30 November 2008

Sunday on West Snoqualmie River Road

It's been a while since I've gone out looking for a photographic moment, so when the weather (and my time) cooperated, I was out the door.

My route for today was from Aldarra (Fall City) to Novelty Hill Road (Redmond/Duvall) and back, mostly along West Snoqualmie River Road.

Headed out on Redmond-Fall City Road, my windscreen was brushed by a large hawk that I don't believe was a Red-tail (no obvious dark markings on the leading edge, no obvious red tail feathers) as it dove into a hillside not far from Duthie Hill Road. Traveling at speed in traffic meant the hawk itself would go unidentified, but it was a treat (if a bit scary) to have something that large cross traffic almost over the front end of my vehicle.

The first safe stop was just north of Aldarra, where hundreds of very-noisy-in-flight starlings and more than a few Dark-Eyed Slate Juncos were feeding. I was surprised at how much noise the starlings made with their wings, even from about 100 metres away. Setting the trend for the day was a second hawk, this time a light-morph juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a successful hunt. It was on the ground for no more than 5 seconds before it winged its way back into the trees with its meal.

A few minutes further north, my third RTHA, this time an adult. It was also a successful hunter just north of Tall Chief Golf Course.

Near Chinook Bend Natural Area, a fourth RTHA, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Northern Harrier were seen.

One snag near Jubilee Farms had three Great Blue Herons in it. When the river could be seen, there were Bufflehead, Mallard, a few Northern Shovelers and what could have been Ring-necked Ducks here and there, with American Coots the most plentiful (100-200) also near Chinook Bend Natural Area.

Back at Carnation Marsh for the second time, I found Grace and Ollie Oliver looking for the Swamp Sparrow. While I was there, we saw Mourning Dove, a Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrows, and more than a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but no Swamp.

With the exception of an overflight of Canada Geese, Remlinger Farms was almost completely bird-free, and no swans were seen.

Depending on where I was, the fog went from pea-soup to just-about-burned-off, with an average visibility of about 150 metres at best through most of the valley.

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