Yesterday I planned to finally make the trek up to Seattle to hunt down a life bird, Common Redpoll, as a flock of 40+ birds had been making the rounds of Green Lake Park. They had been seen daily for over a month and I believe I referred to them as "reliable" when I convinced Audrey to join the chase. Our first stop of the day was at a hotspot called Weyerhauser Pond for a weirdly large flock of Redheads.
It was freezing and foggy but the birds were there, a lifer for Audrey.
From there we drove straight to the redpoll spot located along a ridiculously busy multi-use trail that circumvents Green Lake in a residential neighborhood. So busy that Audrey said "it's like a parade" which was totally accurate. We spent an hour and a half walking the dogs up and down the trail in the area the birds are known to frequent, staring at birches hoping they would come to life with redpolls. They did not.
Luckily we had more places to visit and things to see, and we headed north to Edmonds.
I cannot remember why I first visited this town years ago, but I have been several times since and it's always awesome. Lots of great birds hang out close to shore or in the marina, and a pier offers a decent spot to check for alcids. Within minutes Audrey had her lifer Red-necked Grebe hanging out with a pile of Red-breasted Mergansers and a couple Horned Grebes.
We began walking out on the pier and noticed a couple people looking below at something. Harbor seal!
It was too much, we had to walk away. We didn't get far because there was a female kingfisher perched on some fish art not giving an eff about people. It was insane.
We crept closer and she kept not caring.
Then she dove straight down, snagged a fish, and flew up to a perch. This was when you might say "hilarity ensued." She started slapping the fish back and forth on the metal beam she perched upon. It was so loud and we could not stop laughing as it went on for SO long. Finally she swallowed it and returned to her perch for another.
This was not a life bird nor a year bird nor even a county bird for this random county in Washington. A good reminder that sometimes the best things do not fit on a list. Or a reminder to start a "Birds I have seen slapping a fish around" list.
We walked out on the pier after that, finding some Surf Scoters directly beneath us.
There had been Surfbirds reported from the jetty but all we could find were starlings and Dunlin. A wander through the marina turned up more common birds giving us fantastic looks.
We came across a Common Goldeneye trying to eat some kind of crustacean.
Finally she swallowed it and dove back down to look for another. One of the best things about this area is being able to see birds swim underwater. So cool. A second trip out on the pier turned up a Pigeon Guillemot close in.
Some Brant flew by that I later learned were yet another life bird for Audrey. Luckily we got closer views from Sunset Ave.
After Edmonds we headed to Discovery Park where I took no photos, so I'll skip ahead to our return trip to Green Lake. We decided to give it our all and walk around the whole lake, 2.8 miles according to the internet. Nope. No redpolls. Sometime between our morning trip and our afternoon trip someone reported them in the birches, right where they were supposed to be. Reliable.
So yes, we dipped but I am so glad we tried anyway, and am still amazed at how well-behaved my dogs were all day. I've been working on their leash-reactivity and holy crap, we were walking right by tons of dogs without them so much as sniffing the air. This is a victory I cannot even describe as it's something that has been super hard to deal with the last couple years. The good dogs combined with the kingfisher and all the other fun stuff made this a day worthy of the title "good times!"