Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Monday June 25, 2012 Squak Mt. State Park

I'm trying to get in every last second I can before my eye surgery tomorrow. I'm not sure when I'll be able to go birding again. After work, Rudy and I had to go up to Bellevue to pick up some special equipment for my recovery today so instead of battling the traffic to get home we decided to see what mischief we could get into. First we ate dinner at a nice little teriyaki place at Factoria. Then we headed out Coal Creek Parkway and Maytown road toward Issaquah-Hobert. There was a sign for a Squawk Mountain State Park on the way so we decided to stop by and see what we could find. It is just a small little parking area but there were a few trails. Since my knee is still so bad we had to keep to the short ones so we went on a nicely done interpretive trail. The setting is an older forest but it was very quiet so we didn't know if we'd see any birds. Then we heard what sounded like a new song but once we found the source it was a pretty little spotted towhee. The interpretive trail was like none I'd ever seen before (this is saying something because I hit about every one I've ever been near). It was done in a children's story with the field mouse looking for the pretzel tree. Along the way he meets all kinds of critters in the forest and how they all work together to make the forest a wonderful place. It so inspired me I'm going to do something similar for our property. But, back to birds. Still pretty quiet but we did hear some high pitched noise. Rudy saw it first, a brown creeper (#147). Then I got a nice little show. Creepers are great because they will only go up a tree, never down. Sure enough that is exactly what he did. Then we heard another very intricate song and it turned out to be a Pacific wren (#148) perched on top of a stump. Wouldn't you know it, I did not have my video camera to capture the moment but it lives on in our memory. We kept hoping to see an owl as it was a perfect forest for one but no luck. But we were happy to add two more for such a simple outing.

After that we headed out toward Maple Valley, Four Corners and Black Diamond. We decided to go into Flaming Geyser State Park for our last look of the day. First thing we saw was a beautiful eagle flying from a tree down through the valley. Then we went over to the ponds and saw a belted kingfisher and startled a great blue heron. Also making a racket were a bunch of red winged blackbirds chasing a crow out of their area. That went on for a while until they quieted down for the night. Rudy found a mama merganser with some babies--it doesn't get cuter than that. No new birds at that stop but a nice way to finish the day.

Saturday June 23, 2012 Auburn Enviornment Park

 I was really hoping to get a full day of birding in today as I'm having eye surgury on Tuesday and I won't be able to get out for a while. I had planned to go to Nisqually NWR but the morning was very cold and very wet and I had no desire to get out to Nisqually on the boardwalk and get drenched. So we just took it easy. The late afternoon did dry out and warm a bit so we pushed ourselves to get out. We stayed close to home and just went to the Auburn Enviornment Park. We did see swallows, waxwings, even the Virginia rail gave us a brief peak but we didn't see any new bird....until...we were getting back in our car. What's that up in that tree? Rudy got the scope out. It's a flycatcher--it's a willow flycatcher (#146)! Add one more.

Weekend-June 15-17, 2012 Moving Flynn & Anna

This was really a working weekend but if we're going all the way to Pendleton, OR we're going to get in a bit of birding. Friday night, after work, Rudy and I headed over to Pendleton because our son, Flynn, was moving back to the "wet side" of the mountains. We took a bit of a jog from the Interstates at Ellensburg by going on the Yakima Canyon Road. This is a wonderful alternative to the freeway that goes up and down over the mountains. It is so beautiful following the river winding through the Yakima canyon. We made one stop to look for birds. We saw all of these birds flying around above us catching bugs.We thought they were swifts but after looking in the bird book we found out they were actually nighthawks (#143). We needed to push on and so pulled ourselves away from there and proceeded on to Pendleton. We arrived late, about 10:30pm, but we had a reservation at the Super 8.

Next morning we met Flynn and Anna at their apartment. Now was time to work. Rick, Flynn and I had to drive to Pasco to pick up a U-Haul truck, drive back and then we all loaded it up. Anna had done a great job of packing everything up so all we had to do was bring down everything 3 stories, and fit it all in to the back of the box truck--kind of like Tetris. We ended up sometime in the late afternoon. Rudy had worked up a sweat, it was a nice warm day, so we went back to the motel to clean up and Flynn and Anna went out for a couple of farewell parties. Rudy and I ate at the Prodigal Son Brewery, really good. I had a beer named Sue and Rudy had a beer with coffee. I had mac and cheese and he had fish and chips. After that we took the walk along the river. We saw some house finches, lots of swallow, cedar wax wings and then we spotted a black crowned night heron (#144) in the middle of the river. That was really exciting.

Next morning up early and out for a quick trip to McKay NWR. We had very little time but we saw a kestral, swallows, blue heron, quails and even a ring-necked pheasant (#145). We could have stayed there much longer but we had to get back for the drive back home. We ended up departing about 10am, Rudy driving the truck, me driving our car, Flynn and Anna in their car. We stopped in Prosser at the Subway for a bite and then booked it all the way to Kirkland to their new place. Moved them in, ate at Azteca and then home to crash. I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. We did add three birds which isn't bad for a working weekend. Nice to have Flynn and Anna so close now.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday June 11, 2012 Auburn Environmental Park

Birding and a two year old don't really go together too well. We had gone out on June 9 to Mima Mounds and Scatter Creek but hadn't seen anything new. It was fun being out with Libby and Liam so it really didn't matter if we added birds or not. But today Liam was going to spend the evening with his other grandparents so Libby wanted to try to get some birding in. We thought we might go to Kent but on the way we passed the new Auburn Environmental Park on the way and decided to stop by to check it out. Little did we know it would turn out to be our destination. First stop was the birding tower that anchors the site. There were cedar waxwings, robins and tree swallows. Then down to the brand new boardwalk. We could hear wrens but weren't sure what kind. After finally getting a good look we recognized a bewicks wren (#141), that was unexpected but sweet. We also heard another call we didn't know. Rudy said he saw something running among the reeds, we figured it might be the bird making the sound. Finally we got a good glimpse, it was a cute, evasive Virginia rail (#142). Very cool. Down the walk we saw a yellow warbler and many more waxwings and a flicker. The boardwalk goes through a number of different eco systems so it was fun checking it all out. We ended up spending quite a bit of time there and realized we'd better eat before it was time to pick Liam back up. Oh good, time enough for Taco Time! How about that, two new birds, Taco Time and we didn't even leave Auburn. It was a very nice evening.

Sunday June 3, 2012 Knock knock

Big day today--Libby and Liam flew in from Nashville to stay for 10 days. We were outside of the house after they had arrived and we heard a tell-tale tapping coming from the birch. Libby and I went over thinking we were going to see a downy or hairy woodpecker but were pleasantly surprised to see a gorgeous red-breasted sapsucker (#140) working away at the trunk. Nice.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 last day for Eastern WA

This was the last day of our birding trip to Eastern WA. so we got up early and headed out north on McManamon Rd out of Othello. From there we turned right onto Morgan Lake Rd. This road goes quite a long way into the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. It has numerous places to get out and look for birds. It was a bit confusing for us, not exactly knowing the area, we floundered around a bit but made the best of it. The good thing was that there were hardly any other people out there. We got out at a number of locations and saw a couple of beautiful great egrets, a blue heron and a number of terns and bunches of swallows. In another area we saw tri-colored blackbirds (#137) singing in the cattails. One of our last stops brought us to the Soda Lake Dam area. We had just a quick glimpse of some ducks and were trying to get a better view. A lady stopped and asked if we'd seen anything--we talked for a bit and she said those were blue-winged teals (#138). She also said she had just been up to the dam but hadn't seen anything. After that conversation Rudy and I almost decided not to go the extra 1/2 mile to check out the area, but Rudy decided we might as well go. It was a good thing too because there on the shallow part of the water was a single black-necked stilt (#139). A very cool looking bird and well worth the extra bit of time. It also proved to be a good bird to end our lovely time of birding in Eastern Washington.

We were gone 4 days/3 nights and added 26 new birds to the list in addition to seeing deer/porcupines/a yellow-bellied marmot/prarie dog and a cotton-tailed rabbit. We really didn't want to come back--I think we are made to bird all day long. Too bad you have to have money to keep going because it sure puts a crimp on the lifestyle we would prefer. Oh well, it was a great, great time. Here is a short video of some of my favorite birds from our long weekend.