September 25, 2012
Well, no flying saucers, no polar bears, no campaign speeches at Black River
today, just the usual creatures. On the other hand, I guess there was
something a little unusual today. Wow! Three herons (1-5). I am encouraged
that multiple herons continue to value Black River as a place of refuge.
In the duck world, I saw a few gadwalls and a female hooded merganser, but
it is mostly mallards and wood ducks (6-9). There are something like 20-30
mallards and 15-20 wood ducks.
As I said, no dragons or otherwise, but we did happen on a few small birds
along the way, such as the chickadee, the downy, the towhee, the bushtits,
and the hummingbird.
September 18, 2012
At Black River today, one each of both brands of heron....blue and green.
The blue heron was seen first in the Waterworks Garden after just landing in
a fir tree up the hill (1). Next, he was in the far corner of the Black
River pond (2). At dayís end he was seen hunting in another section of the
pond (3). He caught a little something, but everything counts, I guess (4).
The green heron was the usual juvenile who didnít favor us with a close
encounter. However, we did get to see him snag his favorite food, a
On the pond, wood ducks are still abundant, with many of the males
approaching full breeding plumage (7-10). There was also a lone pied-billed
grebe (11). Nothing wanted to pay us a close visit today. Not too many of
them this summer.
And now a floral interlude from the Waterworks grotto.......another mystery
flower cluster (12).
To finish, here are a few of the other birds we chased....one of many
bushtits (13), one of a few black-capped chickadees (14), and a female
Last of all, a female flicker from my backyard cedar this
morning.....through the glass door (16).
September 11, 2012
Juvenile green herons just seem to be stealing the show everywhere lately.
There was roaming the pond today at Black River. When I first saw him he was
out the back channel about 300 feet away (1-2). Later he came into Duck
Land, the pond area adjacent to what we call the main viewing area.....where
the great blue herons used to nest, and hopefully will again. He gave us a
few minutes before darting into the overhang at the far shore (3-5).
We also a blue heron. It seems obvious he has adopted BR as his territory.
He flew in around 4:00 and went to his favorite area (6). We had a hard time
finding him but Bernie came through.
Now, Duck Land (7), where most of the ducks are, and they are mostly
mallards and wood ducks (8). Some of the males are getting pretty colorful
Over in the Waterworks, chickadees were on the rampage in the fir trees and
poplars near the large pond (11-13). They (the County.....not the
chickadees!) had drained all of the small ponds and have been doing a lot of
cleanup of the bottom of the ponds and clearing drainage ducts. They are now
draining the large pond. The small ponds are beginning to fill again. The
highest of the ponds is at near-normal depth. I saw a kingfisher hovering
over it as though he thought there might be fish in it. I couldnít catch the
kingfisher but I did get a song sparrow on one of the overflow drains,
finding tiny critters in the openings (14-15).
September 4, 2012
I was solo today at Black River but I had a little luck. The herons were
easy to find. We had two great blue herons (1-3). Later, the first relocated
to a tree in the vicinity of the second and they coexisted nicely.
While looking for a green heron a juvenile flew into my ďlapĒ and landed on
the closest small island, a favorite place of theirs (4-5). He stayed about
ten minutes and was off again (6). (You know what they say about ďhalf a
On the pond, many ducks, mostly mallards and wood ducks. The males are well
into molting into breeding plumage, such as the male mallard in #7. We had a
great wood duck crop this year. I would guess there could be around 20
hanging around right now. In the photo set (8-12) you see them lounging,
preening, splashing, and cavorting.
Down along Springbrook Creek, the annual Chickadee Blackberry Festival is
underway (13-14). These are the only photos in this set taken with the old
Canon SX30. The SX40 is on its way to the Canon repair depot in Virginia.
Hurry back, Guy!
Over in the Waterworks things were pretty quiet. Just the female flicker up
the hill (15) and the Grotto Junco (16). The junco wasnít actually in the
grotto but, technically speaking, he was close and soon actually flew
through it. Besides, the title was too good to pass up.
On my way to Black River a very odd thing happened. As I slowed for the
light at the bottom of the plateau on Sahalee Way, at SR 202, an osprey with
a fish flew over head at low altitude, headed east. Thatís the direction of
Broadmoor Estates, where they used to nest at John and Ellenís house. This
makes me wonder if the have relocated to some other site in the area. Iíll
have to look closer next year.
And, oh yeah, we saw an osprey make a low pass up and down the Black River
pond last week.
August 30, 2012
Mary and I tried Black River this afternoon, hoping for a repeat on finding
migrating birds. We might have. At least it was a different cast in a
different area. But first, one of two great blue herons seen at the pond
The geography was reversed today. The birds were mostly at the Waterworks
Garden in early afternoon. BR was relatively dead. First in the Waterworks,
a swallowtail butterfly interested in mud (2). There were two uncommon birds
today.....not rare, just not seen often by us Black River visitors. First is
a warbling vireo (3-5). Second, willow flycatchers, the last of which has a
ladybug (6-9). I made my best guess on these. Iíll leave it to Mike West and
anyone else who wants to chime in, to see if I need to change the names.
The flycatchers and vireos were mixed in with bushtits and chickadees. The
next two photos show both brands of chickadee (10-11).
Finally, back to the Black River pond. Iím sure you all remember the story
about the race between the tortoise and the wood duck (12). Right?
I have labeled all the photos taken with the Canon SX40 and I was pretty
happy with them. The Nikon P510 arrived late this afternoon while I was at
Black River. The battery is charging right now. These SX40 photos tonight
are what it has to beat, not just equal, if it is to remain in my house come
Monday. I have taken just a couple of hasty shots with each at home and
there is a chance it will be a keeper. Lots more to look at. I am being
reminded of all the things I used to not like about the Nikon menu system.
Now I gotta go to work. Iím sure tomorrowís email will come exclusively from
the P510, for better or for worse.
It was a very unusual day at Black River today. We found the smaller birds
traveling together in a super-group, always near the pond or along
Springbrook Creek. Besides the usual birds, there were at least five
strangers, seldom seen at Black River. Our guess (me, Bob, Bernie, and Mary)
is that we are seeing the fall migration underway, that these birds are
passing through on their way south. We plan to go to BR again on Thursday to
try to stay with the wave.
The first photo is also of something not often seen at Black River.....a
juvenile river otter (1). He came up within about ten feet of me three
times, splashing and diving each time. While he was up he was giving me
close scrutiny. I have seen enough river otter to be sure this guy is about
half-size...definitely a juvenile.
On to the migrators that I got. First, an olive-sided flycatcher, from
closer than I have ever been (60 feet?) (2-4). He was in the dead tree that
the Cooperís hawks have been favoring this summer (but not today). Next, in
the same tree, a female western tanager (5). Later I saw one in close
proximity to a flicker in a dead tree on on an island in the pond (6). We
probably saw 3-4 tanagers this afternoon. No males that I noticed. In the
interior of a tree near the main viewing area I caught a Swainsonís thrush
(7). Since they are both thrushes, and both have a speckled front, you might
confuse him with a juvenile robin this time of year. For comparison, a
juvenile robin is next (8), also taken at Black River today. Bernie got a
shot of a willow flycatcher......not uncommon in this area, but uncommon at
Black River. We also saw a vireo. Who knows what we missed. Of the common
birds traveling in this group were chickadees (8-9), many robins, bushtits,
Bewickís wrens, a downy, and maybe a hairy woodpecker. Iíve probably
forgotten something. We are looking forward to trying again on Thursday.
Next, down to the pond, where there are still a number of wood ducks
(11-14)......and mallards (14-15). #15 illustrates the difference between
the male and the female mallard in non-breeding plumage, though this male is
just beginning to transition. He has a yellowish bill, hers is orangish.
And finally, we canít forget our local heron (16). We heard he make a
squawking landing far across the pond. He was partially hidden but Bernie
finally found him
August 23, 2012
A lot of the fun at Black River today was actually in the Waterworks Garden
large pond, so weíll start there: a green heron, stalking dragonflies (1-3).
I just knew he was going to get one. I waited and waited but finally gave
up. I must be losing my endurance. While twiddling my thumbs over the green
heron, the first muskrat swam past him and went to the left shore to munch
(4-6). Then another muskrat appeared that went to the right shore (7-9). It
dozed a little, ate a little, and moved on. Itís so ironic. Sometimes you
walk so far and so long hoping for even a song sparrow. Today, I had two
muskrats and a green heron at the same time and only one scope.
Also in the Waterworks, a feeding frenzy of bushtits and chickadees (10-13).
Headed back to Black River, along Springbrook Creek, the preening chickadee
and the flicker (14-16).
Back at Black river, lots of wood ducks (17-18), many of which are maturing
ducklings from this springís crop. Also, a very young pied-billed grebe and
its mother (19).
Now, some unusual birds (for Black River) at the pond. About this time every
year we have a couple of spotted sandpipers. They donít stay very long.
Today there was just this one (20). And we have another ďoddĒ duck
(21)....not the same one as last week. That one clearly had some Muscovy in
him. This one seems not to. I am guessing he is a mallard Ė cinnamon teal
hybrid. If anyone else has a guess, let me know.
August 14, 2012
You know what they say.....Only mad dogs and Texans go out in the midday
sun.....or something like that. How hot was it? It was so hot I violated the
connoisseurís code and put my red wine in the refrigerator. Since I am not a
connoisseur I can do that with impunity. But I digress.....
On to Black River where we had herons again, all kinds. First, the great
blue herons, of which there were at least two (1-3). The last photo of the
day is of the third taking off (4). Well, most of him....I tried.
There was at least one green heron, this one down in the mud flats near the
beaver lodge (5-8). In #8, he has interrupted his hunting to watch one of
several attacks made by a Cooperís hawk on a pair of belted kingfishers. He
had no luck and the kingfishers decided the opposite end of the pond had a
A hundred feet or so from the green heron action, down a ways along
Springbrook Creek, a pack of black-capped chickadees were stalking ripe
blackberries (9-11). They were accompanied by the first golden-crowned
kinglet I have seen in months (12).
Enough of the birds. Itís on to the insect world. First, also along
Springbrook Creek, and on the same common tansy bush......a bee (13) and a
copper butterfly (14). And over in the Waterworks Garden....the red
Enough of insects. Itís on to the plant kingdom and the mountain ash in full
bloom along Springbrook Creek (16). Apparently the berries are not yet ripe
enough to be of interest to the birds.
August 7, 2012
Since I finished with a Cooperís hawk yesterday, Iíll start with them today
at Black River. There were two juveniles. Maybe there was an adult
around.....Iím not sure. One of the juveniles was on the popular snag,
crying out often (1-2). Later he was joined by a sibling in the air (3-5).
Small birds, the usual targets of the Cooperís hawks, are next. The
black-capped chickadee is, in fact, not far from the hawk on the snag, but
he had no problem with the hawk. The goldfinch is picking greenery from one
of the small ponds in the Waterworks Garden (7-9). Whether for food or for
nest material, I donít know.
On the pond, wood ducks, mature and immature, are a common sight (10-11).
However, there was a very uncommon sight at Black River......the Muscovy
You might remember that last week I sent nothing but green heron photos from
Black River. This week, the first bird I saw was actually a green heron, but
he zipped by in flight. I never saw another one. Instead, there was a
fledgling great blue heron. He has a little fuzz on top and has landed in an
unlikely location, as the young ones are apt to do. (By the way, in #14 he
is about 250 feet across the pond. I thought the scope did a pretty good
Last from Black River today.....some shrubbery. Butterfly bushes are in full
bloom now (15).
For the finale, we go to my house this morning, where I had two band-tailed
pigeon visitors (16-17). At least I think those are pigeon feet on the right
July 31, 2012
Itís been a long time since I sent a ďherons onlyĒ email from Black River. I
saw two great blue herons at Black River today but they donít appear in
these photos. This is a shocker. Itís all green herons today....from the
Waterworks Garden and Black River.
Starting at the Waterworks, the first green heron seen, an adult, is hunting
on the big pond (1). He was very active, first grabbing a blue dragonfly
(2). Soon after, we see a great attack, scoring a perfect ten for style
points (3), but nevertheless coming up empty handed (4). After that miss, he
decides to move on (5). When we (Bob, Bernie, and I) passed by again, he had
some good luck with a gold fish (6).
Now we moved back to Black River, where Bernie spotted an adult in the far
corner of the pond. Soon after, she found a juvenile on the small island in
the middle of the pond (7-9). Then the adult came closer to land on the same
small island, facing us (10). Before long both the juvenile and the adult
moved to be close together (11). Next, the adult took off (12) and moved to
a snag in the middle of the pond (13). It then moved to a nearby log and was
joined by the juvenile (14). The juvenile spotted a snack (15) and came up
with a small fish (16). And finally, as we left them, the adult and juvenile
still sharing the l
It looks like, at least for the next few weeks or so, Black River is the
place to go to see green herons.
July 17, 2012
These are mostly from the Waterworks Garden but I shall start with Black
River, where I encountered two juvenile Cooperís hawks along Springbrook
Creek (1-5). In recent weeks, you may recall, I have been sending photos of
an adult Cooperís hawk in the same tree. No adult today.....just these two
Also at Black River, on the pond.....a couple of gadwall ducklings. I think
they are. Maybe they are mallards. I donít know! Mike West suggests that
those in #9 from last week are gadwalls, rather than mallards. These
probably are, too. Sometimes Sibley and I donít resonate very well.
Now itís over to the Waterworks Garden, starting with a little scenery.
First, the monolith-lined walkway by the uppermost pond (8). Next, three
shots of flowers and berries (9-11). There is a chance I actually named
Sticking with the non-birds....first, a dragonfly (12). Next, todayís
entertainment. Two long-tailed weasels were in a wrestling match near the
upper pond (13-14). I assume they are juveniles, assuming this was play, but
I donít know. And next time, I promise to use a faster shutter speed.
Now for the birds. The adult male Annaís near the upper pond has been
supplanted by a juvenile (15). In the small pond just below the upper-most
pond, goldfinches were spending time futzing with the slime at the bottom,
now that it is mostly drained. I donít know if they are finding food or nest
material, but I suspect the latter.
And finally, the herons. One blue heron seen today, in the Waterworks Garden
(18). (Although Bob and Bernie saw one in the Black River pond earlier.
Maybe the same one as this one). And one green heron. I unintentionally
spooked him three times in the large, lower pond. The first two times he
flew away. The third time he flew to the trees at the far side of the pond,
hoping to see me slip and fall into the pond. Maybe next time, Greenie!
July 11, 2012
Relatively speaking, this email has an overload of herons. We made it ďBlack
River WednesdayĒ today, instead of Tuesday, and found at least three great
blue herons. ďWeĒ is me, Bob, Bernie, Mary, and Gaby, a friend of hers from
Germany on the last day of her visit in the US. There were two adult herons
that we are sure (1-2). Much later, a third was seen but I suspect it was
one of the other two on a rerun (3). The third confirmed sighting was a
boost to our spirits.....a relatively recent fledgling (4). I would guess he
is two weeks, give or take, out of the nest. He wasnít hatched at Black
River, but perhaps nearby. It is tempting to get romantic about this and
speculate that Dad has brought him to Black River to show off his old
stomping grounds. Maybe there is hope for a return of the colony next year.
Hold on for one more heron....this one, green (5). We have seen adult green
herons in the Waterworks Garden two weeks in a row. We believe they nest in
a pond a block down the street. I expect to see juveniles before long in the
Waterworks, and later at Black River.
Down along Springbrook Creek, the adult Cooperís hawk was again in the same
old snag across the creek (6). And not far from him, the bushtit nest is a
beehive. There are obviously large babies inside that are quite active,
judging from the shaking of the nest. The parents are often seen bringing
On the Black River pond I was surprised to see an upsurge in mallard
ducklings compared with last week (8-9). And also on the pond, there was a
completely unexpected juvenile. Bernie and I have been lamenting how we have
seen no pied-billed grebes, young or old, on the pond this year. Just as we
started for our cars, she spotted the juvenile in #10. We have yet to see an
adult. Obviously, this guy was delivered by the stork to a mallard mother.
About #11. Often, grebes dive head first like the diving ducks. But
sometimes they expel air and just sink like a submarine. Thatís what you see
in this one.
July 3, 2012
It was a four heron day today. The first three are great blue herons at
Black River (1-3). After seeing the third, Mary Roller and I made a quick
check back on the other two and they were still in their places. I assume
these three adults have completed their nesting season and their fledglings
are on their own. These three adults have apparently chosen Black River as a
destination resort for R&R.
The fourth heron was not blue, but green, and he was at the large pond in
the Waterworks Garden (4-5). This is where we most often see green herons,
especially the fledglings. This all serves to introduce an interesting
discussion we had with the guy in charge of the Waterworks Garden (who was
mowing the grass at the time). He stopped to tell us that he will be
draining the ponds next week and they will remain dry until the next wet
season in Fall. The Waterworks Garden is part of the King County Waste Water
Treatment Plant. He has worked there for thirty years. The gardens have been
there for seventeen, I believe he said. They drain the ponds every year for
maintenance but usually leave the big pond full. This time there are plugged
drains that need attention so the big one will be drained down to a depth of
two feet. Evaporation will eventually bring it to zero. In the meantime
herons will have a field-day with frogs and goldfish that are resident
there. They really want to get rid of the goldfish because they have to
prevent them from getting into Springbrook Creek and on into the Duwamish
River. He knows several photographers besides me who will be haunting the
pond after the drainage begins next Tuesday.
Another comment he made was that I should not tell him if I see beavers at
Black River because he would have to report it to the Water Engineering Corp
(not the official name) and they would come trap them. I told him I thought
I had seen one last week but I was drunk at the time, so who could say!
Staying in the gardens, one week later the waxwing pack is still on a
bug-eating binge at the upper ponds (6-9). You actually have to dodge them
now and then. In with the waxwings was the goldfinch (10). I think he has
the right idea. That has to be easier than chasing tiny bugs.
Back to Black River, passing along Springbrook Creek, we again encounter the
adult Cooperís hawk in the same old snag across the creek (11-14). He was
very vocal again this week.
And finally, in that same section of the trail, the bushtits are in high
gear with this second batch of the spring from that nest. The parents are
obviously bringing food to feed babies, such as dad in #15.
June 26, 2012
On to Black River where there were again two herons, both adults, both
hunting. The first seen is in #6. Along the main trail were the song sparrow
(7) and the female Annaís (8). Over in the Waterworks Garden there was a
gazillion waxwings (9-11) in a feeding frenzy, darting around a few feet
above the surface of a couple of ponds, chasing insects too small to be seen
Back to Black River where a Cooperís hawk spent a lot time today in a dead
tree across Springbrook Creek (12-13). We have been seeing this guy pretty
regularly over the last few weeks.
To finish, itís more babies, starting with the mallard and wood ducklings in
#14. Next, bushtits, who are going to make more babies in the nest in #15.
This is the nest we first saw under construction on March 27. It is the same
one that Ellen used in the Birdnote announcement. The first crop of babies
fledged some time ago. The same parents, presumably, are actively going in
and out last week and this. You see the tail feathers of one going in in
#15. I learned tonight that it is common for bushtits to have two broods per
year. Now I know that may also use the same nest. This one has survived the
spring in fine shape. Also, one of the adults is seen nearby in #16.
Finally, almost back to the car, I discovered that tree swallows did not
abandon the Black River meadow after all. One of two babies is seen in #17.
June 18, 2012
Circumstances dictated a Black River visit today, rather than tomorrow.
Gray, windy, cool, a little rain. Aaaagh! I canít stand it any more.
Fortunately, there were a few birds that havenít headed south yet.
At Black River, we caught todayís heron mugging a tiny fish (1-3). I wish
him better luck next time. Also on the BR pond, a mother wood duck is seen
with one of her two offspring (4-5). And two mallard ducklings that we
spooked are racing in the rain to find their mother on the far side of the
pond (6-7). Down the creek trail, the female Annaís hummer was occasionally
working the blackberry blossoms (8-9). Not far from there was the song
Over in the Waterworks Garden, duckweed in a small pool in the grotto
(11-12). It is said that waterfowl like this stuff and that it is good for
them. So, speaking of waterfowl, though they arenít eating duckweed, there
are the dabbling mallards and the gadwall in one of the small upper ponds
(13-14). And waxwings are being seen frequently in that same area of the
Waterworks (15-16). Before these photos, we had spooked a great blue heron
in one of the lower ponds. Later we saw him high above the gardens (17).
June 12, 2012
Black River. Wow! No rain. Just some brief sprinkles.
First, the ďnon-birdsĒ......a Western Tiger Swallowtail (1-2) and tent
caterpillars (3). We couldnít understand why there werenít birds mobbing the
It was a two-heron day at Black River (4-5). Two adults....both foraging.
Over in the Waterworks Garden......the white-crowned sparrow (6) and the
cedar waxwings (7-8).
Along the Black River pond trail.....the song sparrow (9), the chickadee
with a worm (10), and the bushtit with a feather (11). The bushtit is in the
same small tree which held the bushtit nest that I took closeups of. It
seems they might be going to make another run at a nest.
And todayís stars.....lots of ducklings on the Black River pond. We saw a
wood duck mother with two ducklings, but they escaped me. But I did get the
mallard babies speeding to catch up to Mom (12-13) and the gadwall family
June 5, 2012
It was slim pickens at Black River this afternoon, mostly because of todayís
weather, as in #1. The difference between him and me is that he didnít care.
Though it was raining lightly, I started out with my scope and did have some
luck. But, before too long I had to trade it in for an umbrella.
Anyway, and nevertheless, etc., here is the crop.....a male Annaís above the
meadow trail (2-3), a female rufous along the pond trail (4), a Bewickís
wren near the pond (5), the Cooperís hawk with prey (6), the crow who
brought more rain (7), the mallard mother and duckling (8), and the
red-tailed hawk far away in the ďoldĒ eagle tree (9). We did finally see a
beaver today, after many weeks of missing them. This one was a big adult,
but he escaped the camera. While at the pond edge looking for him I saw the
wood ducks (10.
And last of all, a view of a slippery trail from the pond to the meadow
above. The grass up there is really long now, and with the rain we have had,
you would need a wet suit to go up there. Another reason for the paucity of
bird shots. Maybe next time.....
May 29, 2012
It was a very pleasant day at Black River today (for a change) and some good
things came along. There were three first-seenís for the spring at Black
River......the red-eyed vireo (1), the female rufous (2), and the western
wood-pewee (3-5). I almost decided on a willow flycatcher but settled on a
wood-pewee. Iíll let you know if Mike West (or anyone else) makes me change
Also new at Black River, the mallard ducklings (6-7). And above Black River,
another demented crow attacks a red-tailed hawk (8-9). Nothing new there.
Over in the Waterworks Garden....some pretty things, such as the swallowtail
butterfly (10), the mystery plant (11), the waxwing (12), and the male
Annaís at the top of the hill (13-14).
May 22, 2012
It was raining when I left home. It was raining when I got back home. It was
raining when I got to Black River (1). It was raining when I left. But, for
around an hour it stopped and some good things happened. However, expecting
rain, I left my scope at home, so these are all taken with the SX40 camera.
Now, about the fledgling. My guess is that the Black River forest across the
pond has produced a fledgling this year. However, itís not what we were
originally hoping for. I believe it is the progeny of the red-tailed hawks
first seen nesting at the back of the former heron nests on March 20. If we
assume they might have begun incubation as much as a week earlier, then it
would be 70 days to today. The Smithsonian birdbook says that is about the
minimum time for incubation and nest-time. Thus, it is plausible that the
juvenile red-tail in #2-4 is indeed the product of that nest. Mary Roller
first spotted him making an uncertain landing in a tree in the Waterworks
Garden. Considering that the flight photos were with him over Black River, I
am persuaded that that is his home. You will undoubtedly notice his raggedy
feathers, but he seemed to be doing ok. The crows chasing him were just
baptizing him and werenít really cruel.
At first, with the rain, the photo situation appeared desparate, so I tried
desparation shots of swallows over the pond (5-7). Later, in the Waterworks
Garden I got a real chance at a violet-green swallow. These were taken an
hour apart. This lone swallow was hunting over a very small pond in the
upper section, maybe 30 feet across. He would occasionally rest on a bush at
one end (8-9). In the pond beneath him as he darted about was the Momma
mallard and her lone duckling (10-11).
Until the rain stopped we had been seeing zip for birds. When it stopped it
was as if gates had been opened. During this period we saw the first cedar
waxwings at the Waterworks this year (12-13). Right below them was the
female goldfinch (14).
Back over to Black River, we saw the only ducklings there today (15).
However, there were many male mallards milling around on the pond so I
expect numerous clutches of ducklings to soon appear.
With rain threatening again, we headed for our cars. Along the way we
encountered the song sparrow (16). And fifty feet from my car, with light
rain underway, the male Annaís bid us goodbye (17).
May 15, 2012
Beautiful weather at Black River today. Just one heron seen.....actually at
the big pond in the Waterworks Garden. However, he saw me first, so no
Just as I reached the pond from my car, I saw the momma mallard with very
small ducklings (1). (There were two more that didnít squeeze in). We saw
two groups like this at Black River. What was disturbing was that there were
none over in the Waterworks. Two weeks ago I sent a photo of a Cooperís hawk
with prey. Bernie figured out, and I agree, it was a duckling (or a
gosling). Maybe that explains it. Those little guys at Black River better
We are down to mallards, gadwalls, and wood ducks now. All migrating ducks
are gone. Males and a female of the wood ducks are in #2-3. I would have
thought she would be on a nest by now.
The only bird from the Waterworks is the song sparrow (4). It was again a
little dead over there. In the Black River meadow, the tree swallows are
starting to show interest in the nest boxes (5). The bushtit nest around the
bend from the main viewing area seems to be doing ok. The adults were busy
collecting food for babies in the nest (6). In #7, you see only the tail
feathers sticking out as a delivery is made. Meanwhile, maybe twenty feet
from the bushtit nest, a female Annaís was concentrating on the tree
Leaving the bird world temporarily, dragonflies are now a common sight (11).
There are also lots of new flowers arriving along the Springbrook Creek
trail (12-13) and in the Waterworks (14-16).
To finish, we return to the bird world and raptors. As we witnessed two
weeks ago and again today, a bald eagle was seen high in the sky in the
vicinity of the red-tailed hawk nest. Unlike the herons, a red-tailed adult
is aware and interjects itself at a lower altitude between the eagle and the
nest. However, some of you might remember the mysterious disappearance of
the red-tailed nestlings at Stillwater last year. I am still very suspicious
of eagle involvement in that situation.
May 1, 2012
Now on to Black River where we
had two, maybe three herons. The first two photos are of adults and they may, in
fact, be the same bird (1-2). They were taken almost three hours apart. If itís
the same bird, he is hanging around Black River a lot. The mystery, though,
concerns the third bird, an immature great blue heron seen in #3-7. He has no
white crown at all. I admittedly am not sure at what age a white crown begins to
appear, so it could be that this is a yearling. However, Mary Roller and I saw
him make a shaky landing in a very unlikely place for a yearling or adult heron.
Followed by a shaky takeoff. Followed by another attempted landing that was
aborted at the other end of the pond. These photos are very reminiscent of the
many fledgling heron photos that I have taken. Any opinions are welcome as to
his likely age.
Now a quick change of pace to
raptors. We canít begin to see the red-tail nest anymore because of the leaves
but the odds are that it is intact. An adult red-tail was in the air overhead
several times today (8). On one occasion he was between the nest and a juvenile
eagle that was above him. We also saw two Cooperís hawk that were being quite
vocal. Bernie was able to locate one of them, which the photo showed to have
partially eaten prey (9). It may be that there was a squabble over it.
There can be no more quibbling
over the arrival of spring. We saw the first mallard ducklings over at the
Waterworks Garden (10). And the first goslings on the Black River pond (11-12).
The goose in a frenzy (13) may just be elated over not having to sit on eggs any
more this year.
And hummingbirds, four
different male Annaís in #14-17. They have taken over and still outnumber the
herons. Other small birds included are the chickadee, the yellow-rumped warbler,
and the bushtit (18-20).
And finally, a grey squirrel on
a health-food kick......eating sumac seeds instead of sunflower seeds at
somebodyís bird feeder.
April 24, 2012
Mary Roller and I were on heron-watch duty this afternoon at Black River. We
saw either one, two, or three herons. Since Mary is a mathematician, weíll
express it as 2 Ī 1 herons. The interesting thing, though, was that I
imagined that one of them had emerged from the nest area. However, after
watching for maybe an hour and not seeing any entries or exits, I decided
that it was just my imagination. Weíll keep watching. And, by the way, no
ospreys have yet taken to the new nest platform on the water treatment plant
Well, I never imagined that, on an April Tuesday, hummingbirds would
constitute the majority of the bird pictures, but thatís the way it was. So
here they are: from the Black River meadow (1-3), from the Springbrook Creek
trail (4), and from the Waterworks Garden (5-6). Speaking of the Waterworks
Garden, #7 is a view along the wetland trail.
Now to the small birds. I have again embarrassed myself on bird ID. I told
Mary and another visitor that the many swallows we were seeing were mostly
tree swallows. However, alarm bells were ringing in my head. When I checked
photo #8 when I got home, I discovered that they were mostly violet-green
swallows. Win some, lose some.
A group of yellow-rumped warblers were busy working the trees along the
Black River main trail. I had a devil of a time pinning them down and had to
settle for #9. Bushtits were frequently seen, as well (10), but not near the
two known nests. Presumably, incubation is ongoing. The nests both seem
complete and intact.
Last of the smaller birds, a belted kingfisher made a short stay (11).
We still have some wintering ducks around......ring-neckeds, buffleheads, GW
teals, and scaups. The most obliging of them today was a lesser scaup pair
(12-15). Not very obliging at all was the reclusive wood duck on the far
side of the pond. I also heard and saw females, as well. Perhaps we will
again have wood ducklings.
April 17, 2012
This was the only day this week with a good forecast......partly sunny this
afternoon. The rain started at 2:30 and was still going at 5:30 when we
left. Tomorrow, I am headed for the Skagit. The good news is that there is a
70% chance for showers. We will probably be in sun glasses all day. Bummer!
Good light takes all the challenge out of it.
Meanwhile, at Black River, rampages were underway. Those rascal beavers have
done it again (1). This one is about 75 feet, give or take. We waited quite
awhile for a beaver to show up and do something. Itís frustrating because we
know that next week, the tree will be mostly stripped while we are away.
In #2, the goose is on a rampage. Whether on offense, defense, or courting,
I do not know.
The hummingbirds are not on a rampage but there a lot of them around, all
Annaís. We still havenít seen a rufous there this spring. The first four
(3-6) are of two males, the first three in the Black River meadow, the
fourth in the upper Waterworks Garden. The next two (7-8) are of a female at
the red-flowering currant at the main viewing area.
We discovered a new bushtit nest at the viewing area (9).....unnoticed last
week. We also saw two bushtits still gathering to complete construction. One
of the two is seen in #10-11.
Along another section of the pond trail we saw a male downy being picky
(12-14). Get it? Being picky?.......forget it........
There is still a good variety of wintering ducks on the
pond......green-winged teals, a northern shoveler, buffleheads, and lesser
scaups. Shots of a male and female scaup are included (15-16).
And finally, flora! In the Waterworks Garden. Itís Euphorbia....ID courtesy
April 10, 2012
First, about herons. There was one (1). Mary Roller may have seen another,
but it could have been the same one. None of it matters. There is no hint of
nesting activity. I think itís too late now for this year. However, as
history has shown, and nothing much has changed, Black River is too well
suited as habitat for nesting herons to be ignored indefinitely. They just
need to rediscover it. Perhaps next year.
No ospreys have yet adopted the new nest platform at the water treatment
plant. Itís getting late for that but itís not hopeless yet. As far as we
know, the red-tailed hawk nest in the old heron colony is well and on
schedule. However, the leaves have now made it difficult to know what is
And now for today. There was a good variety of ducks on the pond but the
only ones I am sending are the bufflehead pair out of water (2). In my
bufflehead watching, it has been unusual to see them out of water. In fact,
this may be the only shot I have of a male out of water.
Few herons, but lots of hummingbirds. A few years ago I never thought I
would see more hummingbirds at Black River than herons. We still havenít
seen any rufous there. We did see a female Annaís, but these photos are of
three different male Annaís. The first three (3-5) are of a male at the
viewing area at Black River. #6 is at the top of the hill in the Waterworks
Garden and #7 is in the BR meadow near the parking lot.
The bushtit pair are still working on their nest and they were very busy for
a period this afternoon, as seen in #8-14. Staying with busy birds, next is
a black-capped chickadee working on new tree growth (15-16). Not so busy was
the male belted kingfisher. In fact, I think he was the least-busy
kingfisher I have ever seen. He was on that perch across the pond for around
a half hour.
The last bird in the set was quite busy. Itís the red-tailed Pop (probably),
fending off mobbing crows (18-19).
Last of all, leaving the bird world, but not the flying world, itís a bumble
bee working on blooming Oregon Grape.
April 2, 2012
We had a good time and good luck with small birds at Black River this
afternoon. Letís start with a male Annaís hummingbird in the Waterworks
Garden (1-2). The most amazing encounter was at the Black River main view
viewing area where another male Annaís landed about ten feet from us and
facing directly toward us (3-5). Ten feet is right at the near-focus for my
Leica scope. As time passed, he moved around a lot, but no showed no anxiety
over us, allowing me to pick up another couple of shots (6-7).
Down the trail, around the bend, the bushtit pair was continuing working on
their nest, the same one that I showed last week. In the 8-11 sequence, a
female is seen pulling on some of the nest material. To learn her actual
objective, youíll have to ask another bushtit. In #12, the male
is....is....better ask another bushtit.
Now to other things. Well, the red-tailed hawk is still sitting in her nest.
And there are still no herons interested in nesting. Iím sorry to say it but
I donít think there are going to be any. We have moved into ďmiracleĒ
territory now I would say. However, we did have a lone heron down by the
pond for an hour or so (13). I think he was just a tourist, though.
The last three finish it up, including a song sparrow, a Cooperís hawk, and
a female gadwall.
March 27, 2012
It was another rainy day at Black River today (1). Most of these were taken
in some degree of rain. In the sprinkling stage I used my scope when
possible. When the rain got harder, I threw in the towel and traded it for
First, the heron story, or rather, the lack of a heron story. I went by
Coulon Park on the way to Black River and found that all the herons that had
gathered beside the Boeing plant had gone, presumably to nest somewhere.
Unfortunately, I saw no herons at Black River today. Folks, this isnít good.
It is possible that some Black River herons have gathered somewhere else and
could still appear. However, other colonies are well underway. Something
needs to happen real soon if it is going to happen this year at Black River.
As for the red-tailed hawk nest we discovered within the boundaries of the
heron nesting area, I saw the head of a red-tail in the nest who gave every
appearance of being on eggs. As for the osprey nest across the street in the
water treatment plant, no ospreys were seen. However, I havenít seen them
anywhere else yet either.
The rest is for the birds, starting with the Annaís hummingbirds....three of
a male in the meadow (2-4) and two of a female working on the red-flowering
currant (5-6). Continuing with small birds, next is a ruby-crowned kinglet
who was singing intermittently. The bushtits have made a fast start on
nesting. #8-9 show a new nest in an early stage of construction. #10 shows
one that is nearly completed only about thirty feet away.
To finish with the ducks, there are the pintails, teal, buffleheads, and the
hooded merganser (11-15).
March 20, 2012
So....we went to Black River today to see if the herons are nesting
again. Not yet. But when and if they do, they will have new neighbors. A
red-tailed hawk pair has moved into the heron nesting area (1). The nest
is toward the back, but within the perimeter of the nests as they were
in 2010. We had noticed a hawk moving around among the heron colony
trees. This isnít unheard of, but it is unusual for one to be there that
long. Bob was paying attention to him and noticed him go to this new
nest (not an old heron nest). Bernie and I came over to see and I was
able to get a shot as one of them as it landed. We couldnít see a head
in the nest, but incubation could probably begin before long.
Questions are raised. Would the herons come back even if there was no
red-tail nest? If they come back, will they tolerate a large raptor
being so close? If they do, will the red-tails leave them alone? Iím
fresh out of answers. Sorry!
Ah, the first day of spring and the red-flowering currant is in bloom
(2-3). It is abundant at Black River. It is a big attraction for
hummingbirds. Any doubters can check with the female Annaís in #4.
Keeping with Annaís, the next two are of a male in the Waterworks
Garden. I have said before that side-by-side, the S100 camera through a
scope will beat the SX40 camera. I think you will agree after comparing
#5 and #6. Having said that, all of the rest of these are with the SX40
Because of off and on rain, I left my scope in the car and borrowed
Now letís finish the birds with the preening ruby-crowned kinglet (7-8),
the brown creeper (9), the Stellerís jay (10), and the flicker (11). The
flicker has a black mustache (not seen), and so, resembles a male
yellow-shafted flicker. However, I guess he is probably an intergrade. I
didnít notice any yellow shafts.
Now the ducks, starting with the common goldeneyes on Springbrook Creek
(12-14). Next, a group of scaups on the BR pond (15). There were around
ten altogether. And finally, buffleheads, before and after blasting off.