Thursday, January 20, 2011
Bird Watching Day
Simple drawing of the view from the bluff at Discovery Park in Seattle - Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and the grayness of it in January. However, I did not go to Discovery today, I went to the Montlake Fill, which is a reclaimed garbage dump right next to the University of Washington. It is a natural area bounded on one side by the Center For Urban Horticulture that also has a nice garden to visit.
I went there to bird, and even though it was a very cold and windy day I saw some good species. My sole complaint about the place is that the ambient noise is high - airplanes, boats, barking dogs and just the ambient traffic from the surrounding roads can make it difficult to identify birds by hearing.
My list today - chickadee, song sparrow, oregon junco, scrub jay, flicker (heard only), anna's hummingbird (heard only), towhee, robin, white crowned sparrow, red tailed hawk, bald eagle, bufflehead, gadwall, greater scaup, green winged teal, american wigeon, northern shoveler, mallard, winter wren, bewick's wren, marsh wren, redwing blackbird (heard only), cormorant (spp unknown), canada goose and ruddy duck.
There were probably a few more species of waterfowl (usually my patience here is rewarded with wood ducks and mergansers), but the water was very choppy and the wind was driving things around. Not seeing a great blue heron was weird. Now of course I will say again RUDDY DUCK! The first one I have ever seen, just a single one located on the main pond among the northern shovelers. I saw it listed on the birder's kiosk at the start of the trail and figured I would not see it, since I rarely see the exciting things people list, but he was very cooperative, even if he was in his dull winter plumage. When I saw him I have to admit that I whispered "YES" and pumped my fist.
The wrens were another story. In Seattle it is normal to have bewick's wrens - they even used to be called "Seattle Wrens" before they got lumped with the bewicks. Winter wrens are more of a deep cover/forest species, so it was a surprise to see this tiny, fluffy dark guy tumble across the trail in front of me. Winter wrens act a bit like mice, always in heavy cover and undergrowth, so I call them mouse birds too. Marsh wrens - well to be expected on the edge of Lake Washington, but it was cool to get the wren trifecta all within an acre.
The bald eagle pair I saw were obviously courting, circling and flying low over the landscape - they're generally pretty lazy cruisers, so to see them interacting with each other was pretty neat. Good to see how healthy and shiny their plumage was, like they'd been to a good bird barber recently.
Anyhow, off to clean the studio. The kiln is at 900F and climbing, hopefully a kiln opening of finished pieces tomorrow morning.