Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy Bird Year!

New Year's Eve most people are getting ready to go out to parties to toast in the new year.  What was I doing?  Filling up my two empty suet feeders making sure they were ready to go.  Hanging a barely ever used bird feeder outside my balcony and filling it with some black oil sunflower seeds that I happened to find in the cupboard when I was looking for the suet.  Hardly saw any birds on New Year's Eve day, probably because my suet had been empty, and the bay was freezing over.  Only saw three Common Goldeneye. But now that my suet cages are full and my feeder has seeds, I am raring to catch a glimpse of the first bird on my 2013 list!

Woke up to a totally frozen bay, and most of the lake. Disappointing because that really hampers my waterfowl sightings.  There are still a couple of areas on the lake that are clear for now, but not that I can see from my house.  I was up earlier than my usual, since my husband is still off from work, it being New Year's Day and all.  First birds I see are the pretty much daily visitors, the Red-breasted Nuthatches.  There are two of them, no three, no... four in all.  And a female Downy Woodpecker joins the group too.  Pretty common yard birds for me.

Decided to take a trip into Spokane, have some lunch and visit with some old friends.  I see it as an opportunity to do some birding!  I grab my camera, just in case I see something exciting.  Wishing I didn't have to drive, but if I don't, I usually get car sick.  I would rather be logging any birds I might see.  My family doesn't like it when I'm driving and commenting on my bird sightings.  They feel I should be watching the road, but I can't help but observe nearby birds!  Today I was lucky, because my husband was handy, and I talked him into pressing the record button on my iPhone so I could voice record myself some memos of the birds I saw while I was driving, then I could add them to BirdLog and eBird later.  It worked out great!  

First bird sighting on the highway at the Loon Lake Summit, was an American Crow, and I saw two more just down highway 395 a bit into Clayton, and ended the day with 7 crows.  Figuring I would see several Red-tailed Hawks along highway 395, and I did.  A total of  9 of them between Clayton and Spokane.  Another given, was a Black-billed Magpie, they hang out around the Deer Park area.  It wasn't long before I saw a couple here and there and ended up with 6 magpies.  Surprise sighting of at least a dozen Rock Pigeons around Burroughs Road.  Some miscellaneous birds around town in Spokane were a gull of some sort at Wandermere, I thought possibly a California gull, but after looking at my iBird app, I think given the winter range, it is a Herring Gull.  Twelve black birds of some sort, possibly starlings.  BirdLog lists starlings, rock pigeons, and house sparrows as birds you may want to hide the sightings, because they are quite frequent.  

I talked hubby into taking the long way home so we could drive by Mt. Spokane High School to see if the Snowy Owl that I saw back at the end of November might still be around.  I bribed him with some coffee.  My assistant birder for the day!  We drove up Bigelow Gulch Road, which is where my husband grew up.  The old homestead is still there.  Spotted a couple of American Kestrels along Bruce road, and saw two huge groups of Canadian Geese, estimating 60 of them.  They were in the same spot as they were right before Christmas when we traveled to my sisters house.  Not too much farther was the Snowy Owl hang-out, but no Snowy in sight today. My best friend sent me the following email. Her son goes to Mt. Spokane High School where the Snowy Owl has been hanging out.

From the Mt Spokane High School Newsletter:


Henrietta (the snowy owl) is still with us and is most likely to be seen in the morning hours around 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. and afternoons from about 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. She is usually seen on the light and power poles looking for her prey in the fields south of the school."
So apparently she is still there, and her name is Henrietta!  Definitely going back!

After arriving back home in Loon Lake, I stopped the car at the wetland just a mile from our house.  It's not quite frozen yet, as this portion of the lake gets some sun during the winter.  There were 30 or so ducks in the dusky afternoon.  I wasn't sure that they were American Coots, thinking they were mostly black and had a little white on them.  Not enough white to be Common Goldeneyes like I had seen yesterday.  But after looking in iBird, I don't know what else they could be, so I logged them as Coots.  Probably the most exciting sighting, that I let out a gasp and a "What was THAT?", was the Wild Turkey, just one, that flew out of the woods and into a tree as we drove by on our private road.  I was hoping it was an owl!  Hubs said that our chihuahua Jack E. Cheez chased about a dozen turkeys right next to our house this morning when he let him outside.  So if I count my birding partners turkey sightings, than we have a baker's dozen turkeys for New Years Day!

All in all, it was a busy bird day with 11 species, and over 147 birds.  Didn't take any pictures on New Years Day, because I spent most of the time driving.  So first thing, the following day, January 2nd, I snapped the above photo of the Downy Woodpecker at the freshly filled suet.  Let this photo serve as a not very clear example of the photos I would like to be taking.  Heck, you can't even see her beak!  The photo below is of some Mallards I saw in Cedar Beau Bay, the only outing I had today.  Most of the lake is now frozen with a light layer of ice, except a couple of areas such as this.  I like how the bench is sticking out from the snow, welcoming you to come visit my winter wonderland!


  1. Quite the day you had, sounds like hubby was pretty tolerant.

    1. He really was being tolerant. It was either that, or having us crash with me trying to record my sightings and drive at the same time! I think I need an upgrade to my iPhone, so I can just talk to it without having to press any buttons!

  2. Frigid out there right now. All the pretty birds are hiding :)

    1. Boy, isn't that the truth! Very chilly indeed. I'm sad that the lake is now frozen, so no more waterfowl in our bay. Glad I got all my feeders filled up for our fine feathered friends!