Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Intermission: Skagit and Snohomish

So these counties were Just-Passing-Through counties for this trip, but had some interesting experiences, and did get a few pictures, so I thought I'd share.  First of all, coming down through Skagit in the winter, I couldn't skip out on Snow Geese - I took Chuckanut Drive down, and came through some farmland.  I was a  little pressed for time with the conference about to start, but was able to pull over for a Eurasian Wigeon (not 'supposed' to be here with American Wigeon, but some of them head south down the wrong continent - a fair share of those give up on heading South once they're in Skagit), and an American Kestrel.  Ooh, also a barn (above)

Poked around some fields, and had 6 Tundra Swans fly overhead.  Thank goodness they were calling - the much easier way to tell them from Trumpeter Swans, which sound like... a trumpet.  Then I found a field full of Snow Geese: 

Snow Geese from Josh Wilson Road - Snohomish

...and in flight.  5 Bazillion of anything is cool, I believe.
At this point, I needed to scurry off to the conference in Everett.  Small thing, but I have to say I haven't quite figured out Everett traffic.  It always seems bunched up... and then today, the exit that I planned to take was only available from northbound 5.  Going south, I had to go right past the place I wanted to go, by a mile or two, and take the next exit.  From there, I wended my way back through town.  Leaving was about as bad - you can't hop right onto I5 from the Everett Holiday Inn from all I can tell... not northbound anyway, so I ended up driving a goooood bit of Everett!

What happened then was a little strange. I wanted to take 140th Avenue (Firetrail Road) over to Marine Drive, then up to Stanwood.  Not the quickest way to get there, but I'd seen posts for Great Horned Owls in the area, and it's a good enough time of year to look for them...  Again, the road I wanted was far enough off of the freeway exit, so I needed to wind around this way and that...in the dark... without directions or Mapquest.  This is the Seven Lakes area (Loma, Martha, Goodwin, Ki, Shoecraft, Crabapple and Howard), so the roads get a little twisty. 

Wasn't planning on driving by the home where I lived from age 5-8, but I did.  Driving along some road, I saw the sign indicating a firehouse, slowed and stopped in front of the firehouse itself, pulling up vague memories of walking up here to buy a bottle of soda now and then.  I backed the car up and saw the driveway - still the same tangles of brush all along it up to the corner where I'd catch the bus.  So strange to be grasping for memories of a place where I lived when I was old enough to remember, but not old enough to really put a good map together in my head... 

Neat at the time, but very haunting when I tried to make my way back to a major road.  Got turned around, and ended up right back where I made the first wrong turn, with no idea how I had made my way to my childhood home.  Still couldn't trace it out on a map, exactly what happened, and I wonder if I should try?

A little lost here....

Good evening of poker with Matt once I got to Stanwood.  Talked to his friends about the year I'm doing, and they were puzzled that there were even 39 different kinds of birds!  That said, they tried listing some, and came up with some I probably wasn't aware of around me until very recently (Kingfishers, for example..).  I told them that 10 years ago, I believed that the Starlings I saw were just baby crows - a fact that always lets people know that I understand.

The next AM, I swung over to Eide Road outside of Stanwood.  I was hoping for Barn Owls, based on my Opperman book "A Birders Guide to Washington" (hereafter, just "Opperman" - apologies to my non-birding friends).  Looked up and down for a barn whrere they might be, and asked some hunters if they ever saw owls in the mornings.  They referred me to "Pierre", who told me where he saw them - "The howls used to leeve in the barn, but zey tore eet down."  Things change! 

Stanwood area - across the Stilliguamish

Snow Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Marsh Wrens, Dunlin, and a Fox Sparrow were the highlights of the morning, then off to a full day at the coaching conference.  Next up, the San Juans (two days behind now, but catching up as quick as I can!)

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