Every so often, I'll see something while out birding that just makes me go "Wow."
I had such an experience about a week ago, while birding at a stretch of wetlands not far from my work just north of Bothell. It was early morning, with the sun just peaking over the trees of the eastern horizon. The October morning air had a tangible nip to it.
The area is one I bird regularly. It's a plot of wetlands referred to as the Canyon Park wetlands in eBird, adjacent to an office park and a tract of homes and bisected by a paved walking and biking path. The birding here has been good lately. The morning in question, I nabbed 20 individual species in about 45 minutes. That's a personal record for this particular spot. My eBird checklist for the morning can be found here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39546715
The day was full of ducks. Males are out in their full regalia, looking for someone to make babies with. I nabbed five duck species for the morning, including some great looks at a group of Hooded Mergansers. With my allotted time before I had to head to work winding down, I started to head back to my car. The sun was higher now, warming my face and exposed hands as I meandered eastward.
Then a flash of motion made me look to my left, across one of the larger marshy areas. Dozens of Mallards, female and males, came floating in seemingly out of nowhere. Each landed with a soft splash on the water, quacking to each other as the clumped together.
Then it happened again. And again. I would barely finish counting one group when another came flying in from the west, each 12-13 ducks strong. In all, 70-80 Mallards landed in front of my eyes within a span of maybe 10 minutes.
I could do nothing but stand there in awe. Mallards, of course, are not rare. But the shear mass of life, of living things grouped together, left me speechless.
It's these moments that keep my coming back, again and again, to birding.
Keep watching the skies!
Jeremy Schwartz Lake Forest Park jschwartz1124 at gmail dot com