An Amateur Birdwatcher's tally
“Ooh.” The excitement in my voice was clear. I tugged at my seatbelt and almost turned completely in my seat.” Katie was already hanging out the window, but she wasn’t looking at what I saw. My sister was driving and she was definitely distracted. “You need to turn around.” My tone was demanding. “If you don’t turn around you will be sorry.” This was not a threat but a promise. I had seen some wild birds amongst a flock of gulls. But these were different.
They were trumpeter swans. We had seen a pair on Green Valley road the week after Christmas. We didn’t expect to see them again this year. Now we passed a meadow full of gulls and these swans. What a coup in our bird watching adventure! I got a few pictures and we turned back toward Flaming Geyser Park.
We had already seen scrub jay in our yard, gulls, crows, pigeons, 2 blue herons, starlings, and a kestrel. Now we had a rare, at least to us, species. Farm country was pretty on the way to the park. The temperatures were in the 50s and there was no fog. We saw a hawk but only could guess it was a red tail.
At the park a pair of stellar jays played love songs to each other. A red wing black bird sang cheerily. And a flock of varied thrush flew away before I could get their picture. All in all, a good birding day.
The water was running hard and loud, and Maggie lunged happily along in the company of her cousin Sammy dog, who was visiting for the weekend. Take a look at my birding gallery for some pictures of pretty birds…
I didn’t get to go birdwatching this past weekend. But I made up for by parking lot birding over lunch. What, pray tell, is parking lot birding? Just like it sounds, I walked around my job’s parking lot and looked for birds. No dogs joined me since my dogs stay at home on work days. So I gave the hobby my full attention.
Parking lot birding astonishes me. Here is a whole parallel society living with humans, right amongst us. But where we are rushing around, with jobs and classes and all the tasks people set for themselves, birds just exist naturally. Their lives are focused on food, fun, flying, and communing amongst themselves. No worries, man. Birds are amazing.
Of course crows are everywhere in my birding world. They are intelligent and have individual personalities. Some are shy, some are friendly. Some are pleasant, others are raucous. They seem to get along with most other birds. I can’t help but like crows.
One particular crow caught my attention. He walked along a sidewalk with a purpose, then stopped in front of a big black pickup truck. He backed up and scanned the front of the vehicle, then moved around to the driver’s side. He looked that over, too. Then he bowed his head and carefully viewed under the vehicle. It was clear this bird was on a mission. Unfortunately, his prey was not underneath the truck. So he moved on.
Seagulls are big guys trying to fit in with the little folks. They are often useful in opening bags of chips so the crows let them hang out with them. Gulls are gorgeous in flight, or sleeping on top of light poles. There are several families in the northwest, including glaucous, ring billed, and California. In my research for this blog article I found a fabulous website that I plan to use quite often to build my expertise on gulls.
Checkout https:// www.pugetsound.edu/academics/academic-resources/slater-museum/biodiversity-resources/birds/identification-of-pacific-nort/ . I’d love to make up a cool chart like this for songbirds, focusing on sparrows.
Brewers blackbirds are sweet little guys. I love watching them, but they maintain their distance with people despite being amongst us. I found them, along with the gulls and crows, in my parking lot bird experience. Sometimes I hear Killdeer but no luck in this brief half hour. A chickadee sang in a birch tree and junco’s flirted with each other. Pigeons perched on wires over the railroad tracks nearby.
So I saw 7 species in less than 30 minutes, just by eating lunch in my car. It’s great birdwatching in the Northwest. You can see birds almost anywhere.
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!