Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stupid Mistake Results in 3 Life Birds

Last week, while Philly was being inundated with 16 inches of snow, I was in Seattle for a 2 day meeting at Microsoft. I left on Monday evening for a Tuesday and Wednesday event with my boss and another coworker. We all agreed to fly home on the non-stop 8:45 AM flight rather than take the red-eye. That would have been great except yours truly booked her 8:45 AM flight on Friday instead of Thursday like everyone else. Let's recap: leave Monday for a 2 day meeting, return the day after the meeting. Oops. I made the best of it. Thankfully, I brought the binoculars along. Unfortunately, I didn't lug the camera equipment. Photos below are from my Android phone.

Being at an event on the Microsoft campus is like being held captive for 2 days. They tell you where to stay. They pick you up in a shuttle at 8:00 AM. They serve you continental breakfast, meetings, lunch, meetings, and even serve you cocktails and dinner on campus. They never actually tell you not to leave, but they make a big deal about how difficult it is to get back into the building if you go outside. That crap only lasted the first day with me. By lunch time on the second day, I looked at one of the Microsoft gals and said "I'm going outside, and you can't stop me". And I meant it. Out I went. Looked up and immediately saw 2 Bald Eagles circling Building 31! Then I meandered around the building trying not to look like a freak with binoculars. One of the Microsoft guys said: "This is Microsoft. You can't possibly look any geekier than anybody else." He had a good point. It felt great to be outdoors in 55 degree weather while everyone else was being blasted by the snow.

After everyone else left Seattle on schedule (Thursday), I made lemonade out of lemons. I rented a car and headed down to the water to see some birds. I stopped at the pier where the ferries come and go. That is where I got my first life bird of the trip (remember, this is shot with a cell phone):

Glaucous-winged Gull

Notice the gray wing tips and pink legs. No other gull has this. He was my buddy for about 20 minutes. He was calling in a friend when I snapped the photo.

I also noticed 2 little alcids floating around the docks. Their ID is a mystery to me. I think they are Marbled Murrelets, but they could be Pigeon Guillemots. I marked Marbled Murrelets in eBird due to the black heads. This got me my second life bird of the trip but I am willing to change it if someone can decipher the identity based on this lousy photo.

After about 20 minutes of the docks, I headed north along the Puget Sound and stopped at a few little spots then made it to Discovery Park. This park sits on a point of land that juts out into the Sound. It has a lot of nice trails, beautiful scenery, a beach, a military base, and a waste water treatment plant all wrapped up into one park. I got a lot of great birds here including 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, Barrow's Goldeneye, Red-throated Loon, Hawk being mobbed by Crows, White-winged Scoter, dozens of Kinglets (both) and Yellow-rumped Warblers and my 3rd life bird of the day - Mew Gull. In addition, I got to watch 3 Sea Otters play around close to shore and 4 Harbor Seals pop their heads up to look at the person with binoculars. Pretty cool. Here are some scenery shots from the day:

Lighthouse at Discovery Park - Cascade mountains in the backgroud

Mount Ranier in the distance

The famous Space Needle with modern art in the foreground

To top off a great day, I got to stay with Maureen and Barbara on spur-of-the-moment, even though Barbara just had ankle surgery on Tuesday. What a terrific couple of friends.

1 comment:

Jill said...

The "modern sculpture" in front of the space needle is by Alexander Calder 1898 -1976 - a native Philadelphian and considered to be the the inventor of the mobile (some dispute this), he had a degreee in mechanical engineering. His father Alexander S Calder was the sculptor of Logan Square's Swann Fountain, and his grandfather Alexander M Calder was the sculptor of 250 sculptures on Philadelphia's City Hall including the one at the top, William Penn.