|Sunrise from Military Road - Thurston County|
Saturday AM was magnificent. Let me explain a bit here. There is a listserve out there called Tweeters. It has nothing to do with Tweeting, and was around long before. It's a place where people post interesting bird sightings, or have other related conversations (right now there's one percolating about what our state bird ought to be - there may be interest in changing it from the American Goldfinch to Great Blue Heron. My vote is for Varied Thrush). So they have a searchable archive, and I was interested in owls I might find in this area - through the search I found the name of a gentleman from Tenino. I emailed him and waited a day, two.. three days... figured that I'd just have to poke around myself. Then I got a four page email from him with information on this road where he goes owling (Vantine Road - coming up here), and information on 5-10 other places he goes walking around there and what birds he's found. Made me think back to my first day of the year, and the joy that comes from knowing all of the little corners in your own place. He was happy to do it, and called it 'vicarious birding'.
|Not quite sunrise - Vantine Road|
So - 6:30 AM, Vantine Road. I drove a short ways up the road, got out of the car, and heard a Great Horned Owl hooting away. Enjoyed this for a bit, and tried to converse with him to bring him in closer. Eventually left, but it turns out that I heard a GHO at every stop I made along the 2 mile road that morning! By far the best stop was about a mile and a half up the road. I had three different kinds of birds making a racket of very different sorts:
Northern Saw-whet Owls were tooting away (think of the whistle of a saw blade being sharpened - the cadence being kind of like a garbage truck backing up) - three of them at a time, which was more than I'd ever heard at once. Very very cool.
Virgina rails were also very loud down below. How to describe their calls... imagine a pig trying to do an imitation of a mallard when they do that descending QUACK Quack Quack quack quack. Who knows how many of them were doing that all at once.
Marsh wrens were adding to this. Chattering and clicking madly with the other groups of birds doing their thing. Wish I had audio for y'all. It was something else. Here's a picture of where I was - a bit dark down this little valley, but it was the backrop for all of this crazy noise.
|Harris' Sparrow - Tenino|
Finished by visiting Paul's feeder where I got a good look at a Varied Thrush. Did I mention that was my favorite bird? Yes? Okay, good. Then made my way out of Thurston County, having seen 60 species between the two days. So many places I hadn't been! Mima Mounds (beautiful place, nicknamed "The Pimpled Prairie" because of the strange mounds; Olympia; Capitol Forest (where they've got interesting things like Hermit Warblers and Mountain Quail, and other muddy places where they'll have shorebirds later. I'll have this longing to return with a lot of the counties I'm sure.
Next post will be Lewis/Cowlitz/Clark, and then Wahkiakum and I'm caught up!