Chill birding.

Guys.  This whole Tufted Duck style of chill birding is totally working.  Instead of chasing 5MR year birds I've been focusing on birding spots that need more February checklists.  And I've been finding good stuff. WIN WIN WIN.

This is David Douglas Park:


I almost never want to bird there but every time I go I am glad that I did.  Case in point: see that little black dot at the tippy top of that tree?  That's a Merlin.

Hello.

 
While I was watching the Merlin I heard angry crows and turned to see a Bald Eagle soaring, but that was not why they were upset.  Rather three ravens had dared to appear! 

Two crows, two ravens (5MR year bird #96!)

Once the ravens were successfully escorted off to the west, the crows returned still talking loudly, which briefly concerned the Merlin.


 As I made my way up the paved trail I become immersed in a large mixed flock.  This is something I love, when it's so loud and there are too many birds to count properly, and new birds are flashing in and out of view.  There were both kinglets, both chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, creepers, robins, a Downy, Pacific Wrens, Steller's Jays, and a whole flock of Varied Thrushes. 

Why did I not want to bird this park again?  I forget. 

When it snowed a couple weeks ago I decided to bird the cemetery near my house, another spot that needs more checklists.  My plan was to walk a loop out to where the Killdeer hang out and maybe get a photo of one in the snow.  That was my entire plan.  I kept expectations mad low. 

Townsend's Warbler, so chill

Since much of the ground was still snow-covered, anywhere that was clear was thick with robins and Varied Thrushes.


This was cool and I would have been completely content with just these birds, but since my plan was Killdeer, I kept on walking.  I found them in their normal area on the far east side of the cemetery.  As I got closer something else flushed from the road near me.  Seven somethings. 

I raised my binoculars and began yelling holy shit over and over.  Because it was Horned Larks.


This was mind-blowing.  I thought I would probably pick up some 5MR Horned Larks at Broughton Beach eventually, not while I was out walking in my own neighborhood.



Weirdly the night before I had a dream that I saw a huge flock of Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs in the snow in our yard.  This was about as reasonably close to that as I could get!


They flew back and forth from the road to the fields a few times before I decided to leave them be.  I finally turned my attention the Killdeer who were not pleased that I had ignored them for so long. 

See ya.

Last week I decided to stop by a hotspot I created in my 5MR, a small fenced-off marsh that looked potentially interesting.  I forgot where it was and ended up on the backside of it which worked out well because a Red-shouldered Hawk was hanging out!  Only my second time seeing one in my 5MR.


Last Friday I birded Meadowbrook Marsh since it needed a checklist for the third week of February. 

Fox Sparrow party spot

 The park list had been at a tantalizing 99 species, and finally on this trip I added two more!  Herring Gull and Northern Harrier.  Bad photos of those birds so here's something else:

Only my third time seeing a cormorant here

Now at 101 species, Meadowbrook Marsh is one of only four green/yellow hotspots in my 5MR!

Another spot that needs more checklists is the marsh along Evergreen Highway.  I've visited twice recently and both times were great.

Female and 1st year male Hoodies


Jacob spotted its ear when it was laying down

 Hoodie eating a rough-skinned newt!

 
At a couple spots lately I've noticed Marsh Wrens singing which I appreciate.


The softest and sassiest sapsucker

And lastly, a Red-tailed Hawk with what I assume to be nest material:


Can't wait for more chill birding, though maybe some less chilly birding.  But still chill.  Good times!!