Northern Bird Trip 10-4-15

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
My son Daren finished bowling about 10:30 Sunday (10/4/15) morning. It was a beautiful autumn day and the Seahawks don't play until Monday night, so we headed north to look for birds.

First stop was Eide Road south of Stanwood. I didn't expect to see much avian action as it is pheasant season with several hunters and their bird dogs working the fields around the ponds. I forgot to pack our hi-viz orange safety vests, so we stuck to the road away from the ponds until the hunters left the area. While we were on the road I photographed two female northern harriers patrolling the surrounding fields.

7DII + 100-400L II telephoto zoom, handheld.
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One paused in mid-air to scratch an itch before resuming its circles.
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After the hunters left, we walked to the edge of the farther pond where we saw three dowitchers........

5DIII + 500L telephoto + 1.4x teleconverter, tripod mounted.
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and a yellowlegs.
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As (bad) luck would have it, a large flock of dowitchers flew in as we were leaving.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
Our next stop was a DFW site called The Big Ditch, located north of Stanwood. I think the "ditch" is the Tom Moore Slough. We saw a great egret where the "ditch" empties into Skagit Bay. These shots were taken with the 7DII + 100-400L II telephoto zoom. I don't think a larger telephoto lens would have resulted in better photos due to heat waves.
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A flock of snow geese flew over Skagit Bay.
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The next stop was a DFW area called Wylie Slough on Fir Island. A flock of yellowlegs arrived just as we set foot on the walkway.

7DII + 100-400L II telephoto zoom.
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
We walked along the walkway, which positioned us to get some better shots of the yellowlegs with the sun behind our backs. I added the 1.4x teleconverter to the 7DII + 100-400L II lens combo.
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The sunlight caught a great blue heron at just the right angle to give it a look of intense concentration.
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#6
I have photographed many woodpeckers, but always in our local parks under a tree canopy. I don't look for woodpeckers in open spaces, yet I photographed a pileated woodpecker flying along the slough. I heard it for several seconds before it flew past me and continued on up the slough.
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Along the same line, I did not expect to see a downy woodpecker pecking into a dead tree that was totally exposed over the water.
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#9
The one that got away: a male northern harrier flew in front of and over our car near the intersection of Chillberg and Alverson Roads just east of LaConnor.

We also visited the area past the levee at the end of Rawlins Road on Fir Island and the DFW site known as The West 90 in Skagit County south of Samish Island near Samish Bay. Neither location turned up any birds of note for those who may want to take advantage of the warm autumn weather and head north.

There were two or three flocks of snow geese in the fields off Fir Island Rd. on Fir Island. We didn't see any trumpeter swans at the usual locations.

We only saw 2-3 bald eagles on the entire trip. I think they are still fishing along the salmon spawning rivers such as the upper Skagit and Nooksack.
 
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squirl033

Super Moderator
Staff member
#11
bit early for the salmon to be spawning on the Nooksack, isn't it? i thought that was mainly a winter thing... December-January time frame.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#12
bit early for the salmon to be spawning on the Nooksack, isn't it? i thought that was mainly a winter thing... December-January time frame.
You are probably right. Bottom line = the bald eagles are just now starting to return from wherever they spend mid-August through mid-October.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#13
Bill on Eide Road how was the walk to the pond how wet was it I don't have any boots
We waded through some puddles on the road past the barriers and through low, wet areas to get to the ponds. Bottom line = get some boots. Rubber boots will do for now. You don't need heavy duty insulated ones, although I would advise investing in a good pair of Gortex (or similar) lined, high quality hiking boots for the coming winter.

I have become my great-grandfather. He wore a pair of old-fashioned, high-top, laced-up leather walking shoes as he typically walked 1-2 miles every day until his death at age 92. Every day I wear a pair of high quality, Gortex lined, high top hiking boots. One pair will last me about two years, but they see a lot of miles in that time.

My son wears the same brand/model of boots that I do. His should last longer than mine, as he only wears them when I tell him to; i.e., when I know in advance that we will be wading through mud or water
 
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squirl033

Super Moderator
Staff member
#14
Bill on Eide Road how was the walk to the pond how wet was it I don't have any boots
i've been up there a couple of times in the last 10 days or so, and it's been fairly dry. you can probably get by without boots for now if you pick your path with some care, but once it starts raining again, it'll get sloppy in a hurry. i usually wear a pair of mid-height hiking boots with a few liberal coats of silicone spray, and have no problem. if it's really wet, i recommend rubber boots.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#17
Looks like you saw quite a few nice birds, Bill. I understand the snow geese are back too!

Terry
There were two or three flocks in fields south of Fir Island Road. Now would be a good time to run up and grab some photos before goose hunting season starts.
 
#18
Nice find on the egret and great photos, Bill! Do the geese leave during hunting season? I remember them sticking around through tulip season last year, if I remember correctly.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#19
Nice find on the egret and great photos, Bill! Do the geese leave during hunting season? I remember them sticking around through tulip season last year, if I remember correctly.
The geese stay through hunting season. They spend the night floating offshore in the Sound and fly inland to the fields in the morning. That is when the hunters try to shoot them.
 


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