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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Next 30

Traveling, a return to work, and internet problems at home have kept this post from being written in a timely fashion, but that doesn't mean I've stopped birding since New Year's Day! On January 2nd my dad and I headed over to walk the Crown-Zellerbach trail in Scappoose, and before we got there we saw a Eurasian collared-dove (62) at the post office and a belted kingfisher (63) perched alongside a creek.

There was a slight drizzle on our walk, which was very quiet bird-wise at first, but when we got the green barn where the brambling was seen a month earlier we found the regular active flock of sparrows and more. The first year bird added to the list in this spot was the house finch (64), followed shortly thereafter by a Lincoln's sparrow (65). Three goldfinches flew up, and it took a moment to confirm that they weren't American but rather lesser goldfinches (66), a nice find and a species that didn't make the year list last year! While looking at the goldfinches I also got a quick glimpse of a ruby-crowned kinglet (67).

Down at the marsh a played vocalization elicited a response from first one, then another Virginia rail (68). A little further along the trail we also added yellow-rumped warbler (69), house sparrow (70), and Pacific wren (71). As we retraced our steps back to the car, we found the cinnamon teal (72) we missed on our first pass, but had seen two days before. We saw the one, and then three more at the next marshy overlook! Back at home we also had a common raven (73) flyover, so the day ended with 12 more year birds on the list. Unfortunately no photos because of the rain!

On the 3rd we headed up north along I5 to catch the ferry home. Luckily it was still light on the ferry ride, allowing me to add some seabirds to the list. I saw a pigeon guillemot (74), pelagic cormorant (75), mew gull (76), and rhinoceros auklet (77) all pretty quickly, then hardly any birds for most of the next hour. Right as we were pulling into Friday Harbor, however, there was a flurry of activity that included three ancient murrelets (78), a common murre (79), and a red-necked grebe (80). While unloading the car I also heard a black oystercatcher (81) from the docks - the first time I've heard this species from home!

After work on the 4th I made a quick drive around the island to check out the local lakes and marshes. It was again surprisingly quiet, though I did see lots of trumpeter swans (82) and a group of northwestern crows (83).

Another quick afternoon on the 6th took me to Jackson Beach, where as I had hoped I found a few greater yellowlegs (84) as well as my first harlequin ducks (85) of the year.

On the 7th I went down to South Beach and Cattle Point, where right off the bat I saw a common loon (86) and long-tailed duck (87) offshore among the waves - it was a windy day out! In the cove at the far end of Cattle Pass I saw a pair of red-breasted mergansers (88) taking refuge from the weather along with surf scoters, bufflehead, and harlequin ducks. 

Finally, yesterday, the 8th, it was nice enough (and bright enough) for me to get my camera out!  Here's the view from American Camp looking over towards the Olympic Mountains:

I saw a northern harrier and a bald eagle, and then was thrilled to find two short-eared owls (89) perched on top a couple of evergreen trees in the middle of the prairie. They were two far away for decent photos (especially since I had the wrong lens on my camera), but it was still the best view I've had of them on San Juan Island. While looking at them I also spotted a single western meadowlark (90) perched on some brambles a little ways off.

So, it's been a pretty good first nine days of January! I'm only 10 species away from my goal of 100 for the month with lots of time to add to the list. The rest of this week will probably feature a couple of short local excursions, and then next weekend I hope to make a trip over to Skagit County where there have been some great sightings of late. I promise I'll take more pictures then, too!


Davo said...

So 8 days in and 90 plays 84 (song thrush singing pre-dawn this morning) - You've got the draw on me this year Monika...
Has there been an influx of bramblings along the NW coast? My old chum Jon has one on Victoria across the water from you



eileeninmd said...

Hi Monika, it looks like you are off to a big year in birding. Great post and Happy Birding!