[Tweeters] Winter Fairy Trip

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Thu Dec 26 20:09:12 PST 2013

Two days before Christmas I drove aboard a Washington State Fairy boat in Kingston, headed west. Luckily I was parked on the north side of the boat in my little truck, so I didn't even have to get out of my truck to see some birds. Sort of a Fairy "couch birding",, kind of deal.
"Gibson", I told myself "if you were a real birder you'd get out off your darn butt and look for some Ancient Murrelets!", but for various reasons, I dont consider myself to be a real birder, just a birdwatcher. I think I may be lacking in the necessary ambition to be a real birder, and therefore, despite living most of my life next to our delightful Salish Sea, I've managed to avoid ever seeing an Ancient Murrelet, even though I could with a bit of effort I suppose. Why hurry though?
But sitting there in my truck, I did see some neato birds, like Surf Scoter's, Red-breasted Mergansers and Pelagic Cormorants. Then, just slowing down off of Edmond's, the Winter Fairy gifted me with a great close-up view of a winter Guillemot! It's been so long since I'd seen a Guillemot in winter, that I forgot about what a dramatic color switcheroo they do from their- mostly black summer garb, and this one bird was particularly light-colored. So I didn't see an Ancient, but seeing the winter guillemot was pretty cool I thought.
Of course everybody knows about the dramatic seasonal change that Ptarmigan do- from a lichen covered rock, into a snowball with a beak. But what's the deal with the guillemot? I guess being mostly dark in the nesting season might help the guillemot disappear in it's dark nest hole, or crevice. And the white and gray winter color sorta looks like seafoam, or a whitecap on the water.
Interestingly, our other local Alcid yokel, the Marbled Murrelet, goes from it's winter black and white into it's mottled brown breeding plumage, which was a pretty good design idea, since it nest's on a tree limb way up in some tall conifer. Being black and white then would be kinda attention gathering.
Anyway, nice to see a guillemot in winter again.
Jeff GibsonEverett Wa

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