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Sunday, October 1, 2017
Today was interesting.† My morning birding was boring.† I went down to Juanita Bay Park to look for Sora or Virginia Rail.† I went out to the end of the east boardwalk, but there were other birders around at first.† After a while there was just one guy, and I asked him if he minded if I played Sora calls.† He said to go for it, so I did.† No response, and then no response to Virginia Rail either.† He told me he had seen a Virginia Rail earlier, though, so I hung around.† He ended up spotting one again, and this time I saw it too.† That brought my Sunday list to 221 species.† On my way back to the car a Northern Flicker was calling loudly, and I saw it at the top of a tree.† Here's a picture of a male Northern Flicker.
That was the boring part of the day.
Here is the more interesting part.† This afternoon there was a post on Tweeters saying there was a fairly rare shorebird at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† It was a really great bird, but I decided not to go for it.† I'm still fighting off this cold and I had my Sunday bird, so I decided not to go out again.† I watched Tweeters, though, and later in the afternoon I saw a post from a birder I've met and exchanged emails with, and he had some pictures of the bird.† I looked at the pictures, and I realized something.† Back on September 20, I had seen a couple of shorebirds at the ponds, and at the time I thought they were both Lesser Yellowlegs, which I didn't need for that day.† At home I looked at my pictures, and one of them was definitely a Solitary Sandpiper, which I also didn't need for Wednesday.† The other one didn't look quite right for Lesser Yellowlegs, but after searching through two of my field guides and wracking my brain, I couldn't come with anything else.† I showed some pictures and called it a Lesser Yellowlegs.
Well, this afternoon I realized that what I had seen on September 20 was actually the same species reported and photographed today, STILT SANDPIPER.† It is only the second time I had seen Stilt Sandpiper, and I never considered it back on September 20 when I was trying to figure out what that bird was.† I sent three pictures of it to the guy who had seen it today, and he sent them on to an expert.† The expert confirmed it as a Stilt Sandpiper.† Here are three pictures that I took back on September 20 of the Stilt Sandpiper.
Looking at them today, I can hardly believe that I thought it was a Lesser Yellowlegs, but I just couldn't think of an alternative.† I've gone back and amended my Wednesday list and added it to my King county and Washington State lists, not to mention my year list.† Stilt Sandpiper brings King county to 145 species, Washington State to 268 species, and Wednesday to 233 species.
I think it's pretty funny that I added to my year list retroactively like that.† It was a great bird to see, and I didn't realize what it was until today.
My DOTW streak continues, but I don't expect it to make it through the next three days.† It's possible, though, and I'll give it a try.† Each day has its possibilities, but it won't be easy.
Monday, October 2, 2017
I had three reasonable possibilities for a Monday bird today.† I started by going over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if the Stilt Sandpiper that had been reported there yesterday was till around.† There were 17 eBird reports yesterday for the bird, indicating how unusual it is here.† It is no doubt migrating through here, and I didn't really expect it to stick around, but I thought it was possible.† I thoroughly scanned the ponds, walking around and looking everywhere.† I didn't find it, which didn't really surprise me.† Interestingly, this evening I see that there are three reports of it, one of them before I was there and the other two after I was there.† It must have been snoozing somewhere in the grass or bushes when I was there.† My timing was off this morning, I guess.
Anyway, since I couldnít find the Stilt Sandpiper, I headed over to Marymoor Park to try for the other two possible species.† On the way I drove through the Evans Creek Natural Area, and at the creek crossing on the old brick road, I saw an interesting bird.† It seemed to have a white head, which was very strange indeed.† It turned out to be a partially leucistic Song Sparrow.† Leucism in birds is a condition in which some or all of the feathers donít have their normal pigment.† In this case, the feathers of the face were pure white, lacking any pigment.† Here's a picture of the partially leucistic Song Sparrow.
When leucism occurs, it seems to be symmetrical, as this next picture shows.
Here's one more picture showing a side view of the partially leucistic Song Sparrow.
That was interesting, but I still needed a Monday bird.† I went on to Marymoor Park and drove around looking for American Pipits.† While driving through one of the parking areas, I flushed a group of six or eight birds, and they turned out to be American Pipits.† I took pictures from the car, but this was the only one that came out at all good.
I had my Monday bird, so I didn't bother looking for my third possibility, Lincoln's Sparrow.† The pipits brought Monday to 219 species.† I have six difficult species to look for tomorrow, but they are spread out at four different locations, so I might have to work a bit and I still could come up empty.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Today promised to be a challenging day, perhaps the one that ended my streak.† I started by going over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if the Stilt Sandpiper had stuck around for another day.† When I got there, I found three other birders there, and they informed me that I had just missed it!† That's one of the classic lines of birding - if you had only been here ten minutes ago, or yesterday, or whatever.† They had been watching it, and 10 or 15 minutes before I showed up, it flew off to the east with a bunch of Killdeer.† It sounded like it was going to be the same story as yesterday, when I missed it by being too late, and then it showed up later, after I had gone.
Anyway, I went over to Marymoor Park to look for American Pipits, again just like I had done yesterday.† Yesterday I found a little flock of them, though, and today I didn't.† Strike two.† I went back by the ponds on the way home and again there was no Stilt Sandpiper there.† I guess you could call that strike three.† While I was gone a couple of Long-billed Dowitchers had flown in, though, and I took some pictures.† Here is a Long-billed Dowitcher, which I didn't need, having completed that species last month.
Here is another picture of a Long-billed Dowitcher.
Here is one more Long-billed Dowitcher picture, which I like because of the reflection.
I had to go home then because my friend, Dan, was coming over for lunch.† Dan helped me with a little chore here at home, and then we went out to lunch at Mickey D's and went on to the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if the Stilt Sandpiper had returned.† It hadn't.† Strike four.† Dan spotted a Bald Eagle overhead, though, and I got this picture.
The two Long-billed Dowitchers were still there, on the other side of the pond now.† They were feeding constantly, which made getting pictures difficult.† When they feed, they move their heads up and down like a sewing machine stitching, with their bills under the water most of the time.† Here's a picture of the two Long-billed Dowitchers feeding.
I wasn't ready to give up yet, though, so we headed back toward Marymoor Park to look for American Pipits again.† On the way we drove through the Evans Creek Natural Area, and just before we got there, I spotted a bird in the grass at the side of the road.† It turned out to be a Western Meadowlark, which I didn't need, but it's an excellent bird for around here.† They had been gone for the summer, and I guess they are just now returning.† I got this picture of the back of a Western Meadowlark.† I thought the feather patterns were very nice.
Here's a view of it from the side, showing off its yellow front with black necklace.
We drove around Marymoor, but never could find a pipit.† Strike five.† It wasn't going well.† My last shot was Juanita Bay Park, to look and listen for Virginia Rail.† Usually they will respond to their calls, but not always.† We went out on the west boardwalk to the place I had gotten immediate responses last week.† I played the Virginia Rail call and got nothing back.† There were other parts of the park I could try it in, but it was disappointing not to get a response where it had been so easy last week.
We went out to the end of the west boardwalk and saw a lot of turtles on a log - more than 20, I think.† Dan noticed that there was a little one on top of a larger one, so I took this picture which I call piggy-back turtles.
I wonder how and why the little one climbed up onto the larger one.
I still needed my Tuesday bird, so we headed back.† We stopped again at the spot I had gotten responses last week, and this time I played the calls for a longer time.† Finally we did get a response from a Virginia Rail, and I had my Tuesday bird.† Whew!† That was enough birding for me, and we went back to my house and sat on the porch.† There were birds coming to the feeder and the birdbath, though, so I took some more pictures.
There were a couple of juvenile White-crowned Sparrows, which I don't see very often in our yard.† One went to the birdbath and I took a series of pictures which I find interesting.† Here is a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.
I never realized it, but I guess they have a crest that they can raise, because here it is a few seconds later with its crest raised.
It makes the bird look somewhat different, I think.† It then proceeded to kind of puff itself up and it looked even more different.
Here is a male Dark-eyed Junco at the birdbath.
Here's a female Dark-eyed Junco.† The gray on the upper parts is a lighter shade in females.
Finally, here is a Red-breasted Nuthatch that kept flying in and getting seeds.
So, that was Tuesday.† I added one more species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 217 species.† The Virginia Rail today completed that species, which makes 134 species that I have now seen or heard on each of the seven days of the week this year.† My goal, once my DOTW streak ends, is to get that up to 150 species if I can, by the end of the year.
Tomorrow is going to be even tougher than today, I fear.† I have 3 or 4 possibilities, but they are all difficult.† Maybe the Stilt Sandpiper will stick around another day and be there when I am.† I have a lunch appointment and a doctor's appointment, too, so I won't have a lot of time.† I suspect that tomorrow will end my DOTW streak, but we will see.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Today had 2 or 3 interesting twists to it.† I knew it was going to be tough, and I started out going to the Redmond Retention Ponds again, to see if the Stilt Sandpiper had returned.† There were three birders there when I got there, but no Stilt Sandpiper.† There were three Long-billed Dowitchers today, though, which is notable.† The first interesting twist was when I realized later that I had seen a Stilt Sandpiper there two Wednesdays ago, so even if I had seen it today, it wouldn't have been a new Wednesday bird.† Like I said, I didn't realize that until later.
I drove on over to Marymoor to look for American Pipits.† I drove around, but no pipits presented themselves to me.† I had a lunch appointment, but I had a little extra time, so I decided to stop at the rowing club on the west side of the Sammamish Slough, across from the main part of Marymoor Park.† I played the song of Pacific Wren, but got no response.† I haven't seen a Pacific Wren for about six months now, and they should be returning soon.† I wanted to check out the pond there, for Green Heron.† Green Heron hasn't been reported at Marymoor for over two weeks, and they have mostly flown south by now for the winter, according to historical records, but they have been recorded here as late as mid-October, so I thought I might as well check it out.
To my great surprise, there was a Green Heron on a fallen branch, and I took a quick picture.
It flew off into a tree, out of sight, but then I noticed another one across the pond.† Here is that second one.
In a short while, the first one flew back out of the tree, accompanied by a third one!† I was not expecting to see Green Heron at all, and there were three of them there today, of all things.† That was interesting twist number two, and a Wednesday bird for me, extending my streak.† To really top it off, it completed Green Heron for me.
At least one of the Green Herons was a juvenile, as indicated by the streaky breast.
They kept interacting and flying around, and I kept taking pictures of them.
There was a Pied-billed Grebe on the pond, too.
All the time I was there, I kept hearing the rattling call of a kingfisher, but I couldn't see it.† Eventually a couple of Belted Kingfishers flew in and briefly posed for me, continuing to call constantly.
The three Green Herons kept moving around, and I kept taking pictures of them.
There was a female Mallard on a log, and a turtle climbed out to join her.
One of the herons flew in and stuck its neck out for me.
Here's the same bird a minute later with its neck pulled in.
After that excitement, I picked up my friend, Chris, and we went to lunch.† After lunch we went to Phantom Lake in Bellevue, as usual.† There were a few birds around today, and at one point a small bird landed in a distant dead tree.† I couldn't identify it with binoculars, so I took a picture of it, despite the great distance.† This is what I got.
At the time, looking at the picture in the camera viewfinder, I thought it looked like a Song Sparrow, although Song Sparrows donít usually perch that high in a tree.† When I got home and looked on the computer, I could see it was a female Purple Finch, which happened to be another Wednesday bird for me.† That's the third interesting twist today - a surprise Wednesday bird, after the fact.† It's amazing what a valuable tool my camera is in identifying birds.
So, I ended up getting two more birds for my Wednesday list, to bring it to 235 species.† I completed Green Heron, when I didn't think I would have a chance to do that this year, since they have mostly flown off south by now.† That makes 135 species completed now - seen or heard on all seven days of the week.† I have 3 or 4 easier days in a row now, but there are no guarantees.† How long can this silly streak go on?
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Today was the first of several "easy" days for me.† I went up to Edmonds, looking for gulls mainly.† It took a while, but eventually I spotted 6 or 8 Bonaparte's Gulls out on the water.† I was scoping from Sunset Avenue.† I was glad to see a number of the winter regulars, including 9 male Black Scoters, a Pacific Loon in breeding plumage, a Common Murre, some Pigeon Guillemots, some Red-necked Grebes, and a number of Surf Scoters.† Upon scanning the Surf Scoters a second or third time, I found one female White-winged Scoter, an excellent Thursday bird.† All of those were too far out for pictures, but I had good scope views.
Bonaparte's Gull and White-winged Scoter brought my Thursday list to 239 species, and my DOTW streak continues.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Today looked to be another fairly easy day to keep my DOTW streak going.† There was one little twist, though.† I saw my doctor about my torn Achilles tendon on Wednesday, and he gave (well, sold, actually) me (and my insurance company, hopefully) a clunky, high-tech boot to wear for three weeks.† I can take it off to sleep, shower, and drive, but I'm supposed to wear it the rest of the time, including while I'm birding.
Meanwhile, I had seen an eBird report that Pacific Wren had been seen at Wallace Swamp Creek Park in Kenmore, and I had emailed the woman who posted the report and had gotten explicit directions to where she had seen the wren.† In my (limited) experience, Pacific Wrens tend to settle into a location and hang out near there all winter.† They are also quite responsive to playback.† I hadn't seen a Pacific Wren for 5 or 6 months, since they go up into the mountains to breed, for the most part, but now they are supposed to be coming back.
So, I skipped some of the other fairly easy Friday birds and went for the Pacific Wren.† The woman had also seen a Varied Thrush near the same place, and that would have been an even better Friday bird than Pacific Wren.† I drove to the park, strapped on my clunky boot, and hobbled to the place Linda had described. †I played the song of Varied Thrush, but got no response.† I played the Pacific Wren song and one immediately called back to me from the lower branches of a nearby tree and I got a good look at it.† Score!† I had my Friday bird.† There wasn't enough light under the trees to try for a picture, though, and I couldn't lure the bird out into the open.
I stumped back to my car and headed for home, but I decided to check out a place at Juanita Bay Park where I have seen Pacific Wrens in the past, just to see if one had returned there this year yet.† If so, it would be a shorter walk than the walk at Wallace Swamp Creek Park, and with this silly boot, shorter is better.† I played the Pacific Wren song and I got no response, though.
What I did get was a group of at least four Northern Flickers.† They were behaving in an interesting way, calling back and forth and interacting with each other.† Two of them flew off, but two of them kept up the interaction.† They would call and move in certain ways, repeatedly.† I don't know if it was a territorial thing or a mating thing or what, but it went on and on.† It was two males interacting for the most part.† I took pictures, of course.† Here is the underside of one of the male Northern Flickers.
My other pictures are more conventional.
Here is a picture of the two males together.
Here's one final picture of a male Northern Flicker.
That was it for today.† Pacific Wren brought Friday to 239 species, tied with Thursday for the most of any day of the week.† I have a hot tip for tomorrow, and I plan to visit a place I haven't ever birded before.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
This morning I headed off to a place I hadn't birded before.† I'd gotten a tip from a birding acquaintance that there were Surfbirds and Black Turnstones at Alki Beach in West Seattle.† It was about a half hour drive, mostly freeway.† I parked at Luna Park and took a look.† Surfbirds and Black Turnstones are shorebirds that feed on rocks, rather than sand or mud.† The tide was pretty high and there weren't any "rockpipers", as they are called by birders, around.† I drove along the shore and stopped at a couple of other places, and at one stop I saw a group of five Surfbirds.† Here's a picture of a Surfbird.
West Seattle is across Elliott Bay from downtown Seattle, and this was the view from where I saw the Surfbirds.
Soon after I took that picture of the Surfbird, they flew away.† I had my Saturday bird, but I wanted to see Black Turnstone as well, so I drove up and down the shore and stopped some more places.† I didn't see any more shorebirds until I came back to Luna Park and stopped there one last time.† This time I saw what was probably the same group of five Surfbirds, but farther away.† Here's a picture of four Surfbirds.
Then I noticed that there were a couple of Black Turnstones with them.
Yu can see that they are similar to the Surfbirds, but are darker and there are other differences, too.† Here's a picture with both Surfbirds and Black Turnstones together.
Surfbirds are a bit larger than Black Turnstones, and you can see that in this next picture.
This was the view from Luna Park.
Here's one last picture of a Surfbird.
I added two species to my Saturday list to bring it to 229 species.† Both Surfbird and Black Turnstone were new for my King county list, too, to bring that list to 147 species.† I still need Surfbird on four days and Black Turnstone on three days, so I imagine I'll be back over to West Seattle again in the coming days.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Today I figured I could go over to West Seattle again for Black Turnstone and Surfbird, but I decided to try for three possible species at Marymoor Park first.† If I missed them all, then I could go over to West Seattle.† On my way to Marymoor, I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk on a post with some prey.† I turned around to see if I could get a picture, but all I could get was a shot through my rather dirty windshield.† The bird flew off as I tried to get close enough to take a shot through the open passenger side window.† The shots I got are terrible because of the windshield and the fact that I was hand holding the camera while the engine was running (vibration), but here is the Red-tailed Hawk anyway.
At Marymoor I soon spotted a flock of about 70 Cackling Geese, which was one of the Sunday birds I was looking for.† Here's the flock on the ground.
Cackling Geese used to be considered a subspecies of Canada Goose.† There were 8 or 9 subspecies of Canada Goose in those days, and there were various differences that distinguished the different subspecies, including size.† Several years ago the powers that be broke off the smallest 3 or 4 subspecies and called them a separate species, called Cackling Goose.† Here is a picture of a Cackling Goose from that flock above.
Something spooked the flock and they all flew off to the west.† I drove on through the park and saw three more smaller flocks of geese.† Here is a picture of a Canada Goose from one of those other flocks.
You can't see the size difference in those last two pictures, but you can see how much longer the neck of the Canada Goose is, compared to the neck of the Cackling Goose.† The forehead is steeper in the Cackling Goose and the bill is shorter, as well.† Once you get used the differences, they aren't all that difficult to tell apart.† Here is another Canada Goose sitting down.† Note the longer bill and less steep forehead, compared to the Cackling Goose above.
As I left the park there was a flock of mixed Cackling and Canada Geese.† In these next couple of shots you can really see the size difference.
The three Canada Geese at the back tower over their much smaller Cackling Geese cousins.† Here is another picture with the larger Canada Geese at the back.
That's the end of the goose lesson for today.† I added one more species to my Sunday list, to bring it to 222 species.† The streak goes on, and now I'm coming into the difficult three-day stretch of my week.† I think I'm going to be driving over to West Seattle for rockpipers for the next few days.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Today was the first of three difficult days, but I had the Alki Beach rockpipers in my pocket.† I didn't need Black Turnstone today, but I needed Surfbird.† The tide was even higher than when I was there on Saturday, but I decided to go over there anyway and see if I could find the birds.
I stopped first at the parking area before you get to Luna Park, and I walked along the water a short distance.† I forget if I mentioned it, but I have been wearing a boot on my right foot, in order to "rest" my Achilles tendon.† I can take the boot off to drive, but I wear it around the house and if I plan to walk any distance.† Today I didn't bother with it and I walked without it along the edge of the water.† I got this picture of a female Surf Scoter.
The tide was high enough that I figured that the Surfbirds and Black Turnstones wouldn't be feeding on the rocks, but would be roosting instead, waiting for the tide to go out.† I was lucky and I soon came upon the place where about three dozen Surfbirds were snoozing in the sun.† Here are a few of them.
I was close enough that they had their eyes open, watching me, but not close enough to spook them.† Here's a closer picture of three of the Surfbirds, which was my Monday bird today.
I had excellent light today, with the sun behind me.† Here is a picture of a single Surfbird, standing on one leg, in the great morning light.
I didn't need Black Turnstone today, but there was a single Black Turnstone nearby.
Here is a picture of the Black Turnstone from above, looking down on it.
It was a beautiful morning and I enjoyed being out there on the edge of the water.† Here is a picture of the Seattle skyline across Elliott Bay.
You can see the Space Needle in the middle of that picture.† Here is a zoomed-in shot of it.
I love the zoom power of my little point and shoot camera.
The birding wasn't finished yet, though.† Here is a Pelagic Cormorant.
There were also four Western Grebes offshore.† Here are two of the Western Grebes.
Here is another picture of two of the Western Grebes.† In this picture, the one on the left looks almost like a Clark's Grebe, which is very similar to a Western Grebe, but they are rare here, so it is almost certainly a Western Grebe.
This last picture shows one of the Western Grebes with its neck extended.† I don't recall seeing a Western Grebe extend its neck like that before.
They were all looking at some people in a couple of rowing boats that passed near them.
That was it for today.† I added one more species to my Monday list (Surfbird), to bring it to 220 species.† The streak goes on.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Before I even left home this morning, I got this picture of a Steller's Jay in our back yard.
I love their narrow, blue, vertical eyebrows.
Tuesday is another tough day for my DOTW birding streak, and since I needed Surfbird and Black Turnstone on Tuesday, I headed back over to Alki Beach in West Seattle.† I parked at the view point and walked a little, looking for the roosting rockpipers.† The tide was the highest I have seen yet, so I knew they would be roosting somewhere, not feeding.† First I walked to Luna Park, but saw none.† I went back past the car and to the east end of the view point parking lot, and there they were.
I counted over three dozen Surfbirds and over two dozen Black Turnstones.† I imagine that when the tide is lower, they disperse and feed in smaller groups, but at high tide they seem to like to roost in a larger flock.† They were just sitting there, 10 or 15 feet from the walkway, ignoring the people going by.
Here's a Surfbird.
Here's a Black Turnstone.
I always like size comparison photos, and here is one of a Black Turnstone and a Surfbird.† The Black Turnstone is clearly smaller.
Here is a Black Turnstone stretching its wing, showing off its dramatic patterns.
Here's one more picture of the roosting birds, with one Black Turnstone among some Surfbirds.
I had a little extra time, so I drove to the nearby Jack Block Park and looked around.† I saw a kingfisher and this little flock of American Goldfinches.
That was it for today.† I added two species to my Tuesday list and my streak goes on.† Tuesday now has 219 species.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Today was a repeat of the last two days - a trip over to Alki to see the roosting rockpipers.† Today I had to look a little longer, though.† First I parked at the view point and checked out yesterday's roost.† No birds.† I walked toward Luna Park, but again, no rockpipers.† I did get these two pictures of a Savannah Sparrow, though.
An American Crow posed for me, too, and I took this picture of it.
It's always a challenge to get any feather detail on a completely black bird.† I like the way this one is standing pigeon-toed, too.
I moved on to Luna Park, but saw nothing of interest there.† I kept going on down the shoreline, stopping a couple of times.† The tide was higher than ever, and there wasn't much of the rocks showing, but at the second stop I saw the Surfbirds and Black Turnstones roosting on the rocks.† There were actually two batches of them, maybe 100 feet apart.† Here is a picture showing one of the groups, and you can barely make out the other group beyond them.† You can see how little of the rocks are exposed at a high tide.
The sea wall actually seems to be undercut a little there, and there were birds back under the overhang that I couldn't see, I think.† Here is a closer shot of one group of Surfbirds and Black Turnstones snoozing.
I added two more species to my Wednesday list, to bring it to 237 species.† Now I have some relatively easy days ahead of me, but they are only easy with respect to the last three days.† It will still be a challenge to keep the streak alive, and it looks like I will have some rain to contend with as well for the next couple of days.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Today I had a number of choices to go for, but the weather was a bit of a problem.† It wasn't raining when I set out, so I went down to Juanita Beach Park and carried my scope out onto the east end of the dock.† I scanned the shoreline to the east of Juanita Beach Park and found three Wilson's Snipe, which was a Thursday bird.† That brought Thursday to 240 species and it also completed Wilson's Snipe for me.† That makes 136 species that I have seen on all seven days of the week this year.† No pictures today, and I went home after that, as the rain started falling.
Tomorrow is going to be a challenge.† I know I sound like the boy who called wolf, but tomorrow is another tough one.† I hadn't realized that Friday was getting down to so few opportunities.† Christina is flying down to California to visit my sister for four days, and I need to take her to the airport.† It is also likely to be a showery day, especially in the morning.† I have a plan and I have some chances, but they aren't great.† It could involve a lot of driving if I'm not lucky enough.† I could get lucky early, though, and I hope I do.† I figure it's about 50-50 that I'll get a new Friday bird tomorrow, but we will see.
Friday, October 13, 2017
After taking Christina to the airport this morning, I headed out on my quest for a Friday bird.† My first stop was Tokul Creek, where it flows into the Snoqualmie River, near Fall City.† I was hoping to find an American Dipper.† I had been lucky there this year, seeing one on 3 of my 4 earlier visits, but today I failed.†
The habitat looked perfect for Varied Thrush, though, and that was another one I needed.† I played the song of Varied Thrush, not really expecting anything, because I've never gotten a response to playback from a Varied Thrush.† It was interesting because I didn't get any response, but then as I was heading back toward my car, I noticed a bird in the road behind me.† It was a Varied Thrush, of all things!† I don't think it was there because of my playback; I think it just happened to be there at that moment.† I shot off some distant pictures, but it wandered to the side of the road and then out of sight.† Here is a distant picture of a male Varied Thrush.
So, I had my Friday bird.† To give you an idea of how tough that bird is for me, it was only the third Varied Thrush I have seen this whole year so far.†
I had some time, so I took a scenic route home, through the Snoqualmie River Valley.† I drove through Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation to see if there were any Varied Thrushes or American Pipits around, for future reference and possible pictures.† I didn't see any, but I did get this picture of an American Robin.
At the house in Carnation with feeders, I got this picture of a bunch of American Goldfinches feeding on seed in the street.
Here's an American Goldfinch in a tree, waiting to go down to the seed.
I drove past Sikes Lake, where there was a Western Grebe on the lake.† Just past there I spotted an American Kestrel, and it posed for me on a post.
A little farther along the road there were a couple of dozen Violet-green Swallows on the wires.† It's very late for them, and I was surprised.† I still need Violet-green Swallow on Monday, so maybe I'll be back over there on Monday.† Here is a Violet-green Swallow.
There were a number of sparrows in the fields there, too.† I got out of the car and took some pictures, looking for uncommon or rare sparrows.† Here is a Song Sparrow.
Here's an immature White-crowned Sparrow, hatched this year.
By next year, it will have attained its adult plumage and it will look like this adult White-crowned Sparrow.
Finally, here is a Golden-crowned Sparrow.
A couple of immature Bald Eagles flew over, and I saw a couple of Red-tailed Hawks as well.† One of the birds I need for Friday is Cooper's Hawk, and I might have seen one, but the view was too brief to call it.† It's getting to be too late for migrating shorebirds, but I stopped at the Redmond Retention Ponds to check them out, anyway.† The water level is up, after our recent rains, but I didn't see any shorebirds except the usual Killdeer.
I added one more species to my Friday list today, Varied Thrush, to bring Friday to 240 species.† The streak is still going on.† Tomorrow should be fairly easy, and on Sunday I plan to go over to Alki Beach to complete Black Turnstone and Surfbird, which I have seen all three times I've been over there in the last week.† Then the next three days after that will be very tough indeed.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Today turned out to be easy, as I had expected.† I went up to Edmonds and soon spotted some Bonaparte's Gulls offshore, and then a couple of Mew Gulls on the log in the marine park.† That was two Saturday species, and my streak was still going.† I looked around and saw a number of winter residents out on the water.† I was hoping for a Parasitic Jaeger, but had no luck at that.
Back at home in the afternoon, I put on a warm coat and sat on the front porch.† I watched the feeder, where there were 6 or 7 species actively feeding.† After a while a Red-breasted Nuthatch joined them.† That was another Saturday bird.† I'm no longer "saving" species for later in the year, because I donít expect my streak to still be alive in a week.† I should be able to get through tomorrow, and Monday is possible, but Tuesday will likely be the end of the DOTW streak, assuming I even get that far.† I could get lucky, though.
I added three more species to my Saturday list today, to bring it to 232 species.† I completed Red-breasted Nuthatch today, to make 137 species completed now this year.† My total for the year continues to be 329 species, so I've seen over 40% of them on all 7 days of the week.† My goal now is to get the total number of species completed over 150, which means I need to complete 13 more species this year.† That'll give me something to work on when the DOTW streak ends.
Tomorrow I plan to go over to Alki again, to try to complete two more species, Black Turnstone and Surfbird.† The tide will be low and rising, as opposed to the high tides I had earlier this week when I was there.† That means the birds will be actively feeding, not roosting like they do when the tide is too high to feed.† I might have to do some walking, and it might take some time, but I should be able to see both species.† At least the weather is supposed to be dry.† Nothing is certain in life, though, and birding often yields surprises.† We will see.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
This morning I drove over to West Seattle, to Alki, to pick up Black Turnstone and Surfbird.† I thought it would be easy, but it was anything but easy, and ultimately, I only half succeeded.† The tide was quite a bit lower than the other times I have been over there, and I expected the birds would be dispersed and feeding in small groups.† I stopped first at the view point, and then at Luna Park, and I saw nothing.† I drove on down the shore to the south of Luna Park, stopping 5 or 6 times and checking out the rocks.† No rockpipers.† At one stop there was a Great Blue Heron in the water, and I took some pictures.† I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so here are three of them.
The heron is pretty much the same in all of them, but the lighting on the water is different.† There were some Savannah Sparrows at a couple of the stops, and here is a picture of one of them.
I usually see Savannah Sparrows in dry fields, and it seems strange to see them on the seaweed at the beach.
It was a beautiful sunny day, and lots of people were out and about.† Many of them were taking pictures of the Seattle skyline, and I did the same.
I was pretty much ready to give it up after an hour of searching.† I didn't know where all the Black Turnstones and Surfbirds were, but I couldnít find them.† I stopped at the boat launch and used the rest room, and looked along the shore there.† Nada.† I stopped one more time at the east end of the parking lot for the boat launch, and finally I found some birds.† There were a couple of dozen Black Turnstones feeding on the rocks, but I couldn't pick out any Surfbirds at all.† Here are a couple of pictures of Black Turnstones.
Here is a Double-crested Cormorant.
I like the blue eye.† There was a lot of barking going on, and I spotted these sea lions making a ruckus.
I don't know where all the Surfbirds were.† I've seen at least three dozen of them there in the last week.† I guess they must have all been together somewhere, but I couldn't find them in over an hour of searching.† I walked too far without my boot, getting into and out of the car many times, but my leg feels okay, so maybe that was fine.† If I want to complete Surfbird, I'll have to go back over there on another Sunday this year and find them
I added one species to my Sunday list, to bring it to 223 species.† I completed Black Turnstone, and that makes 138 species that I have completed this year.
Tomorrow promises to be a challenge.† I have some possibilities, but I have a limited amount of time because my friend, Dan, is coming to lunch tomorrow.† We'll see what I can do.
Monday, October 16, 2017
I expected today to be difficult, but it turned out to be easy.† I went over to the Snoqualmie River Valley, near Sikes Lake, and stopped at the place I had seen Violet-green Swallows a couple of times lately.† There weren't any swallows around (not surprising - almost all of them have headed south for the winter now, but I was hoping), but there were sparrows in the blackberry brambles, like there had been the other times I had been there. †I pulled off the road as best I could (it is a very low traffic rural road) and got out.† I played the song of Lincoln's Sparrow, which I hadn't seen there before, but the habitat looked perfect for them.† To my surprise, a couple of Lincoln's Sparrows popped up right away and checked me out, posing for pictures.† That was my Monday bird.† Here is a front view of a Lincoln's Sparrow.
Here's a side view that I like because the bird is obviously alert, with its crest raised.
Here's one more picture of a Lincoln's Sparrow.
There were other sparrows there as well.† Here is a White-crowned Sparrow.
Here's an immature White-crowned Sparrow, which looks like it ought to be a different species than the mature one above, because its head colors are so different.
Here is a Golden-crowned Sparrow that was checking me out.
Finally, here is a Song Sparrow that joined the party.
I had my Monday bird, but I had some time and it was a beautiful morning, so I went on to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area.† I was hoping to see or hear an American Bittern, which I need on Monday to complete the species.† They are pretty easy to hear and/or see there during the mating season (April), but very reclusive the rest of the year.† I parked, strapped on my boot, and walked on the trail to the area where the bitterns live.† It was pretty dead.† I heard Red-winged Blackbirds, although I never saw one.† I saw a Spotted Towhee and a couple of Song Sparrows, but that's all there was except some ducks.† There was a female Hooded Merganser, but she didn't let me get a picture.† There were also a couple of female Green-winged Teal and one male.† I did get a picture of the male Green-winged Teal that was just changing into his breeding plumage.
Here is a picture of the Snoqualmie Valley trail showing its fall colors in the sunshine.
That was it for today.† I added Lincoln's Sparrow to my Monday list, to bring it to 221 species and extend my silly DOTW streak one more day.
The weather is changing now, and we're supposed to get at least 6 or 7 quite rainy days in a row now.† I don't have anything easy to look for tomorrow, and the ones I do need are going to be pretty tough to find in the rain.† I plan to go up to Edmonds and look from the car, but the birds I need are not only††††††††††††† pretty uncommon, they are also likely to be far enough out that I'll need my scope to see them, assuming they are there at all.† I don't know what they do in the heavy rain, but they have to eat, so maybe they will be out there.† I don't have much hope, but I'll give it a try.† Maybe I could set up my scope under the shelter of the rear liftgate of my car, but I'm afraid that the wind will make that a problem.† Maybe I could have it in the car with me and prop it on something, without the tripod.† We will see.† I fully expect my streak to end tomorrow, but hope springs eternal, and if it ends, I want to go down swinging.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
It was raining off and on this morning, but I needed to try to get a bird, so I headed up to the Edmonds waterfront.† There were four species that I could conceivably see there that I needed for Tuesday, but none was very likely.† It was only raining very lightly when I got to Sunset Avenue, so I got out my scope and took a look.† There were quite a few birds out on the water, and I looked for almost half an hour, but I never saw any of my four target species.† The rain started falling in earnest then, so I packed up and moved on.† I stopped briefly at Ocean Avenue, but it was raining hard by then, and all I could see there were a couple of Harlequin Ducks, which I didn't need.
I went home and checked the hourly weather report.† The rain was supposed to let up for the afternoon, but I had to go pick Christina up at the airport right in the middle of the afternoon.† I developed a new plan, though.† I had my lunch about 45 minutes earlier than usual and went over to Log Boom Park.† The rain had just about stopped by then, and I strapped on my boot, took my scope, and walked out onto the dock to try to find a Canvasback, which is a species of duck.† It's a bit early for them to be back from their breeding grounds, which are inland and north, but there had been three or four reports from Log Boom Park in the last week, so I figured I'd give it a try.† I had about 15 or 20 minutes before I had to leave for the airport.
There were some cormorants around, and the usual dabbling ducks along the shore, but Canvasbacks are deep water diving ducks.† There were a couple of rafts of coots out in the distance, so I looked with my scope.† To my considerable surprise, there was one Canvasback with one of the rafts of coots.† It was the only duck in the flock, and it was right in front, where I couldn't miss it.† I had my Tuesday bird, against all odds.
I hurried back to the car and drove to the airport to pick up Christina, and my streak was still alive.† The sole Canvasback brought my Tuesday list to 220 species.† It also completed Canvasback for me, to make 139 species completed now this year (seen on all seven days of the week).
Tomorrow is supposed to be even rainier than today, and quite windy to boot.† The only two species that I need that I have any reasonable shot at are Varied Thrush and Pacific Wren.† Varied Thrush is very tough, but Pacific Wrens are pretty responsive to playback, so I'll try to find one.† I might end up birding with an umbrella if it is raining hard enough, but that won't be the first time I've done that.† I have 3 or 4 places to try, and I'm hopeful, although not especially confident.† We will see.† How long can this silly streak go on?
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
The forecasted rain was a bit late getting here, and it was only sprinkling a little when I headed out this morning.† I went first to Juanita Bay Park, to what I refer to as the Fire Station Road, which is in the east part of the park, across 98th Ave NE from the main part of the park.† It's an access road to a main sewer line, and it's located next to a fire station, hence its name.† In the past I have been able to call up Pacific Wrens there, although so far this year I had not been able to do so.† I had two or three other places I could try, but this was my old reliable site, and I wanted to give it a chance.† It was also the closest one to home and involved the least walking on my Achilles tendon.
I walked on the dirt access road and played the song and call of Pacific Wren.† I saw nothing at first, and then a couple of Song Sparrows responded and flew in and called back to me.† Then a Pacific Wren showed up and I managed to get one halfway decent picture of it.
I was having a difficult time holding the camera steady enough to get it to focus in the low light of the cloudy morning, but at least I had my Wednesday bird.† It got bored with me, and disappeared, but a Fox Sparrow showed up, obviously responding to my playback as well.† It kept raising its head, showing interest in me.
Here is a side view of the Fox Sparrow, which wasn't a bird I needed for Wednesday, but it was still a good bird, and it was posing for me.
Here's another picture of it doing its neck stretching thing.
I tried for pictures of the Song Sparrows, but never got one worth showing.† About then the Pacific Wren came back, though, and posed for me again.† This time I was able to get a couple of better pictures of it.
I think that Pacific Wrens are very cute little birds, with their chubby little bodies and stubby little tails.
That was it for today.† I had my bird, the rain was getting heavier, and I'm trying to take it easy on my Achilles Tendon, so went home.† Pacific Wren added one to my Wednesday list, to bring it to 238 species.† My streak is alive, and now I've gotten through the most difficult days of the week.† There's no guarantee, but the next four days should be easier, although the rain is going to continue to be a factor for a couple more days.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
It was only raining lightly this morning, and I went down to Juanita Beach to look for a couple of gull species I needed.† I walked out onto the dock at the west end of the beach, in the light rain, and there were gulls roosting at the mouth of Juanita Creek.† I was trying to pick out a Glaucous-winged Gull when I noticed that many of them were Mew Gulls, which I also needed.† After that I didn't bother with trying to identify a Glaucous-winged Gull, which is tricky because there are so many hybrids around - Glaucous-winged and Western Gull crossbreeds.† So, I added Mew Gull today, to bring Thursday to 241 species.† That completed Mew Gull, too, to make it 140 species I have now completed this year.† I'll worry about getting a Glaucous-winged Gull for Thursday later, on a day it isn't raining, I hope.
Friday, October 20, 2017
I had two realistic choices for a Friday bird today - Bonaparte's Gull or American Dipper.† Going for the dipper would mean a 45 minute drive up into the foothills, and I didnít think my chances were great of seeing one.† Bonaparte's Gulls are usually around the Edmonds waterfront in October, but not always.† It was showery and quite windy this morning, but I went on up to Edmonds to try my luck.† I stopped first at Sunset Avenue, and looked around.† There was no sign of any Bonaparte's Gulls, and it was too windy to even use my scope.† My tripod is quite sturdy, but in that wind, the scope would have been vibrating too much to be useful.
I moved on to Ocean Avenue, but all I saw were some Harlequin Ducks.† Here are a pair of Harlequin Ducks, with the female on the left and the male on the right.
It was mostly cloudy, with showers, but the sun was shining briefly on the snowcapped Olympic Mountains across the sound.
A flock of geese flew past, and I got this distant picture of Canada Geese in flight.
Next I went to the fishing pier in Edmonds, partly so I could use the rest room there.† Since I was there, I walked out onto the pier, but there was little around in the windy conditions.† I saw a smallish bird flying across the water, and it turned out to be a kingfisher.† It landed under the roof of one of the covered boat slips, and I got this picture of a female Belted Kingfisher.
There were a couple of Horned Grebes out in the little bay, and here's a picture of one of them.† I think it's interesting that just about the only color in the picture is the red eye of the bird.
Before I left the pier I got another picture of the female Belted Kingfisher, which I cropped more closely.
I still hadn't seen my Bonaparte's Gull, so I went down to Marina Beach and took a look from there, but came up empty again.† Bonaparte's Gulls tend to hang out in small flocks, and they move around a lot.† I considered taking the ferry across Puget Sound to Kingston and going up to Point No Point, where they are seen most of the time, but it would have been a three hour trip, with the two ferry rides and waiting for the ferries.† Instead I went back to Sunset Avenue, where I had started, hoping that Bonaparte's Gulls might make an appearance.
It was in between rain showers, so I got out and took a look.† I saw nothing interesting out over the water, but then I noticed some gulls on the beach, right below the bluff.† I moved over a little and could see a small group of Bonaparte's Gulls.† Here are six of them.
I moved down the street a little, to get closer and got this picture of all eleven of them, along with a larger gull.
Right after I took that picture, they all took off and flew off to the south, past the ferry terminal.† I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I had my Friday bird.† That brought Friday to 241 species and completed Bonaparte's Gull for this year.† That makes 141 species that I have completed.† My DOTW streak goes on for another day.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Today turned out to be a different kind of adventure for me.† I had a lot of choices for a Saturday bird, so I didnít expect any problems.† There were a couple of species at Marymoor that I could use, but I decided to first go over to Lake Forest Park and try for Band-tailed Pigeon, where I usually see them.† It was raining lightly, and when I got there, I didn't see any of the pigeons.† That's when the different kind of adventure started.
I pulled over to the side of the road, and while doing so, I scraped the front bumper of a parked car with the passenger side of my car.† It didn't sound or feel good.† I pulled over and determined that the damage to the other car seemed minor - just some scratches on the bumper.† I thought about leaving a note on the windshield of the other car, but it was raining and I didnít want to leave a note out in the rain.† No one was around, and I drove off while I figured out what to do.† It felt really terrible to just drive away and ignore it.† After four or five minutes, I decided I had to leave a note, and I decided to drive home and get a baggie to put a note in.† That's what I did, and I drove back and left the baggie with the note under the windshield wiper.
Interestingly, when I went back, there were about a half dozen Band-tailed Pigeons in the tall trees where I have seen them before.† I had my Saturday bird, after all.† Were the gods of birding rewarding me for returning to leave the note?
I thought about going over to Marymoor and trying for more Saturday birds, but my heel was hurting a little from the driving, and I decided to call it a day, and I went home.
Band-tailed Pigeon brought me to 233 species for Saturday.† It also completed Band-tailed Pigeon for me, to make 142 species completed now this year.
So far, I haven't had a call from the car owner.† My car has a couple of dings or creases on the passenger side, but it is only cosmetic, and they aren't the first ones I've gotten in this car, so I'll probably just live with them.† It was a different kind of day, though.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Surfbird was my target today, and I went over to Alki in West Seattle to try to complete that species.† I had missed them last week, despite spending over an hour going up and down Alki Beach looking for them.† All I could find last week was Black Turnstones.
Today my first stop was at the lookout point with parking, and I planned to strap on my boot and walk up and down the shore from there to Luna Park, looking for a Surfbird.† Before I put on the boot, though, I walked the fifteen feet to the edge of the walkway and took a look at the rocks below.† To my pleased surprise, there were three Surfbirds there, moving around.† I had my Sunday bird in less than a minute.† I didn't try for pictures since I had gotten good Surfbird pictures just last week.† I got back in my car and headed for home.
It was still early, though, and the weather was great.† I decided to stop at Juanita Bay Park, to see what I might see there, mainly out of curiosity about what I could find, and maybe to get some pictures.† I played Pacific Wren songs, even though I didn't need that species for Sunday.† I just wanted to see if I could call one up.† Sure enough, one popped up and started calling back to me.† I got these two close-up pictures of a cute little Pacific Wren.
The light was coming from behind the bird, but I'm still pleased with how they came out.
I walked on down the path and played other bird calls.† I missed on Varied Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Golden-crowned Kinglet.† I did see a couple of Northern Flickers, though, and got rather distant pictures.† Here is the male Northern Flicker.
You can tell it's a male because of the red moustache stripe under the eye.† Here are a couple of pictures of a female Northern Flicker, without the red stripe.
While I was playing the songs of Varied Thrush, a small hawk flew in and landed on the wire above me.† It was doing some kind of display, spreading its wings and tail and looking down at me.† Here are three pictures of it, doing the display.
I decided it was most likely a Sharp-shinned Hawk, mainly due to the size, but also due to the narrow white terminal band on the tail.† It was only the third time I've seen Sharp-shinned Hawk this year, but one of those two previous times happened to be on a Sunday, so it wasn't a new Sunday bird for me.† I think the yellowish feathers under the base of the tail are interesting.† They might have been spread out like that as part of its display.† It might have been a small Cooper's Hawk; size is always tricky to discern.† I didnít need Cooper's Hawk on Sunday either, though.† I'm happy with the pictures, whatever species it was.
So, that was it for Sunday.† I added one more species to my list, to bring Sunday to 224 species.† I completed Surfbird, too, to make 143 species completed this year.† My goal is to get the completed number up to 150, and I expect to be able to do that now.
Meanwhile, I've been working on some of my old pictures, processing them with my new Photoshop Elements software to see if I can improve them.† I've been working on my pictures from the Rio Grande Valley, taken in February this year.† Mostly I feel I can do better with the Photoshop Elements software than I was able to do with the Paint Shop Pro software I was using at that time.† Here is one example.† I was happy with this picture of a Long-billed Thrasher at the time.
Here is what I was able to do today, though, using Photoshop Elements.
The second one might be a little too bright, but I like it much better than the first one, which now looks dark and dingy to me.† I find it interesting how much difference the processing can make to a picture, and I really like the tools that Photoshop Elements has in it.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Today I had two choices.† I could go over to Stillwater and try for American Bittern, which seemed extremely unlikely, or I could go up to Edmonds and try for either White-winged Scoter or Common Murre, both of which were also unlikely, but they seemed like a better bet than the bittern.
I went straight to Sunset Avenue in Edmonds and set up my scope.† There were quite a few birds around, and I took a good long look around.† I saw my first Common Loon of the fall season, and here's a distant picture.
All my pictures today were taken from long distances, and they are just barely good enough to be able to identify the species.† Here is another one of the Common Loon, taken just as it was about to dive.
There were a lot of Surf Scoters out there, and I kept scanning them, hoping to find a White-winged Scoter, but I never did.† There were some ducks, though, and I decided they must be scaup, either Greater Scaup or Lesser Scaup, neither of which I needed for Monday.† Here are a couple of very distant pictures of the scaup.
At the time I thought they were Greater Scaup, but looking at the pictures now, I would say Lesser Scaup.† The differences are very subtle, and are mainly in the head shape, and I don't feel real confident of my identification.
There were three male Black Scoters out there, and here is a very distant picture of them.
Finally I saw a bird that was too far away for even a very distant picture, and after watching it, I was able to tell that it was a Common Murre, one of the two possible Monday birds I was looking for.† That completed Common Murre for me and kept my silly streak alive for another day.† I really had thought that today would be the end of it, but it continues until at least tomorrow.
I had my Monday bird, but I had time, so I went up to Ocean Ave, just to see what might be around.† There wasn't much at first, but then I spotted a small group of Harlequin Ducks.† Here is a picture of two females (on the left) and two male Harlequin Ducks.
Here are two males and a female Harlequin Duck.
Here is a female.
There were a couple of distant Western Grebes out there, too.† Here is one of them.
Here is a picture of a group of Red-necked Grebes that showed up.
In addition to those species, I saw some Pigeon Guillemots, some Horned Grebes, and the usual cormorant and gull species.
So, I got one more species for Monday, to bring it to 222 species.† I completed that species (Common Murre), which makes 144 species completed this year.† Tomorrow is another very tough day, but I have an ace up my sleeve, and maybe I can pull a rabbit out of the hat, so to speak.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
This probably would have been the day my DOTW streak ended, but a birding buddy saved me.† Hank and his wife, Karen, live on Lake Joy, a medium sized lake out near Carnation, and he told me that they have been getting Lesser Scaups out there for the last week.† That was a duck species I needed for Tuesday.† They are fairly common, but they migrate north and inland to breed, and they are just now starting to come back for the winter.† I hadn't seen one yet this fall, and I never saw one earlier this year on a Tuesday.
I went over to Hank's house on Lake Joy and he was able to show me three female Lesser Scaups right away.† The streak was still alive!† Unfortunately, his house faces south and the sun was out today, making viewing of the ducks on the lake very difficult.† I was able to see them well enough to identify them, with his scope, but pictures were almost impossible.† I got some that show the ducks well enough to identify them, but only just barely.† Here is a female Lesser Scaup.
The shape of the head is what distinguishes it from the very similar Greater Scaup.† This bird's head is flat on top, and has a fairly sharp "corner" at the back of the crown.† The head is more vertical than horizontal, too.† There were Ruddy Ducks out on the lake, too, but I didn't get any decent pictures of them.† They were the first Ruddy Ducks I've seen this fall, though.† I took more pictures, and it was only after seeing them that I realized that some of the ducks we thought were Lesser Scaup were actually female Ring-necked Ducks.† Normally, either one of us would have been able to tell the difference, but the sun really was a problem.† Here is what I think is a female Ring-necked Duck.
Notice how the top of the head is rounded, not flat, and the bird has a white eye ring, which you can barely see in that picture.
We sat out in the sun for about an hour, enjoying the beautiful fall morning and looking at the ducks as they moved around, and then I headed back toward home.† I stopped on the way at the house in Carnation that has bird feeders and took some pictures.† Here are a couple of Eurasian Collared-Doves.
There were a lot of Steller's Jays around, too, coming in for the peanuts the man who lives there puts out for them.
As I've mentioned before, I like blue-colored birds.
On my way home I stopped briefly at the bridge over Sikes Lake and got this picture of a female Ring-necked Duck, but again the light wasn't great.
There was a female Hooded Merganser there, too.
I stopped one more time, at the place where I had seen a number of sparrows last week, including two Lincoln's Sparrows.† Today all I could find was a single Song Sparrow, though.
That was it for today.† I added one more species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 221 species and keep my DOTW streak alive.† That completed Lesser Scaup for me, too, to make 145 species completed now this year.
I know I've said this over and over, but tomorrow is going to be very tough.† One of my friends calls me The Boy Who Cried Wolf, but I'm crying it again - tomorrow the wolf will really be at the door, I think.† I do have some species that I could theoretically see, but they are all unlikely.†† I could go up to Edmonds and try for Pacific Loon, which I did see up there a week or two ago, but I haven't seen one since then.† I could also go over to Marymoor and hope to see American Pipit, but they are migrating through here and are pretty much done now for this fall, I think.† I also need Purple Finch, but I never have an easy time seeing them, and when I do see them, I have to distinguish them from House Finches, which is tough for me.† Varied Thrush is another one I need, but again, they are not easy to find.† As a result I fully expect my long Day Of The Week streak to end tomorrow.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Today was the day of the wolf.† The Boy Who Cried Wolf was finally right.† The wolf showed up, and it appeared to be the end of my streak.
No,wait!† That's how I had planned to start today's report, right up until I processed my pictures for today.† I had given up.† Read on for the whole story.
I headed up to the Edmonds waterfront this morning, to try for one of four unlikely species that I needed for Wednesday.† I set up my scope at Sunset Avenue, but there weren't as many birds around as the last time I was there.† Then I saw a loon in the distance.† After studying it, I thought it was a Pacific Loon, which was one of the species I needed for Wednesday.† It was very far away, but I was able to drive down the street and get closer.† I found it again, and this time I took some very distant pictures.† Here are the two best pictures I got of the mystery loon.
I'm sure an expert birder would know right off which species it was, Pacific Loon or Common Loon, but I had to consult my books.† I could see arguments both ways, but at the time, with the scope, I could see a white eye ring, and the books I had with me showed Common Loon with an eye ring, but not Pacific Loon.† I decided it must be a Common Loon, and I moved on.† Before I left Sunset Avenue I got this picture of a pair of Harlequin Ducks, though.
At Ocean Avenue, I again looked around.† I could see my loon, but it was even farther away from there.† There were some Horned Grebes, Red-necked Grebes, Pigeon Guillemots, Surf Scoters, and one male Black Scoter.† A flock of about two dozen mergansers flew past, but I wasn't quick enough to get a picture.† Red-breasted Merganser would be the expected species there, but they looked more to me like Common Mergansers.† Anyway, I didn't see any of my target species, so I went back to Marina Beach, to see if there was anything there.† The only things I saw there were a couple of Horned Grebes, close enough for a picture.† Here's a Horned Grebe.
There were crows on the beach, too, and I got this picture of an American Crow.
At that point, it was getting on for lunch time, and I needed to get gas, so I got the gas and went home for lunch.
I still wanted to try to get a Wednesday bird, so I went over to Marymoor Park and drove around looking for American Pipits.† Not surprisingly, I didn't find any.† There were some flocks of geese, and I saw both Cackling Geese and Canada Geese.† Here's a picture of some Cackling Geese.† Note the short necks and stubby bills.
Here's a Canada Goose, with its longer neck and longer bill.
I had one more last chance, and I went over to the Rowing Club and walked the driveway there, looking for Varied Thrush.† I had no luck with thrushes, but I did see a Green Heron on the pond.
I had thought that Green Herons all migrated south for the winter, but it turns out that a few spend the winter here, usually.
Here's a picture that I kind of like because of the reflection.
I had thought I would try one more place, the Fire Station Road at Juanita Bay Park, but it started to rain when I was leaving Marymoor, and the afternoon traffic was picking up.† That was it for me.† I gave it up, accepted that the streak was over, and headed for home.
Okay, now we're back to the beginning of this report.† When I processed my pictures, I took another look at the loon pictures.† I could see evidence both ways, but the thing that finally convinced me was the shape of the head and the size of the bill.† My loon had a distinct forehead, with a steep slope down to the bill, and Common Loons seem to have a sloping forehead that makes it look like the bill is almost an extension of the forehead.† At least, that's what my books show.† There are other things that indicate Pacific Loon, too - the white on the cheek goes all the way up to the eye, the border between the white and gray on the neck is pretty distinct, and looking at the size of the bird compared to Red-necked Grebes nearby (not shown in the pictures in this report) it seems too small for Common Loon.† Anyway, I'm not 100% sure, but for now, I'm calling it a Pacific Loon, which means my streak is still alive.† That brings Wednesday to 239 species.† I wish I had had a better look at the loon, but I'm satisfied enough to count it as a Pacific Loon.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
There were several fairly easy species that I needed for Thursday, so I didn't think I'd have a problem keeping my streak going.† I decided to go for one of the "good" ones, American Dipper, and if I missed on it, then I would try for an easier species after lunch.
I took a scenic route up to the bridge over Tokul Creek, which is just off the road from Fall City to Snoqualmie Falls.† I had seen American Dipper there three times earlier this year, so I was hopeful.† I had also missed getting it there once or twice, so I wasn't totally confident.
On the way I stopped a couple of places near Carnation and took some pictures.† Here is an immature White-crowned Sparrow, hatched this year.
Here is an adult White-crowned Sparrow, showing how the species gets its name.
At another stop, there was a Red-tailed Hawk on a pole.
It turned sideways for me, showing the feathers on the upper legs.
Here it is getting ready to take off, showing its red tail.
I got this interesting picture of a Fox Sparrow in an unusual pose.
There was a flock of European Starlings feeding in a barnyard, and I got this picture of one in its winter plumage.† The subtle iridescent colors are interesting, I think.
When I finally got to Tokul Creek, I got out and walked out onto the bridge.† Almost right away I saw an American Dipper upstream, at a distance.† I got this distant picture for the record.
I looked downstream, in case another one was around, and then looked upstream again.† This time I saw a dipper much closer to the bridge, and I took a lot of pictures.
It stretched its wings at one point, after grooming itself for quite a while.
When the bird got done preening, it went into the water and looked for food.† They find snails and other little crustaceans on the bottom of the stream.† To find them, they go right into the water, actually walking underwater when necessary.† Here's the American Dipper after it started to hunt for food.
Here it is in the water.
It went all the way under repeatedly.† Here it is with just its head in the water, looking for food.
Here you can only see its tail, as it foraged.
Here's one final picture of the cute little American Dipper.
I like dippers very much, and it was fun to watch it for a while.† That brought Thursday to 242 species and my DOTW streak continues for one more day.† Tomorrow I only have two realistic chances for a Friday bird.† I plan to go back up to Tokul Creek to try to complete American Dipper, and if I miss that, then I plan to stop at Phantom Lake in Bellevue and see if I can get a Purple Finch to respond to its call.† I hope I can get the dipper, because I don't usually have much luck with Purple Finch.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Today I had a commitment for the afternoon, so I set out this morning to try to find an American Dipper again, which was the most likely species that I needed still on Friday.† On my way up to Tokul Creek, where I had seen two dippers yesterday, I went across the Snoqualmie River Valley, watching for three unlikely species - Greater White-fronted Goose, Ring-necked Pheasant, and Cooper's Hawk.† I didn't see any of those, but I decided to stop at the house with feeders in Carnation.† I didn't need Varied Thrush for today, but they are supposed to come there sometimes, and I hoped for a picture.† As I was approaching the house, I thought about my conversation with the owner, earlier this week.† We were talking about the birds he had coming to his feeders, and he said something like, "and, of course, the hawk".† Well, the only two local raptor species that hang out near feeders, in the hopes of snagging small birds, are Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk.† We get both of those in our yard, from time to time, and I've got pictures of hawks with the little birds they have caught in our yard.† I happened to need both of those species for Friday.
When I got to the feeder house, there were no birds around at all.† That was very unusual, and I immediately thought about a hawk, because when a hawk comes around, the little birds fly away once they have seen it.† There were some crows in a tree, and I looked closely at the tree.† Sure, enough, there was a hawk in the tree.† As I tried to get a better view of the hawk, it flew up and chased one of the crows briefly, and then flew away.† Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk look very much alike, but are different sizes.† When this hawk chased the crows, it was clearly almost the same size as they were.† That meant it was a Cooper's Hawk for sure, because Sharp-shinned Hawks are significantly smaller than crows.† I had my Friday bird!
It flew into a nearby evergreen tree and perched.† It was mostly hidden from my view, but I went down an alley and got a clear look at it.† Here is the Cooper's Hawk that completed that species for me this year and kept my streak going for another day.
The size was enough to convince me, but there are other indications in the picture, too.† The tail is rounded at the corners, and the white terminal band on the tail is relatively wide.† In this next picture, you can see that the eyes are well forward of the center of the head, too, which also indicates Cooper's Hawk.
I think, based on the color, that it is a juvenile bird.† Adults are more blue-gray, and juveniles are more brown, I think.
So, I had my Friday bird, but I was 80% of the way to the dipper place, so I continued on.† At the Tokul Creek bridge, I got out and scanned the creek.† No sign of a dipper.† I looked carefully, and then went on to the park at the end of the road and walked around a little.† On my way back, I stopped again at the bridge, but again didn't see a dipper.† I was running out of time, so I headed back.† On the way I stopped at a bridge over the Raging River, between Fall City and Preston, because it looked like good dipper habitat.† I got out and looked, but again didn't see any dippers.
That was it for my birding today.† I dipped on the dipper, but the Cooper's Hawk saved me, and the streak is alive.† That brought Friday to 242 species.† Completing Cooper's Hawk makes it 146 species completed now this year.† The next two days have some possibilities, but no guarantees.† If I do manage to get through the weekend, Monday is almost certainly going to end the streak.† One day at a time, though.† Tomorrow I have several reasonable possibilities.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Today was pretty easy, as expected.† It was foggy, though, which made it a bit harder.† I went over to Marymoor, where I have seen Cackling Goose 2 or 3 times in the last couple of weeks, and I drove around.† The fog made it difficult, but all I could see through the fog was Canada Geese, not any Cacklers.† I heard geese flying over two or three times, and I thought they sounded like Cackling Geese, but I'm so bad at remembering and recognizing bird calls that I wasn't willing to count them.† They might have been Canada Geese.†
It was much too foggy to even look for the Northern Shrike that was seen there on Thursday.† That left me with Lincoln's Sparrow.† I parked and walked up around the compost piles, north of the East Meadow, and played the Lincoln's Sparrow song.† It took a while, but eventually, I was able to see a Lincoln's Sparrow, although it never came in very close.† I had my Saturday bird, to bring Saturday to 234 species, and my DOTW streak continues.†
I've seen a new species for that particular day on every single day so far this year.† I never thought the dumb streak would go on nearly this long.† Tomorrow I have a good chance of continuing it, but Monday is almost certainly going to end it, unless I decide to drive the three hour round trip to Bellingham to get Northwestern Crow.† I don't feel like doing that, at this point.† I could get a miracle, and a rarity could show up in my yard.† I have a couple of very unlikely species to chase, too, and I'll give it a shot.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
I had two fairly easy Sunday birds to pursue today, and I started with Golden-crowned Kinglet, down at Juanita Bay Park, on the Fire Station Road.† I walked the road and played the Golden-crowned Kinglet song, and soon at least one showed up.† I tried for a picture, but they are very active and I never even had a shot.† At least a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets also responded, but I couldn't get a picture of them either.† I had time, so I walked farther down the road, playing other bird songs, mostly Varied Thrush.† Various birds responded.† Here is a Pacific Wren that came in to take a look at me.
Here are three pictures of Golden-crowned Sparrows.
A Bewick's Wren flew in and checked me out, but I missed getting a picture.† There was a little flock of Bushtits, too, but they didn't hang around.† Here's a picture of one of the ubiquitous Song Sparrows that always respond to just about any species' song.
Finally, here is a male Spotted Towhee in very fresh looking plumage.
That was it for Sunday.† I added one species to my Sunday list, to make it 225 species now.
Tomorrow is quite possibly the day my streak will end, but maybe I'll get lucky. †There have actually been several recent reports of White-winged Scoter at Edmonds, so I'll go up there and try to find one.† If I fail at that, I might even take a ferry across Puget Sound and try Point No Point, because they have been reported there, too, several times recently.† If I'm going to go down, I'd like to go down swinging, giving it the old college try.† There are a few other even less common species I could possibly see, but White-winged Scoter is my best chance.
Monday, October 30, 2017
As I mentioned last night, today my target species was White-winged Scoter.† I have been assuming I wouldn't see one at Edmonds because I never saw one there last winter, despite going up to Edmonds many times.† There were reports this year of them there, though, and I actually saw a female White-winged Scoter there a couple of weeks ago, so I had more hope than I would have had a couple of weeks ago.† I intended to ride the ferry over to Kitsap county and try for the species at Point No Point if I missed it at Edmonds.† They have been reported recently over there, too.
I went to Edmonds and set up my scope on Sunset Avenue.† At first I didnít see much, let alone a White-winged Scoter, but then I looked toward the ferry terminal, and in with the usual Surf Scoters around the ferry dock, there was a male White-winged Scoter.† I was amazed, and my streak was alive!
I had a good scope view, but it was too far away for a picture.† I saw that I could get a lot closer, though, if I went around and down to Brackett's Landing, which is on the shore just north of the ferry terminal.† I did that, but as I got there, a ferry came in, and the scoter flock all scattered.† I set up my scope again, though, at Brackett's Landing, and I scanned around until I found the male White-winged Scoter again.† I managed to get some extremely distant pictures of him, good enough to identify the species, but crap as images.† Here is the male White-winged Scoter, flapping his wings.
Here he is just sitting there.† The white marking around the eye and the bill color and shape, along with the white showing on the wing mark it as a White-winged Scoter.† It was so far away that I couldn't really tell which bird it was in the camera viewfinder.† I would look in my scope and find him, then point my camera at the birds in that area.
Here is one more distant picture of him flapping his wings and showing the white patch on the wing that gives the species its name.
So, much to my surprise, I extended my streak another day, and I didn't even have to take a ferry ride to do it.
Back at home, I watched Anna's Hummingbirds coming to our sugar water feeder, and I took some pictures through the dirty window.† Here is a female Anna's Hummingbird, though the window.
There were at least four Anna's Hummingbirds coming to the feeder - this female, a mature male, and at least two immature males.† Here is a picture of what I think is an immature male Anna's Hummingbird.
Actually, that might be an older female bird; I'm not really sure about the differences between the sexes and their ages.† There was another one that was definitely an immature male, and one that was definitely a mature male.
The surprising White-winged Scoter brings me to 223 species for Monday.† I sure never thought my silly DOTW streak would go on this long, and now I actually have hopes I might get all the way through October.† I need White-winged Scoter again tomorrow, so I'll be back up at Edmonds, with the plan to go on to Kitsap county if I need to.† Tomorrow I have several other remote possibilities, too, including Pacific Loon, which I saw at Edmonds last week.† How long can this streak continue?
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Trick or treat.† I got the treat today, I guess.† I went up to Edmonds to look for White-winged Scoter again.† I went right to Sunset Avenue and set up my scope.† I could see the usual scoters near the ferry dock, and when I looked that way with the scope, the very first bird I saw was what I presume to be the same male White-winged Scoter that I saw yesterday.† Score!† I had my Tuesday bird in less than a minute.† I looked around, but I didn't see anything else of interest, and I went home.
After going out to lunch with my friend, Chris, we went over to Phantom Lake in Bellevue, as usual.† It was a beautiful day, maybe the last one of the fall, since we have clouds and rain coming now.† Here's Phantom Lake in the fall sunshine today.
There were several species of ducks out on the water, including my first Buffleheads of this fall.† I took this picture of a male American Wigeon and an American Coot.
Here's the American Wigeon with the sun on him, showing off the iridescent green of his head stripe.
A small raptor flew across our view and landed in a tree across the water.† I wasn't sure if it was a small Cooper's Hawk or a large Sharp-shinned Hawk, so I took some pictures.† In both species, the females are somewhat larger than the males, so a male Cooper's Hawk is just about the same size as a female Sharp-shinned Hawk.† This bird seemed in between, so I was hoping my pictures would identify it.† Here's the hawk.
The color and the pattern on the front of it indicates it was a juvenile of whichever species it was.† I couldn't see some of the markings I needed to see to identify the species from that picture, but this next one was indicative, I think.
Cooper's Hawk is supposed to have its eye well forward of the center of the head, with a flat crown to the head.† Sharp-shinned Hawk has the eye more in the center of the head, with a rounded crown.† This definitely looks well forward of center and the crown looks flat to me, so I'm calling it a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, probably a male due to its size.† Here is another picture that shows the white undertail coverts, which also indicates Cooper's Hawk.
I saw it fly away, and I could see the white coverts under the tail clearly, making it look almost like a Northern Harrier with a white rump, but with a long tail.† I needed Sharp-shinned Hawk for Tuesday, so I would have liked it to have been one of those, but I think it was a Cooper's Hawk.
My White-winged Scoter in the morning brought me to 222 species for Tuesday and kept my streak alive.† That makes 304 days in a row that I have gone out birding, and on each one of those 304 days, I've seen a new species for that day of the week - one I hadn't seen before on that day of the week this year.† I never imagined I would still be seeing a new one every day at the end of October.† I had hoped to get well into August and maybe finish August, but when I cancelled my Arizona trip in early August, I thought I might not even make the end of August.† I underestimated how well I would do with the fall shorebird migration, and I had not considered all the winter birds that were returning in September and October, mainly because I never thought the streak would still be going on in September and October.† It has been an amazing run.† I'll go out tomorrow and look for Varied Thrush or American Pipit, but neither one is likely, so I expect the streak to end after today.† You never know, though.† I have been very lucky this year, it seems to me, so maybe tomorrow my luck will continue.† After all, tomorrow is my 73rd birthday, so maybe that will be lucky for me.