[Tweeters] Weather and meadowlarks.

bruce paige BBPaige at nikola.com
Mon Nov 4 07:12:04 PST 2013

Two recent days showed how birds adjust to weather conditions. Around the Sequim farmlands, the westerlies gusted to 30 mph or more with frequent rain showers. Walking the area, I came up with 15 species while alert to tree branches snapping, a pretty meagre total. The most exciting observation was a flock of 40 calling Tundra Swans, a high number for this area, zipping by like great, white leaves in the wind.

Yesterday, the sun was shining and though a glaze of frost first coated the meadows it warmed quickly. Birds were busily foraging or just sitting motionless in the sunlit hedgerows, and I came up with 42 species.

To me, the most notable observation was a flock of 36 Western Meadowlarks along Schmuck Rd where they have overwintered for at least 5 straight years. The usual meadowlark “chips” and partial melodies rose from the pastures in the sunshine. I’ve never seen or heard of a similar number around Sequim, though there may be somewhere. I had been wondering whether the flock would return, since more of the fields are being tilled and have little vegetation this year-but here they were, some flashing yellow breasts as they foraged the fresh dirt! A birder’s mind is always full of unanswered questions. Will less cover mean the birds will be more subject to predation by falcons and harriers? Did this flock arrive together last night (only 4 had been seen at a time so far in the area to date)? If so, did they use the wind to migrate? Where did they come from, eastern Washington where they are more common? Why do they select this particular site each winter and not other similar-looking spots around Sequim? Do the same individuals return winter after winter? One of the attractions of birding, is the constant sense of wonder that arises.

Bruce Paige

spruceak at yahoo.com

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