Hey tweets, Dec. 31, the last day of an eventful year, found me - as it often does - out at Montlake Fill. This time, rather than looking for birds, I wanted to get an overall sense of place, a feeling of wide vistas unimprisoned by all the built that makes us human and separate from nature.
The winter sun did its best to light up the world, but its glow is pale in December, an artist painting in pastels. The morning alpenglow on Mt. Rainier seems to linger almost until the evening alpenglow takes over. Cattail fluff lay scattered far and wide, a result of the recent wind storm that laid the cattails low and sheared off their tops. It was hard to see the few ducks bobbing in the lake between the crests of waves kicked up by the cold breeze, though the Trumpeter Swans gathered on the mud island that has sprung up near Water Lily Cove stood out in bright, icy white against the dark water. The cold doesn't bother them, decked out as they are in swans-down.
The beavers have been hard at work cutting down willows, aspens, and poplars all along the shores of pond and lake. Most of the big trees have been felled so their tops point to the water. Some treetops even lie in the water itself. I wonder if the beavers choose where to lay down their fallen trunks as loggers do, or whether they let the trunks fall as they may. The beavers' reputation amongst us humans would argue for the latter, but I rather hope the beavers opt instead for the wild abandon of chance.
As I've been doing for many years, I kept a record of all the Fill birds seen in 2017, including sightings from other birders. This year, we hit a modern record of most species seen in one year: 174! Previous modern record was 172.
For that kind of record to be set, we needed to find all the regulars, all the uncommons, and a few wowzers thrown in, and 2017 certainly delivered.
PACIFIC LOON (first ever for Fill)
Clark's Grebe (only second sighting recorded)
American White Peican (only second sighting recorded)
Great Egret (fourth sighting)
Sandhill Crane (sixth sighting)
Semipalmated Plover (last sighting in 2008)
Whimbrel (fifth sighting)
Barn Owl (last sighting 2009)
Hairy Woodpecker (fifth sighting)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (third sighting)
Hutton's Vireo (sixth sighting)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (first ever for Fill)
Clay-colored Sparrow (fourth sighting)
Brewer's Sparrow (third sighting)
Common Redpoll (third sighting)
I'm still looking to increase the total and ask if anyone out in Tweeterland can document a sighting of the following species we missed and might - maybe even should - have had:
In the meantime, dear Tweets, here's wishing you a peaceful but wild and birdy 2018. - Connie, Seattle