Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012 at home

Just stayed home today. Rudy was spending some time working with the new camera looking out our front window. We had lots of the normal birds like junco, chickadees, northern flickers and he even saw a number of eagles flying around over the house. Then he called me to the window saying I needed to hurry before he flew away. It was a hawk in one of the alders. He took some photos and got the scope on it and it was a sharp-shinned hawk (#179) hanging out up there. Thanks for coming to call Mr. Hawk.

Friday, December 21, 2012 Anniversary

It's our 38th wedding anniversary today. What better way to celebrate than to go birding? First stop was Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands to try to see the slaty-backed gull again. It was cold but and there was broken ice on the trail, but it wasn't raining. We scouted the tops of the buildings and the gulls were nicely lined up but not a dark one in the bunch. We walked over to the pond area and there were some mallards, green-winged teals and some gulls. Still none that looked different. We walked around to the west side so we'd have views of both the pond and the river as there were more gulls in the river. This was actually prime viewing time for finding him as the gulls were down in the water for baths and feedings. They kept landing so we were hoping he might come by. Another couple showed up and just as we were talking the lady noticed our bird on the pond. Definitely darker than the others. Could it be? He kept moving to areas behind the brush that was next to the pond so we'd only get on and off views of him. All pointers were looking good but the final kicker is the lighter eye. We needed to get a good scope view on him to verify. Rudy got him in his sights and confirmed. After keeping an eye on him for a while we all felt confident in saying we had finally seen the rare bird sighting of a slaty-backed gull (#177)!

From the tide flats we tried to go to Brown't Point park but the gate was closed so we couldn't get in. That was a bugger as it's always a good location. We proceeded down the road to Dash point and the pier. There we saw some horned grebes and surf scoters. They were both very cute and we were able to get some nice video of them. There were squid fishermen there and the pier held their Christmas tree and the sun was starting to come out.

surf scoter
horned grebe

We continued down the road to Dash Point State Park but nothing there so we proceeded to Salt Water State Park. This was nostagic as this was where our wedding had taken place 38 years before-to the day. Actually, today the weather was better. It was cold but the sun was starting to break through every now and then. On our wedding day the blizzard of the decade was just arriving and though the snow held off until after the wedding and reception it was still cold and windy. Our wedding was outside on the bluff above the beach so there was no protection from the weather. I hadn't wanted a normal wedding and I certainly go that in fact I believe it was a wedding no one forgot. Enought reflection, what birds would we find. There were gulls and crows all around. In the water were some Barrow's goldeneyes and surf scoters. We moved on to our last stop at the Des Moines marina. We got some nice views of western grebes (#178) from the pier. There were also horned and red -necked grebes, double-crested cormorants and many gulls. By this time I was getting warn out and hungry so we had a nice lunch at Red Robin in Des Moines. It was a nice way to finish birding for the day and our anniversary. 
western grebe

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012 Flaming Geyser

Miserable day today, wet and cold, and I don't feel very well. Nice way to spend your day off from work. We had bought a new point and shoot camera that arrived on Friday and we wanted to try it out so I pulled myself together and we took a short trip down to Flaming Geyser State Park to try out  the camera. The weather was so bad we knew there wouldn't be much activity but it's usually good for a few ducks on the ponds. There were a few people down there, a number of kayakers on the river and a few fishermen. Other than that we only saw some park rangers. Not much of a day for a picnic. We pulled up to our regular spot by the pond and I spotted what I thought was a bufflehead but Rudy got his binocs on it and it was a male hooded merganser. He scooted away quickly when he spotted us so I didn't get a good look at him but we had seen a female with babies there earlier in the year so this must be a home for them. We walked over to the elevated trail that travels between two ponds and noticed some mallards lazily floating around in the falling rain. Rudy spotted something else further away. It was a very nondescript bird but as soon as I got my binocs on it I was sure it was an American dipper (#175). The antics of those birds are very hard to miss. They love, love, love the water and this bird was having the time of his life. As if he wouldn't have been getting wet enough in the pouring rain, he was flipping up the water over his back with his wings and then playing around like a kid in a puddle. We got closer and got a much better view to verify our sighting. Rudy tried to take a picture with our new camera but he couldn't get it to focus on the bird. We just have some blurred views. It was raining even harder and only 37 degrees so we called it quits. Driving out of the park we stopped at another spot where we could see the pond from the road. There were some mallards and then we saw 3 more hooded mergansers. They looked young, just the brown color like a female. These may have been the babies we had seen earlier in the year. We tried the camera out again but had the same problem. So, we have some work to do on learning the camera but we did add one more to our list. I had so wanted to see an American dipper this year and so happy it happened.

Saturday, December 1, 2012 Nisqually NWR

One more week under my belt. Feeling stronger and I'm going back to work on Monday so I thought I'd see how well I do with real birding-away from the car and walking about 4 miles. I'd been looking at the posts for Nisqually NWR and saw a few birds we hadn't seen yet so we decided to head there. We woke up and the day didn't look too bad, it was supposed to rain quite a bit, and it was cloudy but not foggy, no rain and not too cold. First thing first, we needed to go into the visitors center to buy Rudy's new senior pass. He plopped down his $10 and now is the proud owner of a lifetime senior pass to all national parks, monuments and refuges. This is the best part of getting older. Only 1 1/2 years for me. Now lets look for birds. Viewing at the pond area produced a bufflehead, pie-billed grebe some mallards and such. We headed out to the west side of the Twin Barns loop and spied a merlin sitting atop a tree. Lots of geese in the fields to the east. It was so windy that they would all face the wind and hover like copters and then gradually lower to the ground and set down. It was quite a sight. There were a few more ducks; mallard, coot and ring necked, in the pond but nothing much else. Down by the barns we started looking for a new bird for our list that had been reported there. Sure enough we saw it right off, a northern shrike (#174). He was beautiful and we got some nice views of him.

Walking further were more mallards, American wigeons, northern pintails, coots and quite a few great blue herons in the fresh water side of the wetlands. There were lots of eagles flying about too. On the salt water side were some gulls and we could see small flocks of shore birds coming and going, probably sandpipers or such. It was quite windy out on the boardwalk but we were dressed for it and no rain yet so we headed out. The tide was just going out and we thought we might get some nice action. We saw what looked like a couple of loons in the estuary but couldn't tell for sure, more gulls and shorebirds. We walked to the end--well almost to the end as the last bit was closed for hunting season. We put the scope up and tried looking for snowy owls. There had been many reports of them out at the end of the reserve but we never saw any. I was looking at a nice flock of American wigeons when I noticed one with a brown head in the midst. The last report I had read said they had seen one Eurasion wigeon in the midst of a lot of American wigeons. I always wondered how anyone could spot one different kind amidst a bunch of other birds but there he was, the lone Eurasion wigeon (#175)!

The weather looked like it was going to turn ugly so we headed back and sure enough it started to rain-big drops. We were prepared so it wasn't too bad, it's just a long walk back in the strong wind and rain. At the dike it let up a bit so we spent the last part of our walk going on the east side of the Twin Barn loop through the woods. We were really hoping for a trifecta with the great-horned owl but no luck. We did see red bellied sapsuckers and some chickadees but no owls. There were a couple of black-tailed deers that were kind of cute. We were out about 5 hours and I was ready for the car by the time we were done but I felt good I had been able to be out that long and we added two new birds. We followed it by dinner at Azteca in Tacoma and headed home.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 Valley Birding

I'm still getting my strength back from my surgery but I wanted to get out a bit so we decided to try some local birding in the Auburn/Kent Valley. We started out spying some wood ducks in the creek that runs right beside Auburn-Black Diamond Road. We drive on this road everyday and have never seen wood ducks out here before. It's crazy how many times we're seeing wood ducks now. I'll never tire-they are so gorgeous. Then we went down to the fields between Hwy 167 and Emerald Downs. We saw quite a few birds of prey like red-tailed hawk and a peregrine falcon along with 2 trumpeter swans flying over. Then plenty of waterfowl like northern pintails, American wigeon, green-winged teals and mallards along with a great blue heron. Also caught sight of a towhee and song sparrow. Our last stop was the Green River Natural Resources Area where we saw some coots, cormorants, wigeons and ring-necked ducks. Also flying around was a northern harrier and a beautiful pair of bald eagles in the power tower and a kestrel in a tree. We didn't see anything new but it was a big day for me to get out after taking it easy for a month.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012 Gog-le-hi-tee

We had to make another run to the doctors in Tacoma again today. This time for Rudy. He had taken the morning off for the early appointment so we thought after seeing the doctor we'd take a quick detour over to gog-le-hi-tee wetlands in the Tacoma tide flats before he dropped me off home and he continued on to work. Why go-le-hi-tee? There's been a rare bird alert there. We get so few in Washington that we can't pass up trying to see one so close to us. We keep reading about a lone slaty-backed seagull being seen in the area, hanging around with other seagulls. We'd stopped by before but couldn't get a definite ID as we didn't have the scope. We came prepared today with scope and binocs. We started looking right off as he'd been seen on the top of some of the warehouses. There were seagulls there alright. The slaty-backed is supposed to be a bit darker, pink legs a yellow eye. Well there were plenty of pink-legs gulls but we never did see any with a yellow eye so for now no rare bird. But I did get a good ID on a thayer's gull (#173). Maybe not a rare bird but one more for the list.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012 Home

There has been a lot of bird activity at our house. Of course I've been able to see it since I've been home recuperating all the time. First the birds were after the fall seeds and apples in the trees. This brought a bunch of woodpeckers and flickers including a really nice view of a pileated working on an apple in the tree right in front of the house. Most of the apples are gone now but there is still a lot of "normals" that drop by each day. Today was no different with the northern flickers, steller jays, junco and chickadees and currently the red-bellied sapsuckers are here for awhile. The other residents are the Anna's hummingbirds. I think they might stay all winter, if I can keep their feeders from freezing. But we did have one new friend flitting around in the birch. It was a Hutton's vireo (#172). I'm pretty sure we had seen them before but we'd never been able to really get a 100% verification on it. They are very fast and small. But this time I'm sure. They are really cute and still very fast. It's nice one again when the birds come to you. Keep coming, I'm watching.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 Auburn Environmental Park

I had my oncology visit yesterday. Great news, margins clear, nothing in the lymph nodes and I won't have to do chemo or radiation! Music to my ears. The double mastectomy went well and my recovery was coming along fine. I was actually having a bit more pain now in my chest, felt a bit like it was on fire, but that is just all those nerve endings that had been cut coming back to life and trying to figure out what they should be doing. I needed to get out of the house for something other than a doctors visit so we started easy and just went to the Auburn Environmental Park to see what we could see. We really didn't expect anything new but I was anxious to try out my new pair of glasses. I had received them just before my surgery. So now I could actually use both my eyes through the binocs. We didn't see much down there but there were some robins, a red-tailed hawk a wren and overhead we saw some geese and then a couple of trumpeter swans. That made my day. They are so beautiful and it was nice to know they were back in our area. We also heard what could have been the Virginia rail but it was too far off to get any view. It was a good start to getting back on my feet. Onward and upward!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 Tennessee birds

Rudy barely made it home in time for my surgery, flights delayed, missed connections and such. But he pulled it off getting in after 1am. We only had to be at the hospital in 6 hours. Anyway, here's the deal. He was able to see some of the same birds I saw while out in Tennessee so now we get to add them to the list. Here goes: turkey vulture (#159), black vulture (#160), wild turkey (#161), tufted titmouse (#162), Carolina chickadee (#163), northern mockingbird (#164), eastern bluebird (#165), northern cardinal (#166), blue jay (#167), black-throated green warbler (#168), Carolina wren (#169), red-bellied woodpecker (#170) and a white-breasted nuthatch (#171). There were 8 other birds I saw and Rudy didn't and he got to see a barred owl and I didn't but it's fun to finally add some nice birds to our list.
Rudy also saw a beautiful butterfly

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012 - Juanita Bay Park

Rudy's been on the road since October 13 and not due back until late on October 23 which will be about 12 hours before my double mastectomy surgery. I needed to get out for one last taste of freedom. I'd been wanting to get up and see my son Flynn and his wife Anna's apartment up in Kirkland, WA. They had been doing some decorating that I hadn't seen yet and they liked to bird. Hey, that's two birds with one stone right? So I got up there around 9:30am before the traffic was too bad. Their apartment looked terrific. They've been working hard to get everything in shape since they moved in earlier this year and it really has come together nicely. It's a small apartment so it didn't take too long to look over so we headed out for birding at Juanita Bay Park. I'd never been there but they were very familiar with it. The weather was cool but it wasn't raining. We took the central boardwalk first that extended into the wetland beside the bay. Guess what we saw...wood ducks! We got a great view of them. We went out to the west boardwalk and saw a great blue heron right by the trail. There were some mallards, green-winged teals and grebes on this side of the wetlands. On the bay we could see a bald eagle sitting on a piling. There were hundreds of American coots and Canadian or cackling geese on the bay along with a double-crested cormorants. We also saw a red-tailed hawk. We went out and walked along the east boardwalk and saw a towhee in the thickets. The wind was really coming up and my knee was acting up so we headed back to the car. We went over to Juanita Beach Park, but it was really windy.There were some ducks there that might have been gadwalls. We also saw a white duck that I couldn't identify. It might have been a cross between a wild and a domestic white duck. Since the wind was so bad we decided to call it a birding day and get some lunch. We ended up at a hole in the wall sandwich shop that was really good and fun. After that it was time for me to head home. Nice day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saturday October 6, 2012 Ridgefield NWR +

There would only be one more weekend that Rudy and I could share together before his trip and my surgery so we had to make the most of it. Ever since we had been to Ridgefield NWR earlier in the year I had wanted to go back to see the sandhill cranes. I'd been watching the reported sightings and I had a good feeling that this time we'd get to see them. It's about 2 1/2 hours down there so we got a somewhat early start. We checked in at the "S" unit for the driving tour-no getting out of your vehicle once you start except for one spot. While we were there we heard a very unusual sound coming from a short distance away. It was kind of a rattling squawk. We looked over and got a very brief glimpse of what we were sure were a couple of sandhill cranes (#158). Quickly into the car to try to see them as they had vanished behind a grove of firs but we didn't find them. What we did see was very different than the last time we had been to the area. Where once there had been water on both sides of the road filled with all manner of fowl was either dry or muddy ground. There were a few small pools that had coots and mallards and in the muddier section it looked like a yellowlegs, great blue herons and such. We continued on hoping for a better view of the cranes. We got out at the one spot allowed and went to the blind with our scope. There were some back-capped chickadees, cedar waxwings, starlings, and northern flickers in the area along with some coyotes. We set up the scope in the blind and were able to get a better view of some sandhill cranes across the field. Huge birds with that distinctive red on the top of their head. We thought we might get even closer to them when we came around the other side of the drive but before we even left the blind a fast moving pickup-going the wrong way-cruised by them and scared them off. Nuts. Back in the car we saw pied-billed grebes, cinnamon teals, northern pintails, killdeer, red tailed hawks and some really nice views of wood ducks. Yes, more wood ducks-we were seeing them everywhere!

When we came around to a more open field we saw more cranes and this time we got to see some of them "dance". Here's a video to show-they were a ways off so it's not too crisp but you'll get the drift.

Over the field we also saw 18 American white pelicans flying over in formation-that was quite rare and oh so beautiful. Before we left we also saw a peregrine falcon, kingfisher and a great egret and about a thousand cackling geese. Only one new species to add to the list but it was a very good bird day.

We also went further south to try some new areas like Vancouver Lake Park, Columbia River Lowlands and quite a few other places listed in the Audubon guide but it had gotten very windy and we really didn't see anything else except a pond by the road that was sheltered and there were 17 great blue herons and 13 great egrets hunkered down to get away from the wind. We did stop at an overlook at Franz Lake and saw some river otters. We came back home via the back side of Mt. St. Helens but it was getting dark so not much to see. We would have done better just coming back up I-5 but it was good to check out the new areas. In better weather they might be good to go back to.

Sept. 29-30, 2012-Weekend Trip East of the Mountains

Finding out you have cancer does a number of things to you. One is that time means more to you. With that in mind I felt like we needed to get in one more trip across the mountains before the snows came. Available weekend time was getting severely limited between my trip to Nashville, Rudy's work trip to North Carolina with stopover in Nashville and then my surgery and subsequent recovery. So carpe diem or at least carpe weekend. Early start over I-90 to Ellensburg. Our first birding stop was a short trail at Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park. The weather was very nice-much better than it would have been at home, but not much bird activity. We did see an active hairy woodpecker boring and chipping a large hole on a dead tree trunk and then some nice butterflies sipping sap from a live tree trunk.  Continuing on Umptanum Road out of Ellensberg we had our first sighting of a western bluebird (#151). Not uncommon for this area but the first for us this year. We took a short hike in the Wenas Wildlife Area at Umtanum Falls and saw some kinglets and warblers in the thickets. We also got a nice view of a chipping sparrow (#152).
Back out on the road we saw a sage thrasher (#153) in the sage alongside the road. By this time the road was gravel and not very used. We continued on and then out to Wenas Creek where we got a very brief sighting of a sooty grouse (#154). Would have liked to see more of that but they are pretty quick. There really weren't many birds anywhere around the creek so back on the road. After Wenas Creek the road was paved again and headed down into the Yakima Valley where we saw some kestrels and a gorgeous Swainson's hawk (#155) on the telephone poles/wires.
We had some lunch once we got into Yakima and then went out to the Yakima Greenway and took the Poppoff Trail around a small lake. What did we see on the lake??? Wood ducks (#156)--finally, we saw them together so we could add them to our count. There were a bunch of them too. We also saw a merlin, quail and kestrel. We left at twilight with a lovely full moon guiding our path. 

We needed to find a hotel. This proved a bit harder than I had anticipated as the fair was in full swing along with some sort of convention. Finally found a good deal at the Red Lion.
Next morning we went back to the same place and took the hiking/biking trail for a short ways along the river. Lots of yellow-rumped warblers, peewees and flycatchers, robins, a very cool kingfisher chattering along the river and a quick look at a Cooper's Hawk (#157). We decided to go back home via the Yakima Canyon Road-one of our favorite drives. We saw what looked like a flock of swifts flying over the river in the canyon but I couldn't identify what kind so I can't list them. We ate lunch/dinner at a taqueria in Ellensburg and then headed home. It was a nice weekend, the weather was so perfect and warm. Even though we didn't see gobs of birds we took some nice hikes and getting away was just what the doctor ordered-so to speak.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

September 22-25, 2012 - Nashville

Before knowing about my cancer I had planned a trip back to Nashville to visit Libby, Eric and grandson Liam. There was no reason to cancel this as my surgery would not be until later. Really, it seemed like more of a reason to go then ever. Seeing all of them was the main purpose for visiting but birding, during migration, in decent weather, was another highlight. I wouldn't be able to add any new birds to our count because Rudy wasn't with me, but he was going to be in Nashville a few weeks after me. If we got to see the same type of birds during our two visits, we were going to add them.

We hit the ground running. I had a night flight that arrived on the morning of September 22, was picked up from the airport by the gang, and we headed straight out to Shilo National Historical Park. It was a beautiful day. Libby and I got another stamp in our National Park Passport. There was a cannon firing demonstration so we watched that. Liam loved running around the grounds and the recreated Civil War campsite. We took the driving tour around the monument following the interpretive markers. What could be better? We came back via the Natchez Trace Parkway--got another passport stamp there too--and even though we weren't really birding we saw turkey vultures and wild turkeys. Liam did great the whole time with the long car ride. It was a wonderful day.

Sunday was church, great worship and word and a very tasty lunch in Franklin. Back at their home I checked off a tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, black vulture, northern mockingbird, one ruby throated hummingbird at their honeysuckle and an eastern bluebird. BBQ for dinner and more great weather. This is a good vacation.

Monday we all went to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro. It's a kids museum that Liam loved. Libby and I left Eric and Liam to continue playing inside while we went out to take their nature trail. We were on the hunt for wood ducks. There had been numerous reports of them being seen there and all year I'd been trying to find them. Well success, we found them in their pond. They are an amazing bird-colors are crazy and so distinct. We also saw a blue jay along with turtles and frogs. We ate at Chick-Fil-a for lunch and then back home for Liam's nap. I got to finally see a cardinal in their back yard..

My last day was Tuesday-I was flying home that afternoon-so Libby and I got up very early to be at Radnor Lake just after dawn. Eric and Liam stayed home. Here is where fortune smiled on us. We were at the spillway observing what I thought were swifts soaring overhead. There was a nice man with binoculars there and I asked him what birds those were and he said, without hesitation, chimney swifts. Bingo! We let him know we weren't really familiar with the birds in the area and he pointed out a few others. He was meeting another birder friend and they let us tag along with them. With their help we saw a black-throated green warbler, Carolina wren, rose-breasted grosbeak-that was a big deal for me, Tennessee warbler, red-bellied woodpecker, Coopers hawk, magnolia warbler, white breasted nuthatch, black and white warbler-another one I had hoped to see, gray catbird and some amazing Carolina redstarts. We saw many other birds too, these were just new ones for me. It was fall migration and we were in heaven. We would have never been able to add these to our list without these birdmates. They had to go off to work but we were so fortunate to have the time we did with them. Libby and I finished off with continuing the trail around the lake. We had hoped to see the barred owl but didn't but we did see wood ducks again. It was one of the best birding days ever. After that, back to the house where we picked up Liam and Eric and headed for the local park for one last romp with Liam, then to the airport for the farewell to a short but very sweet visit.

Thusday, September 13, 2012 - Change of plans

It's funny, but looking back I didn't have in mind for me the year as it's worked out so far. I was turning 60, I knew that. It was the year of the Dragon and when you turn 60 in the year of the Dragon it's supposed to be a really good year for you. We started out great with our Big Year. We were having terrific fun learning about and finding so many incredible birds and they were all around us. I could see us having a great time all year pursueing our feathered buddies. But things don't always go as planned. It started out slowly in January when I had to have a root canal and crown. Normally that's not such a big deal but there were problems and it lasted much longer than it should have. From that I got a sinus infection that has not gone away to date and then because that wore me down I went through a series of urinary tract infections. Those first few months were not going well. I was also having considerable pain in my knee from my arthritis and it had kept me from doing as much hiking and birding as I would have liked, but I was pushing through it. Just before my trip to Peru I lost a tooth and had another crown put on-that went fine and my trip to Peru in April was a great time. But upon my return after checking out the fuzziness in my right eye I find out I had a hole in my retina that was definitely affecting my sight. Not what I had planned for a birding year! I had the surgery to correct this done at the end of June and it took a couple months of recovery before I could really use both eyes through my binocs. I was just about ready to see if I could possibly go in for knee replacement when I got sidelined by other news. On this day in September I got the news that I had breast cancer. Out of the blue, yes, very unexpected. OK another bump in the road of life. I will deal with it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 Mt. Rainier NP

We really needed some mountain birds. In particular ones like Clark's nutcracker and gray jays. Where to go? Mt. Rainier National Park before the weather changed was the answer. I'd been wanting to go all summer but the weekends and even the weekdays were so crowded. So I'd waited until after Labor Day and Rudy and I took Wednesday off from work to find at least a Clark's nutcracker. I mean when have you even been to Mt. Rainier without seeing one? It was a lock. All right I should have known better than that but really, could my luck be that bad?

It started out with a beautiful day, blue sky, hot and the mountain standing out like a painted backdrop. Our first stop was Longmire and the Trail of Shadows. Unlikely but we saw a group of band-tailed pigeons claiming an area. We did see a few other smaller birds in the trees near the trail. I got one good look at them and saw a mountain chickadee (#150). They are a bit scruffier than our regular chickadees. I suspect a harder life. Well, we'll take any new bird. The only other birds we heard and saw were Stellar blue jays.

Next stop was Paradise, a stamp in my National Park passport and take a short trail at the base of the mountain. We decided to head over to Myrtle Falls. There were still amazing wildflowers and the sky was a brilliant blue behind the mountain. It could not have been better for a lovely day hike but we did not see many birds. We did see a bird of prey flying around-not sure which--and Rudy saw something unusual in a fir tree but we couldn't put a name to it. So a very nice hike but no new birds.

We headed to the picnic area. There are always those camp robber nutcrackers there and we had packed a lunch so now we'd have it. At the picnic area we chose a site near some trees and before we could get out of the car there were definitely some good size birds in the tree. I'm pretty sure it was our bird but I didn't get a good enough look. We got out to eat at the picnic table and took our time enjoying the meal, but nothing. What a beautiful day and what a view. Just no more bird activity. None. Are you kidding me? They were there. After this my confidence was waning. We checked out some other parts of the picnic area and saw a large hawk and off in the distance we could see some birds that could have been gray jays in the tops of some trees but again, we couldn't verify.

We decided to continue around the mountain and go to Sunrise. We headed down out of Paradise and along the road Rudy spied a cute black bear walking beside the road. All we wanted to see were a few birds and we saw a bear. Isn't it usually the other way around? Well, it was a thrill anyway.

All the best laid plans of mice and men....who knew...after Labor Day they closed the road that continues around the mountain. Our only option was to return the way we came or backtrack out of the park, head south, and then back up north. This was a lot longer but we decided to try it. It took a long time to do this, slow roads, way out of the way and such so we had to forget Sunrise. We did stop at Ohanapecosh campground but didn't see much. Then we took the Grove of the Patriarchs but no birds. By this time it was getting close to being dark so we just headed home. We took a full day off of work and only one new bird for the day. I was disappointed but really, could I complain when I got to see one of my favorite places on a such a gorgeous day? No I can't.

Monday, December 3, 2012

August 17-19, 2012 Long Beach Pennisula

It has been a very nice August with lots of sun and warm temperature. I am loving it but some friends asked us over for the weekend at a place they were staying on the Long Beach Penninsula for the weekend so we decided to join them. I was hoping for great weather there too but driving over after work on Friday afternoon, the closer we got to the ocean, the more clouds and the rapid decline in temperature. It was going to be in the 90's at home at it was in the 60's at the ocean. This was almost too much for me and Rudy and we almost turned around but couldn't really call that a legitimate reason for not showing up for such a wonderful invitation. So we kept to our plans. Our friends were waiting and we had a lovely dinner that night in town. We got up the next morning and had a good breakfast and went around Long Beach and Ilwaco a bit. We saw a nice museum and hit a weekend fair and visited a lighthouse and such. There were some good shore birds out on the ocean- terns, auklets and such but nothing new. The weather wasn't hot but it was nice so I felt better about that. It was a very nice day with our lovely friends, great food and fun.

The next day I was intent on getting in some birding so we headed way up to the end of the pennisula to Leadbetter Point and took the green trail (1.1 mile) along the beach and back through the woods. We saw many great blue herons along the beach. Back through the woods we saw some small birds flitting around but could never make a positive ID. This was Sunday and we needed to get back home so we said our good-byes to our friends and headed out. I wanted to make one stop along the way at the Willapa Bay Refuge Headquarters along Hwy 101 near milepost 24. I didn't know what to expect but I had read they had a trail behind the center. Here is where I must say, if you are ever in this area you must stop and take this trail. It's not so much for the wildlife viewing as it is an art trail. As I understand it the U of W got involved with making art for display in and along the trail and it turned out marvelously. Right from the start the boardwalk curves away along a wetland/creek area. There is art built in to the wood, along it, sculptures, poetry and on and on. There is a section called cutthroat climb an uphill trail that goes about 2/3 of a mile. It was a good workout for us and beautiful. On the way back down there is an incredible labryth patio out in the middle of the woods-why I don't know--but I'm sure all part of this trail. No birds really but so, so worth the stop and hike.

No new birds this weekend to add to our count but a marvelous time.