Best dog walk ever.

I didn't make any real resolutions this New Years, but I was thinking I definitely need to work harder on my motorless birding.  I finished 2013 with 136 135 species.  Not terrible, though plenty of room for improvement.  I got started on New Year's Day, racking up 40 species on a long dog walk up to the Columbia and over to the Sea Scout Base.  This morning I walked in the opposite direction along Airport Way to the wetlands behind the McKinstry building.

I always stop at the different "pump stations" along Airport Way, though I couldn't actually tell you what they are.  At this one behind Thyssen Krupp Elevator I found my first new bird of the day, a Red-shouldered Hawk:

We kept walking east...

Song Sparrow

 When we reached the wetlands around 9 there was a nice fog going on...

Within fifteen minutes the fog completely dissipated.  I made my way around to the east side of the wetlands where another pump station is located.  A trail leads behind it offering another view of the wetlands, as well as access to the Columbia Slough Trail.  Back there I came across a flurry of activity- kinglets and creepers and chickadees and wrens!

Golden-crowned Kinglets

 Bewick's Wren

At this point I heard a faint sound, almost like a horn, and my first thought was swan, quickly followed by my second thought "you're crazy."  I dismissed it and snuck into my secret spot for popping a squat while on dog walks.  Then I heard the sound again.  I looked up and sure enough, five swans were flying overhead.  Crap!

I scrambled to pull up my pants, grab my bins, buckle my belt, not drop the dogs' leashes, and made a mad dash back towards the wetlands.  Thankfully the swans had landed in the water and I was able to get some better looks, with pants on.

They sounded like Trumpeters, and sure looked big enough to be Trumpeters, but I was convinced that was just too crazy.  I returned to the viewpoint behind the pump station and waited, hoping I would get a chance to hear them again and record their sound.  I lucked out- they took off after a short time, and flew right towards me!

This time I managed a video with my phone as they passed by that can be seen/heard on Flickr.  I sent it out for some confirmation because I still could not believe it.  Indeed, Rhett, Michele, and Dwight all agreed they were Trumpeters.  Not just a great motorless bird, but a new county bird!  Not just a new county bird, but my first county bird found while peeing! 

On the walk home I was able to add one more new motorless bird for the year:

Greater White-fronted Goose

And lastly, a Red-tailed Hawk clutching something dead was under attack by a crow...

Good times!!!


  1. Great motorless outing.. Congrats on adding the Trumpeter Swan! Happy Birding!

  2. That kinglet looks like it has suction cups on its feet, the way its hanging upside down! I am looking for a new tab on your page "Birds seen while popping a squat". Your motorless list is impressive. I was considering just doing a WA County big year, but now I'm not as excited about the idea. It would still be nice to see more birds here than I did in 2013 though. Local is good.

    1. That would be a unique tab. You could even add Birds Seen from Outhouses without a Door.

    2. Wow, a county big year! That would be crazy. I do like the new tab idea... Hmm...

  3. Yahoo! great one Jen....awesome shots of those swans! All great birds to see....we had a robin in the back yard today which is odd, we don't normally see them this time of yr...tonight is gonna be the coldest night we've had in a few yrs! 13F with a wind chill of 0 so I hope some vagrant birds will find their way into here tonight and tomorrow!!


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