[Tweeters] Bird Walk At Work
jschwartz1124 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 15 16:35:37 PST 2017
I led an impromptu bird walk with some of my coworkers during lunch today,
and I just had to share the tale.
It started with spotting a Bald Eagle out my office window.
I’m lucky enough to work in a Bothell-area office park surrounding
good-sized wetland. The North Creek area for anyone who lives near by,
south of Canyon Park. The wetland has a well-maintained trail around it
that offers wonderful views into the tangle of trees, shrubs and grasses
that comprise the wetland itself. The trail is elevated, putting walkers
along it five feet or so above the wetlands and creek below.
It was in one of these creek-side trees that I spotted the eagle. One of my
direct team members, let’s call him A, had seen it too and asked where he
might go to see more Bald Eagles. He said he’d never really seen one up
close and wanted to change that. I rattled off a few places I know to be
hot spots this time of year that are also not too far away.
Then it hit me: Why don’t we just go looking around our office wetland
right now? It was just about lunch time, and the weather was easing up from
the drizzle that had filled most of the morning. We both saw the eagle fly
away, but you never know where it might have landed.
My coworker was up for a walk to try to spot the eagle and any other birds
we might see. I invited other members of my team, too, thrilled at the
opportunity to lead my first birding walk.
We hit the trail after lunch. We were five members strong, me leading four
of my colleagues. I had to get used to walking backward while talking, a
skill I’ve not had much opportunity to hone.
Our first species of the day was the Dark-Eyed Junco, spotted flipping
through the leaf litter on the wetlands side of the trail. I pointed out
that a key diagnostic feature of the junco is a flash of white on the tail
often seen when the bird is landing or just taken off.
We walked and I talked, spouting off random bits of bird trivia and
offering pointers for spotting birds. Mallards were next, then a
Pied-Billed Grebe in the creek that one of my coworkers spotted before I
did. I loved when this happened, as it seemed to really cement my
coworkers’ interest in the birds around us. We spotted another grebe, this
one in the middle of gulping down a small fish it had just caught.
Then, a “What is that?!” from one of my coworkers. I turned to find she had
seen a Great Blue Heron, stalking a grassy stretch of the creek. It took
step after step in full view of us, probing the water with its dagger-like
beak. While a common sight for me, it was a thrill to see a bird as truly
magnificent as a Great Blue Heron through the eyes of a non-birder.
I was continually thankful for the interest my coworkers showed throughout
the walk. They could have been taking this time to get some work item done,
or have lunch themselves. But they were out here with me, sharing in my
passion. It was an amazing feeling.
We spotted both Ruby-Crowned and Golden-Crowned Kinglets in the trees above
us as we crossed a foot bridge over the creek. I was glad to be able to
show my team the patches of colored feathers that gave each of these birds
A handful of sparrow species, two Buffleheads, some Black-Capped Chickadees
and a Northern Flicker later, we completed the small trail loop and headed
back to the office. In a little more than 30 minutes, we logged 13 species,
not including one unidentified gull flyover. Not a bad count for the first
birding trip I’ve ever led.
My coworker A, the one I originally spotted the eagle with, told me later
how grateful he was for the walk. He told me he doesn’t really think he’s
into birds, but the passion and enthusiasm I instilled into the walk made
him want to pay attention. It was perhaps the best compliment I could have
Keep watching the skies!
Lake Forest Park
jschwartz1124 at gmail dot com
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