Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Early morning birdwatching

We had lovely clear weather this past weekend and managed to get out with the kids to make some vitamin D. On Sunday morning Wren and I went birdwatching at Union Bay Marsh. The area and shores of Lake Washington are home to many overwintering birds.

It was very cold and the rivulets of water crossing the path were frozen over. Wren enjoyed stamping on the ice and trying to crack it. Little ponds were also frozen and pebbles skittled across the surface in a musical way but if a large rock was thrown it cracked the ice and felt through, trapping big white air pockets under the dark surface.

In this picture Wren is listening to the call of the Red Winged Blackbirds. There were many of them on the bare shrubs and trees, calling to each other in sequence. Wren learned to identify the song and I ahve a little movie clip I should put up showing him listening and identifying the bird. He particularly enjoyed looking at the picture in the bird book and saying "that is him!" (to everything from Sandpiper to eagle.

While walking around the trail we ran into Marth (Lincoln's Gran) and may be able to do the Little Gym class at the same time as they. I hope it works out. Martha walked around with us and has also been thinking of bringing Lincoln to the park and has bought the same little bird book of Seattle Birds to learn the local critters. The Union Bay area is very popular with birdwatchers - we saw about 10 other people with binoculars and/or very large lenses on their SLR cameras. My little Nikon was an anomaly (but my subject was closer - in the scenic shot there is actually a red-winged blackbird in the far tree but it appears only as a dot).

When we came to the banks of Lake Washington we noticed some bird photographers pointing out a pair of bald eagles who were attacking a coot out on the lake. We hurried over and watched the pair of eagles dive-bomb the little coot who ducked and dove bravely while swimming for shore. There was a flock of several hundred coot in a protected inlet but this little coot had wandered from the protection of the flock.

After about 8 passes at the coot (at times the photographer thought the coot was a goner) the eagles gave up and flew off to a perch in some lakeside willows across the inlet. The coot swam hurriedly to the flock which was feeding near a great blue heron standing basking on a log near the shore.

It was very exciting. Later in the day we went to the Pacific Science Center and saw the train show which was on over the weekend.

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