[Tweeters] Samish Flats - Some birds and SOME sunset ! - 1/14/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Thu Jan 15 15:32:29 PST 2015

Decided to take a break from Eide Rd. and go farther north to the Samish Flats areas, on a chance that a Prairie Falcon, a Merlin and maybe a 'slough' of Short-eared Owls would cross our path. First stop was along Green Rd in the Butler Flat area of the Skagit Land Trust near Bow, WA - a nice assortment of birds, including a couple unidentifieds, caught our eyes (usually Anne spotted them first as she is a good spotter and I was supposed to be paying attention to my driving). Besides a lot of swans, a few Great Blue Herons, swarms of blackbird/starling flocks, wet patches and ponds full of ducks, some Bald Eagles, we put our gaze on a Peregrine Falcon, an unidentified sparrow (with pretty coloration - ID help, please - see the "Before W90" photos - link to it and the West 90 album below), an American Kestrel, several Western Meadowlarks, a few White-crowned Sparrows, an immature Cooper's Hawk, a dark Red-tailed Hawk (maybe a Harlan's?). Nope, no Prairie Falcon.

Then off to Josh Wilson and Farm-to-Market Rds, where the number of 'wired' Redtails quite amazing. Did a spin through Edison, but no Merlin did we see. Then off down Bayview-Edison Rd heading west - started seeing lots of buteos, harriers and eagles, out hunting, either flying or perched. Never saw a Rough-legged. When we got to the W90 parking area, we were greeted by a Northern Shrike perched on a metal gate. and For the next hour around sunset-time, we found Shortears in good supply. Also enjoyed watching a Fox Sparrow (?) scurrying and scratching about near the paved path.

As the sun lowered and the colors started blowing our minds (well, mine at least), it seemed to be a cue for the Shortears to start in on some of their aerial ballet practice - I'm speculating that courtship and breeding displays are starting up - pairs of SEOW were zipping up into the higher planes and do-si-do-ing a bit - good to see that again. There were 2 other people out there, obviously looking at the SEOW and the small number of NOHA. That couple was out on the west dike, looking east much of the time, where the owl activity was. For the hour we were there, we could only guesstimate how many Shortears were out there, never seeing more than 3 at any one time - here's where more eyes really do help :-) But we feel we could safely say there were likely 4-6 Shorties 'owl' about the W90 inner field areas. After we got in the car to prepare to leave and to warm up), it was easy to delay our departure awhile to see if any of the still-active owls would swing by closer to the parking area, as is often the case as it gets darker and darker... None did, but the sky action made up for the lack. As we drove away, back down the road toward Edison, I caught sight of 2 possible SEOW landing in the grass next to the road, but we couldn't stop, so on we went toward food !

We had a warming, tasty meal at the Old Edison Inn. We also made a short stop at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mt. Vernon, for some excellent coffee. We averted our eyes as we passed the dessert case on our way out to the car, but made mental notes about stopping at the Co-op some other time, for a meal - a great place (quite quiet too :-)

We hadn't made it to Eide Rd., but with plenty of comments and photos coming in today from others who did get there yesterday, we can see that indeed, some owls were still there, tolerating the humans and going about their usual business, a background of clicky white noise and probing lenses, fairly well tolerated.

Here are the links to my 2 Flickr albums from yesterday:

"Before W-90 Sunset " : https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4aFXrd

"West 90 - Sunset & Shortear Specks" : https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4bpYZD

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

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