This has certainly been an unusual early fall in that the rains had not started by the 16th of October (they made it on the 21st after a nasty few days of some of the worst smoke that I have seen!) and several odd birds showed up at the Marsh. One of the first of these was a Merlin. I had seen these elusive birds (at least to me) on several occasions, but usually only as glimpses. This was the first time I had a chance to photograph one and it was perched on a sailboat mast overlooking the Marsh and quite far away. They apparently like to hawk for dragonflies at the Marsh, or so I have been told by the local birders.
After the Equinox I did finally find a Cooper’s Hawk, a juvenile and apparently inexperienced one who landed on the mud and got some on his or her feet. I knew there was a hawk around as there was an immediate panicking of the birds in the Marsh, but was surprised to see the hawk on the mud.
Common birds included European Starlings and Song Sparrows, and both Savannah Sparrows and Lincoln Sparrows made an appearance.
In early October I started to see a lone Pectoral Sandpiper in the Marsh. Oddly there were few other sandpipers, although now and again I would see a few Western or Least Sandpipers, and we did get two Long-billed Dowitchers, but in mid-September I did not always see Killdeer at all, even if the water was low. This was soon corrected, however, as they started appearing in numbers.
Early in October I got a surprise when several male Wood Ducks appeared among the large grouping of Wigeons on the water of the Marsh. I had never seen these in the Marsh before and neither had a very experienced birder who later told me she had also seen them there the first time.
On the 15th of October I was joined briefly by another birder and was able to photograph a juvenile Snow Goose that had suddenly showed up at the same time as a massive flock of Canada Geese and another of American Wigeon. There were 40 Wigeons on the water in the Marsh, but on the next day there were 60! That day also brought a convocation (a definite murder!) of American Crows on one of the raised areas in the Marsh, with over 20. (The Wigeons were still there on the 23rd, when I counted 30 on the small area of water left after most of the water had drained.)
Suddenly while we were observing a group of House Finches, a new bird appeared. It was much larger than the finches and we were puzzled by it. It had a hooked beak and so I correctly identified it as a Northern Shrike, but it apparently had no mask! Its trace can be seen, but is certainly much faded from a normally marked Shrike. However, the hooked beak gives it away.
Visitors in October also included three Steller’s Jays, one of whom actually stayed long enough in one spot for me to get a somewhat inferior photo.
Another visitor was a Short-billed Gull (formerly a Mew Gull), which rarely shows up at the Marsh.
Of course we usually have at least one Great Blue Heron in the Marsh.
And finally a shot of the Marsh and a Marsh subject that is not a bird.
The City of Edmonds is currently examining the fates of parks and other lands in the city for their next comprehensive plan. We are hoping to influence them in supporting the acquisition of the former Unocal Bulk Fuel Terminal land (about 22 acres, or about the same size as the current Marsh park) that has been in the process of cleanup for the last seven years. The area has a lot of trees and a “pond” which seems to attract a lot of ducks. The forested area attracts Coyotes and Black-tailed Deer, as well as numerous birds. We would need to land in order to open up Willow Creek to Puget Sound, currently connected by a pipe. In essence the Marsh is an estuary of Puget Sound and should be improved and retained as such.
If you have some interest or insight in regard to the Marsh, checkout the City of Edmonds website.
As always all photos are by me.
Now, what birds are you seeing?