Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Montlake Fill, WA - 16 June 2008

Also called the Union Bay Natural Area this former landfill on the banks of Lake Washington in NE Seattle is an urban birding paradise. I parked at the Center for Urban Horticulture and walked to the west side of the parking lot where the trails begin. Almost immediately I was greeted by a singing White-crowned Sparrow atop the sign marking the entrance to the natural area, but was too slow w/ the scope. Savannah Sparrows were singing nearby, as well as Song Sparrows.

The first pond to my right held a number of slumbering Gadwall, and the early morning sunlight provided an excellent digiscoping opportunity. I took a bunch of pics of a lovely drake, then headed on toward the lake. A Bush Tit flew into the cottonwoods but I was unable to locate it. An adult Bald Eagle was flying over Lake Washington and being mobbed by the many American Crows. The adjacent marsh held dozens of large Painted and Blanding’s Turtles. Several Great Blue Herons hunted among the lily pads, and one bird flew past me just a few feet overhead. As I digiscoped a pair of Pied-billed Grebes a pair of Blue-winged Teal flew by. A roosting Crow stayed long enough for a few digiscoped images, as did a Song Sparrow. Their dark gray heads are a real contrast to the brown sparrows we have here in Michigan. If it weren't for their song, which is identical to those here, you could easily mistake one for a Swamp Sparrow.
As I headed up the trail I spotted a Cinnamon Teal sleeping along the far shore. I took long-distance digiscoped images fighting flimsy tripod legs, tall grasses, and wind, but got a couple keeper shots. Just before leaving a pretty Tree Swallow posed nicely on a dead snag a few feet away.

From there I moved into a back parking lot and found a lovely Savannah Sparrow willing to let me digiscope it from just a few feet away.
Along a service drive I discoped another Song Sparrow, followed by several Cedar Waxwings.
As I returned back at my starting point I heard a Marsh Wren singing at the edge of the Shoveler Pond. Putting my binoculars on it I found its nest slightly visible through the cattails. I managed a couple quick shots of the chattering bird as it appeared in the open, but would’ve liked a bit less obstructive viewing.
I directed a passing couple to a view of the Marsh Wren, and they in turn alerted me to a Lazuli Bunting that had been seen for the last month in the area. Apparently these birds are quite rare in these parts, especially in Seattle proper. So I headed back around the trails a second time and headed toward the field where the bird might be seen. Along the way I got another set of digiscoped images of a Savannah Sparrow as well as a Common Yellowthroat.

As I reached the field I heard the high-pitched singing of the bunting. And sure enough, I spotted it perched atop a bush in the middle of the field. I managed a few shots from a distance w/ the Nikon D300 before it flew off into the conttonwoods, and for the next 2 hours I stood in the middle of the field waiting for it to return to the open. As I waited I listened for its “tweetweetweetweet-weeb-e-ziit!” call. Finally it reappeared for a short moment before disappearing again, but in the end I managed to get enough keeper images to be one happy birding-camper! What a great bird to end a trip to Seattle with!

2 comments:

Neil Gilbert said...

Great shots Jerry! The Gadwall is very nice! Congratulations on the Lazuli.

-Neil

Neil Gilbert said...

Great shots Jerry! The Gadwall is very nice! Congratulations on the Lazuli.

-Neil

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