Sunday, March 31, 2013

More Seattle Nature

Another day, another trek into the wilderness.  Okay, trek on an easy path through a park in the wilderness. Still counts, right?  :-)

This time we were able to plan better, we had the maps and we laid out our stops.  Our first place was incredibly gorgeous.  The drive was spectacular, as was the view from the parking lot.  The restrooms were not, but we survived.  I was glad I had wet-wipes.  From the parking lot we saw this oystercatcher.  I was hoping to see more, but this was the only one we saw.  Look at that beak! They are hilarious.

 They had to go.  I can't tell what type of cormorant it is, the west coast has a few to choose from.  So in this place there is a beautiful beach to the right, woods in front, and a little inlet to the left.  We walked through the woods checking on the inlet once in a while, and then came out of the woods and walked back along the beach.
 This guy was blasting his song all over the place.
white-crowned sparrow

So I heard a hummingbird and then it whizzed by so I'm looking around for little teeny birds, and then my friend says, "Well, okay, but who are those guys?"  "What guys?"  "Right up there."  Oh, those guys - they are bald eagles!  Birding is much better with a friend.  :-)
bald eagle
 This is a terrible picture of a really cool thing.  This is a ruby-crowned kinglet, with its ruby crown raised!  I wish the picture were better, but I'm thrilled with having any picture of it.  The crown is usually mostly hidden, so it's a treat to see it like this.
ruby-crowned kinglet
 Goldeneyes!  My first time seeing them outside a zoo!  We are now out of the woods (ha!) and these were in the ocean.  We sat on some driftwood watching the ocean for a while, and we saw dolphins!  We would see a bunch of them surface to breathe, and then they would disappear for a long time.  I got no pictures at all, although I did get some shots of water with no dolphins.  It was such a nice way to spend such a beautiful day!
common goldeneye
 Looking back towards the woods, the eagles were overseeing their domain.  Woe to the rabbit who dares to enter!
bald eagle
Sometimes in Seattle you get to see stuff like this.  This is the inlet.  Back in the parking lot before we left we saw what we thought might be young seals, but I sort of think they might have been otters.  They stayed at the surface of the water for a long time, so I'm leaning towards otter.  Plus I love otters so I really want them to have been otters.  The pictures are inconclusive.  Anyway, a great park!
 Once again, my camera loves mallards.  How gorgeous is this?  Our next stop was another park with more water, another path through the woods, and more beauty.
 Ever wondered how ducks take off from the water?  They flap like crazy and start running across the water until they build up enough speed to fly.  It doesn't work for me.
 Hey, it's the same duck as from yesterday!  I mean, probably not the same actual duck, but the same ~kind~ of duck.  Cool!
ring-necked duck

This kinglet led me on quite a merry chase.
golden-crowned kinglet 
Sometimes in Seattle you get to see stuff like this.
 Are you kidding me?  My friend found ~another~ eagle?  Hahahaha, I love this place!
bald eagle
 Our third stop was also very pretty, just too dark for pictures.  I did get one of a towhee, I don't see spots but it must be a spotted.  I blame the light.  From there we headed back to the hotel, and durint that trip I realized that what I thought was a bridge was actually a ferry route.   Aughghghgh!  So there was some extra driving, but we made it eventually.  Luckily room service was still serving!
spotted towhee

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Exploring Seattle's Natural side day one

A day of gallivanting about, hiking, looking at wildlife, and experiencing Seattle.  And a little bit getting lost and driving more than planned.  This was not entirely unexpected.  I did not, however, expect to see this.  I think it might be an Easter-related thing.

At our first stop, we went to the deck overlooking the water.  And we saw some fancy ducks!  Including ring-necked ducks, this male........

ring-necked duck

..... and this female.  
ring-necked duck
 There were lots of geese, here are a couple coming in for a landing.  It's just barely pre-splash.
Canada goose
 More fancy ducks.
northern shoveler, american coot
 And swallows in front of the fancy ducks.  There were three kinds of swallows there, I don't really know which ones these are.
 More geese coming over from a different area.  Someone told us that they might have been chased by an eagle, which sounded extremely promising to us!
Canada goose

 And further up the path, here he is!  We had been hoping to see an eagle, so we were quite happy about this big guy.
bald eagle
On the other side of the spectrum was this little warbler, in the same area as the eagle.  I wonder if migration is a bit earlier here than in NY, or if they overwinter here.  
yellow-rumped warbler
 Chickadee!  We saw several of these, but you know how they are.  Fast and flighty, that's how they are!  There are some other kinds out here but this looks tome like my old friend the black-capped chickadee.
black-capped chickadee

Finally a good look at the towhee.  Look at those spots!  Yep, that's how they do it on the west coast.
spotted towhee
There are 4 or 5 male hooded mergansers, and sometimes they got feisty and reared back, showing off their crests.  Yes, it's quite impressive!  A nice good-bye.

hooded merganser

On to our next location.  It looks slightly dodgy.  There is only parking for three cars.  It looks a little like we might be trespassing.  And these guys can make a significant amount of noise.
Steller's jay

But down the trail it gets gorgeous very quickly.   Hummingbird!!!!!  I am always so happy to see a hummingbird.  Especially perched!  Even if it's completely hopelessly backlit.  And it leaves before I can zoom.  And I can't figure out what kind it is.  Even then I am thrilled to see one!

mystery hummingbird

Buffleheads!  It was a great spot for fancy ducks. We just went a little ways down the tril to some sort of pond, then it was unclear whether the trail looped or not, so we went back.
On the way out we heard a tapping and found this gorgeous little fellow!  Okay, I didn't hear it at all but luckily my friend did.  :-)
red-breasted sapsucker
A brown creeper!  It's funny the mix of familiar and new species.

brown creeper

Our third stop we saw a bunch of clam-diggers of the human variety.  I guess when they say "better at high tide" they meant it!  Not good for birds, but quite entertaining.

Then we got passed by a Teddy Bear-oriented biker gang.  I am not making this up.  How much do I love Seattle!!?!?!?!?!  :-)
Teddy Bear Biker 2

Teddy Bear Biker 2

Teddy Bear Biker 3

Teddy Bear Biker Gang

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hummingbird Heaven!

Today is our last day in Costa Rica this trip.  We went up to La Paz waterfall gardens, basically to sit around and look at hummingbirds.  I should have brought a sweater, and ended up getting a sweatshirt at the shop there.  It was not as good as my sweater but it was better than nothing - it was chilly and raining all day!  However the hummingbird feeders were well worth it.  We trekked down there and stayed in a little rain shelter next to a feeder as the hummingbirds buzzed all around us.  It was amazing!  I have officially given up on identifying them all.  If anyone wants to take a shot at it, feel free!

green thorntail

green thorntail

mystery hummingbird

green violet-ear, green-crowned brilliant

green hermit, green thorntail, and others