Friday, October 25, 2013

Perfect birding weather

We've been spoiled by several weeks of sunny weather, the kind that makes it hard to stay inside and work.

 On a Monday, Sarah and I escaped to Smith and Bybee Lakes in North Portland.


We had yet to see a Red-shouldered Hawk this year, so we were delighted to find two very vocal youngsters calling repeatedly from the willows near the inter-lakes trail.

A week later, we were scheduled to lead a field trip at Dawson Creek Corporate Park in Hillsboro. Sarah developed a nasty cold the night before, so I was on my own.

The day started off foggy, but we managed to find plenty of Acorn Woodpeckers and another Red-shouldered Hawk. The skies finally cleared as I led the group to a place we call the Wood Duck Pond. I hoped it wouldn't be empty, as it was on our last field trip there in April.

Success! Dozens of Wood Ducks and Mallards were illuminated in the sunshine. We listened to the Wood Duck' squeaky calls, and admired the crisp plumage on both species. It was tough to tear ourselves away from the ducks, but we had to look for more birds and finish the walk. We missed a few species we'd hoped to see, including the ever-elusive White-breasted Nuthatch. But, with blue skies, blazing leaves, and a pond full of ducks, it's hard to complain!

Monday, October 7, 2013

North to Bellingham

Last Week, Sarah and I visited Water World, also known as northwest Washington. It's a land of lakes, bays, straights, and sounds.

We drove through rain and gray skies on Wednesday to reach Bellingham in time for our reading at Village Books, a gem of a bookstore in the Fairhaven neighborhood.

The bookstore employees were wonderful hosts. They gave us hot tea and a cozy space that was perfect for sharing photos and stories of our favorite birds.

A few days later we boarded the Snow Goose, an education vessel that takes folks of all ages on cruises in Washington and Alaska. Our friends at Timber Press and the North Cascades Institute arranged for us to serve as co-naturalists on a birding-by-boat excursion (thanks, Besse and Christian!).

We boated through Bellingham Bay, cruised around Lummi Island, and hugged the edge of the Chuckanut Mountains. I can't imagine a better way to spend a Saturday: the water was calm, the sky mostly sunny, and we saw some birds too.

We helped passengers identify the cormorants, gulls, and ducks that were perched on rocky islands. Rafts of sharp-plumaged Surf Scoters and Pacific Loons were crowd pleasers as well.

As we returned to the harbor, we enjoyed one heck of a view of Mount Baker.
We had to return to Portland for a Sunday night event, but we are already thinking of a future trip to the northwest corner of Washington to enjoy the birds, beers, and bakeries we missed this time around.