Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Day for Working on the House. Just Not *Me* Working on *My* House

It could be that seeing hundreds of surf scoters on Elliott Bay should be the most exciting part of my day but, well, there was some pretty stiff bird-related competition on what seemed like it was going to be a pretty dull day. Scott and I ended up not doing a lot of shopping downtown but instead having a quite lovely walk through the SAM sculpture park and then on through Myrtle Edwards. En route,  after visiting the Crumpet Shop (for tea),  a couple of kitchen shops, and Lamplight Books. we made our way out of Pike Place Market, which was packed with long lines out the door pretty much everywhere, including Beecher's Cheese, the original Starbucks, and Piroshky Piroshky. As, in search of food, we abandoned our original route, I told Scott some of the story of The Buried Giant since it features a not-young couple on a supposedly straightforward journey who keep being diverted en route and, well, I couldn't help noticing some similarities. They, however, are always going on some not entirely happy adventure whereas we were just looking at books and buying pastries and the like.

Eventually we reached the Sculpture Park where we admired the giant eraser and considered the newish giant head which seems to be one of several such items that artist Jauma Plensa has planted around the world. It's seems a nice enough bit of work but it's unlikely to displace the giant eraser in my affections any time soon. The thing about the Olympic Sculpture Park, aside from my inability to remember its proper name, is that it sits right on Elliott Bay and it's difficult to be properly gobsmacked by any bit of manmade art when there's all that gorgeous bit of Sound and sky right there. The park is lovely but it was when we hit the beach and I was able to wade for a few minutes that I was truly happy.

 It was a little while after the wading that I complained about the lack of seabirds thus causing a couple of red-necked grebes (because, having seen them for the first time a few days ago, it seems I'm now destined to see them frequently) to catch my eye, thus distracting me from the eighteen Barrow's goldeneyes. A bit later we saws a mass of scaups and Canada geese hanging out by the grain elevators and then the surf scoters arrived. By the hundreds. It was quite fabulous though, I'm told, not that unusual. We were pleased. I was happy I'd brought my binoculars and only minimally sorry to not have my camera.

Tail of bushtit entering the nest
 But still, I insist the finest thing about today was watching the pair of bushtits work on their new nest a few feet from the kitchen window. Personally, I might feel better if they'd opted to build the nest a little closer to the house and thus a little more sheltered from the elements but I trust they know what they're doing. I quite like that I can sit at the kitchen table and watch the bottom of the nest poke this way and that as one of the couple arranges lichens and moss on the inside while the other goes to fetch more materials. What I have discovered is that one sees a lot of bushtit going into the nest but you have to be pretty quick to see them exiting.

I see you!
Mostly I just snapped the shutter when a bird came near the nest and hoped for the best. I think I knew a bird was in the nest when I took the photo to the left, but it was only when I looked at the images this evening that I realize Mr Bushtit was looking back at me from the entrance (right).


  1. They may not know what they're doing. The bushtits at the Fill are known for building flimsy nests in unsheltered spots that get knocked down by winds and then having to rebuild. I hope yours fare better!

    A timely post, indeed, as yesterday I noticed not one but two bushtit nests under construction in two little trees en route from my house to the library. I'll be checking on them regularly and now I suppose I'll have to remember to bring my camera along.

  2. Re: scoters -- last night I was at a Master Birder potluck and Dennis was there so I asked about your scoters. He says they love the grain elevators and are often there in those numbers -- his theory is spilled grain attracts them and/or something else about the conditions caused by elevators encourages mussel growth in that spot. A very educational party!

    1. Ackcherly, I knew that bushtits were not always the most sensible of birds when it came to choosing where to put their nests, but I wanted to pretend that *these* particular birds knew what they were doing. And the partial nest withstood the weather on Saturday so I'm hoping that this is an experienced pair. Do bring your camera along on your trips to the library to record the doings of your own local birds.

      I wondered if it might be the grain that had so many birds congregating by the grain terminal but mussel growth seems a more likely theory. The birds (scoters and scaups alike) really were exhibiting some crazy behaviors.