[Tweeters] Green Heron & Eurasian Wigeon (among others) at Green Lake, Seattle

Martin Muller martinmuller at msn.com
Tue Dec 30 14:24:20 PST 2014


We did see three male EURASIAN WIGEON mixed in with the 160 or so AMERICAN WIGEON, during last Saturday’s Seattle CBC visit to Green Lake (east side lake near the Community Center / Evans Pool complex).
I scouted Green Lake two days before that and found an adult GREEN HERON resting in the cattails in the northwest corner of the lake (southern-most point where Aurora Avenue runs alongside the lake - what I refer to as “the Red-winged Blackbird reeds” but many people refer to it as the turtke-logs area-). We dipped on the Green Heron during the CBC. Today (Tuesday) I again found an adult GREEN HERON in the same section. No way of knowing if it’s the same bird, of course.

If you want to see the bird, you should bring a/your scope. It’s been on the lakeside of the cattails (away from the busy path), so the best way to find it is to scan the “outside” of the cattails from farther south along the path (towards the Aqua Theater). There’s a bench/picknick table along the lake shore. Just south of that is a good vantage point to scan most of the cattails.

We had 35 or so PIED-BILLED GREBEs during the Green Lake portion of the CBC. It looks like many are still there. Of interest (to me at least) was their behavior today. When I used to bird Green Lake more frequently, many years ago, I was always intrigued by the en-masse departure of Pied-bills before the lake would freeze over. Typically (in 20 years of observing birds at the lake), about 4 days before a freeze-over, the grebes (which need a long stretch of open water to get airborne) would leave.

With the dip in temperature yesterday and today (some frozen puddles on the path and a few frozen edges along the lake in the shadows) I was looking for any pre-departure flight exercises. I was not disappointed. A group of 8 Pied-bills were just outside the reeds where the Green Heron was. For about 1.5 hours they would gather in a tight group at the corner of the lake, all facing into the (north) wind, and in ones and twos they would suddenly take off, flapping and pattering like mad, till they were airborne a few feet off the water, then settle back on the lake, and slowly swim back, to repeat the excercise. So if you want to see Pied-billed Grebes fly, go to Green Lake in the next day or two and observe (I saw this in mid- to late-morning). If they do leave the lake, they will do so under the cloak of darkness (presumably to avoid daytime aerial predators like Peregrine Falcons).

Also seen at Green Lake today: HOODED MERGANSER, COMMON MERGANSER (including two females taking turns trying to swallow some sort of trout about their own size; didn’t work, but to my surprise the eagle perched on the island didn’t intervene during the 20+ minute struggle before the mergansers gave up), COMMON GOLDENEYE, many BUFFLEHEAD, BALD EAGLE, COOPER’S HAWK, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, SONG SPARROW, HOUSE FINCH, GREAT BLUE HERON, DOWNY WOODPECKER, NORTHERN FLICKER, many AMERICAN COOTs (although just like last Thursday one of the eagles reduced their numbers by one by), HORNED GREBE, MEW, RING-BILLED, GLAUCOUS-WINGED gulls, along with some hybrid Western / Glaucous-winged gulls, CANADA GOOSE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (hanging out with a small group of Canada Geese; it’s been at the lake since this Fall), DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (although their numbers are decreasing after the high numbers following stocking of the lake with trout a few months ago; at the height of their numbers there were two comorants with bands, which they both aquired at East Sand Island on July 7, 2012, before they were able to fly -nestlings-, courtesy of Orgeon State University researchers). And of course numerous AMERICAN CROWS.

Martin Muller, Seattle
martinmuller at msn.com

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