Friday, April 8, 2011

The Official Start of Spring - Ospreys, 3 month update, and county #10 done.

osprey = spring
There's a stretch of days in March (and this year into April) when I swing by this cell tower every day on the way to and from work, looking for the return of a pair of Ospreys (seahawks, as they used to be called).  It was a full week later than last year, but they did show up on the 2nd of April.  This is on the same pipeline trail where I started the year - maybe a half-mile up the trail.  In the three months prior, I had seen 150 different birds, set foot in 19 counties, and "finished" 9 of them (King(113), Whatcom(56), San Juan(56), Thurston(60), Wahkiakum(51), Chelan(41), Pierce(40), Skagit(39) and Mason(39). 

I was looking forward to finishing up teaching all the way to spring break, but following a track meet on the same day I saw the Osprey, my stomach started hurting...and a little more...and I finished out the day getting ready for an appendectomy!  My sister and folks took care of the kids while Bre took care of me at the hospital.  Another time this year when I've been so thankful for the family and friends around me.  Sunday came, and the appendix was out, it hurt to talk, and I wasn't allowed to pick things up!  I was grounded! 

Savannah Sparrow - Marymoor Park, Redmond
 By midweek, I was allowed to drive, and supposed to do some walking, but still not good for teaching and track.  Once I'd had my fill of staring at grading, I made a run to finish up county number 10 - Snohomish!  I had never been to Lake Crescent - just south of Monroe, and just north of the King County border.  I made a run through Marymoor on the way.  They've seen Mountain Bluebirds there this week, and I had not seen them in King County before, so I made a quick run to look for them.  No luck on the bluebirds, but in a short short walk, I heard my first Savannah Sparrows of the year, a Ring-necked Pheasant (always here at the park, but I don't always catch them), and an American Kestrel (harder to find in the county, although I did find one about the same time last year).

Farms near Carnation, King County

Mourning Dove - Carnation Marsh
From there, I made another longish stop in King County, stopping at the Carnation Marsh.  Here I was hoping for Ruffed Grouse - another one that I've seen before, but never in King County.  I didn't find any, but had over 30 species before I left, including 4 woodpecker species (Hairy, Downy, Pileated, and Red-breasted Sapsucker), and two kinds of doves that I don't see as often - Mourning Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon.  Heard, but not seen - lots of Rufous Hummingbirds, and a few Virginia Rails.  It was a beautiful stop, and the skunk cabbage was just starting to bloom.

Skunk Cabbage - Carnation Marsh

Snohomish County - south of Monroe

Sparrow patch - Lake Crescent Wildlife Management Area
Then it was across the county line!   I was somewhere in the 30's for Snohomish County, but not done, and people had been seeing a Sandhill Crane near the Correctional Facility.  I found the fields where it had been seen - no crane, but there were dozens of Mew Gulls feeding in the corn stubble, and Violet-green and Tree Swallows swooping over a little pond on the other side of the freeway.  I got to the wildlife area itself, and ran into a problem that I will certainly run into more and more in months to come if I don't get my act together - I don't have a Fish and Wildlife permit!  This shortened the visit a bit, but from areas near the parking lots, and from the roadsides along the way, I was able to find enough sparrows, swallows, blackbirds and raptors to move it up to 56 for the year.  Ten counties down!

House Finch - Snohomish County


  1. Hi Tim -
    Another nice report! I also heard my first savannah sparrows of the year a few days ago, but I haven't found the osprey here on the island yet. I particularly like your panoramic farm country landscape photos :)

  2. Thanks Monika!

    The barns stay still better than the birds do, and there have been a lot of beautiful places out there!

    Hope the Ospreys make it up your way soon. Ours are already hard at work replacing the nest on the tower - it would be neat to just watch one or two birds all day some time rather than running about after so many different ones all of the time! May have to sit and pay them a visit soon.