[Tweeters] Stanwood Prairie Falcon and A Big Year
xjoshx at gmail.com
Tue Dec 31 19:43:39 PST 2013
With the end of the year squarely upon us I took the day off and tried to
make one last effort to stretch my Snohomish county bird list to the limit.
I started before sunrise at Eide rd, hoping for the Long-Eared owl that was
seen for several days before Christmas. Alas there were no Long-Eared, or
Short-Eared for that matter. In fact, the only owl I saw all day was a
roosting Barn Owl.
Next I moved on to Boe Rd in hopes of relocating the Prairie Falcon that
had also been seen prior to Christmas. I scanned for a long time before
locating a medium sized raptor sitting well over half a mile away. Distance
made ID difficult, but the bird had the right shape and primary length. It
was brown, which eliminated Peregrine. It eventually started preening and
I thought I was seeing falcon facial marks, but couldn't be sure. I knew I
could move closer, but I'd have to pack my scope and move my car so I just
kept watching in hopes that it would fly. After nearly an hour it finally
lifted its wings to stretch and revealed the black armpits of a Prairie
Falcon. I was then able to move closer and get great looks for several
minutes before the bird picked up and flew almost directly over me and
ended up somewhere south of Boe Rd.
I then moved on to try to find the Boe Rd. Harris's Sparrow that had been
reported on ebird recently. I found several small groups of sparrows, but
alas none had a visible Harris's.
I returned to Eide road, but an extensive walk of the trees in the area
could turn up no roosting owls.
My last stop of the day was Warm Beach in search of the Great Egret that
has apparently been resident here for several years. I'm still not sure I
took the right way to get to the beach, but I eventually made it there and
after a long bit of trying to figure out where I should go a Great Egret
landed fifty yards in front of me.
Sometime in late January this year I had decided I needed a goal for the
year. I had only hit 175 birds in Snohomish County, where I live, the year
before and figured with a lot of dedication I *might *be able to get to 200
birds by the end of the year.
My plans were complicated by the fact that my wife was expecting our first
child in August and I wasn't sure how much, if any, birding I'd be able to
do once the baby was born. In the end, I ended up making it to 204 before
my daughter Juliette was born on July 24th. My year didn't stop there
either. At six days old she and my wife accompanied me to Jetty Island in
search of Pacific Golden Plovers (no luck) and a couple months later she
brought me better luck with the Edmonds Brown Booby.
In the end I far exceeded even my wildest dreams. Today's Prairie Falcon
and Great Egret were species 230 and 231 for my Snohomish County year. Lots
of great birds, both rare and common were seen along the way.
I hope everyone out there in tweeters land had a great year as well!
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