Monday, May 14, 2007

Laid-back bird watching

I haven't been out much lately, but I like to go bird watching. So does the butterfly lady, who suggested we head out into the toolies Sunday to check out what we could find. Having lived here for most of the 1990s, I've seen most of what the county has to offer (which to be fair is a lot of great birds), so maybe I'm not in a big hurry to rush out on the weekends because a) I have a lot of other stuff to do; and b) I've seen a lot of these guys before.

Among the cool sights:
  • A Say's phoebe, on the same stretch of road I was on the first time I saw one, ages ago. They're cute little flycatchers with a pretty song, and they flick their tails to pass the time.
  • A great horned owl, perched in a nest in a riverbank. Their "horns" and yellow eyes give them a particularly fierce glare.
  • About a half-dozen American white pelicans, moseying along in a lake at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge. I saw a couple pelicans once out at the local reservoir. When I told a birding pal about them, he asked if I was sure they weren't swans. Um, yeah, I'm pretty sure I could tell the difference.
  • Ruddy ducks! The butterfly lady's favorite duck - a cute little brick red sort with a spiky, upturned tail and a bright blue bill. These were in another of the refuge's lakes.
  • A northern oriole (or if you're a splitter, a Bullock's oriole), along the Walla Walla River. I don't see too many orioles on this side of the country, and they seem to be visible around these parts only for a brief spell.
We were on a very easygoing expedition, so we didn't go to great lengths to turn up oddballs, but it was still a nice way to spend part of a fairly lazy Sunday.


Johnny Yen said...

I haven't seen any of those (or at least if I did, I don't have the knowledge to recognize them), but when I was in Seattle recently, I saw a bald eagle in the wild for the first time. I was pretty excited about it.

Alasdair said...

They are extremely cool, and often are hanging around the refuge we visited, but earlier in the year. Damn huge birds, too.