In preparation for talking to a few high school classes tomorrow morning, I went to the mainland today. I decided to come over earlier in the day so I could bird in Skagit County. I've recently become a member of the Tweeters mailing list (the birding listserv for Washington State), and the bird reports from the Skagit area have been too enticing to pass up, being as close as I am.
I spent six hours birding and saw 36 species. There were some great encounters (and great photographic opportunities) with many species, but by far raptors took the cake today. It will take several blog posts to share everything worth sharing, but here are a few preview photos showing today's highlights.
This was my first raptor encounter, and it's the actually the only one I'm not 100% sure of the ID on. Help me identify this mystery hawk! I think it's a red-tail?
This bald eagle looks almost bandit-like with its dark eyes stripe. It's a third year juvenile in Basic II plumage:
This red-tailed hawk provided another great "drive-by shooting" opportunity, as I was able to photograph it right out the car window. I was able to confirm it was a red-tail by the patagial marks on its wings once it took flight.
I simply couldn't believe this little American kestral stayed put for me:
This icing on the cake at the end of the day was encountering three short-eared owls, busy hunting and rough-housing with each other:
This tired birder needs to get some sleep, but there will be much more to follow in the coming days!