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Friday, September 1, 2017
Today was another very simple day, and again with no pictures.† I drove a half hour north to the Everett waterfront in search of Caspian Tern, which would complete that species for me.† I stopped at the first place on the north end of the waterfront and spotted a Caspian Tern across the water, among a number of gulls.† I was done, but there were a lot of little shorebirds on the tidal flat in front of me, so I took a look at them.† I picked out one that was clearly different (the others were all Western Sandpipers, as far as I could see, with a few Killdeer thrown in), and I ended up deciding that the different one was a juvenile Sanderling, which I also needed for Friday.
That was it.† I drove the half hour home and I was done birding for the day.† The two new Friday species brings me to 234 species for Friday.† Completing Caspian Tern makes it 127 species that I have now seen on all seven days of the week.† My year total remains at 326 species.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Today was still another simple day.† I went up to Edmonds and started at Edmonds Marsh, hoping to see a Marsh Wren or an uncommon shorebird.† If I didn't see either one, then I planned to go over to the waterfront and pick up Heermann's Gull, which is a gimme at this time of year there.
I couldn't call up a Marsh Wren, but there were some peeps on the mud. †I picked out one Least Sandpiper, several Western Sandpipers, and at least one Semipalmated Sandpiper.† I needed Semipalmated Sandpiper for Saturday, and that was it for my day.† Best of all, I was able to "save" Heermann's Gull for a later Saturday.† That brought Saturday to 223 species.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
This was supposed to be another simple day.† I headed over to Lake Forest Park to look for Band-tailed Pigeon around the house that has feeders that the birds come to.† I don't always see them there, but I usually do.† As I pulled up, I looked at the tree where I have seen them before, thinking, that's their tree.† They weren't there, but as I was stopping, three Band-tailed Pigeons flew into the tree and landed.† Here is a picture of two of them.
Here is a close-up of one of them.
That picture shows the iridescent patch on the back of the neck, below the white mark.† I don't recall seeing that before or getting a picture of it.† Here are a couple more pictures of Band-tailed Pigeons.
There ended up being at least six of them, and here's a picture of three Band-tailed Pigeons.
That was all I needed for the day, but it was a lovely morning and I thought I might as well go somewhere to try for pictures.† I tried Log Boom Park in Kenmore, but there wasnít any parking, so I moved on.† I stopped at a little park called Rhododendron Park in Kenmore.† I hadn't visited it before.† It was very quiet, but I did get this picture of a female Northern Flicker.
It was still early and I remembered Wallace Swamp Creek Park, which was close by.† I figured I would walk around there and try for more pictures.
When I got to that park, I checked my email.† A rare gull had been found in north Seattle on Thursday, and all the local birders were excited about it.† It hung around all day Thursday, and then on Friday it was discovered again, a few miles farther north along the coast of Puget Sound, just south of Edmonds and north of Richmond Beach.† On Saturday it was been found again, late in the day at Everett, which is several miles north of Edmonds.† Each day it has been a big deal on Tweeters, the local birding mailing list.† Birders have been searching for it each day, and when it's found, a bunch of them head off to see it.† It really is a big deal, and birders are coming from all across the country to see it.† This is only the second or third time this species has been reported in the US, and the other times were 20 or 30 years ago, I think.† So, all the Big List birders need to see it, to add it to their lists.† It's a very striking gull, easy to identify once it's found.† If it continues to hang around, hundreds of birders will come to town to see it.
Anyway, I had meant to keep checking my email this morning, but I had forgotten about it.† I remembered and checked it at 10:15, when I got to Wallace Swamp Creek Park, and it had been found and reported at 9:45.† The location was only about 20 or 25 minutes away from where I was, so I took off to join the birding party.† When I got to Kayu Kayu Ac Park in Richmond Beach, it was only an hour after it had been reported today, but there were already more than 20 cars lining the street and a gang of birders near the park entrance.
I parked my car and joined the crowd.† Someone let me look through their scope (I had left mine in my car, knowing there would be lots of scopes there), and I had a lifer, SWALLOW-TAILED GULL.† It was an extremely unsatisfying view, as the bird was about a half mile away and just sitting there with its back to us.† Here's a picture of more birders in the park itself, looking at the bird, which was on that black pier in the distance, on the right of the picture.
The pier is in an oil facility and there isn't any public access closer than this park, unless you climb over a fence and cross the railroad tracks (which is trespassing, technically) and walk along the beach.† I went back to my car and moved it closer.† For some reason, there was one parking spot left in the park itself, so I took it.† I got my own scope, which I must say, is at least as good as any scope anyone there had, and better than most.† I was able to get a slightly better view with my own scope, which I set up halfway up the hill, at the point from which that last picture was taken.
The gull mostly just sat there.† It is the only nocturnal gull, supposedly, so it feeds at night and sleeps during the day.† It likes squid, and the squid are currently running in that area of Puget Sound, which is probably why it is here.† It should be in the South Pacific.† They breed on islands off South America, including the Galapagos Islands, and they spend most of their life at sea, just flying around far from land.† For some unknown reason, this one found its way thousands of miles north of where it ought to be.
I saw the bird stretch its wings once, and that gave me another identification point - white wings with black tips.† It walked a few feet at one point, and I got a side view, in which I could see the black head, the gray back, and the white underparts.† It was never a satisfying view at all, but I saw it, so it goes onto my lists.
I put my camera on my tripod and took some pictures.† The heat haze was bad and the view would get blurry sometimes and clear up briefly sometimes.† Here is my best picture showing the area on the pier where the bird was sitting.† Remember, it was a half mile away.† When I got home, I looked on Google Maps and measured the distance.
Those are pigeons flying around in that picture.† You can actually see a gray blob that's the gull in the center of that picture, if you know where to look.† Here is a really extreme crop from that same picture, showing my lifer, Swallow-tailed Gull.
Yes, it's the gray blob in the middle of the picture, and you can actually sort of make out the black head on the right side of the bird.† My views through my scope were a little better than that picture indicates, but as I said, they were not very satisfying.† That being said, it was still a lot of fun to be part of the excitement and buzz.† Several people looked through my scope at the bird, and everyone was talking of course.† I hung around for about an hour, and I would estimate that at least 50 or 60 birders saw the bird in that time.† It sounds like it stuck around all day, but it never came any closer.† I'm sure that many people will be looking for it tomorrow, from Seattle to Everett, as well as on the other side of Puget Sound.† It will be interesting to see how long it sticks around and where else it is seen, assuming it does stick around.
So, that was my birding adventure today.† I got two species for my Sunday list (Band-tailed Pigeon and Swallow-tailed Gull), to bring me to 215 for Sunday.† I added one to my year list, to make that 327 species now.† Finally, I added a lifer, my 6th lifer of this year.† I saw the other five on my Texas trip in February.† I don't see lifers very often any more, and I won't, unless I travel to new places or rarities like this gull show up here.† It was a fun day, even if the views were unsatisfying.
Monday, September 4, 2017
Today I planned to go up to Edmonds and get Heermann's Gull for Monday, but I also was watching Tweeters to see if the Swallow-tailed Gull was found today.† Before I left home, the rare gull was indeed found, at the same place it was yesterday, Kayu Kayu Ac Park in Richmond Beach.† I drove over there, and there were cars parked along the road, but no group of birders with scopes, looking off toward the oil refinery where the gull was yesterday.
It turned out that today the gull was out of sight from the park, and you had to walk the half mile along the beach to get to where you could see it.† First you had to go through some blackberry brambles and trespass to cross the railroad tracks, and then scramble down to the beach.† I saw a number of people doing just that.† I probably would have joined them, but my torn Achilles tendon stopped me.† I can't walk that far over rough ground.
I watched the people come and go and I scoped the ocean, looking for anything interesting.† An Osprey flew by, and I did see a couple of Marbled Murrelets, but I didn't need that species for Monday.† Eventually I settled for Heermann's Gull, as was my original plan.† I watched Tweeters for the rest of the day, and I guess the gull flew off a little distance to the north this afternoon, and people continued to cross the railroad tracks on unofficial paths and walk the beach to see it.† Heermann's Gull brings my Monday total to 215 species.
Two side notes.† First, my friend, John, sent me this link to a blog entry by a birder from Chicago who flew out here to get the gull and had success.† The blog entry has some really great pictures of the Swallow-tailed Gull.† Here is the link:† http://www.anythinglarus.com/2017/09/swallow-tailed-gull-twitch.html?m=1† I don't know how long that link will be good, but if you Google "Swallow-tailed Gull Twitch", I'm sure you can find it.
Second, I bought some new image processing software this week, and I'm trying to learn it.† It is much more complicated than any image editing software I have ever used, but I have a book and an online course, and I'm slowly getting the idea.† I'm sure I'll get a lot better, but here are my very initial efforts.† This next picture is from yesterday's report, processed with the Canon software that I've been using since I got my new camera this year.
I was fairly happy with that picture, but here is my first effort with the new Adobe software:
The differences are subtle, but I like the second one better.† Check out the detail on the wing feathers on the pigeon on the lower left.† The overall image is clearer, too, I think.† As I said, this was my first effort, and I have a lot to learn still.† This new software has features that I think I'm really going to like, once I learn how to use them.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Tuesday and Wednesday are my toughest days for my DOTW game, meaning that there are not many local birds I still can add to those days.† I had four with a reasonable possibility today, and none of them were easy.† Two of them could maybe be seen in Richmond Beach, which is where the Swallow-tailed Gull has been hanging out, and that was a fifth possibility.
When I got to Kayu Kayu Ac Park in Richmond Beach, I checked my email, and the rare gull had indeed been seen this morning.† It was again roosting at the oil facility just north of where I was.† Unfortunately, it was again sitting in a spot I couldn't see from anywhere I could get to.† There were lots of birders that were accessing the beach via various routes and walking up to see the gull, but I didn't want to stress my Achilles tendon that much.† Walking on a rough beach for a mile or more, not to mention clambering up and down paths to the beach, just wasn't something I was willing to do.† I talked to various people who were going to make the walk or had just gotten back.† One couple from Eastern Washington had driven six hours to get there, and it was their second trip.† They missed the gull the first time, but they walked up the beach and saw it today.† I also talked to a guy from Portland who had driven up to see it.†
I spent some time looking at the water, trying to find a Marbled Murrelet, but I never did.† Ironically, I had seen two of them yesterday, when I didn't need that species, but not today.† I also went over to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park and spent a half hour there looking and listening for California Quail, but I struck out on that one, too.† I took one picture, of a Caspian Tern that was flying up the coast.
It was extremely smoky today, from wildfires in Eastern Washington and Oregon, and the light was not only dim, it was an odd color.† The good news was that the smoke held the heat down.† It was supposed to be well up into the 90's today, but the smoke kept it to the mid-80's.† It works the other way at night, and it doesn't cool down nearly as much as it has been doing lately.
Eventually I gave it up and went home.† I had a late lunch appointment, and I sat on our front porch for about 45 minutes, hoping a Red-breasted Nuthatch would come to our feeder.† That was one of my Tuesday target birds.† I was lucky and a nuthatch soon showed up, and I had my Tuesday bird.† Here is a picture of the Red-breasted Nuthatch.
A female House Finch came to the birdbath and bathed a little.
A Steller's Jay came to the feeder and then went up into the birch tree.† I like the colors in this next picture.
An American Goldfinch showed up, but the larger House Finches kept it away from the feeder.† It did feed on the ground under the feeder for a while, and then went to the birdbath for water.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch came back several times, and I got a couple more pictures of it.
After lunch I had a few more pictures.† Here is a Song Sparrow in the camellia.
One of the Steller's Jays came around, and I threw some peanuts out onto the driveway for it.
Finally, here is a picture of a Spotted Towhee.† I think it was one of the juveniles that have been hanging around.
So, my streak is still alive.† The Red-breasted Nuthatch brings me to 211 species for Tuesday.† Tomorrow is going to be another tough day, but I'll see what I can find.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Today my plan was to go up to Tulalip Bay, which is about 40 minutes north of home, to try for Black-bellied Plover and Short-billed Dowitcher.† I made the drive, and the birds were there - dozens of each, more plovers than dowitchers.† That was it for today.† That brought me to 229 species for Wednesday, which is one of my toughest days.
It was smoky again today, with the same odd light and dimmed sun.† Again the smoke held the heat down, though, so I didn't mind.† Back here at home I continued to learn to use my new software, Adobe Photoshop Elements.† I'm starting to get the hang of it, but I have a whole lot more to learn still.† Today I worked on a picture from yesterday, of a Steller's Jay.† I was happy with yesterday's image, which I processed with Canon's Digital Photo Professional software, the software I have been using since I got my Canon camera and started using RAW files, as opposed to jpg's.† I used it as a model, though, and worked my way through the steps shown in the book I have from the library on Photoshop Elements.
Here's the picture as I showed it yesterday, processed with the Canon software.
I was pleased to find that I was able to make what I consider improvements with the Photoshop Elements software.† Here is what I came up with:
I'm quite pleased with that initial effort.† I'm sure I'll get a lot better as I learn the software better.† There are a many choices that have to be made along the way, and I'm just starting to understand the impacts of those choices.† I'm especially pleased with how much clearer the head of the bird is in the Photoshop Elements version.† As I said, yesterday I was happy with the Canon software version (the first picture),but now it looks kind of muddy to me.† It will be interesting to see how it goes as I continue to learn this Photoshop Elements software.†
I'd be interested in any feedback, one way or the other, on the two versions of the Steller's Jay picture.
By the way, the rare Swallow-tailed Gull wasn't found today, after being seen for six straight days in various places.† It'll be interesting to see if it has simply moved on, or if it shows up again.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Before I get into today's adventures, I wanted to show a picture I took on Wednesday at Tulalip Bay.† I hadn't bothered to even process it yesterday because it was the only picture I had.† Here is a Belted Kingfisher sitting on a piling.† The lighting was bad, and this was the best I could do with the image.
That image was processed with my Canon software.† To test it out, I processed it with my new Photoshop Elements software, to see if I could get a better image.† Here is the result.
Not a lot of difference, but there is more feather detail in the Photoshop Elements one, I think.† It was a difficult image to process, because of the extreme backlighting and the dark bird.
This morning my plan was to go up to the Edmonds waterfront to look for any of 3 or 4 species that I still needed for Thursday.† As I was leaving I checked my email one more time, and there was a report that the rare Swallow-tailed Gull had been seen at the Edmonds marina.† It appeared I was going to get another chance to see it up close, maybe, and I didn't even have to change my plans.
When I got to Edmonds, I drove around, looking for a mob with binoculars and scopes.† I saw them out at the end of the fishing pier, so I parked and made my way out there.† Here is the Edmonds fishing pier as I arrived this morning.
There were the usual people fishing, but out at the end there were about a dozen people with binoculars and scopes.† When I got to the end of the pier, I asked and someone pointed out the gull.† Here is a picture of the rare Swallow-tailed Gull - only the second or third one to ever be reported in North America.
I took a lot of pictures of it, and I processed them first with my old Canon software.† Then I did it again with the new Photoshop Elements (PSE) software.† That first picture of the gull was the result of processing the image with the PSE software.† Here was the result with the Canon software, which is what I have been using for the last six months.
I like this new PSE software!† The upper picture looks much sharper and clearer, I think.† It didn't have that much effect on all my shots today, but in each case except one, I like the PSE images better.† I still have much to learn about it, but I'm getting better and faster at using it.
OK, now I have a lot more pictures of the gull.† This is a major rarity, after all, and so I went overboard.† I was about 200 feet away, I figure, but that was plenty close enough for pictures with my camera.† This next picture shows the bird's gray neck.† I like the way the gray of the head blends into the white of the underside.† Its eye is closed in this picture.† The red coloration is an orbital ring around the eye.
People had mentioned that the bird often bends its head down, like it's looking at its feet.† I saw that behavior today a number of times.† Here's a picture of it doing that.
It spent some time preening.
Here is another side shot, with the bird facing right.† This is a Canon software image, because for some reason, it came out better than the PSE one.
It spent much of its time napping, with its bill tucked under a wing.
Here is a shot of the breakwater from the end of the fishing pier.† The bird was in the middle of this picture, on the north (nearer) breakwater.† As I said, I figure it was about 200 feet away.
Here is a shot of it from the front.
And here is a shot of it from the rear, while it was snoozing.
While I was waiting for it wake up and do something, I got this picture of a European Starling on the breakwater.
Here's a shot of an immature gull of undetermined species.† Gulls take 3 or 4 years to reach their adult plumage, and each year along the way, they look different.† With so many gull species, I don't even try to keep track of the immature ones, but I liked the look of this one.
There was a Great Blue Heron standing on the breakwater, and I took this picture of it scratching its head with its foot.
It stretched its wing at one point.
Notice how white the top of the breakwater is.† We haven't had any rain to speak of for 2 or 3 months, and the birds have put down a layer of guano.
The Swallow-tailed Gull eventually woke up and turned around.† It stretched its wings at one point, and I got this picture.
Here's one last example of that same image processed with the Canon software, for comparison.
I really like this Photoshop Elements software.† Oh, did I already mention that?
After about an hour, I left.† It was fun talking to the birders, but it was time to get off my poor Achilles tendon.† I talked with a guy who had flown up from California yesterday to see the gull, and then yesterday was the only day it wasn't found.† He stuck around overnight, and he was quite pleased to see it today.† Another guy had been just about to undertake the long walk to the oil facility where it had been for several days, in the hopes of finding it, when he saw the email announcing its presence at Edmonds this morning.† Edmonds is only about a mile up the coast from the oil facility, but it was a much easier place to access.† On the other hand, the people who made the long walk in the last few days had closer views, maybe 50 feet away instead of 200 feet.† Since I couldn't make the long walk on my Achilles tendon, I was especially glad that it decided to spend the day close to the fishing pier.
When I left, there were about two dozen birders there.
Here are the happy birders, watching the rare Swallow-tailed Gull.
This was after a week, mind you.† Hundreds of birders had already seen it in the last week.† It hung around all day, I understand.† I wonder what it will do tomorrow.
That was the only species I added to my Thursday list, and it brought me to 233 species.† It was a fun day.
Friday, September 8, 2017
The Swallow-tailed Gull came back to Edmonds marina this morning, but it was farther away than yesterday from the end of the pier.† I needed Heermann's Gull for Friday, and since I couldn't see the Swallow-tailed Gull without seeing some Heermann's Gulls, I figured it would be a waste to go to Edmonds.† Instead, I went to Kayu Kayu Ac Park in Richmond Beach and looked for Marbled Murrelets.† I didn't find any, but I spotted a Heermann's Gull, and that was my Friday bird.† That brought me to 235 species for Friday.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Today the Swallow-tailed Gull was at the Point Wells oil facility again.† That's the place with at least a half mile walk along the beach each way, along with scrambling down and then back up a bank and crossing the railroad tracks.† Alternatively, you can walk about a mile and a half each way from the south or a mile from the north and do it by walking only along the beach.† Anyway, I'm not about to make that trek, so I went down to my local park, Juanita Bay Park.† I needed either one of two species for Saturday, Marsh Wren or Virginia Rail.† Both are quite responsive to playback in the spring, but for the rest of the year, it seems to be hard to attract Marsh Wrens and I'm not sure about Virginia Rails.
Anyway, I walked out onto the east boardwalk and tried playing Marsh Wren songs first.† I saw a small bird approaching through the cattails, but it turned out to be a Common Yellowthroat, not a Marsh Wren.† Farther along the boardwalk, I played the call of Virginia Rail, in a place I have seen and heard them before.† No response today, though.
I walked out to the end of the boardwalk, but there was a guy with a long-lens camera there, and I donít like to play bird calls when people are around.† I looked around at the various birds out on the lake, and I noticed some action nearby at the edge of some reeds.† To my great surprise, it turned out to be a Sora, a member of the rail family.† Soras are not common around here, and I had only seen one at Juanita Bay Park once before, and that was way back in 1999.† It was actually the first time I had ever seen a Sora, and I remember it well.† They are usually quite secretive, but this one kept coming right out into the open, only about 30 feet away.† Here are three pictures of today's Sora.
I looked in my notebook for Saturday, though, and it turned out that I had seen a Sora on a Saturday back in May, so I still needed a Saturday bird.† I kept taking pictures as it scurried around feeding, in and out of view, and suddenly there was another bird there with it.† Score!† It was another secretive member of the rail family, Virginia Rail, which is one of the two species I was looking for today.† Here is the Virginia Rail.
Here is another picture of the Virginia Rail.
I even got a half-decent picture of the Sora and the Virginia Rail in the same frame.
Here's one more of the Virginia Rail, with part of the Sora in the foreground.
A Common Yellowthroat flew into view, and I got a couple of pictures of it.
There were a lot of American Coots out on the lake, and I got this picture of one of them.
Coots look like they ought to be members of the duck family, but they are actually classified with the rails, like the Sora and Virginia Rail.† Most rails spend their life on land, but coots spend most of their time on the water, among the ducks.
The Sora just stuck around, popping in and out of view, so I kept taking pictures.
I love the sticky-up tail of the Sora.
So, that was a successful day at the park.† I kept my streak alive by adding Virginia Rail to my Saturday list, and that brought Saturday to 224 species.† Seeing a Sora and getting pictures of both species was a very nice bonus.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
I went up to Edmonds today.† I stopped at the marsh, hoping that a Sanderling might be there.† No luck.† I went on to Sunset Avenue and looked for 2 or 3 unlikely species out on the water.† No luck with that, either.† I decided to give it up and looked at the gulls and added Heermann's Gull to my Sunday list.† That brought me to 216 species for Sunday.† The streak goes on, and I'm getting kind of tired of it, frankly.
Monday, September 11, 2017
I went up to Edmonds again today.† I had a couple of species on my wish list, including the rare Swallow-tailed Gull, if it showed up somewhere I could see it.† As it turned out, no one found it today at all, and lots of people were looking for it.
First I tried Marina Beach, but there wasn't anything interesting there.† Next I stopped at the fishing pier, mainly to use the rest room there.† After I took care of that, I saw an interesting bird out on the water.† I thought it might be a Common Murre, which I needed for today.† I had left my scope in the car, but I used my camera as a scope and could see that it was actually a juvenile Pigeon Guillemot (I think), which I didn't need for today.† Here's a very distant picture of it.
There was a female Belted Kingfisher chattering and flying back and forth, and I got a couple of pictures of her.
I was running out of time because I had a lunch appointment, so I looked for a Glaucous-winged Gull for my Monday list.† I think I found a couple of them.† Here's one of them.
Here it is calling.
I think this next picture is a different Glaucous-winged Gull.
So, that was my birding for today.† I added one species to my Monday list, to bring it to 216 species.† My DOTW streak continues.
I've been using my new Photoshop Elements 15 (PSE 15) software to process my pictures, and I still like it. †I went back yesterday and looked at one of the pictures I showed on August 27.† I had used my Canon software to process it, and I wanted to see how it would look if I used the new PSE 15 software.† Here is a comparison.
First, here is a Green Heron (using my older Canon software).
Here it is using my new PSE 15 software.
In both cases, it's necessary to make a series of choices, and there is a lot of judgment involved. Someone else might come up with quite different results, by making different choices.† Neither one is perfect by any means, but I like the second one better.† Someone else might think the first one is better.† It's a great learning experience for me to see the different results, though.† I plan to continue to use the Photoshop Elements software, and I hope to continue to learn how to use it better and faster.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
On Tuesday I went over to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park to look for either of two species.† Tuesday is one of my toughest days, in terms of local species I still need.† I walked across the bridge over the railroad tracks and heard one of them, California Quail, an uncommon bird around here.† They have a very distinctive call, and I heard it several times.† That took care of Tuesday.† I halfheartedly looked around on the water for Marbled Murrelet, the other species, but I didn't see any.† That completed California Quail for me, to make it 129 species completed now.† Tuesday now stands at 212 species.† I had been watching my email on my phone, hoping someone would find the rare Swallow-tailed Gull in an accessible spot, but it never showed up on Tuesday.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Wednesday is another of my really tough days, and I started out looking for a Green Heron.† They have started their southward migration now, though, and not many are still around.† I tried at Totem Lake and then at Marymoor Park on the west side of the slough, near the rowing club.† At the pond near the rowing club I got this picture of a Pied-billed Grebe.
There weren't any Green Herons around, but I got this picture of a Great Blue Heron.
Since I couldn't find a Green Heron, I moved on to my secondary target for the day, American Dipper.† I drove out through Fall City to Tokul Creek, where I've seen a dipper two or three times this year.† I got lucky again today, too.† Here is a front view of an American Dipper.
Here is a side view, showing its round little body.
Dippers hunt along the bottom of streams for food, and here's a picture of this one foraging underwater for food.
If the stream or river is deep enough, they will go completely underwater and walk around looking for the little snails they like to eat.
So, I had my Wednesday bird, and it was a great one.† I had plenty of time, though, so I took a scenic route home and stopped in Carnation at a house that has feeders.† There were dozens of American Goldfinches there.† Here's a picture of a couple of American Goldfinches in a birdbath.
Here is a picture of a couple more.
There was a lot of seed on the ground along the street, and here's a picture of about three dozen American Goldfinches eating the seeds.
A Mourning Dove came in.
The Mourning Dove joined the goldfinches on the ground, and it was interesting how much room the goldfinches gave the dove.
I moved on from there and drove slowly past Sikes Lake, watching for birds.† I spotted a hawk on a wire up ahead, but when I stopped, it flew off.† I saw where it went, though, and it stopped close enough for pictures.† Here is what I think is a Cooper's Hawk.
I already had Cooper's Hawk on all days except Friday, but it was a good bird and I like the pictures.
Since I was going right by on my way home, I stopped at the Redmond Retention Ponds, which is where the Solitary Sandpipers and other shorebirds were a few weeks ago.† The only shorebirds there today were a few Killdeer, and the ponds are really drying up.† The small pond was completely dry and here's a picture of the main pond, showing a lot of shoreline where there was water a few weeks ago.
There were three Northern Pintails, the first ones I've seen this season.† They are just getting back from their summer migration to the north.† Here is a Northern Pintail on the water.
Here are two Northern Pintails on the shore.
Here is one of them entering the water again.
Back at home I got this picture of a Black-capped Chickadee at our feeder.
I managed to find one Wednesday bird today, to bring me to 230 species on Wednesday, and my streak is still alive.† The next three days should be okay, but then it gets tough again.† Our weather is supposed to change over the weekend, too, and we might actually get a little rain, which we very badly need.† For the third day in a row, no one found the Swallow-tailed Gull, so maybe it has moved on.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
My first stop today was the Edmonds Marsh.† I was planning to try for Marsh Wren, and if I failed, then I would look for other birds on the waterfront.† I played the song of Marsh Wren, and after a while I saw a bird approaching.† It was indeed a Marsh Wren, and it played hide and seek with me for a while, and then perched up on a reed and looked at me.
Here's another picture of the Marsh Wren checking me out.
I continued to play its song, and eventually it started singing back to me.
That was satisfying, partly because I haven't been able to get responses from Marsh Wrens recently, including there at the Edmonds Marsh.† There was a Belted Kingfisher sitting on a dead branch, too.† Here's a view from the back.
Here's a front view of the Belted Kingfisher.
Of course, I like kingfishers because they are blue.
Here's a view of the Edmonds Marsh from one of the observation platforms.
As I was leaving, a jay was calling loudly, so I took its picture.† Here is an odd perspective on a Steller's Jay.† Another blue-colored bird.
I headed for home, but it was a beautiful morning and I decided to check out a park I had read about in Kenmore.† It's a tiny park called Squire's Landing, on the Sammamish Slough, and it has a little launching platform for kayaks and canoes.† There is an empty house on the property, and it appears like someone donated their home to the city of Kenmore for a little park on the water.† There are only two regular parking places and one handicapped spot, but no one was there this morning except me.† There were a couple of picnic tables and a couple of resin lawn chairs.† I sat in a chair in the sunshine and watched the water birds.† Here is a male Gadwall.
Here's a female Gadwall for comparison.
There were a couple of Pied-billed Grebes there, and here's one of them.
Here's a picture of male and female Gadwalls.
There were some Mallards around, and they came out of the water and approached me, presumably hoping for a handout.† Here is a female Mallard.
Here is a male Mallard in his non-breeding (eclipse) plumage.
Here's a view looking west along the Sammamish Slough, towards Lake Washington.
I really enjoyed sitting in the sun and taking pictures.† Here's one last picture from the park, this time of a dragonfly.
Eventually I tore myself away from the lovely little park and went home.† From my front porch, I got this picture of a Red-breasted Nuthatch at our feeder.
To finish up today's photos, here is a Black-capped Chickadee at the birdbath.
So, I ended up adding one species (Marsh Wren) to my Thursday list, to bring it to 234 species.† That extended my DOTW streak by another day.† That makes 257 days in a row that I've been out birding this year, and each day I have added at least one new bird to that day's list.† I never thought I would get this far into the year.† It's getting pretty tough now, and next week is likely to be my last one, if I can even get through it.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Today I drove up to Tulalip Bay, which is northwest of Marysville, about a 40 minute drive from home.† My target was Black-bellied Plover, and there were 3 or 4 of them on the spit, despite the fairly low state of the tide.† That completed Black-bellied Plover for me.† Friday now stands at 236 species, my highest total day of the week.† I've completed 130 species now.† My total number of species for the year so far is 327, and it isn't likely to get much higher at all, unless I suddenly decide to travel somewhere.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Today I went over to Marymoor Park in search of several species, none of which seemed real likely.† There was a lot going on at the park, as usual on a summer weekend.† I drove around a little, though, looking specifically for a species that had been reported on Thursday, for the first time this season - American Pipit.† I was rather amazed to find two of them right off the bat, on one of the unused soccer fields, along with a herd of Canada Geese and some Killdeer.† Here are a couple of pictures of an American Pipit.
Here's a full frontal view.
Since I had my Saturday bird and the park was crowded with people, I decided to leave after that.† I didn't really want to do a lot of walking on my Achilles tendon, either, as it has hurt more the last few days.
It was too soon to just go home, though, so I drove through the Evans Creek Natural Area slowly, but I didn't see anything there.† I stopped at the Redmond Retention Ponds, which are drying up quickly.† We are supposed to get some rain in the next few days, which we very badly need, and maybe the ponds will fill up a little.† There were more varieties of ducks on the main pond today.† A few weeks ago, the only ducks were Mallards, and then Green-winged Teal started showing up.† Today there were at least five species of ducks on the pond.† Here is a male American Wigeon.
Here are a couple of Northern Pintails.
There were a couple of female Northern Shovelers, too, and here's one of them, with some Mallards in the background.
Finally, here is a Green-winged Teal, showing a sliver of its green wing patch.
The small pond is only a mud hole now, and the mud is mostly dried out.
These ponds fill with rainwater runoff, and I'm looking forward to going over there later in the week, to see if they have refilled at all.† We're supposed to get over an inch and a half of rain in the next four days.† That's going to be a problem for me and my birding, but we really need the rain, so I'm looking forward to it, anyway.
The American Pipits brought me to 225 species for Saturday.† The rain isn't supposed to start until tomorrow afternoon, so I hope to get out in the morning and get a Sunday bird.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
It's getting pretty difficult to find new birds for each day's list, and today I decided to make the trek up to Skagit county to try for some shorebirds that I was hoping would still be around.† It took about 45 minutes to get to Wylie Slough, and I walked out onto the dike to see what might be around.† Almost right away I saw some dowitchers, and at least some of them were Short-billed Dowitchers, which is the species I needed for Sunday.† Here's a picture of some dowitchers, and I think that at least one of them (on the left, facing right) is a Long-billed Dowitcher.† I think the one on the right (facing left) might be a Short-billed Dowitcher, but I'm not sure.
The differences are quite subtle, and they have to do with body shape, location of the eye, and the shape of the whitish "eyebrow" (supercilium).† Here's a picture of what I believe were Short-billed Dowitchers.
There was also a single Lesser Yellowlegs there, another species I needed for Sunday.
I think these are Long-billed Dowitchers.
Here are more Long-billed Dowitchers.
Finally, here is one more Short-billed Dowitcher.
The light was terrible, but at least I got some pictures.† I added two species to my Sunday list, to bring it to 218 species.† It's a funny kind of birding, when I drive 45 minutes each way and then spend just 20 minutes getting my birds.† This Day Of The Week birding thing puts a lot of miles on my car.
Monday, September 18, 2017
It's getting tough to keep extending my DOTW streak, and today was supposed to be very rainy, which would have made things even more difficult.† My plan was to go up to Bellingham, which is an hour and a half north of here, to get Northwestern Crow for my Monday list.† My friend, Dan, was willing to go with me to keep me company.† As it turned out, though, the big rain even fizzled and it was actually dry here all day today.† Instead of just driving up to Bellingham, I decided to first try Edmonds (30 minute drive and sort of on the way to Bellingham) for a couple of species.†
I had no luck spotting a Common Murre out on the water, so we next went to the Edmonds Marsh.† After playing the songs of Marsh Wren for ten or more minutes, a Marsh Wren finally showed itself very briefly as it checked me out.† Score!† I had my Monday bird.† I wasn't going to even try for Marsh Wren today because it was supposed to be raining, but since it was dry I gave it a shot.† There were some little peeps there at the marsh, too, probably Western Sandpipers, and one dowitcher, which I decided was probably a Short-billed Dowitcher.
Marsh Wren was the only Monday bird I got, though, and that brought me to 217 species for Monday.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
I headed up to Skagit county this morning.† I stopped on the way at Eide Road, just west of Stanwood, to check it out.† They are opening a dike and grooming the land for a new wetlands, and I wanted to see how it was going.† The sign said it was supposed to be done by October 15.† I hope they do get it done, because that's my go-to place for Short-eared Owls in the winter.
At Wylie Slough, the tide was still too high for shorebirds, so I moved on, planning to come back in 2 or 3 hours.† As I drove back to the main road I got this picture of a juvenile European Starling that is molting from its fledgling plumage to normal winter plumage.† The brown color is the fledgling color and the black with white spots is winter plumage.
I stopped at Hayton Reserve, but the tide was out too far there.† It drains a lot faster than Wylie Slough.† I played the song of Lincoln's Sparrow because I have seen them there in the past.† They are winter residents here, and they are just now coming back from wherever they go in the summer to breed.† I was lucky and one came in to check me out.† I even got a decent picture of a Lincoln's Sparrow, which was a Tuesday bird.
It was only the third time I had seen Lincoln's Sparrow this year, so I was happy to get it.
There were some Savannah Sparrows around, too.† Here is one of them.
Here is another picture of a Savannah Sparrow.
As I was getting those sparrow pictures, a Peregrine Falcon flew through and I got a good look at it.† I didn't need it for Tuesday, as it turned out, but that's an excellent bird.† I saw another one later, too.
Next I went to Channel Drive, to see if there were shorebirds there.† The tide was too high there, though, and I only saw ducks.† I got a couple of pictures of Eurasian Collared-Doves along Channel Drive, though.
On the road out to March Point, I saw the American White Pelicans that have been hanging out there for several months.† They aren't normally found in Skagit county, but this summer there have been 15 or 20 of them hanging around.
I ate my Subway sandwich at the tip of March Point, looking out over the water.† As I ate I noticed a gull coming out of the water with a crab.† It put it down on the beach and proceeded to eat it.† Here is the gull with the crab on the beach in front of it.
Here the gull has the crab in its beak.
It had been dry most of the day up until then, although there had been a few showers.† After I ate my lunch I had a huge downpour that only lasted for ten minutes or so.† After it cleared, I got this picture of Fidalgo Bay, looking toward Anacortes.
Here is the very wet Great Blue Heron from that last picture.
After that I turned toward home.† I stopped at Wylie Slough again, to see if the tide had dropped enough for shorebirds.† It had.† Here are two Lesser Yellowlegs, which I didn't need for Tuesday.
There were about 15 dowitchers there, and I needed Short-billed Dowitcher for Tuesday.† Most of the dowitchers seemed to be Long-billed, but I think this next picture shows one of each.
I think the bird on the left is a Short-billed Dowitcher and the one on the right is a Long-billed Dowitcher.† That completed Short-billed Dowitcher for me.
There was a nice surprise bird there for me, too, a Pectoral Sandpiper, a species I had only seen once before this year, in California.
Here's a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs with the Pectoral Sandpiper.
A Western Sandpiper flew in, too.
Here's the Western Sandpiper with the Pectoral Sandpiper, showing their relative sizes.
Here's a frontal view of the Pectoral Sandpiper.
Here's a Long-billed Dowitcher, I believe.
Here are what I think are two more Long-billed Dowitchers.
There were maybe half a dozen Lesser Yellowlegs around, and I saw at least three Greater Yellowlegs.† Here is a Greater Yellowlegs.
So, it was a long day of birding for me, compared to my recent days.† Instead of heading for home when I saw the Lincoln's Sparrow in the morning, I continued to visit other places, looking for more birds and to get pictures.† It was a much more normal day of birding than my recent sprints to get just one new species each day.† I added three more species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 215 species.† I'm really running out of species for Tuesday now, and next week will be a challenge.† I completed Short-billed Dowitcher, to make it 131 species completed (seen on all seven days of the week) this year.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I had a couple of species I wanted to look for at Marymoor Park today, but I also wanted to check out the Redmond Retention Ponds after the three-quarters of an inch of rain we got over the last couple of days, so I stopped there on the way to Marymoor.† The ponds did indeed have more water in them, in particular the small pond, which had been a mudhole a few days ago.† Here's the small pond this morning, after our recent rain.
There were actually several ducks on it this morning when I got there.† The main pond was maybe a little fuller, but it was hard to tell how much.
I soon spotted a couple of shorebirds.† I thought at the time that it was two Lesser Yellowlegs, but when I got home and looked at my pictures, I realized that one of them was actually a Solitary Sandpiper.† Here are a couple of pictures of the Lesser Yellowlegs.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Solitary Sandpiper.
The Solitary Sandpiper bill is shorter and the pattern on the back is completely different.† After seeing my pictures, it's hard to believe that I didn't realize it at the time.† The two species are about the same size and are superficially similar.
As usual, there were Killdeer around, which was handy for size comparison.† Distinguishing Lesser Yellowlegs from Greater Yellowlegs is easier with pictures than at the time, and seeing these two birds next to a Killdeer helped identify them.† Of course, I was thinking that they were both Lesser Yellowlegs at the time.† Here is a Killdeer.
There was also a little shorebird, and with the help of my camera, I was able to see the yellow legs, so I knew it was a Least Sandpiper.
Least Sandpiper is the only small peep with yellow legs.† All the others have black legs.
There was an Osprey on a snag overlooking the main pond.
It was watching the water very intently.
It took off and flew around over the water, then came back to the perch.† Here's a picture of it landing on the perch again.
It took off again and flew around several times, diving at the water several times.† Here it is in the air.
I kept trying to get a picture of it as it hit the water, but I never as able to get one.† Finally it was successful and caught a fish, and I got this picture of the Osprey as it flew off with its catch.
I was kind of surprised there were even any fish in the pond, but the one it caught was 6 or 8 inches long.† It flew off with it towards Marymoor Park, where there is a nest.
So, that was fun, but I still needed a Wednesday bird, and Wednesday is one of my tough days.† I drove past some likely places at Marymoor for American Pipits, including the athletic field where I had seen a couple of them the other day, but I had no luck.† I parked near the compost piles and walked around.† There are often sparrows around that area, and I needed Lincoln's Sparrow for Wednesday.† I played the song of Lincoln's Sparrow and a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos showed up in response, and also a White-crowned Sparrow.† I also got a response from a Song Sparrow, and here is a picture of that one.
Eventually a Lincoln's Sparrow flew in to check me out, and I got these two pictures.
I realized today that of the four places I can remember seeing Lincoln's Sparrow in the last couple of years, all four of them were in blackberry brambles. †I'll have to remember that for the future, especially since they seem to be responsive to playback of their song.
A male Spotted Towhee also responded and looked me over.
The Lincoln's Sparrow song really was popular, as it turned out.† I still need Lincoln's Sparrow on three days, so I'll be back to the compost piles at Marymoor, I'm sure.†
As I was leaving a female American Kestrel flew in and perched briefly for a picture.
Kestrels aren't very common around here, and I can't remember seeing one at Marymoor before.
Lincoln's Sparrow brought my Wednesday list to 231 species, and my streak is alive.† I've gotten through the three difficult days this week now, and I ought to be able to get new species on each of the next four days, although you never know.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
This morning my plan was to go up to Tokul Creek, near Snoqualmie Falls, to try for American Dipper up there, with a couple of other species as backups.† I decided to take the scenic route, though, and stopped first at the Redmond Retention Ponds.† There was nothing interesting at all there today, though.
As I crossed the Snoqualmie River Valley, heading toward Carnation, I came upon many dozens of swallows sitting on some power lines.† All the local swallows have long since headed south for the winter, other than some Barn Swallows, but these were Violet-green Swallows.† They breed all the way up into Alaska, and I presume that the northern ones might nest a little later than the ones around here.† This flock today was obviously in the midst of their migration to their wintering grounds, which are in southern Mexico.† They are a Western bird, confined to this side of the Rockies.† Because I had ignored swallows so long, I still needed Violet-green Swallow for my Thursday list.† Here are a couple of mediocre pictures of Violet-green Swallows.
Because of the terrible lighting and the position of the birds overhead, you can only barely see a hint of the green color of the wings and back.† The key identification point is the way the white on the face curls up behind and over the eye.† In the similar Tree Swallow, there is a straight line just below the eye that separates the white from the darker color of the top of the head.
So, having gotten my Thursday bird, I turned around and headed for home, saving American Dipper for a later Thursday.† That brought my Thursday total to 235 species, and my streak continues.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Today was the second full day of a cold for me, and it was much worse today than yesterday.† I didn't really feel like going out at all, but I went over to Lake Forest Park in search of Band-tailed Pigeons.† Soon after arriving I spotted one up in a tree, and I had my Friday bird.
Here is the Band-tailed Pigeon with its neck extended.
I got back in my car and started for home, but as I left I looked back at the tree the pigeon was in, and there were more of them.† They must have flown in while I was getting in the car and setting off.† I backed up and took this next picture from the car.† I count at least a dozen Band-tailed Pigeons in that tree.† There is no way they were there when I was taking the first two pictures.
The bird in the first two pictures is the one on the lower left, and I couldn't possibly have avoided seeing at least some of the others as I was taking pictures of that first one.
That was it.† I headed for home.† It was a fifteen minute drive over there, then ten minutes to take my pictures, then fifteen minutes back home.† 40 minutes, door to door, a total of about 15 miles of driving.† That brought Friday to 237 species.
I hope my cold is better tomorrow, and I hope to sleep better tonight.† Last night I was awake about as much as I was asleep, or it felt like it anyway.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Last night I ended up spraying my nose and taking half a sleeping pill, and I got a halfway decent night's sleep, anyway.† Today my cold has moved on from the nose running stage to a slight cough.† I still feel fatigued and lousy.
This morning I decided to spend the half hour it takes to drive to the Edmonds waterfront so I could get Heermann's Gull for my Saturday list, if I didnít see anything better.† I went straight to Sunset Avenue and saw some gulls out on the water in the distance.† I thought they might be Bonaparte's Gulls, which would be an excellent Saturday bird for me.† I set up my scope and started looking at them.† They were far enough away that I hadn't yet decided what species they were for sure, when I noticed a large sea bird that was dark on the top and white underneath.† It seemed to be harassing the gulls.
Bingo!† I have been reading this week about a species that does just that, and I had even seen some pictures that someone took yesterday at Edmonds, from right where I was.† I was looking at a PARASITIC JAEGER.† That was not only a year bird, it was a Washington State bird for me, and one I had only seen once before.† An almost-lifer.† Interestingly, the only other time I saw Parasitic Jaegers was exactly five years ago, on September 23, 2012.† It was in La Jolla, near San Diego, and I was sea watching with a guy named Stan that I had met online.† He pointed out three lifers to me that day, including Parasitic Jaeger.† The looks I got today were much better than the ones I had back then, though, and I found this one on my own.
Parasitic Jaegers are referred to as pirates because they don't catch fish themselves, they watch other birds, like gulls, and when a gull catches a fish, the jaeger flies in and pecks at the gull until it lets the fish go.† The jaeger then grabs the fish out of the air and has its meal.† I didn't stick around long enough to today to see the jaeger be successful, but it was certainly chasing the gulls.† Jaegers are very acrobatic and can outmaneuver gulls.† The bird was too far away for pictures, and I didn't like standing out in the cold wind with my cold, so I headed for home with my year bird under my belt.
The Parasitic Jaeger brought my Saturday total up to 226 species and my year total up to 328.† It also brought my Snohomish county list up to 137 and my Washington State list up to 267.† My DOTW streak continues.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
My cold continued today, but I went back up to Edmonds anyway, to see if the Parasitic Jaeger was still around.† I didn't find it, but there were many dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls out on the water, and I needed that one for Sunday.† I scanned around, looking for a jaeger, and I saw a Common Murre in the distance, another Sunday bird.† There were several Rhinoceros Auklets, some Horned Grebes, some Surf Scoters, and some Pigeon Guillemots in winter plumage, too.† I've already completed all of those species, but it was nice to see the winter birds returning to the Edmonds waterfront.†
My two Sunday species brought me to 220 species for Sunday.† The next three days will each be a challenge, and it will be interesting to see if I can extend my streak until the end of September.† I've managed to keep it going long enough now that various winter species are coming back, thus allowing me to possibly extend it even further.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Today I went up to the Edmonds waterfront and picked up Bonaparte's Gull for my Monday list.† It's interesting, because Bonaparte's Gulls usually show up at Edmonds in August or September, and now they have arrived.† I still need Bonaparte's Gull on three days, and it should be easy now, based on recent reports and my recent experience.† As I mentioned a day or two ago, fall and winter species are returning now.† I now have hopes of possibly extending my DOTW streak for another couple of weeks, although I could strike out on any given day, because there just aren't all that many species left for me on some days.† Weíll see how it goes.†
I've figured out what I'll do when the streak finally ends, too.† I'll see how many species I can complete this year - that is, how many species I can see on all seven days of the week.† I have completed 131 species at this point, and I think I might be able to complete 15 to 20 more, if I work at it.† Maybe I'll set a goal of 150 species.† It'll give me something specific work on, anyway, and that's a good thing.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Tuesday is a very tough day now, and I decided to start at Marymoor Park.† I had five possible Tuesday birds, but none of them were likely, and 2 or 3 were very unlikely.† I drove around a lot, looking for American Pipit, Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, or a Northern Shrike, but I never found any of those.† I walked around a little, looking for the same birds and Yellow Warbler as well, but again couldn't find anything.† I did see some sparrows, and I got this picture of a Golden-crowned Sparrow in winter plumage.
There were also some White-crowned Sparrows, and I got this picture of a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.
Eventually I gave it up and headed back toward home.† On the way home I stopped at Juanita Beach Park to look for Wilson's Snipe.† I scoped the beach where they sometimes hang out, but I didn't see any today.† I did get this picture of an American Wigeon.
I'm not sure if it's a female or a male in eclipse (non-breeding) plumage.† I think it's the latter.† Here is a male American Wigeon, and he is in pretty well-developed breeding plumage.
It was time for lunch by then, so I went home and ate.† After lunch I went down to Juanita Bay Park to see if I could find a Tuesday bird.† I walked out onto the east boardwalk and looked for snipe and also Lesser Scaup, which had been reported there this weekend.† No luck.† There was a dowitcher, though, which is unusual for Juanita Bay Park in my experience.† I played the calls of Virginia Rail, but I didn't get any responses.† I was running out of options.†
I talked to a couple of other birders and they mentioned seeing Wilson's Snipe from the west boardwalk, so I hustled over there.† There were a couple of people there with cameras and binoculars, and they were able to point out three Wilson's Snipe to me.† Phew!† A Tuesday bird, finally.† Here is a picture in which there are two Wilson's Snipe.
Here is a view of another Wilson's Snipe from the rear.
The location of the eye is strange in Wilson's Snipe, I think.† To me, it seems far back and high on the head.
That was it for birding today, but I saw a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow in our yard when I got home, and I happened to have my camera with me.
The snipe brought Tuesday to 216 species, and my streak goes on.† For a while there this afternoon, I thought it might be ending.† My cold symptoms have pretty much gone now, but I felt weak and fatigued by this afternoon, so there are still vestiges of it in me.† I just hope it doesn't settle into my chest and turn into the walking pneumonia I so often get after a cold.
Tomorrow is going to be another challenging day.† There aren't many options left for Wednesday now.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
I knew this was going to be a challenging day for my DOTW game, and I started at Marymoor Park.† I tried for Green Heron where I have seen them before, but most of the Green Herons in the area have left for their annual migration south, and I didn't see one.† I played the calls of Pacific Wren and Varied Thrush, but had no luck.† Pacific Wrens left about six months ago to go up into the mountains for their breeding season, and they are just now starting to come back.† I haven't seen one yet this fall.† Varied Thrushes are around, supposedly, but I have never had much luck in seeing them, and I've never had one respond to playback.
I drove around the park looking for two or three unlikely species, and I didn't find any of them.† Eventually I gave that up and went to Juanita Bay Park.† First I tried playing Pacific Wren and Varied Thrush calls in several places, but got no responses.† I walked out onto the east boardwalk and played Virginia Rail calls, but go no responses to that either.† Someone reported two Green Herons there at the park yesterday, but I couldn't find one.† I was quickly running out of options.
I went over to the west boardwalk, but there were too many people around at first for me to play Virginia Rail calls, which is what I wanted to do.† Eventually the people moved on and I had a little time alone where I wanted to play the calls.† I did so, and immediately two Virginia Rails, which were very close to me, responded.† Success.† I played the calls 3 or 4 times, and each time I got responses from at least two rails, and always very close, almost right at my feet.† The grass and other vegetation was so thick that I never saw one, although I saw the brush moving once or twice as they moved around.
Anyway, I had my Wednesday bird.† Next Wednesday is going to be extremely tough, unless the Pacific Wrens come back before then.† Wednesday now is at 232 species.† The next 3 or 4 days should be fairly easy, although the weather could be an issue, as we might get a little rain.† We really need the rain, though, so I hope it does rain.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Today promised to be fairly easy, and I headed up to Edmonds.† I stopped at Sunset Avenue first, expecting to easily see Bonaparte's Gull, with possibilities for other species.† It was really dead.† There were only a few gulls around, and I couldn't find a Bonie's.† I moved up to Ocean Avenue, but had no luck there either.† Next I stopped at Marina Beach and was equally unsuccessful there.† There was nothing left except to walk out onto the fishing pier.† I've been trying to take it easy on my Achilles tendon by avoiding walking, but I had to do it.† In addition to the Achilles tendon, my cold has hung on and I was feeling fatigued, even at 10 in the morning.
Anyway, out on the pier I was soon rewarded with the sight of a Common Murre right next to the pier.† That was an excellent Thursday bird for me.† It kept diving and then resurfacing some distance away, and I hustled up and down the pier trying to get pictures.† Here's the only decent close one I was able to get, looking down on the Common Murre.
After a while it stopped diving and started grooming.† First it took a "bath", which seems redundant for a bird that spends almost all of its life either on or under the water.† It flapped its wings and splashed water around itself, though.
It splashed plenty of water around.
Here is the Common Murre after the initial "bathing" part of its grooming ritual.
Next it did some grooming of its feathers and it flapped its wings, maybe to dry them out underneath.† Check out the short, stubby wings.
Here is a view from the rear, showing how its legs are right at the back of its body.
It did more grooming and flapping for a while.
Here is the Common Murre after it finished its whole routine.
That was what I needed, so I headed toward home.† I stopped at Wallace Swamp Creek Park, though, mainly because it was such a beautiful day, and I thought I might get some more pictures.† I enjoyed the park and I was surprised to get another Thursday bird, a female Black-throated Gray Warbler.† I had a series of excellent views of her, but she never stayed still for a picture.† It is pretty late in the season for any migrating warbler, and most of the local Black-throated Gray Warblers are well on their way south by now.† This one might have been passing through after breeding farther north.
My two Thursday birds brought Thursday to 237 species.† It was a warm day today, in the 80's.† This was the swan song of summer, though, and the temperatures are supposed to be in the 60's now, with the possibility of some rain showers over the next 3 or 4 days.† I thought Friday was going to be easy, but looking at my list, it might be a little tough, although I expect to get something eventually, if the rain cooperates enough.† The streak continues.
Friday, September 29, 2017
This morning I went up to Edmonds again.† It was sprinkling very lightly as I drove, but it let up when I got there.† Again there were no Bonaparte's Gulls around, though.† I wonder if they are gone, or if they will be back.† I did look around at the gulls that were there, and found some that I believe were California Gulls, which I also needed for Friday.† That completed California Gull for me; I've now seen that species on all seven days of the week this year.† That makes 132 species completed.† My Friday total is now 238, my highest day of the week.
I didnít get any pictures today, but I did some fooling around with my new processing software, Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE).† I looked back at one of my pictures from my Texas trip back in February.† I wasn't happy with the results I got with my old software, which in those days was Paint Shop Pro (PSP).† I used the new PSE software and tried it again.† The original was a jpg, not a camera RAW file, because that was all my old Sony cameras would produce, so I couldn't use all the features of PSE, but I could use enough of them to make a definite improvement, in my mind.
Here is what the picture of a Lilac-crowned Parrot looked like right out of the camera ( my old Sony), with no processing at all except cropping it.
The picture was badly back-lighted and I managed to get it to look like this with Paint Shot Pro at the time.
Tonight I tried it with the Canon software I liked so much, Digital Photo Professional 4, which isn't really made for jpg's, but I was able to get this result.
That was a definite improvement, but I wanted to see what I could do with Photoshop Elements 15. †This was the result.
That completely surprised me.† It isn't a perfect picture, but I took it just before sunset in low light, and it was badly back-lighted, as I mentioned.† I wouldn't have expected to be able to improve it that much, especially since it was a jpg original, and PSE is most effective with camera RAW files.† Anyway, the bottom line is that I like the Paintshop Elements 15 software very much.† I'm still learning to use it, and I expect my results to get better over time, but I like what I can do already.† To me, the comparisons above are impressive, and I wanted to record them here, for future reference.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Today promised to be easy for a Saturday bird, and I went up to Edmonds to look for gulls.† Again there were no Bonaparte's Gulls around, for the third day in a row, and I couldn't find a Mew Gull either.† I did see a couple of Heermann's Gulls, though, and I completed that species.† That makes133 species completed now, and my Saturday total is 227 species.† I made it through September with my DOTW streak, which greatly exceeds my original expectations.
Since I don't have any pictures today, I'm going to include a couple more old pictures that I have processed with my new Paintshop Elements software.† They were taken near sunset in poor light, hand-held at the highest zoom, and they aren't good at all, but I think they look better with the PSE processing.
Here are a couple of Red-crowned Parrots, as processed with Paint Shop Pro back in February.
Today I chose to crop the image differently, and here is what it looks like with PSE.
You could say it's too bright now, but I like it much better than the old version.
Here is another one of two Red-crowned Parrots, maybe the same two, processed with Pint Shop Pro back in February.
Here is today's version, processed with Photoshop Elements.
Again, it is maybe too bright, but I like it better than the old version.
Tomorrow shouldn't be too difficult for a Sunday bird, although I might have to work for it.† After that it gets very tough, and I expect the streak to end this week by Wednesday at the latest.