Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tuesday February 21, 2012

Libby and family flew back to Nashville today. They car broke down on the way to the airport. Rudy had planned on just coming home after dropping them off because he wasn't feeling well but because of this he ended up being dropped off at work. He called me about 11am saying he wanted to go home and because he didn't have a car I had to leave work early and pick him up. It actually was providential because when we got out of the car at home Rudy spotted some fleeting little birds with yellow patches in the trees around the driveway. It turned out they were yellow crowned kinglets (#45). There was a small flock of them jumping quickly around and singing their high pitched song. We tried to get pictures and videos but nothing good--they are too fast.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday February 5, 2012 Just at Home

Just had a little time this afternoon so I strolled down to the lower half of our property. I like to call it our own little wildlife preserve. There were quite a few varied thrushes, junco and robins hanging out down there. Along with a lone towhee and some chestnut backed chickadees...but wait...what's that little bird? What a cutie. Oh, I've seen you before but I could never get a good enough look to identify. This time I got a nice view...a little ruby crowned kinglet #43. Not to be disappointed with only one added to the list, a little later a pair of purple finches #44 hung around a while too. Not bad for a walk outside.

Saturday February 4, 2012 Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

I have a bit of a hole in my blogging since my last entry. That snowstorm had me captured at home for a few days and then the ice storm came after that. For 36 hours it was like the trees were at war with us. At times the cracking and crashing around us sounded like we were under siege. It was quite terrifying but through it all we suffered no serious damage although both of our vehicles and house had some very close calls. We have trees all around us and God did some serious pruning. We did lose power for five full days and that is not fun. We are better equipped than some with our wood cook stove but kerosene lanterns are still dull and no hot water is trying. But we got through it and now the clean up. Last weekend we made a start--there is so much damage it will take us all through the summer, but now we can get the cars out, walk around the house and such. The issue with this is it doesn't get us out and about to view birds. I did add a Stellar blue jay #35 to the list on January 16. He came to our bird feeder.

But yesterday the weather was great, my daughter Libby, son-in-law Eric and my one and only grandchild Liam (20 months) are visiting from Nashville so all us except Eric set off to Nisqually Wildlife Refuge for the day. This is a place that changes so much every month you need to keep returning to view the different bird species. Hunting season is over and the boardwalk was opened all the way to the end and when we arrived we realized we were not the only ones waiting for a good day to visit the Refuge. We arrived around 10am and the parking area was already full, we actually parked in the RV area, along with others. The visitors center is situated on a lovely pond area and there is always waterfowl there. Not to be disappointed we saw Mallards, Northern Pintails and American Wigeons. We were trying to get our grandson to say Wigeon as his first word but it didn't happen. One of the other people standing around said he's not going to look at ducks and say "duckie" he's going to say "Wigeon". That would make me so happy. Anyway, we walked out to the boardwalk that follows the pond and lowland area. We saw some ringed necked ducks #36 some coots swimming and diving around. There was a beautiful great blue heron right next to the boardwalk--it never gets old seeing them.

On the other side of the walkway is a huge open wetlands area. There were a bunch more pintails there all with there rear ends in the air while their bills were prodding the bottom areas for delicacies. It looked like a comical ballet of sorts. Walking further we could hear some other birds singing in the trees but I couldn't recognize any except a robin. The boardwalk opens to the "barn" area which in a month or so will be filled with about three kinds of swallows but as of yet they must still be wintering down south. From the barns you go up on the dike which has fresh water on the left and salt water lowland on the right. We saw an juvenile red tail hawk perched in one of the trees on the left. This area usually has copious amounts of waterfowl, and that day we saw Canadian geese and some northern shovelers #37. The shovelers are always fun to watch scooping up the bottom to find their meal. Walking a bit further a crowd was gathered around an American bittern #38 standing right off of the path. He was lovely and a real showstopper. Rudy got some nice pictures. One of the docents said he was after voles or a least some other small burrowing critter. It was delightful to see him so close, the markings and coloring are incredible and he wasn't bothered much for the clicking of shutters and shuffling around him.

Traveling on you arrive on the boardwalk that goes all the way out to Puget Sound. This is a spectacular place to walk, let alone bird watch. You find both kinds of people out on a sunny day with lots of families and friends enjoying the bright day. We were able to let Liam out of the stroller and walk and run to his hearts content as the sides are fully encased in wire. The boardwalk is surrounded by a tidal area where the water goes in and out with a current equal to a river flowing. It was pretty far out then so there weren't too many birds but we did see some horned grebes #39 floating and diving in the water. Great blue herons are an ever present site along with different types of seagulls. We added some California gulls #40 and a  ringed bill gull #41 to the list. We're certainly getting better at our gulls and waterfowl but have so much further to go. While I was filming the grebes Rudy was trying to get my attention to something. I stopped what I was doing and headed down there. I'm trying to see what was causing the excitement and then I see in a scrub tree off to the right a bird sitting in the bare branches. I get my binoculars on it and see it is a belted kingfisher #42! Finally we get to add one to our list. Rudy didn't seem to be paying any attention to the kingfisher though and when I caught up to him he asked if I'd seen the great blue heron that had just flown right over us. This I had missed but I turned his attention to the kingfisher and he got all excited along with my daughter who had always wanted to see one.

We didn't make it all the way to the end, toddlers dictate how far you can go and even though Liam was doing great he was getting tired and hungry and we needed to turn back. All in all it was a good day for getting in the sunshine, adding to the bird list, and being away from storm clean up.

Here's a video of the day.