[Tweeters] Samish Blackbirds, Raptors & COWS - 12/8/14

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Mon Dec 8 01:42:21 PST 2014

At least 2 dozen Red-tailed Hawks seen along the way to and from the Samish Flats. Other raptors included Northern Harriers, 2 Rough-legged Hawks, Bald Eagles, Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel (with and without prey), Short-eared Owl (in dim light at West 90). No seahawks.

When Anne G. and I turned onto Sunset Rd. from Farm-to-Mkt. Rd. in order to turn around and go back to check on a small falcon on F-t-M Rd., that was the start of some good bird finds: Redtails on wires and in a conifer, hidden near the trunk, Northern Harriers coursing over a cornfield stuffed with blackbirds, constantly getting a 'rise' out of big bunches of them but likely hunting for voles.

Then back to F-t-M, where the kestrel (likely a female) was found on a wire a bit farther down the road. We watched it fly to the ground in a field and easily pick up a vole, transport it back up to the wires and 'process' it.

Starting on the same Rd. and continuing the rest of the trip, Bald Eagles were perched in trees (both deciduous and coniferous) and at least one pair were interacting at, on and in a nest, and a few were seen flying low over fields. Herons were seen flying and standing frozen in place in fields.

Checked in Edison for a Merlin, but all we saw there were people in their post-game (Seahawks) modes, some Eurasian Collared Doves and scads of stoneware owls in the "Dumpster" store on the corner, across from the biker tavern. Along Bayview-Edison Rd. heading west out of town, we saw one Rough-legged Hawk, and at West 90, another, with more Red-tailed Hawks along the way to our final destination. A large field-trip group from south of Seattle, was just finishing up their successful day of birding in the Skagit and Samish areas (and maybe more, too), as Anne & I pulled into the parking lot to see what was still out there - the trippers had seen a few Short-eared Owls a bit earlier - we ended up spotting one way out to the west, near the dike, moving back and forth, with a lot of up and down mixed in. It was going up fairly high - that's how Anne first spotted it and I then picked it up in my scope. Whew ! A Samish winter trip without Shortears would have been a bit of a let-down. Also out around the paved path, a perky Marsh Wren was bipping around.

Killdeer were heard in some of the fields in the flats, and, oh yeah, many a formation of Trumpeter Swans made their way into our view, as well as the hundreds of them in large masses feeding out in the fields. We saw no Snow Geese - they must have been either in fields we didn't drive near, or farther south, down on Fir Island. And, yes, there were an adequate number of gulls in the area.

There were hunters out at W-90 but we didn't hear any shooting out there - only heard a couple of shots when we were on Sunset Rd.

The most unusual and entertaining find of the afternoon, was a herd of a few dozen or so, cattle, that kept racing around every time a truck or car showed up near them - seemed like they expected humans to get out and feed them. They were comical-looking cows, looking somewhat like big, blunt, curly-haired sheep (see my photos - link below). When we pulled up near their side of the road, they suddenly stampeded (or so it seemed) in our direction - were it not for an electric fence, I might have had to apply more duct tape to my car... :-)

A relaxing outing for both of us, on a dry, mild winter afternoon, with enough birdage to keep us interested !

Link to Flickr album of assorted photos : https://flic.kr/s/aHsk6HqLMh

Barb Deihl
Matthews Beach Neighborhood - NE Seattle
barbdeihl at comcast.net

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