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Saturday, July 1, 2017


This morning I thought I'd go check out the Merlins again, to see if they had fledged yet, and to add Merlin to my Saturday list.† I wanted a good BAD bird, though, if I could get one, so could "save" Merlin for a later BAD bird.† I worked out a plan with several options, depending on what found.† Instead of going right to Wedgwood to the Merlin nest, I went to the Union Bay Natural Area (called the Montlake Fill by birders) hoping to find a Cinnamon Teal for a BAD bird.† I walked around and found a place to view the Main Pond, but I never saw a Cinnamon Teal.† There were a couple of Great Blue Herons chasing each other around, and I got this picture of one of them in the air.


There were a lot of swallows flying around the pond, and since I already had all four swallow species that were likely to be there on Saturday, I looked at them to find a Cliff Swallow, to use as my BAD bird for the day.† All four likely species were indeed there, and I picked up Cliff Swallow for my BAD bird.


There were several pairs of Killdeer around, and one pair had a couple of young ones they were protecting.† Here is a picture of an adult Killdeer.


Here is one of the adults and one of the Killdeer chicks.


Here is another picture of the adult and the chick.


Here is a picture of the other adult Killdeer.


Both of the adults were calling all the time, presumably giving directions to the youngsters.


Moving on, I got this picture of a Savannah Sparrow.


I completed Savannah Sparrow some time ago, but I haven't yet used it as a BAD bird.


I took a look out on the lake, still hoping for Cinnamon Teal, and I saw this female Wood Duck.


As it turned out, I still needed Wood Duck for Saturday, to complete that species.† There was also a Pied-billed Grebe nearby.


That's another species that I've completed but not yet used for a BAD bird.


I was ready to leave, but since I had a Saturday bird (Wood Duck) and a BAD bird (Cliff Swallow), I decided not to stop in Wedgwood to check out the Merlin nest, in the hopes they might still be around next Saturday and I could get that species for Saturday at that time.


I added one species to my Saturday list, to bring it to 211 species.† I completed that same species (Wood Duck), to make it 112 species completed now.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Cliff Swallow.



Sunday, July 2, 2017


This morning I went over to Wedgwood to check out the Merlins.† I never saw the young ones, but the mom was sitting where she likes to sit, keeping guard over the nest tree, presumably, from a very tall tree about a block away.


She was bending her head down and doing something, and it looked like maybe she had some prey she was working on, but it turned out that she was simply preening, I think.


If she had some prey, it would have been in her talons, and they appear empty.† Here is one more shot of her from another angle.


The pictures are mediocre, due to the distance and the lighting.† The tree she was in is very tall and I was about a block away as well.† I wrote to Barb, the woman who keeps track of the north Seattle Merlins, and she said that as of last night the youngsters hadn't flown yet.† Based on last year, once they fledge, they move around regularly, calling frequently, which makes them easy to see.† They did that for about a week after they first flew, as I remember, and they stayed within a block or so of the nest tree.


So, that was an excellent Sunday bird, and I could have used it as my BAD bird, but I wanted to save it for a later date, so I went looking for a decent BAD bird.† I drove over into the Sammamish River Valley and down to Marymoor Park, looking mostly for Red-tailed Hawk or maybe Bald Eagle if I couldn't find a hawk.† Marymoor was packed with people and cars.† In addition to all kinds of sports going on, and the usual people going to the off-leash dog park, there is a concert there today and people seemed to be arriving for that.† I drove to the model airplane field, which was also active today, and parked.† I spotted a large bird in a very distant tree.† It seemed like the right shape for a Red-tailed Hawk, in my binoculars, so I got my scope out.† With the scope I could see that it was indeed a Red-tailed Hawk.† That was enough for me.† At this time of the year, I mostly just want to get a day-bird and a BAD bird - then I go home.


The Merlin brings Sunday to 201 species.† Of course, I took the Red-tailed Hawk for my BAD bird today.† Both of my silly streaks are still going, and I'm working on keeping them both going until I leave for Southeast Arizona on August 1st.



Monday, July 3, 2017


This morning I went over to Wedgwood again, to check on the Merlins.† It seems supremely silly to drive for 25 minutes each way, just to see the same bird or birds each day, but that's the game I'm playing.† It didn't appear that the young Merlins had fledged yet, and I never got a look at either of them today.† The adult female was sitting near the top of a tall tree a block north of the nest tree.


That was it, and I headed off to look for a good BAD bird.† Today I went to Juanita Bay Park, my local park, hoping to find Bald Eagle, Wood Duck, or Pied-billed Grebe for my BAD bird.† As I walked out to the east boardwalk, there was a group of crows flying around making a racket.† I took these two pictures of American Crows.



Out at the end of the east boardwalk, I immediately saw a Bald Eagle.


There were 10 or 12 Wood Ducks scattered around, too, so I had two decent choices for my BAD bird today.† Here is a picture of three male Wood Ducks in their eclipse (non-breeding) plumage.


There was a Great Blue Heron across the little bay, and I took these next two pictures of it.



I haven't yet used Great Blue Heron for a BAD bird yet, either.


There were Mallards around, mostly females for some reason.† Here is a picture of four female Mallards.


The Wood Ducks kept getting closer to me, and I took more pictures.† Here's a picture of a female Wood Duck.


Here's a male Wood Duck.


For six months, male Wood Ducks are very colorful, and then for the next six months they look like this one.† Here is a picture of another male Wood Duck that still has a few of his breeding plumage feathers around the face.


That was it for my birding today.† The Merlin brings Monday to 201 species.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Wood Duck.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017


I decided not to go over to Seattle this morning to check on the Merlins.† Based on last year, the young ones will hang around the nest neighborhood and be easy to see for at least a week after they fledge (fly the first time), and as of yesterday they had not yet flown.† I figure I can go over there next Tuesday and get them then for my Tuesday list.† Instead, I went over to Marymoor Park this morning to look for 2 or 3 species for my Tuesday list and something for my BAD bird.


The off-leash dog park was more crowned than I have ever seen it, but I walked along the slough among all the dogs and people.† I didn't see anything interesting for a long time, and I thought I would have to revert to plan B.† Then I saw a Vaux's Swift overhead, and that was one for my Tuesday list.† That was only the third time I've seen Vaux's Swift this year.†


I needed a BAD bird still, having used Vaux's Swift earlier, but there were several possibilities for that.† I was walking back toward my car by that time, and I spotted three Band-tailed Pigeons near the top of a tree.† That was another Tuesday bird, one that I would have rather saved, but I take them when I see them, assuming I see them well enough to identify the species.† I had already used that species for a BAD bird, too.† Here is a picture of a Band-tailed Pigeon.


Here is a picture of another one with its feathers kind of ruffled up.


Back at the slough, I was looking for a Spotted Sandpiper to use as my BAD bird.† I had no luck, but just as I was leaving a bird flew in, and darned if it wasn't a Spotted Sandpiper, right on cue.† It fed along the weir, and I got these two pictures.



I had two Tuesday birds and a decent BAD bird, so I continued toward the car.† On the way I saw an Osprey across the slough, so I took some pictures of it.† Here is an Osprey, looking for a fish in the slough.


I also saw a pair of American Goldfinches and got this picture of the female.


I was ready to leave then, but just as I was leaving a Green Heron flew in.† That was one of the species I was looking for when I went to Marymoor this morning (as was the Vaux's Swift).† I got this series of pictures of the Green Heron as it crept along looking for prey (probably a frog in that habitat).


This first picture was taken right after it landed.


Next it went over near the water.


It crept along stealthily.


From time to time it froze in place.


Here is one final picture of it with its neck stretched out.† Maybe it had spotted something to eat.


It disappeared into some grass and I lost track of it after that.† I needed Green Heron for Tuesday and it was one I hadn't used yet as a BAD bird either, along with the Spotted Sandpiper.


I left then, with three species for my Tuesday list, to bring it to 201.† That puts all 7 days of the week over 200 species.† I'll take Green Heron for my BAD bird since it ought to be easier to get Spotted Sandpiper on another day than to get Green Heron again, although I'll be trying to get Green Heron for other days of the week.† I've completed Spotted Sandpiper, but today was only the second time I've seen Green Heron this year so far.


I think I'll go over to check on the Merlins tomorrow, although haven't yet checked my lists and made a plan for Wednesday.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017


This morning I went over to Wedgwood to check on the Merlins.† At first I saw nothing at all, and then I heard at least one series of begging calls, like the juveniles make.† That would have been enough to count the bird for Wednesday, but I wanted to see what was going on.† I saw a Merlin fly into the nest tree, and when I went around to the other side I could see some movement in the nest area.† I had a brief glimpse of a bird a couple of times, but couldn't get a picture.† I was planning on leaving, but I went back to the east side again and I saw another bird fly into the nest tree.† I heard a lot of begging calls that time.† Finally, I did see a juvenile Merlin near the nest, and I got this picture.


I figured they hadn't fledged yet, but this evening I heard from the woman who keeps track of them, and she said that they first fledged on Sunday evening, actually.† I was there Monday and today, and so far I haven't seen any juveniles away from the nest, although the two birds I saw fly into the nest area today might have been juvies.† Anyway, I guess the youngsters are flying now, so I need to get them for Thursday, Saturday, and Tuesday, if I can.† They should hang around the nest tree for a week or two, I think.


I wanted to get a decent BAD bird without using Merlin yet, so I went to Magnuson Park, which is also in north Seattle, not far from Merlin Central.† I drove in and saw some Pied-billed Grebes in what's called the Deep-end Pond.† I parked my car and walked back the 75 yards or so to take a look at them and maybe get pictures.† On my way I heard a Common Yellowthroat singing, so I played the song and call of Common Yellowthroat to attract it, and it worked.† Here is a picture I like of a male Common Yellowthroat singing.† Check out his tongue.


Here is another picture of him.


Here is a picture of Deep-end Pond at Magnuson Park, looking pretty in the sunlight.


There was an adult Pied-billed Grebe, along with two youngsters, in the pond.† I found a place where I could sit on a wide post and watch the grebe action in comfort.† Here are two pictures of the adult Peid-billed Grebe and the two young ones.



Note the begging posture, low in the water and looking up at the parent.† One of the little ones seemed particularly hungry and never stopped pestering the parent.† After a while, the parent dove a few times and soon came up with a fish.† Here's a picture of the parent with the fish and the hungry kid pursuing her.


The fish was flopping around, and the parent kept struggling with it, maybe waiting for it to die.† The hungry young one kept chasing the parent.


From time to time the parent would dive, to get away from the youngster.


The pursuit kept up for at least five minutes.


Here's the parent diving again, in order to escape.


Still the pursuit kept up.† The second young one was interested, but not like this one was.


Eventually the fish stopped struggling and I'm not sure what happened then.† Maybe the parent ate it, or maybe the young one got it, but I think the parent swallowed it down - or maybe the fish escaped.


Here is a picture of the other juvenile Pied-billed Grebe, when it came close to where I was sitting.


Note how the legs are located way at the back of its body.† All grebes seem to be built like that.† I've only ever seen any grebe out of the water on dry land once, and it couldn't really walk.† It would get upright and stagger forward a few steps and then flop on its belly and rest for a short time.† Then it would get up again and stagger a few more steps.† That was a Western Grebe, but the legs were in a similar position to this one's.


While I was watching the grebe action, I took some pictures of the dragonflies that were flying around.† Here's a picture of a dragonfly.


I like the colors in that picture, but it seems rather "busy".† Here is one that shows off the dragonfly itself better, I think.


Once the grebe and fish drama was over, I left for home.† On my way I wanted to check out something at Magnuson Park, though.† I had read of some Cliff Swallow nests on a particular building.† I wasn't sure where it was, but I had a general idea.† I had Cliff Swallow for Wednesday already and I have used it as a BAD bird, too, but I still need it for four days of the week, and I thought it would be handy to know of a nest colony site, where I could pick up the species for sure over the next couple of weeks.† I found the mud nests and took some pictures.† The light was terrible, though, and they came out pretty poor, but here are some Cliff Swallow pictures, showing a young one and a mud nest.† First, here is one that shows the nest with a couple of adults nearby and a young one sticking its head out of the nest.


Here is a closer shot of just the nestling Cliff Swallow.


Here is an adult feeding a nestling.


Finally, here is one showing an adult and the nestling.† It shows the markings on the adult better than the other pictures.


That was it for today.† I added Merlin to my Wednesday list, which makes 217 species for Wednesday.† I'll take Pied-billed Grebe for my BAD bird, once again "saving" Merlin for another day.† I still need Merlin for Thursday, so I'll probably go over to Wedgwood again tomorrow.



Thursday, July 6, 2017


This morning I went over to Wedgwood again, to try for the Merlins for my Thursday list.† Again I didn't see either of the young ones, but I did finally see what I presume was the adult female, sitting in the tree a block south of the nest tree, where I had seen her before.


I heard this afternoon that the youngsters have been sitting a couple of blocks away most of the time.† Mid-morning is evidently not a good time to see the juveniles.


That was enough for me.† I was prepared to take Merlin as my BAD bird and call it a day.† I had a lunch appointment with my friend, Chris.† He is taking this week off, so I picked him up at his house in north Bothell, rather than at work in Bellevue as usual.† We went to lunch at MOD Pizza (excellent - my first time there, and I hope to go back again) in Canyon Park and afterwards we went over to Canyon Creek Wetlands.† I was hoping to see a Cinnamon Teal, but not really expecting it, or anything else much either.


The water level was low and the wetlands is kind of overgrown and full of invasive vegetation, but we walked around the path in the sun.† Chris soon spotted a Green Heron and I got these next two pictures of it.



There was a Belted Kingfisher around, too.


The reddish brown feathers in its breast band and the brown patches on its flanks mark it as a juvenile male.† Later I got a couple more pictures of him.


Here he is showing off the blue color of his back.


There was another Green Heron, or maybe the same one had flown to the other end of the pond.† Here is a picture showing its front.


I didn't need either one of those species for any lists, but I like getting pictures of both Green Herons and Belted Kingfishers, and the light was great.† I'm pleased with the pictures.


Then the real fun started.† There was a group of little shorebirds feeding at the end of the pond, in the mud.† I needed to determine which species they were, and the difference between Western Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper is that Leasts have greenish-yellow legs and Westerns have black legs.† Here are a couple of mediocre pictures that show greenish-yellow legs, so they were Least Sandpipers.



Shorebirds are just starting their southward migration now, and Least Sandpipers are one of the first species to come through here, so it was the expected species, of the two.† I needed it for Thursday, and it also made an excellent BAD bird candidate, if I decided again to not take Merlin.


There was another bird with the Least Sandpipers, though.† I could see it was different, and I suspected it was an interesting species, although I wasn't sure which one.† It was clearly larger than the Least Sandpipers, as can be seen in this next picture.


The bird closer to the camera is a Least Sandpiper, and the one in back is the one of interest.† I took more pictures of the larger bird, hoping to be able to identify it later.


Here is a close-up of the interesting one.


There are various clues to its identity, and I won't list them all here, but the length of the wings (extending past the tail) and the facial markings are the best clues.† When I got home, I looked in my field guide and compared my pictures to the ones in the guide.† I decided it looked most like a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, a year-bird that I didn't really expect to see this year.† It also seemed early in the month for one to show up here. †[Correction - later I decided it was a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER,† also a year bird.† See Friday's report for details.]


I posted to the local birding mailing list, Tweeters, with a link to some of my pictures, asking for help in the ID.† I heard quickly from a couple of experts and they confirmed that it was a Baird's Sandpiper.† So far I have had five people concur, including two big-time local experts.† One of the experts said he has only seen adult Baird's Sandpipers in Washington State 4 times in his 12 years of birding here.† The other expert said he has seen Baird's 28 times in Washington, but the earliest was July 24, so this sighting is very early in the migration season.† It is always very exciting for me to find something that the local experts are interested in, so today was fun.


Back at the wetlands, there were Cedar Waxwings flying around, and one landed close to us.† I couldn't decide which picture or pictures I liked the best, so here are all four of them.† I love Cedar Waxwings and I can never get too many pictures of them.





That's it for bird pictures today, but we saw three water mammals, too.† I think they were muskrats.† In this first picture, I like the ears and the little "hands".


The first two were munching on some kind of plant.† Here is the second one, showing off his cute little ears and hands, too.


Here is a third one, showing its long tail.


I ended up getting three species for Thursday - Merlin, Least Sandpiper, and Baird's Sandpiper.† Any one of those would be an excellent BAD bird.† I'll have to take Baird's Sandpiper, though, since they are pretty rare here.† I plan to go back tomorrow to see if the Least Sandpipers have stuck around overnight.† The three Thursday birds brings Thursday to 220 species.


There's a long report with a lot of pictures, to mark an exciting day of birding for the Old Rambler.† The pizza at lunch was great, too.



Friday, July 7, 2017


Before I get into today's report, I need to make an addition to yesterday's.† After I wrote and sent my report last night, I heard back from one of my experts on the unknown sandpiper, and he was reconsidering.† I took another look at my pictures and could see his points.† I was in doubt.


This morning I headed back up to Canyon Park Wetlands and to my very pleased surprise, the little flock of shorebirds was still there.† I took a lot more pictures and I came home and analyzed them.† I decided that I thought the bird was a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, not the BAIRD'S SANDPIPER I thought it was last night.† I shared more pictures and asked for more opinions, using Tweeters again.† I've heard back from a number of people, and now the unanimous opinion is that it was indeed a Semipalmated Sandpiper.† Here are some of the additional pictures I posted today, with my reasoning.


The bill of the bird was much more like a Semipalmated Sandpiper's bill than a Baird's Sandpiper.† Here is a picture that shows that well.


The wing length wasn't actually well past the tail, as I thought last night.† This next picture shows that the wings extend just about to the tip of the tail.† In Baird's Sandpiper, they would extend well past the tail tip.


Here is a closer crop of that last picture, showing the wing extension, ending at about the tip of the tail.


The other big reason for thinking it was a Baird's Sandpiper was its size.† Today's pictures showed it wasn't as large as it looked in last night's pictures.† Here are some comparison pictures of it next to Least Sandpipers.





The subject sandpiper (the lighter colored bird) is larger than the other ones, but not as large as a Baird's Sandpiper would be.† A Baird's Sandpiper would be about 25% larger than a Least Sandpiper, and this one looks to me like it is more like 10% to 15% larger, but certainly not 25% larger.


Those were my main arguments for Semipalmated, and everyone agreed with me, even the people who said Baird's last night.† So, Baird's comes off my year list and Semipalmated goes on.† It also goes on to both my Thursday and Friday lists, since I saw it both days.


I know that is all very boring, but it illustrates the kind of detail that you need to look at in birding sometimes, to determine the species.† I had a great time today, doing the analysis, marshalling my arguments and responding to people.† At least four other people I know of went there today and saw the bird, all agreeing it was a Semipalmated Sandpiper.


Anyway, back to this morning.† In addition to taking a lot of pictures of the sandpipers, I needed to get a Friday bird and a BAD bird.† I was hoping to see Green Heron again, for Friday, and I did.† I saw at least five of them today, and here is a picture of one of them.


Here is another picture of it.


That took care of Friday's bird, and Least Sandpiper was my first choice for BAD bird.† Here is a picture of one of the Least Sandpipers, showing its yellow legs.


Yesterday I showed a picture of a juvenile male Belted Kingfisher, and today I saw at least one juvenile female Belted Kingfisher.


The lower "belt" of brown is what marks it as a female.† Here is a front view that is blurry because my camera focused on the background.


I saw the juvenile male again today, and here is a picture of him.


Note that he has reddish-brown on his flanks, but not across his front.


That was it for today.† I added two species to my Friday list - Green Heron and Semipalmated Sandpiper - to bring it to 220 species.† I forgot to mention last night that my new year-bird (Semipalmated Sandpiper, as it turned out) brought me to 321 species on the year.† For my BAD bird yesterday, I took Semipalmated Sandpiper and for today it was Least Sandpiper.† What a life!



Saturday, July 8, 2017


This morning I went over to Wedgwood again, in search of Merlins.† I didn't see anything when I got to the neighborhood, even when I got out of my car and walked around, looking at all the tall trees in the neighborhood.† I had heard that the young Merlins favored a "deadtop" tree to the west, so I went around a couple of blocks, trying to find such a tree.† I didn't find a tree of that description and I didn't see or hear any Merlins.


Back in the neighborhood of the nest tree, I heard the Merlin begging call - kee, kee, kee, kee - and I looked around.† I couldn't really tell where the calls were coming from, but I spotted a couple of birds in a tree that indeed did have some dead branches at the top.† One of the birds flew off and the other one perched up and posed for me.† Here's a picture of that one calling.


As I watched, it flexed its wings and then flew a short distance to another branch.† Here it is stretching its wings, before taking off.


As I understand it, the normal Merlin feeding protocol goes like this - the male hunts for food, and when he catches a bird, he brings it to the female and they do a transfer.† She hangs around the nest tree, maybe guarding the young ones, or maybe just waiting to do her next bit.† After the prey transfer, the female then plucks the bird and gives it to one of the youngsters.† I understand that the young ones often drop the prey when they are young, and it goes to waste, but over time they get better at eating it.† I think that the kee, kee, kee begging calls start when the male brings in a new meal and transfers it to the female.† So far I haven't seen the male at all, and I haven't seen the female deliver a meal.† I think I don't hang around long enough and I haven't been lucky enough.


I took more pictures of the young Merlin, from a couple of vantage points.


In that picture and the next ones, you can see a little bit of down on the top of the bird's head.


There is significantly less down than a week ago.† In this next picture, taken from a different perspective, the bird was showing off its yellow feet and sharp talons.


I probably should have hung around and waited for the next feeding, but I got bored with nothing happening, and I moved on.† I had time, though, so I went to the site of another nest I had been told about.† At this second site, I heard and saw nothing until a bird flew into a tall tree.† It seemed about the right size and color, and I thought I had gotten lucky.† I got out and took some pictures.† This is what I saw.


It was far enough away that I wasn't sure what it was with the naked eye, but I looked at my pictures and found it was a juvenile American Robin.† An adult robin would have a red breast, of course, but young ones have spots on their breast for the first weeks or months.† When I see the Merlins, they appear larger than a robin to me, but the field guides say that both Merlins and American Robins are 10 inches long.† I still think the Merlins look bigger than robins, though.


That was it for my birding today.† I could have gone looking for more Saturday birds, but at this point, I'm concentrating on keeping my two streaks alive until I leave for Arizona on August 1st.† When I get what I need on a given day, I soon head for home, preferring to keep any other species for later days.† If I see something else, I'll count it, but I don't go out of my way to find more than what I need.† It's a strange kind of birding.


The Merlin today brought Saturday to 212 species.† I finally took Merlin for a BAD bird today, having "saved" it and taken other species up until today.† I now have Merlin on six days, with only Tuesday left, to complete the species.


Tomorrow is another day, and I need to make my plans.† By the way, the weather has been great - no rain here for a couple of weeks.† It has been a little warmer than what I would like, almost 80 today, but even 80 degrees is okay if you don't have to be out in the sun.† Also, my heel is doing well.† Maybe my Achilles tendon will heal by itself.† It has been 18 months since it started to hurt, and I assume that's when the tear occurred.† I don't limp much at all any more, and not all the time.† It hurts less than it has since it was first injured, too.† One reason I don't mention it much is that I donít want to jinx myself; we'll see if my mentioning it causes it to relapse now.



Sunday, July 9, 2017


This morning I went over to the Fay Road access to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.† That's about a mile north of the Stillwater access, the place I went for bitterns and nesting woodpeckers so many time a couple of months ago.† I had five desirable species on my list of potential Sunday birds, including two year-birds.† All had been reported there in the last couple of days.


It was pretty slow for me today.† I played a lot of songs and calls of the various species, but I never got any responses.† There were a lot of Cedar Waxwings around, though, and I like that species very much, so I took some pictures of them.† Here is a Cedar Waxwing.


There was a Great Blue Heron standing high up in a dead tree, and I took this picture.


There was a Red-breasted Sapsucker at a nest hole - rather late in the season, I thought.† It appeared to be feeding young.


At one point I heard a loud call and it turned out to be a Bewick's wren calling.


So, even though I wasn't getting responses to the songs and calls I was playing, I was seeing a few birds and getting some pictures.† An Osprey flew over, and I missed getting a picture of it in the air.† It landed high in a dead tree, though, and I got this picture, which is kind of different, of an Osprey.


Soon after I took that picture, the bird dove into the water and came up with a nice-sized fish, at least 6 or 8 inches long, and flew off with it.† I wish I could have gotten pictures of that action, but it was fun to see anyway.


At one point I saw a very distant bird in a dead tree.† It was so far away that I couldn't really identify it with my binoculars, but I took some pictures.† The very distant pictures show that it was an Eastern Kingbird.


Eastern Kingbird is an uncommon species in Western Washington, but I actually didn't need it for any of my lists.† I still hadn't seen any Sunday list birds, nor any "good" BAD birds.


I was looking for a couple of flycatcher species that others have reported there, but the only flycatchers I saw were that Eastern Kingbird and a couple of Western Wood-Pewees.† Here is one of the Western Wood-Pewees.


I saw Swainson's Thrushes and a Black-headed Grosbeak, but I didn't need either of those, either.† Then a Bald Eagle flew over, and that was a decent BAD bird candidate, anyway.† At one point I saw a couple of birds together, and one was an adult Red-breasted Sapsucker and the other was a juvenile of that species.† I tried for pictures of the juvenile, but the light was terrible, and this was the best I could get.


I saw Cedar Waxwings a number of times, and I kept taking their pictures.† Here are two more Cedar Waxwing pictures.



I still hadn't found a new Sunday bird, so I decided to take a look at the swallows flying around.† Here is a female Tree Swallow, a species I had counted already on Sunday.


There were five or six swallow fledglings hanging around and waiting for adult birds to feed them.† Here are a couple of recently fledged swallows, Tree Swallows, I think.


When an adult approached with some food, they would fly up and make the transfer in the air.† I kept looking at swallows until I was able to identify at least one Violet-green Swallow, which was a new Sunday bird for me.† I was out there a long time, and I walked quite a bit.† My heel seems pretty good tonight, I'm glad to say.


I only got the one Sunday species today, Violet-green Swallow, to bring Sunday to 202 species.† I'll take Bald Eagle for my BAD bird today.


Early tomorrow morning I have minor surgery on my hand (for a condition called trigger finger) scheduled, and then I hope to get out and get a Monday bird and a BAD bird.† I have a plan, and as long as the surgery recovery is as easy as I was led to believe, it shouldn't be a problem.† We shall see.



Monday, July 10, 2017


I had my surgery on my hand today, and it went fine.† My pinkie finger on my right hand was numb until mid-afternoon, and I have a bandage on my right hand, but I can use the hand for everything as usual, except I have to keep it dry for the next 11 days.† I'm also supposed to keep it above my heart as much as I can for the first day.


My friend, Dan, came over for lunch today, and we went up to Canyon Park Wetlands first, to get me a bird or two.† I figured that Green Heron was a cinch, since they had been there both times I went last week, and other people had reported them on almost all their visits.† Well, I never got a sniff of a Green Heron today, but fortunately, there were a couple of Spotted Sandpipers there today, and that completed that species for me.† Here is a kind of distant picture of a Spotted Sandpiper.


Here's another picture showing it from the side.


There was another Spotted Sandpiper there, too, but it was too far away for pictures.† According to previous reports, the other one was a juvenile bird, and it looked like it to me in my binoculars.


There were a few Cedar Waxwings around, but none ever came close enough for pictures.† I saw just one Belted Kingfisher and not much else.† I had my Monday bird (Spotted Sandpiper), though, so that was enough for me, especially considering my hand.† There was a pair of American Goldfinches that flew in briefly, and I got this picture of the male.


That was it for my birding today.† The Spotted Sandpiper brought Monday to 202 species, and in some ways, it's just as well that I didn't see any Green Herons, because now I can go back on a future Monday and get that species then.† I hadn't used Spotted Sandpiper yet for a BAD bird, so I'm taking that one today.† Completing Spotted Sandpiper makes it 113 species completed this year - that is, I have seen those 113 species on all seven days of the week.† For the year, I stay at 321 species.† Both of my streaks are still alive!† I leave for Arizona in 22 days, and my goal now is to keep both streaks going until at least then.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017


My plan today was to complete Merlin.† I went over to Wedgwood, and both of the juvenile Merlins were in the "deadtop" tree where I saw them the other day.† Mission accomplished, in about one minute.† I waited around for about 20 minutes, hoping there would be a feeding or some other action, but nothing much happened except that one of the juveniles flew off when I wasn't looking and I never could find where it had gone.† I took pictures, and here are three more Merlin pictures.† I know I've shown a lot of Merlin pictures, but this will be the end of it for this year, since I have now seen a Merlin on all 7 days of the week.




It was overcast this morning and the light was terrible.


That was it for my birding today, except I sat on the porch much of the afternoon, eating my lunch and reading. I watched off and on for a Chestnut-backed Chickadee to come to our feeder, but I never saw one.† There were Black-capped Chickadees a number of times, up to three different birds, I think, but never a Chestnut-backed Chickadee.† I've looked for them at our feeder several times now, recently, and come up empty.† I want to get that one for a BAD bird, but maybe I've waited too long and they have moved on.† They should be resident in our neighborhood, though, so maybe I'll see one eventually.† Meanwhile, I did see an American Robin over in the Wedgwood neighborhood while watching Merlins, so I'll take that as my BAD bird today.† The Merlins today bring me to 202 species of Tuesday, and my two streaks are still alive.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Today was a little different.† I sat on the porch this morning, instead of going out birding.† I was watching for Chestnut-backed Chickadees to come to our feeder.† I hadn't yet used that one as a BAD bird, and I thought today might be a good day to get it.† After an hour, I was about ready to give up, but then one Chestnut-backed Chickadee flew in and got a seed.† It came back two or three times, and I took a good look in order to be sure it wasn't just another Black-capped Chickadee.† The Black-capped ones are much more common in our yard and they had been coming in to the feeder the whole hour I was sitting out there.


I went out to lunch with my friend, Chris, and after lunch we went to Phantom Lake, as usual.† It was very quiet today, and I didn't get Purple Finch, like I was hoping to do.† After I dropped Chris back at work, I went down to Marymoor Park and took a look at the Osprey nest there.† I needed Osprey for Wednesday still, to complete the species, and there were two of them on the nest.† I think one or both of them were juveniles, but I didn't get out my scope to find out.† I had my Wednesday bird, and that brought me to 218 for Wednesday.† I took Chestnut-backed Chickadee for my BAD bird.



Thursday, July 13, 2017


Today I birded in four places, including here at home in our yard.† My first stop was the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I was looking for Greater Yellowlegs, which had been reported there in the last week.† The only shorebirds I saw were Killdeer, but as I was leaving I heard a Common Yellowthroat singing.† I didn't need that species, but I'm always looking for pictures, so I went over to where the sound seemed to be coming from and played Common Yellowthroat songs and calls on my phone.† A couple of very plain looking little birds flew in and looked me over.† I decided that they must be juvenile Common Yellowthroats, just recently fledged.† Here are some pictures of the little cuties.





There was a male Common Yellowthroat around, too, singing and calling back to me, but it was a lot shyer and stayed in the background.† Here is a peek-a-boo picture of the male Common Yellowthroat.


Finally he came out in the open briefly, and I got this picture of him - kind of distant, but at least he was out in the open.


There was a White-crowned Sparrow hanging around, too, with some food in its beak, an insect, I think.



I also got a brief view of a flycatcher and heard it calling.† I was pretty sure it was a Willow Flycatcher, which I needed for Thursday.† It flew off before I could get a picture, but it continued to call, and I was sure enough that it went on to my list for Thursday.


After I left there, I drove through the Evans Creek Natural Area.† I stopped a couple of times and played the song of Marsh Wren, which I needed for Thursday and also for a BAD bird.† I never heard or saw one, but at one stop I saw a couple of Cedar Waxwings.† I got only one picture of one of the Cedar Waxwings, and it only shows the back.† I normally don't keep pictures that donít show the bird's face, but I'm making an exception for this shot because I like it.† It shows the sleek coloration of the bird, as well as the crest, the red on the wings, and the yellow on the tail.


If only it had turned its head and looked at me, I would have had an excellent picture.


At another stop I first heard and then saw another Willow Flycatcher.† This time I got one picture.


Moving on from there, I went to Marymoor Park, mainly to get Savannah Sparrow for a Bird-A-Day bird.† It took a while, but eventually I saw a couple of them.† I also saw a male Lazuli Bunting, but I missed getting a picture when my camera focused on the background instead of the bird.† The only picture I got at Marymoor was this male Dark-eyed Junco that was feeding right at my feet.


I had what I needed so I went home.† I sat out on our porch and watched the birds coming to our feeder while I ate my lunch and read.† There was a steady stream of birds, and I took pictures from time to time.† Here are two pictures of European Starlings.



The feeder is about 60 or 70 feet from where I was sitting on the porch, so the pictures aren't great, but they show some of the birds that came through.† Here's a Song Sparrow.


A couple of American Crows came in to the birdbath and ne of them posed for me.



Just to break the monotony of birds, here is a picture of a bumblebee on a dahlia.


Here is a male House Finch at the feeder.


Here is a much less colorful female House Finch.


There was another bird that puzzled me, but I decided it must be a juvenile House Finch, recently fledged.

The back and the breast were different from those of the adult House Finches, but the body shape was the same and the bill was the same.


Finally, here is the best I could do of the Black-capped Chickadee that came in a few times.


So, that was my Thursday birding.† I added one species to my Thursday list (Willow Flycatcher), to bring it to 221 species, the highest of any day of the week at this point.† I took Savannah Sparrow for my BAD bird.† My two streaks are alive.



Friday, July 14, 2017


This morning I drove over to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, on Puget Sound, north of Seattle and south of Edmonds.† I was looking for sea birds.† I parked and carried my scope across the bridge over the railroad tracks and took a look.† There weren't a lot of birds out there, but I eventually managed to see a few Rhinoceros Auklets and a couple of Common Murres for my Friday list.† Common Murre was an excellent BAD bird, too - one I wasn't expecting to get.† I didn't get any bird pictures, but here are a couple of pictures showing the beach and the water.



I had what I needed to keep my streaks going, but I wanted to try to get some pictures.† I stopped at Wallace Swamp Creek Park in Kenmore on the way home and walked around.† It was quiet, but I got this picture of a Spotted Towhee calling.


When it stopped calling, it looked at me and posed.


There was also a Western Wood-Pewee around, and I got some pictures of it, too.




I watched the pewee for a while and saw it catch a butterfly.† I got one picture, but it isn't good enough to show.† The bird worked at it to subdue the butterfly, and then flew off with it.† I wonder if it ate the wings as well as the body.


Here is a picture of another butterfly there at the park.


That was it for birds today, but I went home and tried something different.† I sat on the porch and read and ate my lunch, as usual in the summer, but after lunch I sat in my chair and took pictures of flying insects as they flew around the dahlias near the porch.† For starters, here is a series of pictures of a wasp.




These next two might have been a different individual, but it appears to me like it is the same species.



I found it very interesting that I could sit in the comfort of my chair on the porch and take these pictures of insects that were roughly 8 or 10 feet away.


Next we have bumblebees.† There are two of them in this first picture.


Here's are some shots of another one on the big rhododendron.




Here is a bumblebee on one of the dahlias.


About that time, I got the idea of putting a drop of honey on one of the dahlias, to see if it would attract anything.† It never attracted a flying insect, but this green insect did find it.† I don't know if it was a grasshopper, or if it was something else.† I don't know much at all about insects.† I got an interesting sequence of pictures of it, though.



After a while it turned and walked away.


When I was processing my pictures, I noticed the little brown lump at the back end of the bug (on the left).† In this next picture, the lump is larger.


In these next two, the lump has separated and the insect is marching away.



I must say that I never expected that I would get a series of pictures of an insect pooping.† If you're looking at this report on your cell phone, then maybe the images won't be large enough to see all the detail in the insect pictures.


After that excitement, here is one final picture of two bumblebees flying.


So, how's that for something completely different?† It wasn't birds, but I had fun taking the pictures.


I got two species for Friday, to bring it to 222 species.† I'll gladly take Common Murre for my BAD bird today.



Saturday, July 15, 2017


Today I tried something different.† I headed up toward the mountains with two species in mind.† My first stop was Tokul Creek, where it joins the Snoqualmie River, just downriver from Snoqualmie Falls.† I was looking for American Dipper, but I figured my chances were maybe 20 to 30% of actually seeing one.† If I missed it, as expected, then I planned to continue on to Snoqualmie Pass to get Rufous Hummingbird at a house there that has feeders.


At Tokul Creek, I went out on the bridge and looked upstream, but I didn't see anything.† I looked downstream and at first I didn't see anything, but then I noticed a chubby little round bird on a rock.† It was my dipper!† It was pretty far away, and my pictures aren't good, but here is the American Dipper.


Here is Tokul Creek, looking downstream from the bridge.† The dipper was out on a rock in the middle of the stream.


Here is another picture of the cute little guy.† It seemed to be missing a feather or two in its tail.


As I watched it deposited some "whitewash" on the rock behind it.


I kept watching and eventually it ambled down to the water.


It went into the water and I lost track of it after that.


So, since I got the dipper, I didn't go on to the pass to get the hummingbird.† It was a lovely day, though, so I decided to stop at the Stillwater Unit to try for pictures and enjoy the day outdoors.† On the way I stopped briefly at the house in Carnation that has some feeders, but there wasn't much except goldfinches there.† Here is a picture of a female American Goldfinch.


I went on to Stillwater, but it was very quiet.† I walked on the trail and eventually heard and saw a few birds, but nothing interesting.† I did get these next two pictures of a female Wood Duck with her four ducklings.



There was another female Wood Duck, without ducklings, a little later, and I got this picture of her.


That was it for Saturday.† I added just the one species, American Dipper, to my Saturday list, to bring it to 213 species.† I used the dipper as my BAD bird, too.† That was one that I had listed as "difficult" in my list of possible local BAD birds, so that was great.† My two streaks are alive, and in 17 days I plan to head for Arizona for a 12 night birding trip.



Sunday, July 16, 2017


I went over to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park on Sunday, looking for three species - Common Murre, Marbled Murrelet, and Rhinoceros Auklet.† I saw a pair of Marbled Murrelets fairly quickly, and eventually I saw a large raft of 2 or 3 dozen Rhinoceros Auklets in the distance.† The auklets were far enough away that it was difficult to make them out with the heat haze, but eventually I got a clear enough look to identify them.† I didn't see any murres, and I headed toward home with two Sunday birds.


I needed a BAD bird, though, and I had already taken both of those saltwater species, so I stopped at Juanita Beach Park on the way home.† I walked out onto the dock and found a couple of Gadwalls among all the Mallards.


The two Sunday birds brought me to 204 species for Sunday.† I took Gadwall for my BAD bird.† I'm into that time of year now when I take a lot of "easy" BAD birds, unless I can find a more difficult one.† There weren't any photo ops today.



Monday, July 17, 2017


Today was something of a repeat of yesterday.† I went over to Richmond Beach again, to look for the same three species as yesterday.† I soon saw a single Marbled Murrelet, and then never saw another one, or that one again, for the rest of the time I was there.† Eventually I saw a bird flying and I followed it with my scope.† It was joined by four others and when they came close enough, I was able to see they were Rhinoceros Auklets.† Later I saw a raft of Rhino Auklets, like I had on Sunday, but they were really distant.


I went home and sat on my porch and read.† I had lunch and read some more, keeping an eye on our feeder, hoping to see a House Sparrow for my BAD bird today.† I never saw one, and after a while I went in and read at the kitchen table, where I could keep an eye on both the seed feeder and the hummingbird feeder.† It took maybe 20 or 30 minutes, but finally a male Anna's Hummingbird came to the sugar water feeder.


The two saltwater birds brought Monday to 204 species, and I took Anna's Hummingbird for my BAD bird.† My two streaks are alive, and again, there were no photo ops.† I plan to leave for Arizona in two weeks, and I'm trying to keep both streaks going until then.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I had a plan today.† I planned to go up to NE Snoqualmie River Road in Duvall, to look for the Western Kingbird that has been hanging out there this summer.† I knew it was late in the year and that it had probably left by now, but I had a backup plan.†


On my way there, I stopped at Cottage Lake and walked around a bit.† It was a beautiful morning, but there weren't many birds around.† There were three Killdeer on the grass, though, and I got this picture of one of them.


At my destination on NE Snoqualmie River Road, the kingbird was indeed a no-show, as expected, but at the same place I got House Sparrow, which I wanted for my BAD bird today.† I consider House Sparrows a very common species, but when it came right down to getting one for a BAD bird, I found they weren't nearly as common as they used to be.† They do come around to our feeder sometimes, but I had watched our feeder for a couple of days and hadn't seen one.† I saw quite a few today, though.† Here are three pictures of male House Sparrows.




In that last picture, he had been taking a dust bath.† Here is a female House Sparrow.


I had my BAD bird for the day, but I needed to get a Tuesday bird, still.† The Western Kingbird never showed up, so I moved on up the road. †There are almost always Eurasian Collared-Doves along that road, and I saw a couple of them today, for my Tuesday list.† Here is a picture of a Eurasian Collared-Dove.


There's a house along that road with feeders, and I got this picture of a female Anna's Hummingbird there.


There were a lot of starlings around, too, and I got this picture of a European Starling in a tree.


I had what I needed, one Tuesday bird and a BAD bird, but it was such a nice day, and I had more time, so I drove up the west side of the valley to Crescent Lake, to see what I could find.† At Crescent Lake I heard a bird calling a little "whit" call repeatedly, and I saw it in the lily pads.† It was a flycatcher, and I got a good look at it.† I thought it was probably a Willow Flycatcher, but that family of flycatchers is very hard to identify to the species level, unless you hear them sing.† I had heard the "whit" call and it did sound like one of the Willow Flycatcher calls, but it wasn't distinctive enough for me to make the identification.† I needed to have it sing.† I played the Willow Flycatcher "fitz bew" song a number of times, and eventually I heard it sing, and then I could count it.† Here are a couple of pictures of the front of the Willow Flycatcher.



It kept flitting around, and I kept trying to get pictures, and I eventually got two that showed it from the side.



I needed that one for Tuesday, as it turned out.


So, I ended up getting two more species for Tuesday, to bring me to 204 for Tuesday.† I took House Sparrow for my BAD bird today.† I remain at 321 species for the year.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Today was another day, another plan.† I headed up to the town of Snohomish, to a trail along Ebey Slough, with access from Fobes Road.† I was looking for Eastern Kingbird for Wednesday and Marsh Wren for my BAD bird.† I parked and walked out onto the dike trail.† I played the songs of both species, but didn't get any responses.† After a while another birder I had run into before came along and we talked.† He knew more about the location than I did.† As we talked we spotted a couple of Eastern Kingbirds flitting around over a pond with lily pad islands in it.† I got some very distant pictures, but later I got some much better ones.† We walked on down the trail and soon got a much closer view of an Eastern Kingbird.† Here is a picture of it from the back.


Here's a side view of it.


Finally, here is a view from the front.


We also heard and then saw a Marsh Wren, so I had my BAD bird as well.† In the spring, Marsh Wrens are very responsive to their calls and its easy to get pictures of them, but at this time of year, they are much more reclusive.† I have been having a hard time seeing one recently, so it was great to get one today.


I turned back, to save my Achilles tendon (although my heel felt quite good today and I walked quite a bit on it), and Phil went on.† Here is a picture of the trail along the dike that runs along Ebey Slough, which is a branch of the Snohomish River in the delta area, east of Everett.


That view was looking south.† Here is the view looking north from that same spot.


As you can see, it was a beautiful day today.† As I walked back toward the car I saw several birds fly into a dead tree.† They turned out to be Northern Rough-winged Swallows, a bird I already had for Wednesday.† There were several recently fledged birds and at least one adult.† Here's a picture of an adult Northern Rough-winged Swallow.


Here's a picture of an adult and two begging fledglings.


The fledglings were at the stage where the adults were trying to get them to fly to get the food they had.† Swallows feed the young ones as the youngsters sit on a branch, for a while, and then they start making the young ones fly and transfer the food in the air.† I suppose the idea is to bring the young ones along a step at a time, until they can catch bugs on their own.† Most of the ones today were flying to meet the parents when they brought food, but at least one of them was still stubbornly sitting still and waiting to be fed.† I didn't see that one get fed today, by the way, but the ones that flew to meet the parents were getting food in midair.† It was interesting to watch them.† Here are three pictures of the juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallow that was just sitting in place.




It was constantly giving a begging call and would flap its wings from time to time, to try to get the attention of a parent.


At about that time a bird flew through and I could see immediately it wasn't a swallow, but was a swift.† I got a fairly good look at it, and I'm convinced it was my first BLACK SWIFT of the year.† That was a complete surprise to me.


There had been a third birder/photographer out on the trail and he had told me where an Eastern Kingbird nest was located.† I found the spot and a kingbird had just flown into a neighboring bush with a large insect.† The bird subdued the insect and took it to the nest, which I couldn't see because it was on the other side of a piling.† Then the bird sat on a bush near the nest for a while and posed for pictures.† I realize I just showed several Eastern Kingbird pictures, but this guy posed so nicely and I was so close that I took a lot more pictures.† Here are three more Eastern Kingbird pictures.




As I got back to my car I saw a bird on a wire, and it turned out to be a Cedar Waxwing.† I've seen many more Cedar Waxwings this year than ever before, it seems.† I can't resist taking their pictures, either.† These two pictures are kind of distant, but I like the species so much that I'm showing them anyway.



I ended up adding two species to my Wednesday list - Eastern Kingbird and Black Swift.† That gives me 220 species for Wednesday.† I added Black Swift to my year list today.† As I was updating my lists this afternoon I realized I had neglected to count Purple Finch for my year list, earlier in the year when I first saw one.† After correcting that error, my year list now stands at 323 species.† I was going to take Marsh Wren for my BAD bird, but Black Swift is a much better BAD bird, so I'll take that one today and hope to get Marsh Wren in the coming days.† My two streaks are alive and I plan to head for Arizona in 13 more days.



Thursday, July 20, 2017


Today I had a multi-part plan, and my first stop was the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I didn't really expect anything in particular, but last year it was a good place for shorebirds in the late summer shorebird migration, and I wanted to see what might be there.


I soon saw one of the species I was hoping for, Greater Yellowlegs, a Thursday bird.


I tried to approach it, to get closer pictures, but it flew across the pond.† When it took off, five other shorebirds also flew along with it, to my surprise.† They turned out to be dowitchers, an excellent species for here.† There are two species of dowitcher - Long-billed and Short-billed.† Despite the names, the bills aren't really enough different to be a completely reliable way to distinguish the two species.† The best way is to hear them call, and I did hear them call as they flew.† Unfortunately, I am terrible at remembering calls, so that didn't help me any.† I took a bunch of pictures and put a link to them on Tweeters, the local birding mailing list, asking for help with the identification.† Looking at my pictures, I thought they were probably Long-billed Dowitchers.† So far I have heard from two people, and both of them concurred with me, so I'm going to call them Long-billed Dowitchers, another Thursday bird for me.† Here are some pictures of what I'm calling Long-billed Dowitchers.





Later I got another rather blurry picture of the Greater Yellowlegs.


Here's a picture of the main pond there.


That was it for today.† I had planned to go on to a couple of other places if I didnít get a Thursday bird there, but since I did, I went home.† At this point, I would rather "save" any other Thursday species for a later date, in order to extend my DOTW streak as much as possible.† I got two species for Thursday, to bring it to 223.† I'll take Greater Yellowlegs for my BAD bird.† My streaks are both alive.



Friday, July 21, 2017


Today was planned to be a repeat of Wednesday.† I went up to Fobes Road near the town of Snohomish to look for Eastern Kingbird.† Like Wednesday, I hoped to get Marsh Wren for my BAD bird.† On Wednesday I had seen Marsh Wren, but then later I saw a Black Swift, and I took that for my BAD bird, thus leaving Marsh Wren for today, if I could get it.


I walked out onto the dike trail at Fobes Road and soon saw my first Eastern Kingbird.† Eastern Kingbird is a pretty uncommon bird on this side of the Cascades, but they breed in this one small area - the only one that I'm aware of, but there might be other places, too.† I only learned that they breed there this year.† The ones I saw today completed that species for me.† I saw them in Eastern Washington, in Central Oregon (at Malheur) and at Fobes Road.† Last year I only saw Eastern Kingbird on two days, and this year I saw the species on all seven days of the week.


I don't have many pictures today, so I'm going to do something a little different.† I'm going to show a couple of pictures that illustrate the software processing I do.† I took some pictures of the first Eastern Kingbird I saw today, but I had forgotten to change my camera's settings from manual exposure, which I had used yesterday at the end of the day.† As a result, the first pictures I took today were badly overexposed.† I used the software that I got from Canon when I got this camera and tried to adjust them as much as possible.† I could only do so much, but here is an example of what I was able to do.† Here is a picture of an Eastern Kingbird, just as it came out of the camera, only cropped to a new size, but not otherwise processed.


Here is the same shot, processed as best I could do.


It still isn't good, but it's better.


A little later I saw a Cedar Waxwing, and it was a difficult shot because of the bright background behind it.† I had reset the camera to auto exposure, but it still was difficult because of the lighting.† Here is what it looks like unprocessed.


Here is the best I could do with it, by processing it.


It's still not a great picture, but it's better.† I like this software a lot.† It's easy to use, too, and pretty fast.


I saw Eastern Kingbirds in three separate areas, probably representing three breeding pairs.† Here is another picture of an Eastern Kingbird.


I was playing the songs and calls of Marsh Wren off and on all the time, listening and looking for a response.† They just aren't very responsive at all at this time of year, though.† Song Sparrows kept responding, though, and I got this picture of a very light-colored Song Sparrow.


I walked quite a bit today (for me) and eventually after maybe half an hour, I finally got a response to all my Marsh Wren playback.† A bird flew toward me and I was able to get a good look at it before it disappeared into the grass.† It was my Marsh Wren.† It never showed itself again for a picture, although I saw the grass moving.


On my way back to the car, I saw more Eastern Kingbirds.† Here's another one - I think it is the same one I showed in the first picture.


It flew up and perched at the top of a dead snag.


Note that the picture before has a white background from the clouds.† For the second picture, I deliberately positioned myself to get blue sky in the background.† I approached even closer and got this picture, looking right up at the bird, again with blue sky in the background.


That was it for today.† I got started a little late because this morning I had a doctor's appointment to remove the dressing from my hand, after my surgery for trigger finger last week.† I also had to get home a little earlier than usual because my friend, Dan, was coming over for lunch today.† Altogether I was away for about two hours.† A half hour to drive to Fobes Road, an hour walking the dike trail, and a half hour driving home.† It's a funny kind of birding, but at least I got both of my target species.


Eastern Kingbird brings Friday to 223 species.† I completed that species, so that makes 116 species that I've seen on all seven days of the week.†
For the year, my list remains at 323 species.† I'll take Marsh Wren for my BAD bird today.



Saturday, July 22, 2017


My choices for my DOTW bird and my BAD bird are getting fewer and fewer each day, as I use up the local species.† Today I had a multi-part plan that depended on what I found.† My first stop was the Redmond Retention Ponds.† Almost right away I got the species I was hoping for there, Greater Yellowlegs, which was a Saturday bird.† Here's a picture.


Here's the Greater Yellowlegs stretching its wings.


The Long-billed Dowitchers that I saw there earlier in the week were still there.† At first I saw five of them, but later there were seven.† They flew around a lot at first, and I guess a couple of them were off out of my sight at first.† I didn't need that species for Saturday or for a BAD bird, but it was still nice to see them, since they are uncommon around here.† They're just passing through on their southward migration. †Here are some pictures of the Long-billed Dowitchers.



This next picture shows how they feed, sticking their long bills deep into the mud to find goodies to eat.† I don't understand what they find to eat deep under the mud or how they know it's there.† They move along with a rapid sewing machine motion, up and down repeatedly.


Here's a picture that shows all seven Long-billed Dowitchers and a Killdeer.


While I was taking pictures of the dowitchers, I saw a couple of little birds across the small pond.† They turned out to be a White-crowned Sparrow and a Savannah Sparrow (on the left, in front), and I got this picture.


I can never resist taking pictures of Killdeer, and here is a shot of one from the front.


Here's a picture of a Killdeer from the side.


I had my Saturday bird (Greater Yellowlegs), but I needed to get a BAD bird.† As a reminder, a BAD (Bird-A-Day) bird is a species that I haven't yet put on my BAD list this year.† It doesn't matter how many times I've seen it, only that I see it today and haven't previously put it on the list.† Since we are now over 200 days into the year, there are over 200 species on my BAD list, and at this point, it's getting harder all the time to find new ones.† I have a list of about 16 or 20 species that I could possibly see here locally that aren't yet on the BAD list.† Most of them are fairly "easy", but I still have to see (or hear) one each day.† I decided this morning that it was time to start taking the local swallow species.† I've taken two of them, but there are three others that I've been saving.


So, there were a few swallows flying over the Redmond Retention Ponds this morning, and I decided to take a look and hope to find a species to use for my BAD bird.† Unfortunately, they chose just that moment to move on, and they left before I could identify any species.† The good news was that as I was looking at them flying away, I realized at that at least one of them was a Vaux's Swift, an excellent bird to get for Saturday.† Swifts fly with a "stiff-winged" flapping motion, and when I see one now, I can recognize it.† The one I saw today was smaller than the swallows, which meant it was a Vaux's Swift, not a larger Black Swift.† Vaux's Swifts often feed with swallows, too, and are usually lower down than Black Swifts.


I still needed a BAD bird, though, so I went on over to Marymoor, where I have always seen plenty of swallows, since they came back in April or so.† Today there were none, though.† Nada, zero, nothing.† I went to a couple parts of the park and walked for awhile, but no swallows showed up.† I looked it up when I got home, and I think I may have made a boo-boo.† It appears that most of the local breeding swallows left to go south for the winter about a week or two ago.† Oops.† It's really ironic how I have been ignoring swallows fro months, thus "saving" them for later, and now it appears I might have left it too long.† I still have some hope, because birds that bred in the areas north of here will probably be migrating through here for the next several weeks, but it won't be as easy to find them as when they were actually raising their young locally.


Back to today, after driving and walking around Marymoor for a while, I saw a couple of swallows over one of the athletic fields.† I got out of the car, but they had moved away.† They did come back, though, and they turned out to be Barn Swallows, the species that sticks around here the latest.† I'll be watching for Tree Swallows and Violet-green Swallows wherever I go in the next week and a half, though, until I leave for Arizona.† Another swallow species, Purple Martin, also breeds here, but they are only seen in a couple of specific places.† I donít know if they are still around or not, and I'll also look for them in the next week or so.† I think it's really funny how I ignored swallows so studiously for so many months, and now I'll be looking for them.


That was it for birding today, but this afternoon we went to a party down in Kent at the house of a cousin of Christina.† There were House Sparrows that were nesting in a bird box, on their third brood of the year, I was told.† Here is a picture of a female House Sparrow looking out of the bird box, which is made to look like an outhouse.


Here's a closer look at her.


She stayed in the bird box the whole time we were there, as far as I could see, so she must be sitting on eggs.


I ended up adding two species to Saturday (Greater Yellowlegs and Vaux's Swift) to bring Saturday to 215 species.† For my BAD bird today, I'll take Barn Swallow.† Both of my streaks are alive.† I still hope to keep them both alive until I leave for Arizona, but the swallow debacle could put a little crimp in my plans, since I was thinking swallows would be easy, and now I'm uncertain of them.† If I can get to Arizona with the two streaks alive, it will be simple to keep them going until I come home, because there will be so many new species for me in Arizona.† I'm expecting to add 30 to 35 additional species to my year list in Arizona.



Sunday, July 23, 2017


I had been intending to go up to Edmonds today to look for birds, but last night I noticed an entry on eBird that listed a pair of Cinnamon Teals at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I've completed Cinnamon Teal, but I hadn't ever used it as a BAD bird, so the idea of doing so was appealing, assuming they stuck around and I could see them.


At the ponds I took my scope and took a look at the ducks on the main pond.† Sure enough, two of them were noticeably smaller than the others.† Male Cinnamon Teals are very obvious during breeding season, but by now they have lost their cinnamon color and are very drab.† The females are always drab.† If I hadn't been looking for them specifically today, I wouldn't have noticed them.† In fact, I had overlooked them yesterday, apparently, because the reported sighting yesterday took place about an hour after I was there.† Anyway, given the information I had, I was able to find them easily.† Identifying them and distinguishing the male from the female was much harder.† Here is a picture of the female Cinnamon Teal.


Here's a picture of the male, which might look the same to you.† They looked the same to me at first.


Just to make the point about non-breeding plumage (referred to as "eclipse plumage" by birders), here is a picture I took in May this year of a male Cinnamon Teal in breeding plumage.


I find it amazing that a bird can change color so much from May to July.


Anyway, back to today, here is a picture of both the male and female Cinnamon Teals.


I had to look at my pictures for a long time to be able to tell the difference between them.† The male has a slightly more reddish tint to him.† He is the one on the right in the picture above.† Here is another picture of both of them, with a female Mallard for size and plumage comparison.† The teals are significantly smaller than the Mallard.


The male teal is the one on the left.† At the time, I wasn't sure that they were actually Cinnamon Teals and I wondered if they were Green-winged Teals instead.† I saw them fly a couple of times, though, and the blue wing patch of Cinnamon Teal was very obvious.


So, that was my BAD bird for the day, and an excellent one it was.† I had it on my list as medium difficult, but I was thinking it was pretty unlikely I would find one this year locally.† I completed the species, but it was in Texas, Eastern Washington, and maybe at Malheur in Oregon.† Usually I see a few Cinnamon Teal locally, but not this year, until now.† I hadn't realized that the male would be in eclipse plumage this early, so I have been looking for a red bird, not a drab one.


I still needed a Sunday bird, and the Greater Yellowlegs I saw yesterday had stuck around, which took care of Sunday.† Here is the Greater Yellowlegs.


Up until then I hadn't seen any of the seven Long-billed Dowitchers that I had seen yesterday, but I didn't need that one for any list anyway.† I looked around a little and did find a single Long-billed Dowitcher on one of the small ponds.† Maybe his buddies abandoned him, or maybe he preferred to do his migration alone, or maybe his buddies were hiding somewhere nearby.† Here is the sole Long-billed Dowitcher I saw today.


That was my Sunday birding.† Greater Yellowlegs brought me to 205 species for Sunday.† I completed Greater Yellowlegs today, to make 117 species that I have now seen on all seven days of the week this year.† I'll happily take Cinnamon Teal for my BAD bird today.



Monday, July 24, 2017


The pickings are getting pretty slim for DOTW birds, as well as for BAD birds.† Today I set out to see if I could find a Green Heron for my Monday list and maybe a swallow for my BAD bird.† My first stop was at what birders call the South Pond in north Bothell.† Last year there was a Green Heron that hung around there for a couple of weeks.† This was my first visit this year, and I was surprised at how much of the vegetation they had cut.† The pond is much more open now.† There was nothing there except Mallards and one Pied-billed Grebe.


I moved on to Canyon Park Wetlands, where I had seen Green Herons a couple of times earlier this month.† Not today.† There was very little around.† I got this picture of a Great Blue Heron that I kind of like because of the lighting and reflections.


Here is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.


Here's what a mature White-crowned Sparrow looks like.


It's very interesting how the birds have disappeared.† All of a sudden, there is very little around, no matter where I go.† I read that this time of year is when many species have their annual molt.† They lose their old feathers and new ones grow in.† While the molting is going on, the birds can't fly as well or as fast, so they lie low, to avoid predators.† Maybe that's partly why it has been so quiet for the last week or two.


Anyway, after getting nothing I needed at Canyon Park Wetlands, I moved on to a place I hadn't ever been before.† It's up in Lynnwood at what is called the Mini Park at Sprague's Pond.† I've been seeing reports of Green Herons there, off and on, for the last few weeks, so today I went to check it out.† It's quite a small park and the pond is pretty degraded as far as bird habitat is concerned.† I didn't see anything but Mallards and Canada Geese, but I walked around a little.† Just as I was about to leave, I did one more scan of the shoreline with my binoculars, and I spotted a Green Heron in some brush at one end of the pond.† I had to walk on the grass through the goose poop to get in position to get this picture.


It was a juvenile Green Heron, which can be told by the streaks on its breast.† It's hard to see in that picture, but there are some downy feathers on its head, showing it only recently fledged.


The bird flew off down the pond and perched out in the open.


The downy feathers on the head show up better in that picture.† It flew once more to an even closer perch.


I don't know what that straight green line is.† It isn't an artifact of the camera because I saw it when I was taking the pictures.† I thought it was a green reed sticking up, but it seems so straight that now I wonder.† I wish I had paid more attention at the time, because I think it's strange.


While I watched, the Green Heron started looking up at something I couldn't see.


It turned out to be a large blue dragonfly, which can be seen in the upper left corner of this next picture.


The dragonfly made the mistake of getting too close to the heron, and the bird grabbed it.


It subdued the dragonfly and then flew away with it.† Here is one more picture of the Green Heron with its prize, just before it flew off with it.


So, I had my Green Heron for my Monday bird.†


I still needed a BAD bird, though, and I hadn't seen any swallows.† I decided to head for Juanita Bay Park, hoping to see a swallow and if not, then Red-winged Blackbird was my second choice for a BAD bird. †I mentioned the other day that the swallows have mostly left on migration now, which was an unpleasant surprise to me, since I had been "saving" them for later.† I realized a couple of nights ago that the same thing was going on with Red-winged Blackbirds.† All of a sudden there were no reports of them and I wasn't seeing them anywhere.† I don't understand where they all go.† I don't think they migrate, but suddenly they just aren't around.


At Juanita Bay Park, there were half a dozen crows harassing a Red-tailed Hawk.† Here is the hawk in a tree.


I walked out on the east boardwalk and saw a couple of American Robins in a distant tree.


The lower one on the left is a recently fledged juvenile, as can be told by its spotted breast.† I think the other one was an adult and the juvenile was looking to the adult for food.


Here is another picture of a Great Blue Heron.


There weren't any swallows or blackbirds around, so I went over to the west boardwalk.† I saw a bird fly in, and it turned out to be a female Red-winged Blackbird.† Later I saw 4 or 5 juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds in the same area.† I figure they were a late brood and all the others had left them behind when they left for wherever they went.† Here is a picture of the female Red-winged Blackbird.


That might have been one of the juveniles, since juveniles look very much like adult females.


There were several male Wood Ducks around, in eclipse (non-breeding) plumage.† Here is an eclipse male Wood Duck.


The Wood Ducks were foraging in the water lilies, presumably finding insects.† Here is one with its head in a flower.


That was it for today.† I went to four different places and saw surprisingly few birds, but I got my Monday bird (Green Heron) to bring me to 205 species for Monday.† I'll take Red-winged Blackbird for my BAD bird today.† My two streaks are alive and I have just seven more days before I leave for Arizona.



Tuesday, July 35, 2017


We're really into the silliest time of the year for my DOTW and BAD birding ventures.† I'm totally focused on keeping the two streaks alive until I leave for Arizona next week.† Today I drove over to Magnuson Park in north Seattle to try to get Cliff Swallow for my Tuesday list.† As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the swallows have mostly left on their annual migration now, but I was hoping that there might still be a few Cliff Swallows over at Magnuson.† I had seen them feeding young ones a couple of weeks ago, and I hoped some might still be around.


I went first to the nest colony site, but no swallows were around.† I drove through the park and soon came upon an athletic field that had maybe a couple of dozen swallows swooping around over it.† I parked and took a look.† There were definitely some Barn Swallows there, but I also saw some Cliff Swallows, so I had my Tuesday bird.† I didnít need Barn Swallow for Tuesday, but I did need Cliff Swallow.


Some of the swallows were landing on the edge of the roof of a building, and I realized that they were juveniles that were hoping to be fed.† Adult swallows were feeding them from time to time.† I took some pictures, and I kind of like this one, which I call Swallows and Shadows.


I think the shadows on the wall are cool, especially the one on the right.


At the time I thought that most of the birds were Cliff Swallows, with a few Barn Swallows mixed in.† My pictures, which I thought would show Cliff Swallows, showed mostly or entirely Barn Swallows, though.† That illustrates what I have been saying all year as I ignored swallows - that I need to look closely to distinguish which species they are.† Here are a couple of juvenile Barn Swallows on the edge of the roof.† I thought they were Cliff Swallows at the time, but the picture shows they are Barn Swallows.


You can see that the one on the left was begging for food.† Here is another part of that same picture, and I think it shows an adult Barn Swallow feeding a juvenile in midair.


Later some of the juvenile Barn Swallows sat on a fence and begged.† Again, at the time I thought they were Cliff Swallows.


Here is another picture of some of the ones on the fence, begging.


In that last picture, it seems to me like the bird on the right is different.† It looks like a juvenile Cliff Swallow to me, rather than a juvenile Barn Swallow.† Here is another picture that shows what looks like a juvenile Cliff Swallow (on the left).


When I first saw my pictures, I started wondering if all of them had been Barn Swallows, but thinking back on it, I feel certain I saw some Cliff Swallows while they were flying.† Those last two pictures show juvenile Cliff Swallows, too, I believe.


I went looking around the park for a BAD bird.† I was hoping to find a Glaucous-winged Gull.† I found some roosting gulls, and there were some immature ones that might very well have been immature Glaucous-winged Gulls, but immature gulls are tough to identify.† To complicate the situation, Glaucous-winged Gulls hybridize with Western Gulls around here frequently.† I feel like I can tell a hybrid adult (referred to as "Olympic Gulls" around here), but identifying an immature hybrid is beyond me.† I decided not to count Glaucous-winged Gull today.† I need to find a mature one to use as a BAD bird.† While driving through the park I saw a Great Blue Heron, and I'll use that as my BAD bird today.† Cliff Swallow added one to my Tuesday list, to make it 205 species now.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I started out this morning over at the Redmond Retention Ponds, hoping to find that a Long-billed Dowitcher had stuck around, or maybe a Lesser Yellowlegs or Solitary Sandpiper would have shown up.† No luck on any of those species, though.† I saw a couple of Greater Yellowlegs.† Here are a couple of pictures of the first one I saw.



There were swallows swooping over the water, but they were Barn Swallows, which I didn't need.† Here is a picture of one of the Barn Swallows at the water.† I don't know if they were drinking or catching bugs on the surface of the water, but they kept doing this.


Here is a picture of a Barn Swallow in the air over the water.


There were a couple of Vaux's Swifts with the Barn Swallows, and I got better looks at Vaux's Swift than I have ever had before.† That was a great bird, but I didn't need it for Wednesday or for a BAD bird.† It was very nice to get such good looks at them, though.


Here is the second Greater Yellowlegs I saw.


One of the Barn Swallows landed on a post and preened.


Here it is before it took off again.


At the north end of the pond there were a couple of Least Sandpipers, another one I didn't need.


I always like size comparison pictures, and here is a Least Sandpiper and a Killdeer in the same picture.


Here is another picture of those same two species.


A small shorebird flew across the pond, and it turned out to be a Spotted Sandpiper, another one I didn't need.


Back to the size comparison theme, here is the Spotted Sandpiper and a Killdeer in the same picture.


It's interesting how well the shorebirds blend in to their surroundings, I think.† That was it for the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I didn't have a Wednesday bird and I didn't have a BAD bird.† I moved on to the north end of Lake Sammamish.


There are some nest boxes for Purple Martins, which are a type of swallow, at the north end of Lake Sammamish.† The only place I've found to view them from is along a trail that runs along the lake.† There are a couple of houses between the trail and the lake at one point, and you can actually turn into their driveway and then park at the gate to a private beach club.† From there, you can see the nest boxes.† It's my "go to" place for Purple Martin.† I had only been there once this year, a month or two ago, and they were nesting then.† I was afraid that I had left it too late and they would be gone, but they are still there at the nest boxes, so I guess that all the young ones haven't fledged yet.† Here's a picture of some of the nest boxes, with Purple Martins around them.


Male Purple Martins are a solid dark purple color and females have lighter backs than the males, with almost white undersides.† You can see both in that last picture.† Here is another picture of Purple Martins around the nest boxes.


Those are females on the nest box, with a male flying in the background.


There was an immature Bald Eagle sitting on a nest box, but the Purple Martins weren't paying any attention to it.† I don't know if there were any young martins in that cluster of nest boxes or not.



Here is the eagle by itself.


After that I drove through Marymoor Park, which is adjacent to that location, but I didnít see anything interesting.† There were swallows swooping around, but they were Barn Swallows, which is about the only swallow species left around here now, other than the Purple Martins.† The Tree Swallows, the Violet-green Swallows, the Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and the Cliff Swallows have pretty much left the area on migration.† I could see a few late-stayers or maybe some migrants from farther north, but it appears I missed my chance to use Tree Swallow and Violet-green Swallow for BAD birds.† Live and learn.


I went to lunch with my friend, Chris, and after lunch we went over to Phantom Lake in Bellevue, as we usually do.† There were some birds around, but nothing I needed.† I only took one picture, and I took it to show off my camera's capabilities for zooming.† For you, Chris, here is the picture I took of four of the distant Cedar Waxwings in the top of the dead tree.


I'm pleased with the picture, because of the distance, but it has another distinction, too.† I had just learned last week that juvenile Cedar Waxwings have streaky breasts, and I see one in this picture.† Here is a further blow-up of the two birds on the right in that picture.


The bird on the top is quite different, yet is obviously a Cedar Waxwing.† I guess that's what a recently fledged Cedar Waxwing looks like.† This is the first time I've ever seen one, as far as I know.† I'd love to get a closer look someday.


That was it for today.† I added Purple Martin to my Wednesday list, which brings it to 221 species. †I'll take Purple Martin for my BAD bird as well.


This afternoon there was a report of a shorebird that I haven't seen yet this year, over at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† I exchanged emails with a couple of birders and actually talked to one of them on the phone, and they confirmed the identification.† I plan to go there first thing tomorrow (which means about 9 or 9:30 to me) and see if it stuck around overnight.† What exciting lives we birders lead.



Thursday, July 27, 2017


This morning I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds, as planned.† I expected that I might see other birders there, but no one was there when I got there.† I walked around looking for the Solitary Sandpiper that had been seen yesterday by at least three people, but I never saw it.† When I got there, there were some swallows swooping around over the main pond, and one of them was a Violet-green Swallow.† Yay!† I had just about given up on getting Violet-green Swallow for a BAD bird, and here one was.† Outstanding.† That will add one more day to my BAD birding streak this year.


There was one Greater Yellowlegs there.† It was active at first, but then decided to take a nap.† Here is how shorebirds nap, although this one has its eye open, to look at me.


I don't know what the point is of sticking their bill under a wing, but that's what they do.† I approached it slowly and got more pictures of the Greater Yellowlegs.


Shorebirds like to stand on one leg, too, for some reason.† I like this next picture for the reflection.


I got quite close and here is a close-up picture of the Greater Yellowlegs.


I checked out the two smaller ponds, and found one Least Sandpiper.



Here's a size comparison picture with the Least Sandpiper and a Killdeer.


I gave it up after that and moved on.† I had a BAD bird (Violet-green Swallow), but I needed a Thursday bird.† I figured I could go down to the north end of Lake Sammamish and pick up Purple Martin again, since they were there yesterday, around the nest boxes.† I drove through the Evans Creek Natural Area and stopped to take a leak by the side of the road.† When I finished doing that, I noticed a couple of swallow-like birds overhead.† They turned out to be a pair of Vaux's Swifts, which I needed for Thursday.† I had my Thursday bird, but I figured I might as well go get the Purple Martins because by the time I get back from Arizona they will most likely be finished raising their young, and I probably wouldn't be able to see them.


At the nest box overlook I saw lots of Purple Martins around the nest boxes.† This morning it was drizzling lightly with a heavy overcast, and the lake looked a lot different than it had yesterday.† Here are some of the Purple Martin nest boxes today in the gloom.


Here's a picture from yesterday of the same nest boxes in the sun.


What a difference a day makes.† Yesterday I commented that the nest boxes under the eagle seemed to be unoccupied, but today it can be seen that they are being used.† I guess that the Purple Martins just stayed away from them with the eagle sitting there.† Eagles don't generally catch smaller birds because they aren't agile enough, but there's no point in tempting fate by flying right up to one, so the martins stayed away, I guess.


I went back to the Redmond Retention Ponds and there were half a dozen birders there when I got back, looking for the Solitary Sandpiper.† No one saw it, and after a while I got tired of the drizzle and went home.


I added two species to my Thursday list today, to bring it to 225 species.† I'll happily take Violet-green Swallow for my BAD bird today.† I have just four more days of birding locally before I take off for southeast Arizona on Tuesday morning.



Friday, July 28, 2017


Yesterday I heard from a birding acquaintance that she had seen swallows up near Snohomish at Fobes Road, on Wednesday.† She knew I needed some swallows for my BAD bird thing, so she let me know about it.† I checked eBird and found that another birding acquaintance had birded at Fobes Road yesterday, and he had reported seeing 35 Tree Swallows there.† As it happened, I not only needed Tree Swallow for a BAD bird, I actually needed it for a Friday bird as well.


So, this morning I headed up to Fobes Road, in search of Tree Swallows.† On the way I laughed at the humor of the fact that I was driving 20 miles to look for a common bird that I had studiously ignored for almost four months.† It was possible to ignore swallows because it takes a close look to tell which species a given bird is, so I just didn't look closely at swallows except when I couldn't avoid it, like if one flew right past me or perched right in front of me.


At Fobes Road, I parked and walked out on the causeway toward the dike trail.† When I got to the dike trail along Ebey Slough I saw a couple of swallows flying in the distance.† I decided they were Tree Swallows, although I wanted a better look if I could get it.† I walked along the dike trail in the sunshine.† The tide was higher than I had seen it before, and here is a picture of Ebey Slough at high tide.


I saw a few birds, including a single Barn Swallow, but no other swallows.† Here is a picture of an American Robin.


There were a few Cedar Waxwings around, and I can't resist taking pictures of Cedar Waxwings.



I was watching for Eastern Kingbirds, since they nest in the area.† I saw a couple of them, but I was looking for fledgling birds, since others had reported seeing young birds being fed by their parents.† I still hadn't seen any youngsters when I got back to the spot where the dike trail meets the causeway to the parking area.† I knew there was a nest in that area, and I did see an adult Eastern Kingbird.† Here is a shot of it from the front.


Here's a picture of what I think was the same bird, taken a little later, from the back.† I liked the way it had its tail spread.


Here is still another one of that bird with its feathers spread out, thus showing lots of feather detail.


That bird was just hanging around, flying from perch to perch, but not hunting for insects or doing anything else.† It was calling a lot, and I thought I heard more calling than it was doing.† Eventually I realized there was another bird deep in a bush.† Here is an Eastern Kingbird fledgling hiding in a bush, just sitting there.


You can tell it is a fledgling by the yellow base of the bill, as well as the downy feathers along the side.† I looked more in the bushes and found a second fledgling.


That second one flew a few feet and perched more out in the open.


Meanwhile, the first one caught a bug.


While I was taking those pictures, the adult just flew back and forth to different perches.† I decided eventually that it was just hanging out because of my presence, not feeding the young ones.† A couple of Cedar Waxwings flew in about then, so I took more Cedar Waxwing pictures.


I looked it up tonight, and learned that the amount of red waxy substance on the wing varies according to the age and sex of the bird.† Females and younger birds have less or none, and older and male birds have more.† Here is a picture of what I presume is an older male, since it has so much red on its wing.


Back with the Eastern Kingbirds, the first fledgling had moved out into the open more.


Here is that bird calling, begging for food, presumably.


The two fledglings ended up next to each other out in the open.


Here is another picture of the two Eastern Kingbird fledglings.


I was about thirty feet away, and eventually the birds seemed to get used to my presence and the adult started bringing them food.† I never got a picture of the adult actually feeding them, but here are a couple of pictures with the adult next to the fledglings, right after giving one of them a bug.



I was getting hot standing out in the sun, so I gave it up and headed for home.† I had been watching for swallows all the time and hadn't seen any.† As I walked back to the car a small group of maybe 5 or 6 swallows flew through, though, and at least one of them was definitely a Tree Swallow, so I felt good about counting that species today.† I would have counted it based on my initial sighting, but the one at the end was 100%.


Back at home I was sitting out on the porch reading and an interesting bird came to the feeder.† I had seen it a couple of days ago, and I hadn't been able to identify it.† I went in and got my camera and got a couple of poor pictures of it.



After looking at the pictures and consulting my field guides, I decided it was a juvenile Spotted Towhee.† As juvenile birds often do, it looked pretty different from an adult Spotted Towhee, but the size and shape was right, which led me to the right pages of my field guides.


I only added the one species (Tree Swallow) to my Friday list today, to bring it to 224 species.† I'll take Tree Swallow for my BAD bird today, too.† It's interesting that a week ago I suddenly realized I had left three of the swallow species too long, not realizing that most of them had left already at that point.† Now I have managed to get all three of those species - Barn Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, and Tree Swallow. †I also added Purple Martin, another swallow species to my BAD bird list this week.† I had previously gotten Cliff and Northern Rough-winged Swallows for BAD birds, so I'm ending up with 6 of the 7 local swallow species, missing only Bank Swallow, which is pretty uncommon around here.


There are only three more days left before I leave for Arizona, and I shouldn't have any problem getting DOTW birds on each of those days.† I need Purple Martin on each of those three days, so I guess I'll be going over to Lake Sammamish each day, to the Purple Martin nest boxes.† Getting a BAD bird each day won't be a problem because I still have eleven birds I haven't used yet that I consider "easy", most of which I will see in our yard anyway.† Getting a DOTW bird and a BAD each day in Arizona will be guaranteed, since there are so many species there that I haven't seen this year yet.† I'm hoping to add 25 or 30 species to my year list on the trip, along with a lot of other ones I have only seen once or twice, in either Southern California or Texas, earlier this year.



Saturday, July 29, 2017


This morning I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds first, to see if any good migrating shorebirds had come in.† When I got there, another birder was taking pictures of a shorebird, but it turned out to just be a Spotted Sandpiper.† My pictures reveal it to have been a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.


The faint barring on the wing marks it as a juvenile.† Spotted Sandpipers breed locally I think, so it probably wasn't a migrant.† Adult Spotted Sandpipers are currently in their summer (breeding) plumage, which includes spots on their breasts.† Here are a couple more pictures of the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.



The only other shorebirds there today were the usual Killdeer and a single Greater Yellowlegs.


I headed down toward Lake Sammamish to pick up Purple Martin for my Saturday list, and I went through Evans Creek Natural Area on the way.† I stopped at one point and played the song of Willow Flycatcher, but I didn't get any response.† I did see a raptor in a dead tree, though.† Before I could try for a picture, it flew, and I got a good binocular view of a Cooper's Hawk, which was a Saturday bird.


I went on down to Lake Sammamish and got the Purple Martins for Saturday.† Here is a picture.


On my way home I drove through Marymoor Park, but it was too crowded on a summer Saturday to stop there to bird.† I did see 15 or 20 Barn Swallows swooping around over one field, so I pulled off to check them out.† While I was sitting in my car, one of them perched very close and posed, so I took some pictures.† Here is a Barn Swallow preening.


Here it is posing for me.


That one flew away, but a little later another one landed in the same place, and I took more pictures.† Here is a Barn Swallow from the back.


That one did some preening, too.


That was it for my birding today.† Back here at home I sat on the porch and looked for a Song Sparrow to use for my BAD bird today.† I saw one fairly soon, so Song Sparrow is my BAD bird for today.† The Cooper's Hawk and the Purple Martins were new for Saturday, to bring me to 217 species on Saturday.


Just two more days before I leave for Arizona.



Sunday, July 30, 2017


Today was a repeat: check out the Redmond Retention Ponds for migrant shorebirds, then pick up Purple Martin for my Sunday list, then look for a BAD bird.† There was nothing at the retention ponds except the usual Killdeer and one Greater Yellowlegs, which I didn't need.† On my way to get the Purple Martins I went through the Evans Creek Natural Area, as usual, and today I saw a couple of ducks in a pond on the creek that were interesting.† I didn't know what they were at the time, but I took pictures and later decided they were Hooded Mergansers in non-breeding plumage.† They might have been juveniles, but I think one was a male and one a female.† Here is what I think is a female Hooded Merganser in non-breeding plumage, maybe a juvenile.


It was taking a nap when I first saw it, and I totally couldn't tell what species it was. †It did show its bill eventually, and I got this picture.


At the time the bill didn't seem thin enough for a merganser, but I now think it was a Hooded Merganser.† Here is the other one, which I think was a male, possibly a juvenile male.


That one has a darker back.† Here's a picture of the two of them together.


At the north end of Lake Sammamish the Purple Martins were still very active around the nest boxes.† I got what is probably the best picture I have gotten this week of a male Purple Martin, at extreme distance.† I got out of the car and braced myself against a fence to steady the shot.


I know, it isn't very good, but it was very distant, and at least you can see a little purple color in it.


I drove through Marymoor, looking for either Glaucous-winged Gull or European Starling for my BAD bird.† As usual on a weekend day, the place was packed with athletic teams and people having group picnics.† The dog park parking lot was fuller than I have ever seen it before.† There were Barn Swallows all over the place, like the last couple of times I was there this week, and I needed that one for Sunday, thanks to my ignoring swallows for so long.† There were also House Finches feeding on grass seed, right next to my car, and I couldn't resist some pictures.† Here are two pictures of a male House Finch.



After that I drove by Costco in the hopes that there might be some starlings hanging around the open air food court, but there were only Brewer's Blackbirds, including a lot of juvenile ones.† Mostly they were sitting on the tops of two cars, and I wonder if they left their calling cards there for the owners, who wouldn't even know it, I suppose, since it would have been on the tops of their cars.


I tried one more place, hoping for Glaucous-winged Gull.† I stopped by Juanita Beach Park and walked down to the water at the east end of the horseshoe-shaped dock.† There were gulls there, but I decided they were all Ring-billed Gulls, including the juveniles.† There were a couple of Northern Shovelers in eclipse (non-breeding) plumage there, so I took some pictures.† Northern Shovelers have been up north breeding for the last several months, but I guess the fall migration has started.† Here is an eclipse male Northern Shoveler.


They were so close and I think their bills are so interesting that here a couple more pictures of the two eclipse male Northern Shovelers.


That was a side view; here is a front view that shows their interesting bills from a different perspective.


There were also a couple of female Gadwalls in their non-breeding plumage, and here is a picture of one of them.


The shovelers just kept feeding right in front of me, so I took more pictures.



That was it for my birding today.† I came home and read on the porch while eating my lunch.† I was hoping that some starlings might come to the feeder, but none ever did.† I ended up taking Steller's Jay for my BAD bird.† I had seen one at the Evans Creek Natural Area and heard one here at home.† I added two species to my Sunday list, Purple Martin and Barn Swallow, to bring it to 207 species.


Now I have just one more day of birding here at home, and then on Tuesday morning I'm scheduled to fly to Tucson for a 12 night visit to three great birding areas in southeast Arizona.† GWATCDR.



Monday, July 31, 2017


Surprise, surprise, today I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if any shorebirds had come in overnight.† I ran into two other birders there, but there were no shorebirds except the usual Killdeer.† There were Barn Swallows and Vaux's Swifts swooping around over the main pond, though, and I needed both of those for Monday.† Since I had two Monday species, I didn't bother going down to the north end of Lake Sammamish to add Purple Martin.† I'll be back in two weeks, and maybe the Purple Martins will still be around and I can get them for a Monday bird then.


I drove through Marymoor Park looking for starlings, to use as a BAD bird, but had no luck.† The ubiquitous starlings have all disappeared on me.† This is really the doldrums of birding, with very few birds around.† I went to lunch and after lunch stopped by Phantom Lake, but no starlings there either.† On my way home I saw a gull on a light post near home, and when it flew I didn't see any black at all on its wingtips. †That indicated it was a Glaucous-winged Gull, which I hadn't yet used for a BAD bird.† It landed on another light post, and I stopped and got a good look at it.


Glaucous-winged Gulls hybridize with Western Gulls in the Pacific Northwest, and the hybrids have various appearances.† One of the ways to tell a hybrid is the presence of black wingtips.† This bird today certainly didn't have black wingtips, but they looked a little smudgy.† Maybe it had a Western Gull somewhere in its ancestry, but it was pure enough for me, and I counted it as a Glaucous-winged Gull and took it for my BAD bird today.† The Barn Swallows and Vaux's Swifts brought me to 207 species for Monday.


I have a few uninteresting pictures from today, but I'm not going to bother with them.† There should be lots of pictures for the next 13 days while I'm in Arizona.