[Tweeters] Spending Time Watching, Looking and Persisting - Skagit County - 10/16/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Sun Oct 18 19:03:22 PDT 2015

Friday was one heck of a nice day, for anything. My plans ended up being to leave Seattle mid-morning and head up to various places in Skagit Co., to look for birds and scenes of any sort that I should come across. Yes, one possible bird to go look for, was a reported Long-billed Curlew, and maybe I was hoping to see an early Short-eared Owl, Rough-legged Hawk, Gyrfalcon or other favorite raptor. But I really didn't care about strict goals - I was out to relax and soak in the beauty of the habitats and any species I encountered.

Of course I got a late start, but this time it was due to a foraging Pileated Woodpecker I first heard, then saw, then photographed on a cedar tree off the street on my property - found myself thanking City Light for having whacked mercilessly on the tree to clear dozens of limbs away from power lines. Enough injured tree tissue there to attract dozens of insects, and thus, woodpeckers !

Once headed north, I did decide to forego Fir Island and first pulled off the interstate at the Chuckanut Dr. exit, to go see what was out up on Green Rd., just off of Cook Rd., a bit north of the exit. Some years ago, I had seen a Harlan's Hawk along that road. Nothing major caught my eye this visit. When I turned from Green onto Kelleher Rd. and headed east, I spotted only the third pole or line-perched Red-tailed Hawk of the trip so far. Had a pleasant exploratory drive in that Butler Creek area.

Headed west next and down into Bow and Edison and on out the Bayview-Edison Rd. toward the West-Ninety parking lot - noticed a lot of snags pulled out of the ground in the once redtail and harrier-strewn fields to the south of the Samish River :-( Lots of heavy machinery was working the fields. Saw a few more redtails and a couple of Bald Eagles on my way to the parking area. Once parked, I waited to hear and see which birds were there - both male and female Northern Harriers were cruising around, Red-tailed Hawks were in a few trees to the north of the lot, and on wires and poles along Samish Island Rd. I heard a few Western Meadowlarks, saw some Brown-headed Cowbirds ,Fox Sparrows, Brewer's Blackbirds, Robins and Yellowjacket wasps ! Had fun watching and trying to photograph a pair of redtails and a Bald Eagle trying to shove each other off a favorite tree perch - the redtails were very good at hiding in the trees - sometimes I'd see one head into a tree and then disappear in there somewhere - I often found it later, when it changed position. I stayed at West ninety for 2 hours and then moved off to the southern leg of Bayview-Edison Rd., only to see a couple more Redtails and harriers, blueberry bushes in their fall color glory and curious-looking line of peaks up to and including Mt. Baker - most were totally snowfree.

Headed off to find March Point (hadn't been out there in 20 years) and look for a Long-billed Curlew. 2 hours of driving, stopping and peering, but no luck on the curlew. Did enjoy all the Great Blue Herons, some Buffleheads, some gulls, a few Horned Grebes, one Common Loon and all the refinery-site paraphernalia. Drove along the N. and S. Texas roads that cross the peninsula. At one point I was excited to see a familiar favorite bird perched on a thin post out in a field - from behind, its size and shape and coloration made it seem to be a Merlin. But, alas, it was a familiar Northern Flicker instead ! It was a fun little excitement, that chase. Just before leaving March Point, I saw a very distant Bald Eagle land on the tallest conifer in the area and spread its wings (to dry? ) like a cormorant.

As it was getting on toward sunset time, I aimed again for the other (east) side of the Padilla Bay and visited West Ninety again, to capture more clouds and color and check to see if any other birds would show themselves. Got the clouds and the beautiful sunset shots, as well as a nicely distant view of the refinery and its steam stacks and lights.

That was it - a nice easy drive home to Seattle with no traffic snafus. A nice day and pleasant company (myself !) Can't complain...

The links to the 2 Flickr albums compiled :

Samish Flats - https://flic.kr/s/aHsknuDtjV

March Point (no LBCU) - https://flic.kr/s/aHskmS4teW

A special "Thanks" to the following folks for taking the time and effort to give me some March Point location clues, as well as a few lessons about using eBird alerts, especially the "hotspot" marks on the maps (i.e. don't count on them - few folks properly record where they actually are): Carol Riddell, Randy Hill, Ann Marie Wood and Wayne Weber (these last two may have been the only reports with accurate hotspots given on their eBird accounts of their LBCU sightings). I already gave a nod to Gary Bletsch, Ryan Merrill and Russ Koppendrayer for their alerts. "Danke alles !"

I'll still use eBird to get an idea of a location, but will mostly count on my maps (sans hotspot flags) and intuition to guide me in my searches. I don't mind.
-------------------- :-)

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