Sunday, January 31, 2016

You'll come for the redpolls, but you'll stay for the wigeons: The Greenlake Expedition

Patient Scott holding the bikes
Today Scott and I traveled to see birds. When I suggested it yesterday he was not unwary. "Where--and how far?" he inquired, wanting to know how much highway driving in a zipcar I expected of him. He was visibly relieved when I explained that I wanted to go to Greenlake to have a look for the redpolls that seemed to have set up house there. I explained that it meant skipping our local farmers market in favor of the more extensive Ballard Farmers Market. I don't say that the suggestion that we could also visit Besalu tipped the scales, but it certainly didn't hurt.
 A photo of the redpoll in Banff
And so, as already given away in the first sentence, we traveled all the way to North Seattle to look at birds today. We put our bikes on the bus at shortly after 10:00 and were cycling along Greenlake by 11:00. This counts as an early start for us on a weekend day. The plan was to lock up the bikes and walk around the lake but, as it worked out, we came to a cluster of people gathered around a scope looking up at some birch trees before we found a place to lock the bikes. I replaced my bicycle helmet with a wool hat and pulled out my camera and binoculars while waiting for an opportunity to be offered a look through the scope which soon presented itself. I love my binoculars, I truly do, but gosh! a scope is a fine thing. You can see how truly charming the little creatures are through a scope. There were thirty or forty redpolls in the trees, busily feeding on whatever the seedy bits of a birch tree might be called. They're handsome devils, they are. I saw a few (much closer and attracting no papparazzi) in Banff a few years ago but it was nice to see them again. It's fortunate I got nice pictures at Banff (a redpoll was Mr December on the 2015 calendar) because the photos I took today were stinky.

A subset of the kazillion wigeons (kazillion = approx. 80)
After we'd exhausted the pleasures of the redpolls (it was chilly today, especially by the lake, so we could linger only so long) we got back on our bikes and continued at a leisurely rate--it was damned crowded--along the water, stopping whenever we saw something else of interest. The redpolls were fine but I think that the kazillion wigeons were even finer. I've never seen so many so close before.
A bit further along we encountered a similarly staggering number of northern shovelers who were completely unaware of a bald eagle 100 yards away. The eagle, as it happened, had no interest in leaving his perch; a couple of delicious fat squirrels were hopping around the base of its tree but he paid them no mind. We decided soon after that that it was cold and we had marketing to do so we abandoned the lake to ride up and over Phinney Ridge to Ballard where we had a lovely visit to Besalu, the farmers market, and Home Comforts where Scott bought a hat--perhaps he has six words for it.

Some wigeon ballet at lakeside

1 comment:

  1. Six words from the hatmaker's website: "Our most directional, stylish, sophisticated hats." Also, warm.