Friday, January 28, 2011

Shifting Towards Spring?

This looks like it is becoming a "Heron" blog, but I couldn't resist posting this picture.  We came home and accidentally scared this heron out of the stream and onto the top of our 15ft+ tall cottonwood snag.  Nice stream viewpoint for a heron.

It seems like something happened this week.  Suddenly a bunch of creatures are returning, making me feel like it's going to be spring already.

Red-tailed Hawk in upper left, nest in lower right

The Red-Tailed hawk has returned to its nest in the cottonwood tree in the wetland behind our yard.  I just missed getting a picture of it in its nest - 

Besides the return of the herons to the Kenmore rookery and this hawk to this nest, we've heard
  • Red-winged Blackbirds suddenly in full force in the wetland
  • A frog/toad? was loudly calling out from our veggie garden
  • What I think is a Western Screech Owl in our backyard. It's "hooting" woke me up two different nights in the past week.  Here's a link to the .mp3 on The Owl Pages of what I think I heard -  It definitely wasn't a Great Horned Owl, though we do hear them sometimes...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Heron return to the Kenmore rookery

View of the rookery from the Kenmore Park & Ride 

Driving east on 181st toward 73rd this morning it was hard to miss the fact that herons are most definitely back.  Luckily there was literally ONE parking spot left in the Kenmore P&R, so I was able to take a few pictures of the birds.  Too bad it was such a dark, gloomy day.

Taking pictures of nests and bare branches reminded me of the art by Susan Zoccola that is permanently installed in the new Kenmore city hall.  Here are a few pictures of that artwork, in case you haven't seen it for yourself.  I love how Susan was influenced by the trees and heron nests that she saw when exploring Kenmore for inspiration.  I'm afraid that my pictures don't do the artwork justice, so go see it for yourself if you can.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Heron, A Deer, and Snowmelt

This was the first time I had seen a heron in our yard in quite a while.  This one glared at me and tolerated being photographed for a bit but slowly made its way downstream.

Yesterday a single deer contemplated coming into our yard from the field behind us - 

It ate some rose hips and walked away after it saw me.

While I'm at it with a post, here is what the stream looked like at its highest level as the snow that fell on 1/11-1/12 melted - 

The ground was so saturated with water, it was crazy.  That is a picture of the remainders of a mole hill.  It's a little tricky on the eyes, but you can see that the water table was about an inch or two under the surface.  

Here is a former mole hill that was a mini geyser -

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Birds

I was completely and utterly distracted for a while today by the birds outside of my window.  At first I noticed them because they were leering in at me and giving me the stink eye since our bird feeder was empty.   

I present to you, for the record --- the birds that showed up at the newly re-filled bird feeder, plus those hanging around on nearby trees - 

Rufous-sided Towhee

Northern Flicker.  (There was a male and a female, actually.)

Stellar's Jay

Is that a Winter Wren? 

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

This Junco photo made me laugh...he was looking up the tree...

Female Junco

Male Junco

Black-capped Chickadee

Downy Woodpecker, I think, and a Flicker

I'm hoping to get pictures of the other birds that turn up along Little Swamp Creek as the seasons change.  I'm thinking that would be a good thing to document.

By the way, I'm starting to keep my eye on this Red-Tailed Hawk's nest in the wetland behind our yard.  We usually start seeing action there by mid-winter or so...

The Crows

If you say "Birds!" right now to anyone who lives in Kenmore, I'll bet you they will say "Crows!".  Every day as dusk approaches the crows rendezvous in our neighborhood in HUGE numbers.  You can see them approach Kenmore in unbelievable "swarms".  And in the morning before dawn I've seen them spreading out again, leaving for the day.  

How timely that our local PBS station just recently ran  Nature - A Murder of Crows.  (You can click on that link to watch the whole show.)  

Although I am no videographer, and this video is definitely of poor visual quality, I recorded this to try to capture the ruckus that the crows make in our yard every evening:

My fear with all of these crows around was that our heron and songbird populations would be decimated.  But the crows seem to leave when the herons return to the Kenmore rookery to nest in the spring.  As you will see in my next post, other birds are definitely still around.