An Amateur Birdwatcher's tally
Sunday again. It had stormed hard in King County, Washington overnight. The weather was in the chilly 50s but some sun peeked out in the morning. We decided to return to Flaming Geyser park for our dog walking and bird watching.
I threw out some old bread before getting the car prepped for the dogs. A few seagulls and a murder of crows came along for breakfast. I love that term – murder of crows. It sounds so serious. But my visitors were cheerful to find food. The seagulls rushed away – maybe they had other plans. While I watched my guests a huge murmuration of starlings flew by. They were murmuring amongst themselves and ignored the suet I had just put out. But two types of sparrows – house sparrows and black throated sparrows appeared at the feeder. One of our scrub jays did, too. It’s odd to think that he is related to the crows but there is no doubting the intelligence and wit in both groups.
With such joyous guests it was a little sad to leave our pretty but messy yard. The windstorm had sprayed trash all over the place. But the birds didn’t care. We loaded up the dogs and headed out. Out near highway 18 we saw a hawk, waiting for his own breakfast. Soon we were on Green River road and Katie could stick her head out the window to get the full effect of the wind in her ears. Maggie laid quietly and looked up out of the window sedately. I don’t think she loves the car like Katie does.
Two blue herons hung out in the Green River. A kestrel swung on a telephone wire looking for a catch. Starlings gathered near barns. Cows dotted some fields. Mallards waded through massive puddles on farmland. We were at the park all too soon. This is Katie’s favorite place to go. How long it takes to get to parking! All of five minutes sometimes!
My turn to walk Katie. We started at the restrooms, which is surrounded by meadows. Katie loves doing off road trotting. I don’t enjoy it as much, with a gimpy knee and a fear of falling. But a person will do lots of things for their dog. We took off across the turf.
A wren pranced on a bush nearby. Bewicks or winter? Hm. I checked my guide. I didn’t see an eyestripe but I’m going with the winter wren. Sometimes all a birder can do it guess.
Then Katie pulled my – I mean her – leash. Time to move on. I heard the cry and looked around for a baby. No humans were in sight. What was wailing? A flash of red on a distant tree clued me in. I steered Katie in that direction. Luckily she thought it was a good place to go.
I started taking pictures from about 40 feet away. Was it a woodpecker? No. It was a red breasted sapsucker. Yea. That isn’t a common bird for me. Katie tugged her leash again. Wasn’t she the focus of this expedition? I snapped her picture.
She sure is cute. We kept going. She didn’t know that I kept photographing. Luckily I didn’t step in any holes or slip on any leaves! Falling is a fear of mine. But I made it. We walked across the street toward the river.
There were robins in the meadow, a welcome sight. I heard a kingfisher but never saw him. Then we headed back to the car to meet up with Maggie and my sister, who is also a bird lover.
Our treks in Flaming Geyser rarely take more than an hour and sometimes less. But we roll out of the park sadly. It’s a fun place to go for dogs and for people. Another short but full birding experience. On the way home we saw a Northern flicker, another blue heron, and pigeons. Only 15 bird species this morning. But we still enjoyed it.
ItA lot of my birdwatching is done by car. Also, I do a lot of birdwatching while dog walking. On weekends I can combine the two past times at a park or rural area..
One of my favorite spots to look for avian and give my girls exercise is Flaming Geyser Park. Lot's of dogs walk there on the weekends so my girls have buddies to meet up with. Meanwhile, I can steal some glimpses for birds.
Of course the fun begins before we leave the driveway. I fill the feeders, put out suet, get the dogs in the car and rest while watching the breakfast queue at the feeder. It was in the 40s and chilly but not freezing in January. Clouds rolled around a bit but not too much at the time.
A family of scrub jays reside in our area and really like our yard. This guy is a bossy one but we like him. He saw us off and we headed for highway 18. We saw crows, seagulls, and sparrows before we got on the highway. A hawk was watching for dinner along the way.
When we took the black diamond exit and travelled down Green River Road the excitement rose. This is farm country. We saw 2 blue herons, a kestrel, two more hawks (red tails), Canada geese, and mallards along the way. I also saw a dove.
At the park I took Maggie and Katie went with her other person. We saw a kingfisher on a snag over the swamp, also red-winged blackbirds and widgeons in the swamp. Over this year I plan to fully explore the park for the purpose of this blog. It's one of my favorite go-to places. We only walked about a mile all total, much of it though the meadow near the swamp. Maggie checked out Facebook pages on poles and boulders and I checked out trees and watched the sky.
On the way home we saw our only robin - an odd circumstance here in King County. It's also notable that we saw no starlings - very rare. But we saw a total of 5 hawks (beside the kestrel) and 5 blue herons. This is a good time of year for them. On Green Valley road some fog rolled in and covered some of the low places.
It was a short list, and fairly common birds this week. But I put together a slide show of a star this week - a good looking red- wing blackbird. Check out the birding gallery as I build it up.
I didn't land in any mud or puddles, didn't trip over any branches, didn't drop my camera in the swamp. It was, all in all a good birding week.
An Introduction to this page
He knows I'm stalking him. It makes him nervous. I try to back off, but this is so important to me! Will he ever show himself?
He sings cheerfully. I see movement here and there. But his cover is concealing him. I'm not even sure the singer is the one I am looking for. I have been waiting for five minutes. It feels like an hour.
The Lazuli Bunting pops up out of the bushes, finally. I lift my camera, point it, and click. Nothing happens. I have waited so long the camera turned itself off. “Drat!” I growl and fiddle to turn it back on. I raise the camera to my eye again. The Bunting is gone.
I am an amateur birder and photographer. Even after several years of birding I still can identify only about ten or fifteen species without a bird book. Over half of my photos reflect blurs. But I am enthusiastic.
I take a lot of pictures. I take multiple pictures to ensure getting a decent one. So I call myself a birding paparazzi, though I don't take advantage of anyone for profit.
My stars are beautiful. There are blue herons, rosy finches, house sparrows and more. I have a long wish list of birds I want to see and photograph, called a life list.
I'm planning on a weekend of excitement, glamor and fun. Okay, so I'm going bird watching. I may slip in some mud, miss my target and come home insect bitten. But I'm going to take my camera and try to find some birds. That spells fun to me, the bird paparazzi.
I love birdwatching. It's relaxing and fun. Even though I've been birding for over 10 years I classify myself as an amateur birder. I plan to write a blog each month about my experiences. Hope you enjoy them!