors come into play.† In the picture above, I think the lighter colored one in front is a Short-billed Dowitcher, and the one behind it is a Long-billed.† The color itself isn't so important because both of them are in the midst of changing from their colorful breeding plumage to their drab winter plumage.† One of the key points is the marks on the flanks.† The Short-billed in front has dots on its flank, while the Long-billed in the back has bars.† The curvature of the lower back is different, too.† Note also that the legs on the Long-billed are longer, assuming the water is the same depth for both of them.
Here is another picture of both dowitcher species, with a Lesser Yellowlegs behind them.
In addition to the dots versus bars on the flanks, there is a difference in the location of the eye, which results in something called the loral angle being different.† It makes the forehead of the Long-billed look kind of flat, while the forehead of the Short-billed is steeper.
Here is a Short-billed Dowitcher on its own.† The Western Sandpipers flying by are a distraction, but focus on the dowitcher in the middle.
The bill has a slight downturn toward the end.† The loral angle is larger (steep forehead), and it has spots on its flanks, not bars.† You can't really see the slope of the lower back.† Here is a Long-billed Dowitcher for comparison.
OK, enough with the dowitchers for now.† I wanted to record what I learned today for my future reference, and this was the most convenient way to do it.
I ate my sandwich and more birds kept coming in as the tide went out.† Eventually I saw a couple of Baird's Sandpipers, probably the same two I had seen on Monday.† I took a lot of pictures and here are some of them.† First, here is one of the Baird's Sandpipers on its own.
One of the things I wanted to do was to get pictures showing the size difference between the Western Sandpipers and the Baird's.† Baird's are supposed to be about 7.5 inches long, from tip of tail to tip of bill, while Western Sandpiper is supposed to be 6.5 inches.† Here is a picture of both species.
The Baird's are in the bottom right corner, with the Westerns up above to the left.† Here is another size comparison.
The two in front are Baird's and the one in back is a Western Sandpiper.† Note not only the size difference, but also how much longer the wings are on the two Baird's, compared to the Western.† The wings are longer than the tail in Baird's.† Here is another picture of a Baird's Sandpiper, showing how long the wings are.
Back to dowitchers, here is another picture showing both species.
Short-billed is on the left and Long-billed is on the right. †The difference in leg length is obvious here.
Here is a more distant picture showing the dowitchers and Western Sandpipers, with a bunch of the Western Sandpipers flying by.
One more comparison of dowitchers, for the record.† This first picture is a Short-billed Dowitcher, I think.
This next one is a Long-billed I think.
In this comparison, the length of the bills turn out to be a good indicator, but it can't always be counted on.
That was it for Channel Drive.† I headed for home, but I stopped at Wylie Slough to see if I could find one of the Red-necked Phalaropes that have been reported there.† The tide was still too high, though, and all I saw were three Greater Yellowlegs.† I did get this picture of a Eurasian Collared-Dove, though.
For my final picture of the day, here is a Cedar Waxwing, in celebration of the Year of the Cedar Waxwing.
That was it for my birding today.† I ended up adding three species to my Thursday list to bring it to 229 species.† I completed American White Pelican, and that makes 121 species I have seen on all seven days of the week this year.† I'll take American White Pelican for my BAD bird.† I still have three more easy BAD birds available, so I ought to be able to make it through the weekend before that streak ends.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Today I started out at the Redmond Retention Ponds, looking for migrant shorebirds.† The juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was there, along with the usual Killdeer, but at first there was nothing else.† I walked around and was on my way back to my car when a little group of 6 shorebirds flew in.† I needed Western Sandpiper today, and these were the right size.† I got some pictures and got pretty close, but these birds had greenish-yellow legs, not black legs like Western Sandpipers. †Here is a picture of one of the Least Sandpipers I saw this morning.
I didn't need Least Sandpiper, but at least I got some pictures.† Here is a picture of two of them.
There were some Canada Geese there, and here is a picture of them across the main pond.
Here is a picture of the main pond at the Redmond Retention Ponds.
The smoke from Canadian fires is still with us, but the heat is finally on its way out.† It got up to 80 today, but it's supposed to be in the 70's now for the next several days.† I'm glad; I don't like it when it gets over 80.† We haven't had any measurable rain for about 8 weeks now, and things are dry.
I headed for my car again, but again I was distracted by a bird flying in.† This time it was a Cedar Waxwing.† As I have said before, I have never seen so many Cedar Waxwings as I have seen this year.† Here is a picture of the Cedar Waxwing in good light with a nice background.
Here's another picture that shows the red waxy substance on its wing better.
I never get tired of taking pictures of Cedar Waxwings.
Here is a picture of a Killdeer from the back.
Here is a side shot of a Killdeer.
So, I got some pictures, and I had a nice little walk in the sun, but I didn't have a Saturday bird, so I headed around the north end of Lake Washington to Magnuson Park, to look for a Saturday bird there.† I drove around looking for one of the Cooper's Hawks that had nested there, or one of the juveniles that are supposed to be around now, but never saw one.† There were some gulls on the swimming platform, and I needed California Gull, but I preferred to save that one for a later Friday if I could.† I walked around the area where I have seen Downy Woodpeckers in the past and played their call.† It was very quiet in the heat of the day, but as I got back near my car I thought I heard a Downy Woodpecker call in response.† I was debating with myself about whether I was sure enough of the identification to count it when a small bird flew into a tree next to me.† I kept playing the Downy Woodpecker call and the bird flew back and forth a few times before I could finally get a good enough look to confirm that it was indeed a Downy Woodpecker.† I got these pictures of the female Downy Woodpecker.
With that success, I gave it up and headed for home, saving Cooper's Hawk and California Gull for a later Friday, I hope.† Downy Woodpecker brought me to 226 species for Friday.† I completed Downy Woodpecker today, to make it 122 species completed now.† There were dozens of Mallards at the Redmond Retention Ponds and I'll take Mallard for my BAD bird for today.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
This morning I drove up to Snoqualmie Pass to try for Rufous Hummingbird for a Saturday bird.† There is a house in Hyak, just over the pass, that has lots of hummingbird feeders, and in the summer there are dozens of Rufous Hummingbirds buzzing around the feeders.† It's getting late in the season, and Rufous Hummingbirds are already leaving on their annual migration to spend the winter in southern Mexico.† I didn't know if there would be any left in Hyak or not, this late in the season, but I decided to drive for 55 minutes to find out.
When I got there, it was quiet, but at least there were still four feeders out, so maybe they were still around.† In a couple of minutes I started seeing them.† I didn't see any males, only females and possibly juveniles, so maybe the males start their migration early.† Hummingbirds don't form pair bonds - males mate with as many females as they can and females build a nest and raise the young on their own.† I suspect that the males leave for the south as soon as there aren't any females around they can mate with, and the females stick around to raise their brood.† Anyway, here is a female Rufous Hummingbird.
Here is another picture, maybe the same bird.
I had my Saturday bird, but there were some swallows flying around.† Some of them were Barn Swallows, which I didn't need for Saturday, but I thought that some of them were Northern Rough-winged Swallows, which I did need for Saturday.† I knew from looking online that the Hyak sewage treatment plant was just down the road, so I drove down there.† There were dozens of swallows swooping around over the water, but it's difficult to identify flying swallows.† To make it worse, it was raining lightly at the time, and so I was trying to look at them from the car with the window open and rain blowing in.† After a while the rain let up and I noticed some of the swallows were perching on a fence on the other side of the pond.† I took some pictures and found that most of the swallows were Barn Swallows, with a fair number of Violet-green Swallows mixed in.† I didn't need that one for Saturday either, though.† Here is a poor picture of a Violet-green Swallow.† It was far away and the light was very low because of the clouds, but you can see the green and violet colors on its back and rump.
Here is another picture with three swallows in it.
The one on the right is an adult Violet-green Swallow for sure.† I think the one on the left is a juvenile Violet-green swallow, based on my field guides.† The one in the center is a different shade of brown and I think it is a Northern Rough-winged Swallow.† I'm going to say it is and count it for my Saturday list.
That was it for me today.† I drove the 55 minutes back home and was done for the day.† My two species brings Saturday to 220 species.† I'll take Dark-eyed Junco for my BAD bird today.† I saw them in our yard and also up at Snoqualmie Pass.
That leaves me with just one easy BAD bird left, American Crow.† Unless I see something unexpected tomorrow, my BAD birding streak will end tomorrow.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
This morning my plan had three parts to it.† The first part was to stop at the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if any good shorebirds had come in overnight.† It was drizzling but I walked out in the wet and all I could find was five Least Sandpipers, one I didn't need for Sunday.† Here is a picture of three of them feeding in deep enough water that I couldn't see their leg color, which I needed to see to be sure of their identification.
Normally they feed in mud or along a shore, but these were out in the (relatively) deep water.† Eventually they showed me their greenish-yellow leg color, which marked them as Least Sandpipers.
Here is one more picture of a couple of the Least Sandpipers.
The only day on which I still need Least Sandpiper is Monday, so I'll probably go over there again tomorrow morning, and maybe they will still be around.
The next step in my plan was to go to Tokul Creek, which is on the way up toward Snoqualmie Falls, past Fall City.† I was looking for American Dipper, which I had seen there several weeks ago.† I parked and went out onto the bridge to look.† Nothing.† No dipper, no birds at all.† I went over to the nearby parking area and took a look at the mouth of Tokul Creek, where it enters the Snoqualmie River, but saw nothing there either.† I was leaving, but on my way out, I went across the bridge and took one last look from my car.† To my surprise, there was an American Dipper, on a rock downstream.† I had a good look at it with my binoculars, and I should have just stopped right there and tried for a picture through the open passenger side window, but I chose to go across the bridge and park and come back to look for it.† Nothing.† It had moved on, and I never found it again, although I stuck around for another ten or fifteen minutes looking.† So, no picture, but I had American Dipper for a Saturday bird.
I could have just given up then and gone home, but I was halfway to Snoqualmie Pass, where I had seen Rufous Hummingbird yesterday.† I decided to go ahead and drive the extra 25 minutes to see if the hummers were still around.† They were, and I recorded Rufous Hummingbird for Saturday.† Like yesterday, I only saw females or juveniles, and here is a picture of one of them.
Here is a picture of one of them hovering.
Here is another picture.
The sun was out briefly, in between showers, and that gave me enough light for this more closely cropped shot.
Here is one last shot of a female Rufous Hummingbird.
I moved on to the Hyak sewage treatment ponds and swallows were again swooping around.† Today none were perched on the fence, though, which made identification of them more difficult. †Most were Barn Swallows, and I saw some Violet-green Swallows, but I didn't need either of those species today.† Finally I was able to get a good long look at a Northern Rough-winged Swallow, which was a Sunday bird.
So, I had three species for my Sunday list, to bring it to 211 species.† For my BAD bird, I'll take American Crow, the one I had planned all year to take on the last day of my streak.† Unless something really unusual shows up tomorrow, my BAD bird streak is over after today.† That was a streak of 225 consecutive days on which I was able to see or hear a species I hadn't counted before this year.† Each day I counted one of the species I had seen or heard that day, and I kept that up without any repeats for 225 days, in other words.† The only other time I did the BAD birding thing was in 2014, and I went 241 days that year.† One big difference, though, is that I was traveling out of the area on 84 of the 241 days that year, and this year I only was traveling on 60 days of the 225.† Since it is easy to see new birds when traveling, in one way, this year was a more significant accomplishment.† It doesn't matter, of course.†† It isn't really a competition.† The idea is to force me to go out birding every single day and to give some focus to my birding each day.† In that respect, it was a complete success.† Going out birding every single day for 225 days in a row is significant, I think.
Now my Day Of The Week (DOTW) birding thing will go on, and I'll see how long I can keep that streak going.† I hope to make it to the end of August before that one ends, and maybe into September.
Monday, August 14, 2017
This morning my first stop was the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I had been there yesterday morning and seen some Least Sandpipers, and while I didn't need that species on Sunday, I did need it for Monday.† Unfortunately, I didn't find any there today.† There had been two reports of Solitary Sandpiper there yesterday morning, and it was odd because I had been there in between the times of the two reports, and I hadn't seen one.† That is an excellent species and I needed it yesterday and again today.
I took a good look at the main pond and didn't see anything at all interesting at first.† The only shorebirds I saw were the usual Killdeer.† I moved on to what is called the small pond or the algae pond, because it has a lot of algae in it.† Shorebirds seem to like it, and I've seen several good birds there this year.† Today there was a Solitary Sandpiper on the edge of the small pond, to my pleased surprise. †Here is a picture of that little beauty.
Here is another picture of the Solitary Sandpiper and its reflection.
I took a lot of pictures and then went back and took another look at the main pond.† This time I found a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper, which is a species I have seen often there this year.† I got some distant pictures, but then it flew to the small pond, and I got better pictures there.† I had both the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper and the Solitary Sandpiper on the same pond.† Here is the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
If you compare that picture to the ones of the Solitary Sandpiper above, you will see that the two species are pretty similar.† The bill color and shape are different, and the pattern on the back and wings is different, too.† They are just about the same size and their behavior is similar.† Spotted Sandpiper has that white triangle on its shoulder, and that's a good sign to look for in Spotted Sandpiper.† Here is another picture of the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
Here's another picture of the Solitary Sandpiper for comparison.
The Solitary Sandpiper caught some kind of creature in the mud and here's a picture of it with its breakfast.
Here's one last picture of the Solitary Sandpiper.† When I took this picture, I was closer to the bird than I have ever been to a Solitary Sandpiper before.
Here's a picture of the small (algae) pond at the Redmond Retention Ponds.
So, that was all very satisfying, and since I no longer am playing the BAD birding game, I headed for home.† I'd like to extend my streak of getting a new bird for my DOTW lists each day, for as long as possible, and that means that getting any more than one species on a given day is kind of counterproductive.† It's better to save the other species for a later day. †Some species will be heading south soon, though, so I might as well get them while they are around.† There's no point in saving a species that will be gone in a week anyway.† I still need Purple Martin for Monday, and I could have seen them at the north end of Lake Sammamish, but I decided to gamble that they would still be around next Monday.
Back at home, my friend Dan came over for lunch and we sat on the front porch.† Our heat wave has broken now, and maybe that's why there were so many more birds coming to our feeder and around the yard than there were for the last couple of weeks.† Maybe it's because the molting season is winding down, or maybe it was just coincidence, but whatever the reason, there were many more birds and many more species around our yard today.† Since I was sitting out there anyway, I got my camera and took a lot of pictures.
I saw our local Bewick's Wren several times, but I didn't get a picture of it.† Both Black-capped Chickadee and Chestnut-backed Chickadee came to the feeder.† A Steller's Jay visited the feeder a couple of times, and I saw one House Sparrow.† There has been a juvenile Spotted Towhee around, and it visited several times, too.† Here is a juvenile Spotted Towhee with some kind of plant part, maybe a rose hip or maybe a berry.
Here is another picture.
The bird bath had a little water in it, and it had some activity.† Here are a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos bathing.
Here is a Song Sparrow that only wanted to get a drink of water.
A female House Finch posed for me in the birch tree, at a bit of a distance.
Another visitor to our feeder was a female Black-headed Grosbeak, a species we only see here in our yard a few times a year.
The juvenile Spotted Towhee came to the feeder a couple of times, too.
I hadn't seen a Red-breasted Nuthatch in our yard for months, but today one came to the feeder and I got pictures of it in the adjacent tree.
Here's the female Black-headed Grosbeak again.
And finally, the juvenile Spotted Towhee came back one more time, too.
So, I ended up just adding one species to my Monday list, but that keeps my DOTW streak alive.† I now have 212 species on Monday.† BAD birding is now over for this year, after 225 days.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
This morning I headed back up to Snoqualmie Pass to look for Rufous Hummingbird again.† Tuesday was the last day I needed that species and I wanted to complete it.† Tuesday is also my second most difficult day for DOTW birding, and getting the hummer would help me.† When I got there, though, there were no hummingbirds coming to the four feeders.† I sat there for 15 minutes and watched, but nothing showed up.† Once a hummingbird buzzed by, but I didn't get a look at it, so I couldn't count it.† I've never seen any other hummingbird species at that location other than Rufous, but theoretically, it could have been an Anna's Hummingbird.† After my 15 minutes, I gave it up.† They were there on Sunday, but on Tuesday they were gone.† I imagine the last of them are on their way to southern Mexico now, to spend the winter.† There might be a very few still around, but just before they migrate, hummingbirds feed on insects, rather than nectar, because the insects have more protein and the birds have a long hard journey ahead of them.
So, Plan B was to stop at Tokul Creek, where I had seen American Dipper several days ago.† I needed that one for Tuesday.† When I got there I parked and looked downstream first.† Nothing.† I looked upstream and also saw nothing.† I was about to leave, though, when I saw a bird near the shore.† Dipper!† Success!† It flew a little farther upstream, and then it posed for me.† The bird was in the deep shade and fairly far away, but I took some pictures anyway.† Here are some pictures of the American Dipper today.
Dippers actually swim underwater as they hunt for little snails and other water goodies.† This one just put its head in the water, though, and came up with something.
Here's one more picture of the little cutie.
Here is a picture of Tokul Creek, looking upstream from the bridge.
The dipper is actually in that last picture, but it is just a dot because of the distance.† Here is a closer view, with the dipper in the center of the picture, about a third of the way up from the bottom, standing on a rock.
I was satisfied with that and I headed for home.† The dipper added one species to Tuesday, to bring it to 208 species.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Today my plan was simple - go up to Edmonds and get Heermann's Gull for Wednesday.† At this time of year, that should be as close to a guarantee as anything in birding.† I've been "saving" Heermann's Gull and today was my Wednesday to take it.
First I went to the Senior Center on the Edmonds waterfront because I wanted to check out the Purple Martin nest boxes.† I have been going to Lake Sammamish to get Purple Martin, at the nest boxes there, but I knew they were also nesting on the Edmonds waterfront.†† I had been avoiding going there to see them because I was saving Heermann's Gull for later ,and after July it is difficult to not get Heermann's Gull on the Edmonds waterfront.† I didn't need Purple Martin for Wednesday, but I wanted to check them out anyway.† It turned out that there were lots of Purple Martins around.† Not only were they hanging around the nest boxes, they were flying all over the place and calling.† I think that the ones calling were young ones who were begging to be fed.† One nice thing was that the nest boxes were a lot closer than the ones I have been seeing at the north end of Lake Sammamish.† Here is a picture of some Purple Martins hanging out at two of the nest boxes.
Here is a shot of the closer nest boxes.
The dark purple ones are males, and the lighter colored ones are either females or juveniles.† Here is one more picture of Purple Martins.
I didn't see any Heermann's Gulls at that stop, so I went down to Marina Beach, at the south end of the Edmonds waterfront.† There weren't any Heermann's Gulls visible from there, either, so I went back and parked near the fishing pier and walked out onto the pier.† On the way out, there was a female Belted Kingfisher sitting on the top of a sailboat mast.
Here's a picture from a slightly different angle.
There were a lot of Heermann's Gulls on the breakwater and I got this picture of a couple of them.
Here's a picture of a Heermann's Gull sitting on the water.
Heermann's Gull is a very easy species to identify because of its sooty dark color and its red-orange bill with the black tip.† They go to Mexican islands and breed from about March until July, and then they come back up the West Coast until about December, at which time they head south again.† They are numerous at the Edmonds waterfront from August through November.† It is the only American gull species to breed south of the US and then spend their non-breeding season up here.† They are strictly a west coast species and aren't found inland or in the east.
Heermann's Gull brings Wednesday to 225 species now and keeps my DOTW streak alive.† The beat goes on.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
I had a three part plan today, and the first part was going to the Redmond Retention Ponds to look for Solitary Sandpiper.† I soon found a couple of Greater Yellowlegs and eventually I saw four separate individuals.† Here is a Greater Yellowlegs snoozing.
Here is one foraging for food.
I don't know what kind of food they are looking for when they walk around like that, maybe little bugs or little water creatures.† There were half a dozen Least Sandpipers around the edges of the main pond, too.† Here are a couple of pictures of a Least Sandpiper.
There are always Killdeer there, but usually they are standing around on the shore.† Today one of them was out in the water, presumably looking for food.
There were a couple of juvenile Spotted Sandpipers on the edge of the main pond, too.† I never got close to either of them, but here is a distant picture of a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
That was four shorebird species, but I didn't need any of them for Thursday.† I was about to leave when I finally spotted my target species, Solitary Sandpiper.† I didn't get nearly as close as I had earlier in the week, but here is a somewhat distant picture of a Solitary Sandpiper.
I don't know where it was while I was scanning the edges of the pond.† I had carefully looked all around the main pond and the small pond several times, but I didn't see it.† It was only as I was about to leave that I spotted it.† I watched it for a couple of minutes, hoping to get better pictures, but it suddenly took off and flew off to the southwest, not to be seen again.† I had my Thursday bird, though.† Solitary Sandpiper is an excellent bird.† They fly through here on their migration and can be found (if you're lucky) for only a few weeks in July and August.† There aren't very many of them, though, and birders are always interested in finding them.† They seem to like the Redmond Retention Ponds, though, both last year and this year.
I took a couple more pictures of Greater Yellowlegs before I left.
Since I had my Thursday bird, I didn't execute the second two parts of my plan today.† I'll save those birds for a later Thursday.
Back here at home, I sat on our porch and ate my lunch and read.† A Red-breasted Nuthatch came in a number of times, and I took pictures.† My seat on the porch is a little too far away for good pictures, but here are a couple of pictures of the Red-breasted Nuthatch.
I still need Red-breasted Nuthatch for Tuesday and Saturday, so maybe I'll see one on one of those days.
Here is a picture of a Black-capped Chickadee.
The Solitary Sandpiper brought Thursday to 230 species, my highest day.† My Day Of The Week (DOTW) streak continues.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Today I drove up to Skagit county to look for shorebirds.† Low tide was at about 9 AM up there today, and it was a fairly low one.† I figured that the places I wanted to go would be good for shorebirds about an hour after low tide, but I didn't really know.† They are all "inland" to a certain extent, not right on the open water, so there could be a lag time between low tide and low water at these sites.
My first stop was at Wylie Slough, which is about a 50 minute drive up the freeways.† The water was low and there was ample mud, but there were almost no shorebirds. †I talked to a guy with binoculars and a camera and he told me that it would be about two hours before the birding would be good there. †I moved on to Hayton Reserve, with the idea of returning to Wylie Slough later in the day.
The story was just about the same at Hayton Reserve.† The water was out and there were few birds around, at first glance.† I did see a Greater Yellowlegs and one dowitcher fairly close, though.† Here is the dowitcher.
At the time I thought it was a Long-billed Dowitcher, but now that I've studied the pictures I think it was a Short-billed Dowitcher.† I needed both for Friday and I saw some of each species later, so it turned out that it didn't really matter which one it was.† When I looked closely out over the field that floods at high tide, I saw a number of Semipalmated Plovers, a good one for Friday.† They were much too far away for pictures, unfortunately.† The guy I had talked to at Wylie Slough had told me that Hayton Preserve should be a lot better for shorebirds in the afternoon, so I planned to return there again, too.
My third stop was the slough at the end of Channel Drive.† I had seen a lot of good shorebirds there last week.† Again, the tide was out and there was lots of mud, but again, there were only a few shorebirds.† Maybe the birds feed on a falling tide, rather than a rising one.† I know that last week when I had seen so many there, the tide was going out and the birds arrived just as the mud started to be exposed.
Anyway, today there were swallows flying around over the slough when I got there.† Most were Barn Swallows, but there were some other ones, too.† I thought at first they might be Bank Swallows, which would have been outstanding, but later I decided they were juvenile Violet-green Swallows.† I still need Violet-green Swallow on Monday and Thursday, but not on Friday, sorry to say.
There were also a few Western Sandpipers, and that completed that species for me.† Here is a picture of a Western Sandpiper.
Other than that, there were some Killdeer, a few Greater Yellowlegs, and one dowitcher that was too far away for me to identify which species it was.† My three stops hadn't produced many shorebirds, but I think I learned some things about the tidal action in the area, anyway.† There is a bigger lag due to the places being inland from the open water than I expected, and the birds seem to like a falling tide more than a rising tide.† Or, maybe it was just coincidence today, I don't really know.
It was getting on for lunch time by then, so I went back to the little community of Conway and got a sandwich and some Fritos at the little gas station store there.† After enjoying my repast, I went back to Wylie Slough.† Low tide was at 9 AM, as I mentioned, but the water level at Wylie Slough was actually lower at 1 PM than it was at 10 AM.† Obviously it takes a long time for the water to drain out and then it doesn't come back until the tide has risen quite a bit.† There were more shorebirds there in the afternoon, anyway, although not nearly as many as other people have reported.† I saw a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper near the boat launch.
There were at least a dozen Greater Yellowlegs around and here's a picture of one of them.
I didn't need either of those last two species, but I did need Lesser Yellowlegs, and there were three or four of those scattered around, too.† Here is a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Greater Yellowlegs, showing the size difference.
The Lesser is on the left and is stretched out, but you can see how much bigger the body is on the Greater on the right.
There were about 40 dowitchers feeding in the mud.† Here is a picture of some of them.
Mostly I didn't try to distinguish between the Long-billed and the Short-billed while I was there, but instead took a lot of pictures and then sorted through them here at home.† Here is a picture of what I believe is a Long-billed Dowitcher.
The main points of identification I'm relying on are the angle of the eye to the bill (shallow forehead), the bars on the flank, and the color of the lower breast, although I'm not sure that last one is valid.† Here is a Short-billed Dowitcher (I think) for comparison.
The steeper forehead and eye angle are the most important aspects to me, but the colors might be indicative, too.† It appears to have dots on its flank, too, rather than bars.† Here is a picture that I think shows a Short-billed Dowitcher on the left and a Long-billed on the right.
Here is another Short-billed Dowitcher, I believe.† The one in the middle, standing upright, is the one I mean.† I think the one on the right with its head in the water is a Long-billed, but I can't really tell from this view.
Ok, enough with the dowitchers, but it was a good lesson for me today and I wanted to record my observations.† Here is one final picture of dowitchers, mostly Short-billed, I think.
There was a Greater Yellowlegs taking a bath, and I took this picture of it.
Here it is after bathing, all wet.
It looks very raggedy, both because it is wet and because it is in the midst of its molt from breeding plumage to its winter plumage.
After that I went back to check Hayton Reserve out again.† I got this interesting picture of some juvenile European Starlings in the midst of their molt from the plain brown color of recent fledglings to the black with white spots of winter plumage.† They are in various stages of molt.
The tide still hadn't come in there at 1:30, but it came in fast while I was there.† Here is Hayton Reserve at 1:36 PM, which was 5 1/2 hours after low tide out on the bay.
Here it is 28 minutes later at 2:04 PM.
As the water came in, there were flocks of small shorebirds, mostly Western Sandpipers, I think, that kept swirling around.† They would land somewhere briefly and then soon would be on the wing again.† Here is a distant picture of one of the flocks.
Here is a picture of some of them on the ground, in between flights.
Here is another one of them on the ground.
A couple of times a flock flew right over me or near me, and you could hear the wind passing over their wings, like a whooshing sound, as they flew by.† Groups of them landed close enough to see well only a couple of times, and they never stayed long.† Here is a picture of some of them, Western Sandpipers, I think.
I found it interesting that I had seen a fair number of Semipalmated Plovers scattered around in the morning, and then none at all in the afternoon.†† I wonder where they went.
That was it for my birding today, and I headed for home, getting here about 3:15.† In some ways it was a disappointing day of birding because I didn't seen nearly as many birds as I expected and none of the less common species that others have reported up there recently.† On the other hand, I learned about tides in the Fir Island area and I learned more about dowitchers.† I also added five species to my Friday list, to bring it to 231, my new highest day.† I completed Western Sandpiper, to make 123 species that I've seen on all seven days of the week this year.† I walked quite a bit and my Achilles tendon didnít hurt much at all, and that's great, too.† Last, but not least, I extended my DOTW streak one more day.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Today I again had a three part plan, with a backup if necessary.† My prime target was Green Heron.† So far this year I hadn't seen a Green Heron on a Saturday, so I set out to find one today.† My first stop was at what is called the South Pond, which is located in a north Bothell business park.† Last year a Green Heron was there just about every day, but they heavily pruned the vegetation around the pond this year, and I hadn't seen one there this year.† Others had reported them there, though, so I stopped there first.† No luck.
Next I moved on to Canyon Park Wetlands, where a Green Heron had been reported yesterday.† I had seen three of them there earlier in the year, too.† Today, nothing interesting, certainly no Green Heron.
The third part of my plan was Marymoor Park.† Evidently they had bred there this year and adults and juveniles have been reported often.† It was a Saturday, and I worried a little about what might be going on at Marymoor on an August Saturday, but all I could do was go there and see.† Bad news.† When I turned into the park the portable flashing sign there said that something called Chomp! Was there on August 19 and to expect heavy traffic.† I guess that Chomp! Is some kind of festival where local fancy restaurants offer appetizer sized portions of their cuisine for exorbitant prices.† It started at 10 AM, which is just exactly when I arrived.† Bummer.† I couldn't even go to the parking lot I wanted to park at, and the alternate one (with a longer walk) was closed also.† I gave it up and prepared to move to Plan B.
On my way out of the park, though, I thought about a part of the park across the slough from the off-leash dog park, where a rowing club has its headquarters.† There is a pond there, and you can walk to the slough, too, where I might see a Green Heron.
I parked and when I got to the pond, there were three female Hooded Mergansers in their non-breeding plumage there.† Here is a female Hooded Merganser.
Here's a picture of a couple of female Hooded Mergansers.
Here is another picture, taken later, of two of the female Hooded Mergansers in non-breeding plumage.
There was also a Pied-billed Grebe on the pond.
Then I spotted my target, a Green Heron.
It stretched its wing and leg, and I got this picture.
Here is a picture that shows how the species got its name.† I guess the light was just right, because the green of the wing is obvious.
The bird moved along the log and started hunting for prey in shallower water.
Here is the Green Heron with its neck out, trying to grab something.
Here is a front view of the Green Heron.
At about that time, a woman walked by and we exchanged greetings.† When I looked back, the heron was gone.† I didn't know where it had gone, but I soon spotted it out in the middle of the pond, perching on a snag.
A couple of Mallards swam in and got out on the same snag, and gave me the chance to get this size comparison shot.† I always think that Green Herons are larger than they are, but this shot shows this one just behind a couple of Mallards, and it looks small to me.
The Mallards are closer, but the heron is still smaller than I expected.† Here is a picture of the pond itself.† The Green Heron is right in the middle of the picture, on that snag out in the middle of the pond.
Here's another picture of the Green Heron out in the middle of the pond.
I love it that my camera can zoom enough to get that picture of a bird that far away.† By the way, I reached a milestone with my new Canon camera yesterday.† As of yesterday, I have taken 10,000 pictures with it, and now the numbering has started over.† I got the camera in early February, so that's 10,000 pictures in about six months.
Soon after that last picture, I could see that the Green Heron was getting ready to take off, and I shot a picture that was just a little bit late.
I would have gotten the picture with any of my Sony cameras, but this Canon has more shutter lag, which means there is a delay between when I push the shutter button and when the image is captured.† It still makes an interesting picture, though, I think, as the bird flew off.
So, that was my Saturday.† My three part plan paid off at the third stop, although I had to modify it due to the event at Marymoor this morning.† Chomp! started at 10 AM, which was just when I was arriving.† I can't personally understand the attraction of paying exorbitant prices to eat fancy appetizers at 10 AM in a park, but probably most of the people at Chomp! would find that spending a morning looking for a Green Heron at degraded suburban ponds equally unattractive.† To each, his or her own, I guess.
My first Green Heron on a Saturday this year brings my total on Saturday this year to 221 species.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
I hadn't yet seen Solitary Sandpiper on a Sunday this year, so I started out today at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† As I got there, three other birders were leaving.† I asked whether they had seen a Solitary Sandpiper, and they said yes, and told me where they last saw it - at the south end of the main pond, in the grass.† I took a look with binoculars and decided I needed my scope, so I went back to my car and got it.
I soon found the Solitary Sandpiper, so I could have just called it quits and headed for home.† It was a nice morning, though, and I felt like looking around, so I went over to the small pond, but nothing was there except three Killdeer, as usual.† I walked around a bit more and when I got back to the south end of the main pond, I again was able to find the Solitary Sandpiper, and there was a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper nearby, too.† I decided to see if I could get pictures, and I left my scope and approached where I had seen the two birds.† As I got closer, I took some pictures.† Here is the Solitary Sandpiper (on the left) and the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper, lurking in the grass.
I got closer and here's another picture of the two of them.
Here is a shot of the Solitary Sandpiper on its own.
Here is one more picture of the Solitary Sandpiper.
An Osprey perched on a snag for pictures.
After that I called it quits for the day and went home.† I sat on the front porch and ate lunch and read, and took some pictures of birds in our yard.† I was experimenting with some camera settings, and I think I learned a little.† Here are a couple of pictures of a Black-capped Chickadee at the bird bath.
I hate to end on a sad note, but I noticed a Song Sparrow that I had seen before.† It seems to have an injured leg that hangs down behind it.
So far it seems to be getting by, anyway.† I'll watch for it now.
I added one species to my Sunday list, to bring it to 212 species.† Now I have to decide if tomorrow I want to go out birding in the morning during the eclipse, or wait until the afternoon to go look for my Monday bird.† It might be interesting to be out birding during the eclipse, to see if the birds act any differently.† We'll see.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Today was solar eclipse day, and I stuck around home to see the show, which reached 92% coverage of the sun at 10:20.† A short time later I headed up to Edmonds to try for Purple Martin.† To my surprise, it was foggy in Edmonds, and I couldn't even see the Purple Martin nest boxes, which are mounted on pilings out in the water.† I stuck around and the fog would lift a little from time to time, giving me a foggy view of the nest boxes, and then settle down again.† Eventually I saw a Purple Martin flying and a little later was able to make out a male sitting on top of one of the nest box pilings.† That completed Purple Martin for me this year.† That makes 124 species seen on all seven days of the week this year.† Monday now stands at 213 species.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Tuesday is one of my difficult days, and I headed over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to look for the Solitary Sandpiper, which is an uncommon bird in this area.† I didn't see it around the main pond, so I approached the small pond carefully.† It was there and I got a distant picture just to confirm the identification.† When I looked up from checking the picture on my camera, it was gone, though.
I walked around and found a couple of Least Sandpipers at the south end of the main pond.† Here's a picture of a Least Sandpiper.
Here's a picture of a Least Sandpiper with a Killdeer for size comparison.
The juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was there, as usual.
Here's a rear view of the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
As usual, Killdeer kept posing for me.
Here's a shot of two Killdeer posing.
I relocated the Solitary Sandpiper at the south end of the main pond.
Here is a picture of a Killdeer in front of the Solitary Sandpiper.
Here's a rear view of the Solitary Sandpiper, showing the feather pattern on its back.
I was at the south end of the main pond, and here's the view looking north.
There were a couple of other little sandpipers, and I struggled with the identification.† They were either Western Sandpipers or much less common Semipalmated Sandpipers.† I went back and forth on the ID, even after looking at my pictures and consulting two field guides, as well as a couple of online identification guides to the two species.† I even put up a post to Tweeters, asking for help.† I haven't gotten any help, but I have decided that they were Western Sandpipers, and that's what I'm going with.† Here are a couple of pictures of one of them.
In that last picture, you can actually see the webbing between the toes on the bird's right foot, which is one of the characteristics of Semipalmated Sandpiper.† Evidently Western Sandpipers have some webbing, too, though, so it isn't conclusive.
Here is the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper again.
The Solitary Sandpiper waded out into deeper water and was feeding.
Here's a picture of a Least Sandpiper (in front, with the yellow-green legs) and the two Western Sandpipers, if that's what they were.
Here's a close-up of one of the Western Sandpipers.
Here's a picture of the Least Sandpiper and one of the Western Sandpipers.
The various sandpipers were all feeding in the same area and they kept moving around and changing places.† They had gotten used to me, standing on the shore about 20 or 30 feet away, I guess.† Here is a shot of four birds - the two Western Sandpipers, the Least Sandpiper, and the Solitary Sandpiper.
This next one is a picture of the Least Sandpiper and the Solitary Sandpiper.
The Solitary Sandpiper preened for a few minutes, and I got this picture I like of it from the rear, showing its barred tail.
Here's another one from the rear.
Next is a picture of one of the Western Sandpipers and the Least Sandpiper that had been hanging out with them.
Here's a nice shot of the Solitary Sandpiper, I think.
And, last of all, here is a size comparison picture of the Solitary Sandpiper and a Killdeer.† The light was coming from the wrong direction, but it shows the relative sizes.
That was it for today.† When I started, I wasn't sure I would even have any pictures for today, since I've already showed so many shorebird pictures recently, but I was able to approach them closely and there were several species, so I just kept taking pictures.† Christina says all the shorebirds look alike to her, but I think there's a nice selection today.† The Solitary Sandpiper brings my Tuesday total to 209 species.† Since the Solitary Sandpiper has been so cooperative in hanging around, and since I need it for Wednesday, which is another difficult day, I plan to go back tomorrow and see if it's still there.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
This morning I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds again to look for the Solitary Sandpiper for my Wednesday list.† On the way I took a look at the sod farm in the Sammamish Valley because someone had reported seeing a white goose there with the Canada Geese.† I spotted it and took a couple of pictures.† It was a Snow Goose, a very early migrant returnee.
Here it is showing its black feathers on its wing, just to rule out it being a domestic goose.
At the ponds I saw my Solitary Sandpiper right away, along with other shorebirds.† Here is the Solitary Sandpiper with a Killdeer.
I like size comparison pictures of two species, so here is the Solitary Sandpiper with a Greater Yellowlegs.
Here is the Greater Yellowlegs on its own.
The reason the water is that yellow-green color is that itís a reflection of the dried grass in the background.† Here's a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper with a Killdeer.
There were a couple of Western Sandpipers there, too.† Here's one of them.
Here is a closer shot of the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
There were also a couple of Least Sandpipers, with their yellow-green legs.
Here is a shot of the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper and its reflection.
Here's one more shot of the Spotted Sandpiper.
The Greater Yellowlegs posed for me with its reflection, too.
Here's a size comparison of the Spotted Sandpiper and the Greater Yellowlegs.
There was one little shorebird that kind of had me puzzled.† In this next picture the bird on the left is a Western Sandpiper, and the one on the right appears a lot bigger.
Here is the large one on its own, and it certainly looks like another Western Sandpiper, but a huge one.
Here is a shot that shows (from left to right) the huge Western Sandpiper, a Least Sandpiper, and a normal-sized Western Sandpiper.† Least Sandpiper is supposedly 6 inches long and Western Sandpiper is supposedly 6.5 inches long.† The bird on the left is certainly much bigger than that, though.
I don't what the story is on the big one, but I guess its just a giant Western Sandpiper.† I can't think of any other species it could be.
That was it for the Redmond Retention Ponds today.† I came home and sat on the porch and took some more pictures.† Here's a Dark-eyed Junco taking a bath.
A female House Finch also took a bath.
A Black-capped Chickadee came in for a drink of water, but the water level in the birdbath was so low that it had to work at it.
I took the hint and filled the birdbath with fresh, cool water, and more birds used it.† Here is a Dark-eyed Junco.
A Chestnut-backed Chickadee was also thirsty.
Here is the Chestnut-backed Chickadee taking a drink.
I've seen a couple of different juvenile Spotted Towhees in the yard in the last couple of weeks, and one of them showed up today.† Here is the juvenile Spotted Towhee, with a female House Finch in front.
The Spotted Towhee visited the feeder, too.
There were two visits to the feeder by a Black-headed Grosbeak.† I don't know if it was a female or a juvenile, but here it is.
Finally, here is a juvenile Dark-eyed Junco that was thirsty, too.
So, that's my report for Wednesday.† I only added one species to my Wednesday list, but I took lots of pictures.† Wednesday stands at 226 species now, and my Day Of The Week (DOTW) streak continues.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Today my plan was to visit a place I hadn't been to before, to get Black-bellied Plover for my Thursday list.† I headed north to Marysville and went west from there to Tulalip Bay.† It was about 45 minutes from home, altogether.† I found the marina where I was supposed to scope the spit from, and there they were, about a dozen Black-bellied Plovers.† I drove around the other side of the bay and found a place where I could get a closer view of about 3 or 4 of them.† They were still too far away for pictures, though.
That took care of my Thursday bird, but since I was up in that area anyway, I stopped on the way back at the road to Spencer Island, east of Everett, another place I hadn't ever visited.† I didn't see anything interesting there, but now I know where it is, and I might go back when the tide is lower or in the winter when the ducks are there.
My Black-bellied Plovers today brings Thursday to 231 species and my DOTW streak continues.
Friday, August 25, 2017
I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds this morning, to try to get Solitary Sandpiper, to complete that species.† When I got there, there were four birders there, checking out the shorebirds.† I've run into all four of them previously this year, at various places.† They told me they had seen the Solitary Sandpiper, but it had flown off and they weren't sure where it was at that time.
I had read that yesterday there had been a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs there, and I hadn't seen that species here in King county yet this year.† I did have it for Friday, but I need it for Saturday and Sunday, so I wanted to see if either of them were still there.† One of them was.† Here's a picture of four shorebird species in the same shot.
That's a Killdeer in the middle, of course; on the upper left is a Least Sandpiper; on the right is the Lesser Yellowlegs; and in front, out of focus, is a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.† Here's the Lesser Yellowlegs.
I joined the other birders and we talked as we took pictures of the birds.† Here's a Least Sandpiper.
Here is the Lesser Yellowlegs in the same shot as a Least Sandpiper.
One of the Least Sandpipers took a bath, and I got this picture of it.
Here is the Least Sandpiper getting all wet.
The Lesser Yellowlegs kept posing for us.
Here's a shot of two of the other birders, Carlo and Phil, taking pictures of the Lesser Yellowlegs (bottom left, on the shoreline).
I still hadn't seen the Solitary Sandpiper, which was the one I needed for Friday.† One of the other birders found it on the small pond.† Here's a picture of Hank and Karen, looking at the Solitary Sandpiper on the small pond.
Here is the Solitary Sandpiper, my Friday bird today.
Back on the main pond, the Lesser Yellowlegs came out of the water to show off its long yellow legs.
That was it today for me.† Tomorrow I plan to go back and try for Lesser Yellowlegs for my Saturday list.
At home, I sat on the porch and read for several hours.† From time to time I'd put my book down and watch the birds at the feeder and the birdbath.† Today a Bewick's Wren came to the feeder just once that I saw, and here's a mediocre picture of it.
An adult male Spotted Towhee came to the birdbath for a drink.
A couple of hours later a juvenile Spotted Towhee came in for a drink, and here are two pictures of the juvenile for comparison.
Here is a different juvenile Spotted Towhee at the feeder.† This one is much darker than the one at the birdbath, and it doesn't yet have as much reddish color on its side.† I think the one at the birdbath was a juvenile female and the darker one at the feeder was a juvenile male.
A Dark-eyed Junco took a bath, and here's a picture of it getting out of the water, all wet.
Black-capped Chickadees kept coming to the water and to the feeder, but they are difficult to get pictures of because they don't stay still for long.† Here is one of them sitting on the faucet before getting a drink.
Here's one at the water.
I only saw a Chestnut-backed Chickadee once, and here's a picture of it with its half-peanut treasure, which it carried away.
A Red-breasted Nuthatch came for seeds a number of times, but they're even harder to get pictures of than the chickadees.† Here is my best effort.
A Black-headed Grosbeak came to eat two or three times, and I got this picture.
It's interesting to watch the various birds sharing the feeder.† The biggest ones, like Spotted Towhee and Black-headed Grosbeak, just go in and eat whenever they want to and they stay for as long as they want.† The next tier is the House Finches, which are the most numerous ones at the feeder.† They chase the smaller birds away and even chase each other away.† When the House Finches leave, the Dark-eyed Juncos come in and sit there and eat.† The little birds, like chickadees, the nuthatch, and the wren, sit in a bush nearby and dart in and grab a seed and take it away, whenever there is an opening.† If the larger birds are away for a while, then the little ones make hay while the sun shines and come in repeatedly, but they still always carry away their seed before they eat it.
We don't get House Sparrows very often, but they are a little larger than the finches, so they pretty much can eat when they want to.† Today a male House Sparrow came in, followed by a juvenile.† Here's a picture of the juvenile House Sparrow (on the left) begging from the adult male House Sparrow.
The adult male fed the fledgling repeatedly, but the youngster never seemed to catch on that there was a whole pile of seeds right in front of it.† Here is the male stuffing a seed into the mouth of the fledgling House Sparrow.
That's it for bird pictures today, but I'll finish off with a picture of a squirrel that came to the birdbath for a drink.
Solitary Sandpiper today completed that species for me, to bring my Friday total to 232.† I've now completed (that is, seen on all seven days of the week) 125 species this year.† How long can my DOTW streak keep going? †We shall see.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
On Saturday my plan was to go get Lesser Yellowlegs at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† There had been two reported there on Thursday, and I had seen one on Friday.† No luck on Saturday, though.† There was a guy with a scope and a big-lens camera there when I got there, and I soon spotted the Solitary Sandpiper and the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper, but no sign of any yellowlegs, either Greater or Lesser.† I hung around and another birder showed up, but no more birds.† The three of us exchanged birding stories for a while, and then I gave it up and moved on to Juanita Bay Park.
My plan for Juanita Bay Park was to use playback to get a Virginia Rail to respond.† They usually are pretty responsive, but I didn't have any luck on the east boardwalk.† I noticed that the ground was dry, though, where it had been marshy a few weeks ago.† Our long dry spell is affecting things.
I headed over to the west boardwalk to see if the Virginia Rails were hanging out over there.† On my way I played the song of Golden-crowned Kinglet, another bird I needed for Saturday, and I one flew in to check me out.† That was my Saturday bird, and it brought my Saturday total to 222 species.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
On Sunday I again went to the Redmond Retention Ponds, but, like Saturday, there were no yellowlegs there.† There were two Solitary Sandpipers, though.† Here is a picture of one of them, the same one that has been hanging out there, I think.
Here's a picture of the second one.† The bill has more orange at the base and the spots on the back are less prominent.
They both moved around a bit, and the first one got close, so I took more pictures.† Here's one I like of the Solitary Sandpiper that has been hanging out at the ponds for over a week now.
Solitary Sandpiper is an excellent bird, but I had already seen it on all seven days of the week, and I needed a Sunday bird.† I drove over to Marymoor to look for Green Heron or Willow Flycatcher for Sunday.† I also needed Golden-crowned Kinglet, so I had three possibilities.
I first went to the pond by the rowing club, west of the slough.† I had seen a Green Heron there last week.† The heron wasn't there, though, and I got no response to playing the calls of Willow Flycatcher and Golden-crowned Kinglet.† There was a female Hooded Merganser there, though, and I got this picture.
She got out of the water and I took this picture.
It's interesting how Hooded Mergansers can raise and lower their crests.† There were also a couple of male Wood Ducks in their non-breeding plumage.
I drove around to the east side of the slough and parked in the off-leash dog park parking lot.† I walked along the slough among all the dogs and their owners and looked for my three species, but didn't see any of them.† I did get a couple of pictures of a juvenile Belted Kingfisher, though.
I walked back to my car the long way, through some big evergreens that I thought looked good for Golden-crowned Kinglet, but I didn't get any responses.† At one point a couple of Brown Creepers flew in, though, and I got a couple of pictures of them.
Time was passing by, lunch time was approaching, and I still didn't have a Sunday bird.† I figured I would go home for lunch and then go out again after lunch to get something.† I could either go down to Juanita Bay Park and try again for Virginia Rail and Golden-crowned Kinglet, or I could take the sure thing by going up to Edmonds and getting Heermann's Gull.† Since I was so close, though, and it had been over an hour since I had been there, I decided to stop back at the rowing club pond to see if the Green Heron had come in.
Success!† A Green Heron had indeed come in to the pond.† I added it to my Sunday list and got some pictures.† Here's the Green Heron.
Here's a funny picture of the Green Heron stretching.
Finally, here's a picture of it from the front.
Here is the pond, with the Green Heron right in the middle of the picture.
So, it took me all morning, but I finally got my Sunday bird.† That brought me to 213 species for Sunday and my streak goes on.
Monday, August 28, 2017
I started this morning at the Redmond Retention Ponds, hoping to find a Least Sandpiper, to complete that species.† All I found there was one Solitary Sandpiper (yesterday there were two) and the usual juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
After short stop at home, I went up to Edmonds to see if I could find a Least Sandpiper at the marsh there.† The tide was good there, and I soon saw a little shorebird.† I got out my scope and found that there were four Least Sandpipers foraging in the mud.† That completed Least Sandpiper for me and brought Monday to 214 species.† Completing Least Sandpiper makes it 126 species that I have seen on all seven days of the week so far.† The DOTW streak continues.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
My cousin, Bruse, is in town from Hawaii, and today I picked him up at his sister's house in Richmond Beach and we went to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, in search of California Quail or Marbled Murrelet.† We hung around the park visiting for a couple of hours, but didn't have any success with either of my birds.
We went up to Edmonds and had our lunch in City Park there, and after lunch we went to the waterfront, where I got Heermann's Gull for my Tuesday list.† That's it.† No pictures.† I did see a Cooper's Hawk at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, but I didnít need it for Tuesday.† There were three Western Sandpipers on the beach at Edmonds, too, but I didnít need that one either.† Heermann's Gull brings my Tuesday total to 210 species.
Tomorrow Bruse and I are planning on going over to the Kitsap Peninsula to look for Wednesday birds for me, and maybe I'll get some pictures.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Picked up my cousin, Bruse, and we took the ferry from Edmonds to the Kitsap Peninsula.† Once across Puget Sound, we stopped at Subway and got sandwiches, then drove up to the north end of the peninsula to Point No Point.† On the way we stopped at Norwegian Point and walked on the beach.† My main target was a small gull called a Bonaparte's Gull.† There were some gulls on the beach, so I walked closer and got some pictures.
There were a couple of Caspian Terns among the gulls - an adult and a juvenile.† Here's a picture of the two of them.
The juvenile is the one on the right, with the markings on its back.† Here is a closer shot of the juvenile Caspian Tern.
There were some Heermann's Gulls on the beach.† Here's a picture of some Heermann's Gulls.
Heermann's Gulls are fairly small gulls.† Here's a picture of a couple of Heermann's Gulls (the dark ones) and a California Gull, which is larger.
Here's a California Gull on its own.
There were also four or five Bonaparte's Gulls on the beach.† That was the species I was looking for today.† Here's one of the Bonaparte's Gulls in its non-breeding plumage.
In the spring, the head would be completely black.† Here's a rear view of a Bonaparte's Gull, showing its wing and back feathers.
I don't have a size comparison picture, but Bonaparte's Gull is much smaller than any of the other local gulls.
Here's a picture of a Caspian Tern flying.
We ate our sandwiches on a bench with a view, near the Point No Point lighthouse.† Here's the lighthouse.
It wasn't nearly as warm today as the last several days, but there were still people enjoying the beach.† Here's a picture of the Point No Point beach, with Norwegian Point in the background.
Here's a Bonaparte's Gull on the water.
When we left that location, we found our way to an area called Driftwood Key, a place I hadn't ever visited before.† Here is a picture looking north across Races Cove.
On the left side of that picture is a high bluff, and here's a picture of an elaborate beach access stairway from a property at the top of the bluff.
There were some birds on the beach there.† Here's a Great Blue Heron.
The heron had its mouth open for some reason, and you could see its tongue.† Here's a closer crop that shows the heron's tongue.
There were a couple of Killdeer on the beach, and about a half dozen Least Sandpipers, too.† Here is a picture of a Killdeer and a Least Sandpiper.
There were some Caspian Terns that were flying around squawking, and I got this picture of one of them coming in for a landing.
It looks to me like there is a juvenile on the ground, begging for food, and I suspect the landing tern was bringing it food.† You can just barely see the orange open mouth of the juvenile.
We drove around and checked out the fancy houses with great views, and then we headed back to the ferry.† From the ferry, through a window, I got this picture of a Pelagic Cormorant.
Here is a picture of both of those cormorants, from the outside deck of the ferry.
The cormorant on the left is definitely a Pelagic Cormorant, but I think the one on the right is a Brandt's Cormorant, although I'm not sure.
That was it for my Wednesday birding adventure.† I added Bonaparte's Gull to my Wednesday list, which brings it to 227 species.† The streak goes on.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Today was my simplest birding day of the year so far.† I went down to Juanita Beach, which is about 7 or 8 minutes from home, and I saw a California Gull sitting on a post.† That was it, my Thursday bird - Thursday is now at 232 species.