Saturday, 20 April 2013

Discovery Park, Seattle, April 2013

I was surprised to see that Spring was so advanced in Seattle. Today is Tuesday 16th April and the trees here are full of leaf. Four degrees further south than London seems to make all the difference. I had come to Discovery Park on the promise that the temperature would rise to a clear-skied 10C, but the early morning cloud was keeping the sun from warming the ground.

A Pacific Wren did his level best to help me get a photo, but I couldn’t get it right. I had caught the bus no 24 and entered the park close to the Visitor Centre. My usually trusty sense of direction failed me and I ended up doing a clock-wise tour of the park.

I made my way out into the South Meadow, hoping for a majestic view out across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains in the far distance. It was still a bit cloudy, but I did catch a glimpse of an Osprey, closely followed by a Bald Eagle as they sped by beneath my lofty viewpoint on the cliff. I don’t think the eagle was pursuing the Osprey, they were just going the same way at the same time. There were some ducks and grebes out on the bay, but they would have to wait until I got a bit closer.

In the meantime, An Orange-crowned Warbler called from the thickets behind me. Steps lead down from the viewpoint to South Beach and the lighthouse at Westpoint.

An American Robin was feeding on the beach, head cocked, appearing to listen for movement in the seaweed. A Savannah Sparrow looked very smart amongst the driftwood, but it dropped down as I reached for my camera.

I had hoped to catch sight of the otter that I have seen here before. I caught up with it in exactly the same spot as before, but it rounded the Westpoint Lighthouse (Google Earth ref; 47°39'43.05"N 122°26'8.38"W) and headed out into the sound. As I was watching it,  a small alcid passed through my field of vision. I hoped that it was a Marbled Murrelet and had to check the book to discount any alternatives before taking a big juicy tick.

A Northern Flicker was feeding on the ground close to the lighthouse. On the northwest facing beach, I flushed a small mixed flock of Dunlins and Sanderlings and at last the temperature began to rise as the sun came out.

Having come down the steps from the viewpoint, it is necessary to go back up again. I walked along the path that skirts the water, noting Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe and Surf Scoter as I went. A mixed flock of gulls, crows and American Wigeon were hauled up on a quiet part of the beach. I found the stairs beyond the treatment plant, going up into Hidden Valley. The stairs are not that difficult assuming that you are not Fat, Fatigued ‘n’ Fifty. At the top, an Anna’s Hummingbird was feeding amongst the green blossoms hanging from a sycamore. It was difficult to focus on it through the rest of the foliage, but the sun managed to break through and light up his head.

Having fed, it repaired to the top of a nearby pine tree and waited, singing his scratchy song. Occasionally he would pop down for another quick feed where I was waiting for him, camera poised.

I was not ready for the Red Crossbills that landed in the tree next door. A flock of 8 flew in as I was reviewing the hummingbird’s latest feed. During my vigil, I also noted a Bushtit carrying what may be spider’s thread. His pendulous nest with the opening at the top was nearby and I am assuming that he was collecting silk for the lining as construction looked pretty much complete.

I continued on to Daybreak Indian Cultural Centre. An observation deck here usually gives a good view out across the sound, but it was taped off and warnings kept people away from the edge. Three Banded Kingfishers squabbled amongst themselves as another Bald Eagle flew over, This time it was the eagle that was harassed by a crow that took offence to his presence. 

Birds seen; 52

Brant 40, Canada Goose 1, American Wigeon 10, Mallard 3, Surf Scoter 40, Bufflehead 20, Common Goldeneye 6, Common Merganser 1,Horned Grebe 12, Red-necked Grebe 1, Double-crested Cormorant 3, Great Blue Heron 3, Osprey 2, Bald Eagle 3, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Killdeer 1, Sanderling 5, Dunlin 3, Mew Gull 25, Glaucous-winged Gull 10, Band-tailed Pigeon 2, Eurasian Collared Dove 4, Anna’s Hummingbird 5, Rufous Hummingbird 1, Belted Kingfisher 5, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 5, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Steller’s JKay 3, American Crow 30, Violet-green Swallow 5, Black-capped Chickadee 8, Chestnut-backed Chickadee 6, Bushtit 3, Pacific Wren 2, Golden-crowned Kinglet 6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4, American Robin 35, Varied Thrush 2, European Starling 10, Orange-crowned Warbler 3, Yellow-rumped Warbler 3, Spotted Towhee 3, Savannah Sparrow 1, Fox Sparrow 1, Song Sparrow 15, White-crowned Sparrow 15, Dark-eyed Junco 3, Red-winged Blackbird 2, Red Crossbill 9, Pine Siskin 8.
The bus no 33 to Discovery Park leaves from 3rd St and Union, it stops at the North Parking Lot (Google Earth ref;  47°39'52.54"N 122°24'39.46"W) close to the Daybreak Indian Cultural Centre. No 24 also leaves from the same stop, but turns off just before the park entrance.
For previous posts from Discovery Park, follow the links below;
Visit the dedicated USA and Canada Page for more posts from Seattle, including the Waterfront and Montlake Fill