[Tweeters] From the Fill

Connie Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Thu Jul 24 13:19:19 PDT 2014

Hey tweets, Great day at the Fill after the stormy weather of yesterday. Most notable bird: a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER in the cattails along the lakeshore near K-2 (the Green's bench), identified by call and in flight. It looked to be almost completely in winter plumage.

Also present: a WESTERN KINGBIRD hawking for insects from the triple tree in Hunn Meadow East.

Other notables: a SPOTTED SANDPIPER foraging on the lily pads of Water Lily Cove; a Red-tailed Hawk flyover; American Coots are back; a Scaup (sp) was out on the lake; juvenile HOODED MERGANSER on Main Pond; a Ring-billed Gull on the lake.

As you know, I love the rare birds that I see at the Fill, so I am walking on air about the kingbird and dowitcher. But you can't live on air alone. The real bread-and-butter experiences of everyday life are what must sustain you, and this is what the Fill *always* grants. Today, for example, I watched a Bald Eagle hunting two Mallards on Water Lily Cove. The eagle was an experienced hunter and kited itself over the water waiting for the poor ducks to dive themselves into exhaustion, Mallards not being known for their underwater skills. But these two Mallards were savvy beyond belief. Instead of surfacing their whole bodies, they would stick only their heads up out of their dive, a target too small for the eagle to attack (Mallards not having Brainiac-sized beans). Eventually, it was the eagle who became exhausted and staggered off to recover, while the Mallards popped up none the worse for wear and commenced flapping their wings in victory.

The Great Blue Heron who has parked itself on Main Pond was there again today, capturing goldfish-sized fish by the dozen. I timed its hunt: the heron was swallowing at least five fish per minute. That's about as fast as I can eat a healthy snack of kale chips, prepared by my health-food-conscious daughter who is trying to woo me away from Doritos. At this rate, I get full of kale chips after about 10 minutes. The heron, however, kept cramming down fish for more than 45 minutes. I had to take my hat off to it.

I don't know if I told you, but we recently had another fire at the Fill, probaby caused by fireworks. This fire didn't get very far, burning up the field along the east side of the Loop Trail. New grass has already sprouted, and the burned seeds are beginning to attract large numbers of finches. Most of the finches are really nondescript, so it's fun to try to pick them out against a backdrop even more nondescript.

Finally, we hosted a large flock of migrating Violet-green Swallows today, though few of them were actually green, or violet for that matter. The birds have molted into new plumage, which at this time of year looks drably brown.

Here is a poem for you today:

Now comes the time of obscurity,
when the migrants of spring shed their bright plumage
and every songbird becomes dull.

- Connie, Seattle

constancesidles at gmail.com

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