[Tweeters] A Great Bird Day

Jeremy Schwartz jschwartz1124 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 12:31:32 PDT 2018

Hello tweeters!

Last Friday I had one of those great bird days.

It all centered around a semi-organized bird walk I was leading most of my
marketing team coworkers on along a trail in the North Creek area of
Bothell. At six total people, I had the most coworkers joining me since I
began these monthly bird walks in January.

We could not have ordered up a better day. The sun was out, and the
temperature was the perfect spot between cold and warm. This is exactly why
spring and summer in the Pacific Northwest is so envied.

I used eBird to print out checklists for my coworkers to carry along with
them. I used the Bothell North Creek Trail hot spot and sorted it by birds
seen only in March over the last 10 years. This, I figured, would be a
great way to provide a comprehensive yet targeted list for my non-birding
colleagues to work from.

The bird sightings started a little slow. American Crows and Mallards were
the first; both common sights along the small wetland trail loop that sits
in the middle of our office park. We walked and I talked, rambling on about
this thing or another based on the birds we were seeing.

We were specifically keeping our eyes open for a Northern Flicker, the bird
I had designated the "bird of the month" for March. Hopefully pretty easy
to see, and a chance for me to talk a little bit more about this common
type of woodpecker to our area. I'm planning to call out a bird of the
month each month to keep an eye out for, in hopes of encouraging just that
much more interest in our bird walks.

Every so often someone would call out a bird they had seen. There's another
crow. Yep, there go two Mallards. A few Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitted
restlessly in the trees. After 15 minutes of this, I was feeling the
beginnings of discouragement. I was hoping this almost-spring day would
produce a little more bird activity. Plus: no Norther Flicker yet.

The walk continued as we rounded the second of four main curves in the
trail. I had fallen back in the group and was talking to a specific
coworker when the others called my attention from ahead on the trail. They
had stopped on a foot bridge that crosses a portion of the creek and were
pointing at a nearby tree.

There carving a likely nest hole out of the aged wood was a Red-breasted
Sapsucker! Not our "bird of the month" woodpecker, but a great find
nonetheless. It allowed us some great views as it pecked away at the tree
it clung to. Plus: this bird was not on our eBird-generated list. It was a
small thrill to be able to provide a novel piece of data, however small, to
eBird (I was eBirding this trip). This day was looking up.

Another curve in the trail brought us to a medium-sized pond and a great
variety of ducks. Buffleheads, Green-winged Teals and Gadwall we counted,
in addition to two Canada Geese. Then the second surprise of the day: A
Double-crested Cormorant popped it's head up from below the surface of the
water! Another absent species from the lists we all carried.

Indeed, the day was betting more birdy. Best of all, my coworkers were
beginning to pick out more and more from their surroundings.

We continued along the final stretch of the trail, with the creek now on
our left as we headed north. We were beginning to pick up the pace as we
needed to get back to work when one coworker shouted "Wait, what are
those?! What are those?!"

She was gesturing down into the creek next to the trail as two duck-like
shapes puttered past. I jogged a little along the trail to get clear looks
at them from behind the creek-side bushes. Then they came into clear view
for all in the group: A gorgeous male and female Hooded Merganser! I was so
thrilled to hear the "oohs" and "aahs" from my coworkers as we got great
looks at these two striking ducks.

As the mergansers moved on, we continued north. That's when another
coworker gestured at a tree a dozen yards away. "Is that a robin up there?"

I trained my binoculars on it and felt a jolt of excitement course through
me. My coworker had spotted a Northern Flicker! There our bird of the month
sat about 20 feet up in the tree, preening itself. It politely stuck around
for a good 10 minutes before it flew off.

I was on top of the world as we turned from the trail to the parking lot
and walked back to our office. My coworkers were genuinely excited about
the walk's successes. Though the beginning was slow, we ended up with 18
species for an hour's worth of walking.

I had a great bird day. And I have my ceaselessly enthusiastic coworkers to
thank for it.

Keep watching the skies!

Jeremy Schwartz
jschwartz1124 at gmail dot com
Lake Forest Park
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