[Tweeters] Fill Vesper

Constance Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Tue Sep 9 13:41:49 PDT 2008

Hey tweets, The Fill was unspeakably beautiful this morning. Mist clung
to the poplars and smoked off the main pond. The autumn sun was a soft
gold, and birds were everywhere.

A VESPER SPARROW paid a visit to the Fill this morning. It was
foraging in the field east of the lagoon (south of the southwest pond,
where the loop trail turns north). It foraged on both sides of the
trail. Also present in the same area, a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.

This little quadrant is getting better and better as the CUH people
reclaim a portion of the Dime Parking Lot and continue to plant native
plants nearby, especially in the strip from the southwest pond north to
Wahkiakum Lane. In addition to the sparrow and blackbird, there were:
Pied-billed Grebe (on a nest), Green Heron (3 herons also on the main
pond today), Great Blue Heron, Wood Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern
Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, American Coot, Killdeer,
Glaucous-winged Gull, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Downy
Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, some Empidonax (couldn't tell which
kind), American Crow, Barn Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Cliff
Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat,
Orange-crowned Warbler, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow,
Savannah Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, and American
Goldfinch. Not too shabby, for an area smaller than the local

Surber was a bit quieter than it has been lately. I did find Warbling
Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, and Orange-crowned, among the
usual denizens. Out on the bay were 3 Ring-necked Ducks.

Aside from the rare sparrow and blackbird, the best sight of the day
was on the main pond. A Cooper's Hawk was perched in the dead willow
snag on the north end when I walked up. Usually when this bird perches
here, the surrounding brush is dead as a graveyard. But today, the
place was alive with birds. In the same tree as the hawk were 15
American Goldfinches and 4 House Finches, all paying no attention to
the fact that the hawk undoubtedly viewed them as potential snacks.
Then, to my amazement, a juvenile Green Heron flew in and perched on a
branch a little lower than the one the hawk occupied. The heron then
proceeded to relax, as the branch swayed back and forth gently. The
heron might as well have been humming, "Doh-de-doh-de-doh," in
imitation of Red Skelton's Heathcliff, the IQ-challenged seagull.

"Well, you won't be spreading *your* genes far and wide," I thought.
"You're just too dumb for words." But the scene continued unchanged,
the heron humming, the finches singing, the hawk motionless. It looked
like an idyllic version of Eden, where the lion lies down with the lamb
and all are presumably vegetarians. Things stayed peaceful until the
local immature Red-tailed Hawk flew in, displacing the Cooper's and the
Green Heron, which proceeded to flap around the pond voicing loud
complaints. It was joined by another young Green Heron, and then a
third, all loudly objecting to the hawk. At that point, the Cooper's
woke up to the fact that it was supposed to be hunting birds and
proceeded to do so, swooping around the pond and then south out onto
the lake and then back again. How it expected to catch anything that
way was beyond me, but I'm not one to talk, since the hardest thing I
have to catch in the morning is a granola bar. - Connie, Seattle

constancesidles at gmail.com

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