Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yay! Field Trip!

Mt Baker from Skagit County - finally a sunny day of birding this year!
My wife's work connected me to an opportunity to help on a field trip today up to Skagit County with Cornish College of the Arts.  Course title: Birds in the Field and the Imagination.  One course objective:  "A deeper understanding of birds as carriers of meaning for humans and as symbols in the visual and performing arts and in literature."  Insert "the night sky" for "birds", (and fix the grammatical problems that would create) and I like that as a goal for my ninth graders studying astronomy.
It was so awesome to be birding with relative beginners.  They've been brushing up in class, but there are still so many birds around them that they are really seeing and hearing for the first time.  I can remember nearly all of the moments when I got my 'lifers' (okay, maybe not the first crow...), and it was a treat to get to be there for so many of those moments.
Trumpeter Swans at the Conway exit off of I5

They'd been looking over swans pretty carefully before arriving, so they pretty quickly nailed the swans we saw off of the Conway exit as Trumpeter Swans.  They let me know about the characteristics of size, bill shape and color that got them there, and were just dead on.  We had about 30 of them there, and were also treated to views of an American Kestrel, and a few Red-tailed Hawks.  As we quickly hit the bathrooms at the gas station across the street, we had a falcon of some sort (we gueeeesssed Peregrine, but really weren't sure) fly over our vans. 

On to Wylie Slough, in hopes for a Black Phoebe, or at the very least, some good songbirds.  One outta two ain't bad!  Apparently, we missed the show that the Black Phoebe had put on earlier in the day, and it had decided to take a little nap - ah well (I have said ah well too many times in my posts.... Is it almost March, and I've added no new birds to my life list, or to my state list? hmmmm....) 

We did get over 20 species here, though.  I don't usually list them out, but we had fun putting together the list in the van as we went, so: Black-capped Chickadee, Bewick's Wren, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Pine Siskin, Tree Swallow, Bald Eagle, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, American Robin and Red-tailed Hawk.

There may be more pictures coming... my camera died when we got to Wylie Slough!  Some students were shooting though, and I may add.  Here are the others I took that day, though:

Great Blue Heron in flight here.  This one is special for me from the trip, because they were the stars of the show for the students.  They are pretty common birds - the only one that I've seen in every county I've visited this year (to be fair, it is the only bird I saw in Kittitas as it got dark - not really fair!).  But the exchange of the day went like this: "Great Blue Heron..... Great Blue Heron!... Hello?!... Why is this van still moving??"  From a student with a camera ready to go.  I wasn't driving, so I just smiled quietly, knowing that there would be more herons coming.  We did get one at Hayton Preserve that everyone took a good look at in the scope, as well as a Norhtern Harrier sitting on the ground.

Count the eagles!  I know this gets even more crazy during the Skagit Eagle Festival in January - on the river, I've heard there are just hundreds of them hanging in the trees - so like this times 50 or so!  No Golden Eagles on this trip - another lifer that I'm hoping to find eventually this year! 

We finished with Snow Geese.  Got directions to where someone saw them, then we watched as a cloud of geese in the distance rose up... moved a mile south... and landed.  Easy at that point to figure out which way to go!  So nice to see them again, and closer than my previous visit with them back in January.

We finished the trip with a quick rundown of the list, and with licorice ice cream at the Conway Market.  My favorite flavor of ice cream.  Hands down.  Available only in the middle of beautiful places, from my experience, and this continued that trend.  I thought I had left the county short of 39 species, but checked the list over again when I got home... 39 for the year!  Bird number 39?  Once again - a coot!

No comments:

Post a Comment