Friday, April 29, 2016

Where Have All the Birds Gone?

I've been visiting family in the Tri-Cities, and naturally the first thing I did after I got here was to go birding.  My favorite spot here is Bateman Island -- it has always been very productive.  Lots of species, and quite a lot of different ones from what I see in Seattle.  Plus it's a lovely spot:

The first bird I saw was a Mourning Dove:

And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 20th bird I saw was a Mourning Dove.  I walked about a mile to the far end of the island, seeing lots and lots of doves.  Oh, and there were three Song Sparrows, some Bank Swallows, and a robin.

That was it.  Where were all the birds???   Usually the island has Black-headed Grosbeaks and Bullock's Orioles and Catbirds and tons of magpies -- not a one of which I could see anywhere.  After an hour of looking, I sighed and thought, "Well, maybe I should stop looking for birds.  Maybe I'll see something else of interest, like a toad or a skunk."

Thirty seconds later, I saw something moving in the tall grass:

Sometimes if you ask for a skunk, you get a skunk.  Go figure.

I gave up and left.  The next morning I tried a little nature reserve called W.E. Johnson Park, another lovely spot:

Things were a little more promising there.  I spotted an oddly-marked goldfinch, and got excited, and tried to turn it into a Lesser Goldfinch but after consultation with experts, it turned out to be a plain old American Goldfinch going through molt.  Sigh.

Then an American Bittern flew up from a pond right in front of me, and disappeared before I could even get the camera turned on.  Later it flew past again, though, and I managed to snap off a blurry far-away shot:

I also got a far-away shot of a Red-tailed Hawk that soared over the area, scaring all of the songbirds into hiding.  Thank you, hawk.

I saw more Mourning Doves and Song Sparrows.  The prettiest creature I found wasn't a bird at all:

Oh, well.  So it goes.  Maybe I'll give birding a rest for the next few days!

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