Monday, August 24, 2015

Putting on a Show for the Tourist

On Saturday morning I met up with my friend Melissa and her father Phil at the Montlake Fill to show off its birds.  Phil is visiting from North Carolina and is a very fine birder indeed.  I was concerned at first, as it has been so quiet there of late, and as we walked along the Loop Trail for the first ten minutes or so, all I heard were crows and chickadees.

Things picked up, thank goodness, though not always with birds.  I was strolling along, wishing for birds, when Mel said, "A dragonfly just landed on your hat."

It clung there so determinedly that I was able to take my hat off to get a closer shot, and even handed the hat to Mel so I could get a shot of her with it.  In fact, eventually I had to shake the darn thing off.

Birds started turning up then -- the usual Song Sparrows, goldfinches, House Finches, and more chickadees, plus a Downy Woodpecker and a few lingering Barn Swallows.  We reached the lake shore and stood watching the Pied-billed Grebes and a Wood Duck, and a Bald Eagle on a log having duck for breakfast (you can make out the webbed duck foot sticking out on the right).

We were interrupted in our eagle viewing by a family of raccoons who were trying to cross an open space in the reeds just beyond where we stood.  They had noticed us and were reluctant to make their move.

So we backed up a ways, and the raccoons safely made their crossing.

Meanwhile, the eagle flapped around a bit on the log before settling back down to eat.

We moved farther down to get a better view, but the eagle flew off as several crows arrived to annoy it.  But we got a bonus Green Heron that flew in -- too far for clear photos, so here is a blurry one:

The raccoon family turned up again as we stood there -- they were after the blackberries growing along the shore.

We were also treated to a beaver swim-by -- all in all, the non-bird sightings were almost as good as the birdy ones.

On the rest of the Loop, we had two Ospreys flying and hunting overhead, the usual Marsh Wrens, an Anna's Hummingbird, and several Bushtit flocks.  Then we headed to Edmonds where we visited the pier for Pigeon Guillemots, Heermann's Gulls, a Common Murre, and a Caspian Tern fly-by.  Finally we visited the Edmonds Marsh for sandpipers.  Without a scope, we had trouble with definitive IDs except for the Killdeer, but it's a lovely spot to hang out in.

Phil was happy with his tour, and I was happy that the birds turned up for him.

After parting company in Edmonds, I returned home to appease Truman, who could not come with us that morning.  I took him on a walk around the campus, where I did some sketching, and then later took him to a party (he'd been on the invitation list!) where he was bothered by cats though not too excessively.  On Sunday we had a walk together around the Fill, followed by more sketching, before I headed off to the ball game.  More on those outings tomorrow!


  1. A lovely outing indeed. I'm just glad the raccoon(s) didn't get snatched up by the eagle. I've heard they fly away with small dogs. Wait. That was in a movie and the dog wasn't harmed. Ah well. I'm glad you all had a good time.

  2. A beaver! How early do you get to the Fill anyway? I'm glad you were able to show the visitor such excellent bird action around town!

    1. We met up there at 7:00am, so not that outrageously early. I don't think I've ever seen the beaver there before, usually they're back in their dam by daylight. At first glance of just the head plowing through the water, I thought "muskrat" which I've seen more often, but then I saw the whole body length -- much too big for a muskrat, and the nutria have been gone for many years.

      The Green Herons have been quite active there this summer -- hope you see one on your canoe outing. Also remember to look up now and then for Osprey (or just listen for their very characteristic call.