Fill today

Constance J. Sidles csidles at
Sun Sep 8 12:47:40 PDT 2002

Hey tweets, Another spectacular day at the Fill. I got there this morning
about 7:45 a.m., which was good because now it is raining. I may go again
this afternoon if the rain quits, as Stuart McKay swears by this as a
method for twitching out warblers: first rain, then warblers. I have to
admit I've tried this a time or two, and usually I get: first rain, then

There were plenty of warblers early this morning, though: every bush seemed
to have three or four, at least, although the tree that was so good
yesterday for the Tahoma Audubon was empty of birds today. The best
location this morning was the little grove of trees near the entrance to
Wahkiakum Lane, where you see a large drain sticking out. This drain was
installed to manage the overflow of the pond that was built to flood the
grove of trees. You'll notice no pond now, just grass. That's because the
pond developed a mysterious leak and emptied out all by itself. I never
knew that ponds *could* leak, but my husband, who grew up in Iowa, says
that's a major headache for farmers. They get out their ol' backhoe, dig
themselves a cow pond (or a pig pond, as the case might be) and gosh darn
it, the blamed thing leaks. Big waste of money. As the old farmer joke
goes: A doctor, a lawyer and a farmer all won the big Iowa state lottery.
They were asked what they were going to do with all their new-found money.
The doctor said, "I'm going to endow a clinic for the poor in my home
town." The lawyer said, "I'm going to retire in the Bahamas." The farmer
said, "I guess I'll just keep farming until the money's all gone."

Okay, enough with the jokes. More about birds. Another great location for
warblers today was the clump of brush near the big willow on the main pond.
This has been good for common yellowthroats all year. Today it also hosted
*numerous* yellow and orange-crowned warblers, along with a western
wood-pewee. At the base of the tree, there was an American pipit (!)
foraging in the mud. He was all alone. I did hear a short-billed dowitcher
calling aloft - I think it was upset by the peregrine falcon which showed
up to hunt the pipit. I don't know if the pipit got away or not. They both
disappeared around some brush. I think the pipit did survive, because the
falcon returned to the dead beaver tree shortly afterwards, and he didn't
look too happy. He did look hefty, though, like he's been beefing up on
quite a few successful strikes in the past few days. I'm talking linebacker
size here. That is one big bird. He swooped right past me on the way to the
pipit, and he went by in a flash; but when I saw him cruising back to the
snag later, he looked like he was moving almost leisurely. It reminded me
of the way a big 747 looks like it's flying slowly when it's really going
at 600 mph. A matter of size. I suppose I should refer to the falcon as
female? At any rate, the Cooper's and the sharpie that also flew past the
main pond later in the morning (!) were both quite wary of the falcon. But
maybe they were exceptionally wimpy birds: I saw the Cooper's being chased
off by a flock of violet-green and barn swallows, who wouldn't let him
alone until he reached the QFC in University Village.

Also on view: a flock of 7 wood ducks, with two males in breeding plumage
(on Union Bay); a green heron on the bay; Steller's jays in the tallest
cottonwoods; many savannah sparrows in migration; several Anna's buzzing
everywhere around the Fill; and that same large flock of Vaux's swifts we
saw yesterday.

Sad to say, I did NOT see the swifts descend into St. Stephen's chimney
last night. But since the flock was back at the Fill this morning, I'm
going to check the chimney again tonight. Those swifts have to roost
somewhere. I'll post to tweeters if I see them go in the chimney. - Connie,

csidles at

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