Friday, January 1, 2010


I was up well before dawn today to see what the New Year would bring for my Washington list, but alas, the day broke late, dark and still rainy, remnants of the night’s storm. The area around the backyard feeders remained still and quiet until nearly 8:40 and even then visitors were few, just enough so I could list a dark-eyed junco and a black-capped chick-a-dee before heading down to North Creek Park wetlands to see what I could find there. Even the wetlands seemed somber and quiet in response to the wind and rain, but I did spot a beautiful bittern flying low from one marshy area to another. The buffy color and streaky underside was hard to miss, still since I don’t think I’ve ever seen one fly before I had to take an extra long look to make sure I had a bittern in sight. Missing, however, were the American widgeons, belted kingfisher and even the Canada geese were absent from the north field.

After walking the wetland boardwalk, my husband and I drove north, stopped quickly at the Everett sewer ponds to include the cinnamon teal on my first day list and then continued on to Skagit Flats to see the swans and snow geese. The wind and rain assaulted us most of the day making the birding chilly and somewhat tiresome. Still, the day yielded 29 species. So the first day of my big year ends with 29 species listed and 211 still to go. I wonder what day two will offer?

Thursday, December 31, 2009


On the eve of the New Year I am filled with anticipation. It’s funny how, in viewing the upcoming year, I only see opportunity and give little heed to the challenges that I know lie in wait. I’m eager to make my own bid for a “big year” listing of Washington birds. I impatiently wait for a new job and better financial footing. I vow to truly study those passions I’ve only dabbled in such as drawing and writing and like most, I pledge to work harder and eat less. On the precipice I don’t worry that all my dreams won’t come true or even acknowledge that for me doing more and eating less have never been successful in the past. No sense in dashing hope when the eve will soon give way to a new day and a new beginning.

Mostly my head is filled with visions of birding. My goal is to see 240 species of Washington birds by this time next year. After reading Pheobe Snetsinger’s book, “Birding on Borrowed Time” and Kenn Kaufman’s, “Kingbird Highway” I am excited about my own ideas for record keeping and documenting my birding year. I purchased a composition book today and have already cracked open the spine to ponder what my first few entries might be. Backyard birds, no doubt, but still some of my favorites, black-capped chick-a-dees, dark-eyed juncos, red-breasted nuthatches and Stellar jays.

In planning my goal I gave myself leeway on shorebirds because I know I trouble over definitively identifying them but I pushed the limit on ducks, owls and songbirds. In order to make my goal of 240 I will have to find a number of eastern Washington species, many of which will be life birds for me. I’ll need to carefully consider seasons and the potential for passing migrants in a way I’ve never measured before. I already feel a sense of immediate urgency to visit the geese at Skagit Flats even though I know they will be there for many more weeks before migrating back to northern nesting grounds. I’ve sketchily made plans, fantasy plans at this point, to see the Sandhill cranes in Othello and tufted puffins off the coast come spring. So, the North Creek Birder is branching out, north, south, east and west of my comfortable little wetland to view the world through a pair of slightly out-of-focus binoculars. The goal, 240 birds and day one is fast approaching. Welcome big year.