Once again, abandoned by Captain Tom, the crew was left to fend for themselves. A not too promising morning brought out the valiant Lorna, Bill, Mary, Valerie, Marion, Anne, Roger and Mike. Because of the weather, the group decided on a direct drive to Reifel Island where there was some shelter from the wind and the rain which was just starting to fall. The Hawk Owl was not seen on the way in, nor on the way out, probably due to the rising winds.
The road into the reserve produced the usual Common Mergansers, Wigeon, Mallards and Buffleheads. Two Black-crowned Night Herons were in the usual spot and a collection of sparrows (White and Gold-crowned, Song and Fox as well as numerous Towhees) gathered around the feeders. The Red-winged Blackbirds were making a lot of early spring noises and we had good looks at the male/female differences. There were numerous Wood Ducks, male and female, with many standing on, or in, the feeders. We searched the Holly bushes and overhanging fir branches for Saw-whet Owls, but found only one in the Holly around the corner at the end of the east trail in its usual spot. Seems our eagle-eyed group missed another three, according to Kathleen, on the way! I guess we need Kay for that!
We looked for, but found no Great-horned Owls. As we walked along the North trail towards the viewing tower, the wind and rain started to pick up making it difficult to use the binoculars but Anne managed to find a few Hooded Mergansers, male and female. A number of Bald Eagles, juvenile and adult, were seen as well as one Red-tail Hawk and one male Northern Harrier. There was quite a bit of damage to trees by beavers and we are puzzled by the number of Douglas Fir trees which seem to be dead or dying?
After only a few hours, because of the building wind and rain, we hustled back to the entrance for a group photo and fled to home. While in the parking lot, a bus arrived with a group of naturalists from Mercer Island who were hoping to see the Hawk Owl. We hope they had success on the way out but with the wind so strong their chances were slim. A long way to come to miss out! Mike, Lorna and Roger detoured into Alaksen for a quick look for a Barred Owl which we found in a tree at the far north west end of the driveway to the office. There was a large number of fresh pellets under the bird indicating that the particular tree might be a favorite roost. Despite Lorna’s protestations, this group also decided to call it a day. We missed our usual nutrition break from Tom’s tailgate Deli drawers but managed to survive anyway by munching on the bags of birdseed sold at the office. Weather permitting, the outing for next week may be Jericho Beach. Meet as usual at Petra’s at 8:00 am for a 8:30 am departure.