Thursday, August 31, 2017

Super-Duper Mega-Rarity!

I haven't added a new bird to my Life List for a long, long time -- because I don't travel much, and I have a rule (well, more like a guideline) about not chasing a rarity that's more than a 30-minute drive one way.

When I checked my email this morning, I saw a post to the local birding listserv about a Swallow-tailed Gull being seen at Carkeek Park, which is a 20-minute drive one way.


I had to look the bird up, having never heard of it -- it's an equatorial bird that breeds in the Galapagos and isn't supposed to be up this way at all.  This bird is only the third one ever recorded in all of North America!

There was a misty rain with poor visibility, but it's a small beach and I easily spotted the knot of birders lined up with their scopes checking out a large flock of California Gulls.  The Swallow-tailed Gull was easy to spot with its black head as it preened right in the front of the flock.

We all kept pretty far back so as not to startle the flock, so my photos are not as sharp as I'd like, but that's okay.   I'm just delighted that I got to see such a rarity -- by far the rarest bird I've ever chased.  I do hope it figures out how to get back south where it belongs, though.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Back to the Beach

One thing I missed while in the Tri-Cities was the Puget Sound beaches, so yesterday Truman and I went to Richmond Beach park in Shoreline, a lovely quiet spot where dogs area allowed on the beach (unlike in unenlightened Seattle).

I did some sketching there, and every time I sat down Truman tried to climb up on my lap.  Normally he would sit in his stroller while I drew, but the stroller can't navigate the sand and rocks so he had to do without.


I saw two birders with scopes on the beach below the bluff I was sitting on, and managed a quick sketch.

Farther down on the beach I found this guy stacking rocks on top of old pilings.

He was quite good at it, and I decided he and his creations needed to be sketched.

What a splendid way to spend a late summer day.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Back to the Birds

I didn't go birding while in Richland because the best spot there, Bateman Island, was closed due to a recent fire, and because it's also the time of year when bird activity is very low.

As soon as I returned to Seattle, I went right out to my two favorite birding spots -- Magnuson Park and the Montlake Fill.

At Magnuson Park things were still very quiet.

We heard crows and chickadees and a towhee, and we did get a nice view of this Great Blue Heron fishing:

The most exciting find was not birds but sketchers!  I had a lovely chat with this trio, who are just like me and Tina and Nicole -- three friends who go out and about to various places to sketch together.  They knew about the Urban Sketcher group but only rarely went on those outings.  Nice folks!

The next morning Truman and I tootled down to the Fill, where we did not see many birds at all.

But we did see the Osprey!

These are the two youngsters all grown up.  I had worried that I would miss them, as the ones raised there last year departed around the end of August.  So glad I got to see them before they head south for the winter.

Unlike the parents, the kids were highly annoyed by any people walking past their platform.

Over the next few weeks there should be shorebirds migrating through -- I hope to get down there at least once a week to check it all out.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Road Home

After two weeks visiting family and friends in southeastern Washington, Truman and I finally headed home on Wednesday, though we didn't go the whole way that day.

Here we are at the rest area at Selah just outside Yakima:

The bathroom there was in the most disgusting state of uncleanliness that I've ever seen in a WA state rest area.  But we survived.

Then we made it to Roslyn, a small town outside Cle Elum a bit more than halfway along our route home.  This place is on the National Historic Register due to its lovely old buildings, which Truman admired greatly.

I tried to sketch here but it got too windy, so we just admired the buildings some more.

Then we tootled on down the road another three miles to the even tinier town of Ronald (population: 265), where Michelle and Steve have a vacation home which they kindly allowed me to use.  This is the view out their front window:

Truman and I had a very relaxing stay there, with a walk in the woods and a lot of peace and quiet.

On Thursday I drove back to Seattle via mostly back roads (I-90 to North Bend, then to Snoqualmie, Fall City, Redmond, Kirkland, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, HOME!

Truman was thrilled to have his window back.  He is now a very happy dog.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Visit to Prosser, WA

Prosser is a town about 30 miles from Richland, population 5,700 or so, in the heart of wine country.  Two friends and I paid it a visit, and we enjoyed our exploration of its highlights.

There was a small farmer's market to start off with:

Then we went to a few antique shops in the downtown area.

They like to paint walls in Prosser.

Next we headed out to the wineries, where my friends tasted (and bought) wine at Milbrandt's:

We got a restaurant recommendation from the winery staff, and headed back to downtown Prosser for food at the Horse Heaven Saloon.

The door handles offered a clue to the overall decor theme.

This place had a serious interest in all things Old West.

The men's room door:

Inside the Ladies' room:

More mural fun:

The food was pretty good, too!

Monday, August 21, 2017

More fun in Richland

On Friday Truman and I went sketching at Goethals Park which has a nice play area and some very cool trees.

Next we hit the farmer's market.

Truman was a big hit here and got lots of attention which he did not want.

Our last stop was the park by the Columbia River.

Truman enjoys the swing seats there (and so do I).

A lovely spot!