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.
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!