[Tweeters] King County birding 11/29: Bohemian Waxwing, Redhead, Short-eared Owl - longish

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 29 19:23:20 PST 2010

Hey Tweets!

Started and ended the day one bird short of some milestones today! Woke up today with a life list of 299 birds. ("Hey, Tim - why can't you just enjoy the birds instead of engaging in this pointless listing thing!" "Tim, you clearly don't know anything about listers - we actually do enjoy birds!".. yell yell yelling...cautious disagreement... okay, I got that out of the way! :) ) I'll be honest - as a redhead myself, I really wanted 300 to be a Redhead. There was a report of one at Magnuson, so I thought it would be 'safe' to go, get the Redhead, and then look for the Bohemian Waxwing. Alas, no Redhead that I could find, so I walked a bit in search of the waxwing around the Kite Hill parking lot. For a bit, I listened to a Varied Thrush (my favorite bird) fluting from the trees north of the lot, and a Fox Sparrow hopped out of the blackberry brambles as well - no sign of any waxwings, and I couldn't hear any of the calls I'd listened to on the computer at home.

Walked up Kite Hill, and in about 5 min heard the Bohemian Waxwing call clear as day! I made my way back towards the parking lot, stopping to try to take a picture of a Golden-crowned Kinglet (which seemed like it would be easy, but was as difficult as reported). Got down to the parking lot, and found two gentlemen who had seen a BOWA earlier - they also sheepishly let me know that their IPod had been the source of the calls I had heard, just asking that I not report them to Tweeters. (Hey, I left their names out! ;) ) After picking through a loooot of robins, we finally got a wonderfully backlit waxwing - I borrowed their binoculars (yes... I was without my binoculars today... well, I had a backup pair.. which promptly broke..) and got a good look at the wing markings before it flew. Would love to have heard the whole flock ringing, but still nice to get even a brief look at our strange visitor!

When my teaching day was done, I made my way back south, and a little bit further to meet up with Randy Bjorklund at Weyerhauser's Pond, where their resident Redheads appear to have arrived for the winter. Two life birds in a day!? Woo hoo!

Still had a little bit of time before picking up the kids... so I stopped by the Kent Ponds to look for Short-eared Owls. Hit the trail along the south end, and up to the observation tower, by about 4:30. Waited... waited... and at 4:45, had a big flappy object come toward the tower against the barely lit sky. Shaped like an owl, and smaller than a Red-tailed Hawk, with these giant wings flapping it past the tower and further south to who knows where. Waited for it to come back for about 10 minutes, but then it was really time to end the birding day.

So I ended the day one short of 200 species in King County for the year (which I know is kiiiind of a pointless goal, as such... but it's been so nice to be a ravenous locavore), and with three new life birds as well. Not a bad day at all!

-Tim Brennan

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