Sunday, December 23, 2012

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

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