Wildlife of Edmonds, WA. 2018

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Tuesday afternoon (7-10-18) I went back to Brackett's Landing North where I found a single least sandpiper foraging in the same location as the westerns the previous day. I got close-ups that should enable viewers to compare the two. The last three shots were taken at -1 exposure compensation due to the bright sunlight coming in from behind me. The first two were taken "straight on" and had to tweak them for the same reason.

The sandpiper had been foraging on the beach, then flew to a small piece of driftwood.

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The sandpiper was so light that it could walk on the seaweed flotsam. The smallest of the sandpipers, it is about the size of a sparrow.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
My son and I had been photographing birds at Brackett's Landing North the previous day. Another photographer asked me to pose for a photo as I was going back to the pickup. I think it gives me that professional photographer look. ;)

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
My son and I went to the marsh Saturday evening (7-14-18) in the hope of avoiding the heat waves and glare of mid day. The foliage at the marsh has grown tremendously this year. It is blocking our regular views of the waterways and mudflats and making photography difficult.

I photographed a shortbilled(?) dowitcher....

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and a mystery sandpiper.

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For size comparison, a least sandpiper is on the left, the dowitcher is in the middle, and the mystery sandpiper is on the right.

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Opinions as to the ID of the mystery sandpiper are welcome. I have more photos, but they are not much better than these.

My best guesses are pectoral sandpiper and sharp-tailed sandpiper. The sharp-tailed sandpiper is a rare visitor from Asia, but I did photograph two at the marsh last year.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Two votes for the pectoral sandpiper. Two birder friends said they saw two of them at the marsh the following morning.
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pectoral_Sandpiper/id

I took more photos of the sandpipers yesterday (7-15-18), but they are no better than the ones I posted here. A kingfisher did oblige me by posing on the old martin gourd holder.

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My wife is touring nature areas in Costa Rica. On one of the tours she met two people from this area who have seen me at the marsh.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Monday evening (7-16-18) I checked out the City Wide Fence osprey nest in Lynnwood. The mother flew in empty-taloned shortly after I set up my camera.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
The osprey and I waited an hour and a half for the father to arrive, but he was a no show. The younger of the two chicks popped his head up occasionally while panting.

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The older of the two checks would stretch its wings and poke the younger one.

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I went down to Haines Wharf Park and saw an osprey perched on a tree. I wonder if it was the missing father.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Wednesday afternoon (7-18-18) I spotted an adult spotted sandpiper and two chicks at the marsh. It is the first evidence I have seen of sandpipers nesting at the marsh as the two chicks looked recently hatched and too young to fly. The adult was bobbing up and down and calling to the chicks as it foraged. The chicks bobbed up and down as well. Sorry for the poor photos, but it was warm and sunny with the corresponding heat waves and glare.

Adult and one chick.

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Both chicks.

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Best photo of a chick.

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Best photos of the adult.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
That evening I checked out the osprey nest at the Meadowdale playfields. The playfields were torn up in 2017 for installation of artificial turf and there was no access to the nest.

The mother took off from the nest as I was setting up my equipment and returned with a branch. It appears nest building continues even after the eggs have hatched.

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There are three chicks this year. The mother, the heads of two chicks, and a third chick flapping its wings are visible in this photo. I thought the chicks looked older than the ones at the City Wide Fence nest.

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Look closely and you can see the heads of all three chicks.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I tried to take advantage of Thursday's (7-19-18) overcast to get some better photos of the sandpipers.

The adult spotted sandpiper and chicks were out and about.

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A pectoral sandpiper was in the distance.

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Heat waves were returning when I spotted a semi-palmated plover.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
A variety of migrating shorebirds continue to show up at the marsh. Some photos from Saturday (7-21-18).

Glare and heat waves from the continuing warm weather and bright sunshine make long distance photography and birding difficult.

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The adult sandpiper spent much time calling for the chicks, but we did not see them. Two crows were perched on the old martin gourd stand. We wondered if the crows were watching the sandpiper in an attempt to ambush the chicks.

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Two semi-palmated plovers were present. One looked like a juvie, but it was difficult to tell when shooting through the tall vegetation.

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Kevin Ebi and a friend were at the marsh while I was there. Kevin is the keynote speaker at this year's Bird Fest.
http://pugetsoundbirdfest.com/
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Update: For those wanting to visit the marsh to look for the spotted sandpiper chicks, here is an early Sunday morning report (7-22-18) submitted to Tweeters by a Seattle birder:

My husband and I went up to the Edmonds marsh this morning, arriving around 7:15. We were thrilled to find the Spotted Sandpiper and her chicks (big shout out of thanks to Bill Anderson for posting about this delightful family). We saw at least 4 chicks, plus the watchful, peeping, adult. And there's not much cuter than Spotted Sandpiper chicks, scurrying and bobbing, scurrying and bobbing, puffy light gray with a dark gray stripe down the center of their head and back.

There was a Least Sandpiper at the very back of the marsh, and some nearby Killdeer allowed a size comparison that convincingly dashed our hopes
that it was a Pectoral Sandpiper.


I'm glad to hear that the sandpiper chicks were not been snatched up for dinner by the evil minions of the Dark Lord.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I checked last year's photos and the autumn shorebird migration appears to be on schedule.
http://www.pnwphotos.com/forum/index.php?threads/wildlife-of-edmonds-wa-2017.14796/page-7

Last year's rare birds were two sharp-tailed sandpipers and a swallow-tailed gull. Uncommon visitors were a northern shrike and a parasitic Jaeger. This year's unusual sightings include pelicans (both white and brown), two adult pectoral sandpipers, and an adult spotted sandpiper with four chicks.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I have met several people looking for the spotted sandpiper chicks at the marsh. Here is a guide to help find the chicks. The most difficult step is locating the marsh, which is hidden behind a commercial area. A map can be found on the marsh "homepage."
http://edmondswa.gov/visit-a-park-text-15/parks-map/edmonds-marsh.html

The best place to start looking for the chicks is the #2 viewing platform, which is the one closest to the parking lot after entering from Dayton St.

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In years past you could stand on the #2 viewing platform and scan the waterway/mudflat where the chicks have been seen. This year's explosive growth of vegetation at the marsh has taken away that and many other viewing angles.

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From the #2 viewing platform proceed east and stop just short of the large trees which overhang the walkway.

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Turn to the right and you will see the waterway/mudflat where we have been spotting the chicks. The tide gate is open and the water level is dependent on the tide. The water was receding when I took these photos about 7:00pm Monday evening (7-23-18).

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Another good view of the marsh is from the #3 platform. It is located a little further east down the walkway opposite the outdoor tennis courts. The best view from there is in the morning with the sun at your back. The worst view is in the late afternoon/early evening as you are looking directly into the low sun reflecting off the water or mud.

Listen for the adult spotted sandpiper's plink plink sound as it calls the chicks.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I took these photos about 10:45am Monday with the 7DII + 500L telephoto + 1.4x teleconverter mounted on a tripod. The tide was out and the area was a mudflat. The heat waves already made good photos nearly impossible. I managed to snap a few in between "shimmers."

There was a report on Tweeters of four chicks. I have only seen two at once. They are developing quite rapidly as can be seen by looking at my photos from Wednesday (7-18).

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Adult

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Adult on the right with a chick on the left up next to the vegetaion.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Kenmore Camera had a used Canon 2x III teleconverter for sale, so Tuesday afternoon (7-24-18) I traded in my 2x II TC for it. I was never happy with the 2x II TC as photos taken appeared "soft." Therefore, I seldom used it. I had heard the 2x III TC produced much sharper photos, so I thought I would give it a try.

Later that evening after it had cooled down a little, I went down to the marsh to test it out in conjunction with the 7DII + 500L telephoto lens. With the 7DII's crop factor of 1.6, the combo is equivalent to a 1600mm telephoto lens. While that may sound impressive, it is only 32x magnification. Many of the new mirrorless cameras have 60x magnification, the same as high end bird spottng scopes.

Here is my best photo of the spotted sandpiper out on the mudflat, taken from the #1 viewing platform.

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I'll give the 2X III TC better tests when we get some overcast weather to cut down or eliminate the heat waves from the mudflats. It will be fun to take comparison shots using various combinations of crop/full frame sensor cameras and teleconverters with the 500L telephoto lens.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Wednesday evening (7-25-18) I used various cameras in combination with my 500L telephoto lens + new/used 2x III teleconverter to photograph the City Wide Fence osprey nest while my son had tennis lessons at nearby Meadowdale High School.

The nest is located behind the City Wide Fence property located at 16923 48th Ave. W. in Lynnwood. As far as I could tell, there are still three chicks. One preferred to remain in the back of the nest. This week's hot weather must be very rough on all our local chicks, as osprey nests are in the open and not shaded in trees like eagle nests. The chicks' only source of water is the fish they eat. The male must have been running late on delivering the final meal of the day as the female periodically cried out the entire time I was there.

This is about what the nest looks like from the street.

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1Dx slightly cropped My 1Dx has chronic dirty sensor problems and is not a good camera to use with a light background and small aperture settings. I cropped just enough to eliminate the offending black dots.

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1Dx cropped

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5DIII uncropped

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5DIII cropped

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Continuing.

7DII, uncropped.

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7DII cropped

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I am very impressed with the 2x III teleconverter. As far as I know, the series III is Canon's latest model. It gives much sharper images than my old 2x II TC.

The largest aperture opening with functioning auto focus in all three cameras is f/8. This can limit the use of a 2x TC with the 7DII to sunny days and lower ISO settings. The teleconverter also drastically cuts down the available auto focus points.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thursday afternoon (7-26-18) I was back out experimenting with my latest toy, the new/used 2x III teleconverter on the 7DII + 500L telephoto lens.

Heat waves from the current heat wave are the biggest deterrent to clear, long range photos. From the fishing pier I took a distance shot of a heron on a roof at the marina followed up by some "artsy" close ups from the walkway across from the heron.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Next stop was Brackett's Landing north where an usual looking gull was picking seaweed off the tethered log in the underwater dive park. I think it is a first year Heermann's gull, but I would like to hear from the birders in the audience. Heat waves off the Sound waves were a problem.

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Continued.....
 
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