[Tweeters] Fill today

Constance Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Sun Jan 8 15:28:15 PST 2017

Hey tweets, Although a Northern Pintail was my first bird of the year (3 males in Yesler Cove at the Fill - how great is that!), I may end up having to call this the Year of the Rail. Yesterday, as Louis Kreemer posted, he and I were standing on the Loop Trail near the curly willow tree south of Main Pond. We heard what we thought were two Virginia Rails in the cattails there, although they were clicking and screeching rather than chuckling their "bouncing pebble" song. The screeching is something I've heard only a couple times before, when a mom rail was warning her intrepid baby to get back into cover nownownow or else - not that the baby always complied right away, but then what else is new in the world of parenting?

Anyway, Louis and I stopped to listen, never expecting to see a thing. Main Pond is frozen solid, so has no need of a rail, and the cattails bordering the lake are also pretty frozen, as are the grasses and puddles - so why bother to come out at all? Yet, a Virginia Rail did pop out, stare at us for some moments, and then scurry back into cover. Such a beautiful creature, and so prehistoric looking. I always feel transported back in time when I see one.

Today I was birding over at the marina and caught a motion in the water next to the dock that borders the boat launch ramp. Wonder of wonders, a Virginia Rail was swimming alongside the dock, heading toward shore. I knew rails sometimes swim - I have a truly amazing photo by Tim Kuhn showing this behavior - but why at the boat dock? I didn't even know rails came here at all, let alone got out into fairly deep water.

I guess that's birding for you. I'm at the point in my birding "career" where I almost never answer questions anymore about why a bird does something. In fact, I often tell people who come to my classes not to ask me why questions. It's just too tempting to make up something plausible. I've lived with my husband for 37 years and I still couldn't tell you why he does what he does sometimes, never mind trying to figure it out for a bird that doesn't talk. When I ask my husband, he just makes up something plausible. - Connie, Seattle

csidles at constancypress.com
constancesidles at gmail.com

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