[Tweeters] Montlake Fill: Coyotes, Barn Owl, Ruddy Duck and Canvasback

Kevin Purcell kevinpurcell at pobox.com
Fri Jan 8 14:54:01 PST 2016

I was out birding with Ed Siegel on Montlake Fill on Thursday afternoon from 1pm to 3pm.

After a noisy entrance (crows, red-winged blackbirds, american goldfinches and quite a few people) it quieted down as we passed the Turtle Logs.

We saw 13 Ruddy Duck off East Point (in a moving line looking like malformed battleships with stiff tails).

In the far distance (in front of the jetties) we saw a few Canvasbacks too.

Walking past the Main Pond Ed spotted a Coyote crossing the path to the West. We stopped and looked. It stopped on the path and looked back at us. It looked well fed: chunkier than other coyotes I've seen. It then moved NE into the shrubbery poking around and occasionally looking up at us and meeting our gaze. Brilliant yellow eyes. We watched for perhaps 5 minutes until it disappeared out of sight in the grass towards the Main Pond.

We talked with UW employee and he mentioned he'd seen (in the past year?) a single coyote on the playfields to the north of the Fill and a pair of coyotes in the E4 parking lot early one morning.

After wandering around the Fill and then checking out Yesler Cove we walked back to our car via the path between the CUH and the cottonwoods. Ed spotted a Coyote heading south along a dip parallel to the line of cottonwoods. It spotted us too, stopped, then he moved on. We moved up to try to refind it and saw there were two coyotes. Both looked at us then they disappeared into cover.

As they moved into the undergrowth they flushed a largish light tan bird up from the ground into a tree with a GIS of an owl. We scanned for the owl in the trees but couldn't find it so we moved off the path and closer to the cottonwoods to try to find and ID the owl. As we moved in closer to the cottonwoods we startled a coyote (perhaps 20 feet away) as we suddenly came into view. This time it was not so nonchalant and disappeared at a trot into the undergrowth. I wasn't expecting that and neither was it.

Scanning the trees we found the owl, a Barn Owl, on a cottonwood, looking like the stump of a branch. It was facing us with eyes closed.

What are the odds of that you'll see a Barn Owl flushed by a pair of coyotes on the Fill? Sometimes you get lucky :-)
Kevin Purcell (Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA)
kevinpurcell at pobox.com | @kevinpurcell

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