harlequin duck & brant at alki today

Deborah Wisti-Peterson nyneve at u.washington.edu
Tue Mar 26 13:59:38 PST 2002

hello tweets,

yes, it is spring break at the good old university of washington,
so i thought i'd go peek at the birds described yesterday by kevin
li on alki. of course, wouldn't you know it, but my advisor caught
me as i was sneaking out of the building with my binoculars around
my neck, oops! i still feel guilty about this.

for those of you who, like me, don't know where constellation park
is, it is on the "southern" side of alki point, on the water side of
beach drive. here is a map;


so i was there birding for one hour. it was very windy and fairly cold
(wear gloves and a warm hat for goodness' sake!). teary eyes resulting
from the wind can be avoided if you stand down on the beach itself
rather than on the sidewalk above.

birds seen;

red necked grebe, 4 in breeding plumage
double-crested cormorant
great blue heron
"black" brant (Branta bernicla nigricans), 102 (i originally counted
76 as they foraged but a flock of 26 joined them shortly after i
arrived). these birds let you get fairly close, if you move slowly
and deliberately
surf scoter, 3 groups of 4-10 birds. the prettiest of all the scoters,
i think, and always a welcome sight!
harlequin duck, 1 pair, sitting calmly on the kelp-encrusted boulders
of the breakwater (appears as a little "finger" on the map, if i am
not mistaken). this is the first time i've seen this species through
my swarovsky binoculars and all i could do was whisper "wow!" under
my breath again and again. seeing them through my swarovsky eyes is
like seeing them for the first time. what a treat!
barrow's goldeneye, many! these birds are so gorgeous that it was hard
to tear my eyes away from them to search for the harlequin ducks. they
put on quite a show, too, swallowing shellfish that looked too big to
fit down their gullets.
bufflehead, 1 female. i rarely see this species on salt water, but there
she was!
various gull species of all ages that i didn't really look at closely.
this is a nice group to look at if you want to practice IDing young
gulls because all the age groups were here.


Deborah Wisti-Peterson, PhD Candidate nyneve at u.washington.edu
Department of Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash, USA
Visit me on the web: http://students.washington.edu/~nyneve/
Love the creator? Then protect the creation.

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