[Tweeters] Everett Sewage Ponds

Connie Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Thu Dec 12 01:50:55 PST 2013

Hey tweets, my oldest son Alex came by yesterday with a stick of dynamite to blast me out of my usual birding habitat. The stick of dynamite was his report that last week he stopped by the Everett Sewage Ponds and found more than 400 (!) Ruddy Ducks swimming in the north settling pond, along with at least an equal (or more) number of Northern Pintails. What a spectacle of nature, to see numbers like that, and right here in our metro area. Even I couldn't resist the pull of that. So we bundled into the car and drove out to the ponds, to find nearly everything frozen over, with only a few patches of open water. In the patch of the south settling pond, were at least 150 Ruddies. I've never seen so many in one place before. Farther out, resting on the ice were two enormous rafts of ducks, mostly Northern Pintails. We estimated at least 300. Also roosting on the ice was a flock of several hundred Dunlins! We didn't see them until a Northern Harrier teetered by, flushing the Dunlins into one of their dark/light/dark/light sky dances. However, a Peregrine pair, looking mighty fat and sassy, undoubtedly knew about the Dunlins because they have established a perch in a snag right next door. This neighboring pond is not part of the sewage treatment ponds, but it is artificial, having been created by the construction of dykes that the city and county workers can walk on. Just north of this area is a road that dead ends here. This is where we saw a juvenile Northern Shrike, one of the most unafraid I've ever seen. We got within about 20 feet of it, and watched it as it watched us. In the woods, we could hear a Pileated Woodpecker whaling away at a snag. We tracked her down to watch her as she jackhammered huge chips out of the tree. She reminded me of a Logging Olympics I dragged the kids to one time, during the period in my life when I felt, as a good mother, I should expose my kids to various cultural events. We went to a horse show, a cat show, the flea circus, the Scottish Highland Games, and the Logging Olympics, among other things. I never could get them to go to a monster truck rally, which I think everyone should attend at least once in a lifetime as a raree example of human culture. At the Logging Olympics, one of the contests was to see who could chop through a log the fastest. Each log was standing erect and measuring about 12 inches in diameter. One young man was especially fast and looked to win the contest, that is, until his elderly father stepped up to take his turn. Few of the bookies took him seriously - certainly none of the young stallions did - and it was true that the old warhorse couldn't chop as fast as his rivals. But he knew just where to place his blows, and his chips flew just as far as did the young men's. In an incredibly short time - in fact, the winning time - the old pro chopped through his log and raised his ax in well-earned victory. So too was the woodpecker victorious, only her prize was dinner, not glory. The glory was supplied by her glowing red crest, her smooth black back, and her great skill that we were privileged to watch. - Connie, Seattle

constancesidles at gmail.com

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