Sunday, November 11, 2007

Where the River Flows Into the Strait

Light rainshower with bundled-up birders.

It rainshowered a time or two, but mostly it was sunny and crisp out there. No luck on learning gulls. You needed to look closely through one of the better scopes that the experienced birders had brought, and the stupid birds had to stay in the field of the scope long enough for you to get your turn. Moreover (further excuses), most of the gulls that were sitting around on the bar where you could easily look at them just with binoculars were what is called "Olympic" gulls, hybrids of western and glaucus-winged gulls. Extremely variable. Why even try? I stopped listening when people were calling out about all the other gulls that they were spotting.

Did do well for ducks. Oh, there were buffleheads and lesser scaups, and common and whitewinged scoters, mergansers and American widgeons and harlequin ducks. Nothing like a family of harlequin ducks paddling slowly past, all serene and perfectly beautiful, to make a frustrated novice birder feel much better. Loons. Grebes. Someone showed me a marbled murrelet in the scope, but I couldn't see its characteristics well enough to say I actually saw it. Marbled murrelets are the birds that live in coastal waters, but nest high up on the limbs of old-growth trees miles deep in the forest. When they fledge, they fly straight from their natal branch out to sea, no messin' around in trees or stopping over on ponds on their way. They are listed as threatened.

A couple of dunlin. Ooh I love shore birds. I said to one of the other birders, "If it has long legs and a long beak, I'm for it." "If it has feathers, I'm for it," she replied.

Elwha River flowing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca


Anonymous said...

>When they fledge, they fly straight from their natal branch out to sea, no messin' around in trees or stopping over on ponds on their way. They are listed as threatened.<

Sounds like a very useful skill.

After a couple of years of no bird nests in the maple trees or the crabapple, I noticed this year, after all the leaves had fallen and I could see the branches, that there are two new nests.

I'm wondering why as I have a dog and cat who are both more than ready to harrass fledglings as they have done in the past. I assumed that's why the nests disappeared. I saw no wayward fledglings this year, however, and now am wondering what kind of nests these are and did the fledglings just escape the dog and cat or were they just better at learning to fly quickly - I even had the thought - were they trying at night when the cat and dog are in the house? Just random musings got me to thinking.

mb in Port Angeles said...

I'm not good at spotting nests. There's a certain amount of bird action out this window. A steller's jay that likes to sit on the top of the (I presume it's a) western redcedar in the yard of the house on the next block below. Sometimes a noisy flock of some really little birds... I gotta start keeping the binocs right here by the computer. Who ARE those little twitterers, and was that an eagle I saw flapping gracefully towards the Park headquarters this morning??

Anonymous said...

>and was that an eagle I saw >flapping gracefully towards the >Park headquarters this morning??

Oh boy, if it was, lucky you.

I get stellar jays, starlings, wrens,chickadees, robins and an occasional kestrel. Not much else.

I keep the binoculars by the front window to watch both the birds and the dogs who come by with their walkers. I especially like the dogs.

ceeinbc said...

Those little, twittering birds you're describing, Mir, sound like they could be Bushtits. I'll send you a pic of a whole bunch of them swarming our suet. You usually hear them before you see them -- sweet. Oh, & they have an undulating flight pattern.