Field Journal: Sinking Grebes

There’s something interesting about Pied-billed Grebes. They are very small compared to ducks and with their brown coloring they are easily overlooked in ponds. I tend to pay attention to them however and during my 365 Nature Project I witnessed them doing unusual things. One of those thing I watched again today during a visit to Magnuson Park in Seattle. At the far eastern end of the wetlands I saw a couple pairs of ducks in the pond. The first, a Mallard pair suddenly leaped out of the water in a frenzy of wings and in the swirling…

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Field Journal: Magnuson Park Beavers & Hooded Mergansers

Friday was another sunny day and slightly warmer than it has been and I wanted to take advantage of the weather while my daughter was at school. I decided to visit Magnuson Park and as I walked along the trails I noticed buds on different plants were already large and swollen, some already with green poking out. The low angle of the sun always makes an interesting perspective because while I could stand in the sun and pretend it’s spring, the low rays betray the season. Backlighting is quite beautiful this time of the year as the sun shines…

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Field Journal: Northern Shoveler

Over the last couple of weeks I hadn’t spent as much time at Washington Park Arboretum as I did during my 365 Nature Project, but yesterday promised a sunny day so I decided to walk around while my daughter was at her outdoor preschool. Although it was cold again, the freezing streak had broken and I walked to the pond near Foster Island to see if the ice was gone and the water was open to ducks again. Indeed it was clear again and I spotted a few birds foraging in the water, but mostly on the far west…

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Field Journal: Kleptoparasitism

Today I walked over Foster Island to Union Bay where I expected to see ducks – and see ducks I did, along with coots. There were a hundred coots, if not more, among other waterfowl in the bay near the boardwalk which connects Foster and Marsh Islands. The vast majority of birds were American Coots which were busy diving for aquatic vegetation, but mixed in were a fair number of American Wigeon and a few Gadwall and Ring-necked Ducks. I’ve had a fascination with the dynamics between the coots and other ducks for a few years because they’re a…

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Field Journal: Renton Crow Roost

It was only the second day of my 365 Nature Project when we tracked down the crow roost in Renton, nearly one year ago. For years, since we moved into our house in south Seattle, I had watched the crows fly south in a giant stream every night in the autumn and winter months and I wanted to know where they went. On Day 2 of 365 Nature I found out – they descended on a parking lot in an industrial area of Renton, just south of Seattle and near the local Ikea store. It was a…

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Field Journal: Magnuson Park

Over the past few days I heard some rumblings on the internet that there were Bohemian Waxwings being seen in Seattle and particularly at Magnuson Park. Like our more common Cedar Waxwings, these birds spend their summer in the far north, but the Bohemian Waxwings don’t often winter in our area. They are unpredictable in their winter range and this year they have spread to the Puget Sound region. I’d wanted to visit Magnuson and Friday was perhaps the last sunny day for a while so I drove there after dropping my daughter off at school.

I arrived, parking in a location near…

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