Monday, October 19, 2015

Birds of the Fill, with bonus otters!

Saturday proved to be an excellent birding day at the Montlake Fill.  I'd heard reports of an American Bittern making regular visits there the past few days, and when Truman and I arrived, two birder friends had just seen it land at the Southwest Pond.  We headed right over to search for it.

I hadn't seen a bittern since 2008 -- they are reclusive, solitary critters whose cryptic coloration makes them easy to disappear in their marshy surroundings.  Truman got a bit bored as I stood on the bank of the pond, scanning the grass and reeds.  Patience was rewarded -- the bird suddenly appeared from behind a tangle of branches, and waded slowly over to the bank where it vanished into the reeds.

Fabulous bird.

Next, I noticed a small flock of Green-winged Teal preening nearby -- another sign that the Wintering-Over Waterfowl are returning to the Fill.

An American Tree Sparrow had also been reported a few days earlier -- they are rare on this side of the Cascades.  I did not find it, but I had an enjoyable time perched on my camp stool watching the shrubs that are a favorite spot for sparrows of all kinds.  I watched Song Sparrows and Golden-crowned Sparrows and quite a few Lincoln's Sparrows like this one:

They are also Fall/Winter birds here.  The sparrows were singing and chirping and hopping in and out, and then suddenly they all disappeared and went silent.  I immediately scanned the sky, wondering where the raptor was -- and was rewarded by a  Merlin zipping across.  After two passes over the fields, it flew off to parts unknown, and the sparrows slowly reappeared.

We moved along to the lakefront, where a Bald Eagle scattered the coot flock.  A small group of birders on a field trip pointed out a pair of otters far out in the lake.  They were diving, catching fish, and coming up on a log to eat.  They were WAY far out so I couldn't get good pics, but I tried anyway.

What a great morning!


  1. Your photos of the otters were excellent considering they were so far away. Glad you got to see the bittern! Those green-winged teals are lovely.

  2. I love bitterns; they are so improbable. And how I envy your otters. Most of the remoter state parks list otters in their wildlife list, but I have never ever seen one outside of a zoo.

  3. Great bird photos today, right place right time and a bonus with the otters. No otters in this faraway land only in zoos. They are one of my favourite sea creatures along with seals, just love them and of course dolphins. Better stop rambling now.

  4. You may. As Men At work sang many moons ago "I come from the land down under". I actually live about an hour and a half south of Sydney In the Southern Highlands. Have lived all my life in Sydney but moved here 18 months ago for a fresh start, nice place but not one of my better life choices.

    1. Ah, I thought perhaps that was it -- I remember a reply recently where you mentioned being in the southern hemisphere. Though that still covers plenty of countries and since I know people from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, I wondered if you'd found my blog through one them. I've read lots about Australia but never been there and am unlikely to ever go, as I have an airplane phobia of profound intensity. There are ships, of course...and I have been across the Pond to Britain via ship. It's a long long ways via ship to the Land Down Under, though!

  5. I don't know where or is it how I found your blog. The first blog I started to follow was the miserable gardener, maybe I found you through that or one of his other followers. Anyway doesn't matter I just enjoy your blog so that's the important thing. I have always wanted to travel to just a few places but alas now I don't have the finances and for some strange reason I like to keep my feet firmly on terra firmate. If I had to make a choice I would fly rather than sail.