Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bikes, Birds, Books

The rain has returned to Seattle. It may be that it never truly left but I swear there was a day--recently, even--when it wasn't wet. But this evening's commute was very wet, as was today's mid-day ride downtown for  the "rally to show support for public lands," aka "Fuck you, Bundy Bastards." I wasn't eager to venture forth into the rain again this evening but, as happens more often than not, it wasn't so bad once I was actually out in it. Thank you once again to Madi Carlson for teaching me that I'm not made of sugar. But while I'm not made of sugar, my beloved bike did suggest that she was becoming too covered in oil to brake properly so once I got home this evening (and divested of my soaking wet clothes) I spent some quality time in the basement with the Borax and a lot of hot water and rags, removing a great deal of road gunk from Bessie's tire rims, brakes, chain, gear cluster, and, well, pretty much all of her. I'm hoping that, with Scott's help, I've got everything put together properly again. Fingers crossed! It fills me with inordinate glee to see that gear cluster looking shiny and new again.

 Yesterday there were definite periods of sun, and Scott (mostly recovered from his Slavolydian virus to which I'm really hoping I'm not going to succumb) and I packed up sandwiches, coffee, binoculars, and camera for an expedition to the Montlake Fill. I did not see the barn owl, nor the trumpeter swan nor the ruddy ducks nor any number of other noteworthy birds but I don't care, I tell you, because we did encounter a non-camera-shy fox sparrow and how often, I ask you, does that happen? Not often, not for me. That it was a bird with a bit of attitude is just a plus:

Fox sparrow at Union Bay Natural Area 
We stretch the definition of the Union Bay Natural Area (aka "The Fill") to include pretty much everything from the Montlake Cut to University Village which helped me to compile a list of close to forty bird species seen on an expedition. Not that I needed to cheat to get a bald eagle on the list: we saw an eagle, complete with fish in its talons, flying over the Center for Urban Horticulture, but my favorite photos (out of focus though they might be) resulted from a less than graceful attempt to land in some fir trees by the Waterfront Activity Center:

Our nation's noble symbol, failiing to stick its landing
It was, as always, a good day at the Fill even if the potential "new life bird" turned out to be a female lesser scaup. The wood ducks and coots were, as always, charming and photogenic:
Mrs and Mr Wood Duck (Is it just me or does he always look particularly dense?)
I don't think I can ever get tired of looking at coots.
 In truth, I don't have much to say about books; I just wanted a third noun for my subject line. Mostly, I've had such lousy luck with current fiction lately that I don't want to jinx things, but I will risk saying that, 236 pages in, Orhan Pamuk's A Strangeness In My Mind, is quite good. I can only say again, "fingers crossed."


  1. I had Trumpeter Swans on Monday, and a camera-shy Fox Sparrow, but I haven't cracked 30 species in a visit (28 is the current high) all Winter so your nearly 40 impresses me greatly. Perhaps I will start expanding my route.

    Scaups vex me. They often try to be other birds in my bins. They ought to come with ID tags.

    Nice eagle shots!

    1. Hmmmm. I wonder if I miscounted. American crow, American goldfinch, American robin, Anna's hummingbird, bald eagle, belted kingfisher, Bewick's wren, black-capped chickadee, bufflehead, coot, Canada goose, common merganser, double-crested cormorant, dark-eyed junco, fox sparrow, gadwall, golden-crowned kinglet, golden-crowned sparrow, great blue heron, gull, hooded merganser, lesser scaup, mallard, northern flicker, northern shoveler, pied-billed grebe, red-tailed hawk, redwinged blackbird, ringneck duck, rubycrowned kinglet, song sparrow, spotted towhee, starling, teal, wigeon, wood duck, yellow-rumped warbler--that's 37. Scott believes we saw a northern harrier; I've been meaning to ask about that on Tweeters. If he's right, that gets me to 38. It had the right shape and Scott says it had that white harrier rump. Do harriers ever show up at the Fill?

    2. I've had all of those birds at the Fill in the past week or so, just not all seen on the same morning. I'm usually there just about one hour. Maybe next time I'll stay longer!

      Yes, we get the occasional harrier at the Fill.

    3. I didn't think that I had any that you didn't see all the time so, yes, it's just that we make a day of it when we visit the wilds of Montlake Fill.