365 Nature – Day 5

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.


 

I’d very much like to say I knew today was National Bird Day when I planned our nature outing this morning, but somehow this holiday was left off my calendar. Never-the-less we celebrated appropriately, intentionally or not. Although to be honest, that’s not hard to do, every day is Bird Day for me.

Recently I noticed a small number of swans in Lake Washington – usually around Madrona Park in Seattle – during our preschool commute. We saw them again yesterday and so today decided to go investigate. While not unheard of, I have not seen swans along the lake very often, and usually when I do it’s only one or two. According to Birding in Seattle and King County they were rare winter visitors but “since 2006 they have expanded their winter range south from near Snohomish into the Snoqualmie Valley, where flocks of several hundred swans, the great majority Trumpeters, are now regular, with smaller groups wintering at Kent and Auburn.” The book doesn’t mention them specifically in Seattle though so perhaps it’s a bit of a treat to have them here.

We arrived at Madrona Park just after 10am to a slight drizzle and cool temperatures. There were many species of waterfowl in the lake, the first I spotted was a pair of Common Goldeneyes. Then there were the standards, the birds which the lake wouldn’t look right without – the Double-breasted Cormorants sitting on the posts and the American Coot groups in the water. I also spotted a few Common Mergansers and Buffleheads and a Gadwall and of course Mallards. There were also gulls, the only one I identified was a Ring-billed Gull. Up along the sloping bank of grass was a flock of Canada Geese.

The swans were also there, the large, white birds extremely easy to spot. We found what looks like a family, two adults and three cygnets, large but still grey in color. They adults didn’t have yellow on their bills which marks them as Trumpeter Swans. We watched them for awhile, foraging by dipping their long necks down into the water while their white backsides stuck up in the air. They were surrounded by many of the other waterfowl which gave the impression of their being royalty. They certainly look the part.

More photos of the Trumpeter Swans and Madrona Park.

Happy National Bird Day!

Learn more about National Bird Day

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of a book about urban nature, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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