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Showing posts from June, 2013

Red Crossbills of Gibralter Road

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The Red Crossbill(Loxia curvirostra) was the bird that led me to bird watching.  I had recently moved into this house, and as I recall, it was late August.  The house was new and there was no yard yet.  I spotted a bright red bird with dark brown wings.  It was perched on an Alder snag and preening.  I had no idea what it was.  In the late afternoon sun, the red color was brilliant, almost glowing.  I tried to memorize everything I was seeing.  The important thing I could not see from a distance was that unique bill.

I bought my first bird book, a Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds, because of this sighting.  Using the book, I tentatively ID'd it as a Scarlet Tanager, but I had doubts.  It did indicate they were "accidental" in the Pacific Northwest.  The picture of a Red Crossbill in that book looked pink to me, and my bird was brick red, more like the Tanager.


Now, move ahead in time about 12 years.  Add a bunch of feeders, a few more books, the internet, a little …

More Baby Pictures

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I was wandering around the yard checking out the garden to see what was blooming.  I had the Canon 7D and the 100 mm macro lens with me.  Behind some big rhododendrons there is an empty shaded spot where I am working on some ideas.  In the corner of my eye I caught movement and something brown.  That neighbor's cat is here, I thought.  Then suddenly, this little fellow came rompity-stomping right up to me!  He was only about five feet away, almost too close for the lens.


His reaction was a mix of curiosity and wariness.  My reaction was f-stop, f-stop!  He ran up the bank to the driveway, stopped and stared at me for a moment.  Then he scampered back down to get a closer look again.  He continued to move around me as if to check me out from every angle.  He was a tiny little guy, no taller than a Border Collie.  But he was full of spirit, bold and curious.  I am probably the first human he's laid eyes on up close.

I admit, I don't really know if I should say "he"…

Mother's Day

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Well at least this morning it was for this mother Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) swimming with her brood in Wiley Slough.  I wonder if this is the same hen I saw here last fall.  On that encounter, she was swimming with a mate.  Wiley Slough is in the Skagit State Wildlife Recreation Area on Fir Island. Here it is possible to hike out into the wetlands of the Skagit River delta on the Spur Dike Trail.  This is one of the best spots I have found in the area for viewing wildlife.  The site is a partially wooded wetland which is ideal Wood Duck habitat.


Another shot provides a look at a few more of the ducklings.  There were 12 to 15 in all.  I spotted the ducklings first before mom swam into view.

Wood Ducks have the unusual characteristic (for ducks) of nesting in trees.  They have claws on the ends of their webbed toes to facilitate this.  They will nest in a natural cavity or in a nest box according to BirdWeb.  There are some large nest boxes mounted over the water here which I now suspec…