Monday, January 3, 2011

A Walk on the Wild Side

We live in the suburban Seattle area, near the airport, in fact, in an area that until the post war 40's was mostly undeveloped. The property on which our house sits was originally a several acre chicken and turkey farm. The original little house is still there. This area south of Seattle built up gradually, and has a mix of eras of buildings. And so there are still pockets of wild areas, which are now treasured and protected. One such area less than a ten minute drive away, is the Black River Riparian Forest, a wonderful habitat for many species of birds and a Great Blue Heron colony. We've been having a spell of cold, clear weather, with frost a common feature. The trail was nicely frosted and frozen firm. A downed tree from our recent wind storm had blocked the trail, but previous walkers had broken a path to scramble through the tree top. (click to enlarge any photo) Ice rimmed the pond formed when the Black River was diverted many years ago. But already there are signs of spring just biding their time. We were fortunate to see some wonderful water fowl that we don't often see, like this Pintail Duck. Assorted ducks and a heron were sleeping in the sun on the far side, tucking their heads under their wings, the poor things.
A Common Goldeneye.
Brown is beautiful.
Lots of these little birds worked the ground along the path. A fox sparrow perhaps?
Fronds of frost.
A sunny patch where the frost and remnants of a recent snow shower have melted off. A Bufflehead female.
Winter color. We are now on the connecting Springbrook Trail,which is paved and follows the stream that feeds the pond.
A pair of Wood Ducks! So beautiful!
Mallards are so common we often take their beauty for granted.
A gathering of assorted ducks.
A male Hooded Merganser!
At the end of the trail we turned around to retrace our steps.
Buffleheads, and on the left, a female Hooded Merganser.
This is a Ring-Necked Duck female. I had to look it up, as I did several others, but I remembered that it always seemed wrongly named, since the ring is most prominent on its bill.
A Green Winged Teal.
The nests in the heron rookery seemed depleted from when we were here before. Could it be wind damage?
We do know that last time we were here there was an eagle nest in that tree that is now broken. We talked to a naturalist then who told us the tree was weak and they were hoping it would break, because the eagles were devastating the heron colony. Maybe now the colony will reestablish.
Just before we reached the end of the trail, Tom was distracted by something off the trail, high in a tree, while I was watching ducks. He told me he was watching a Pileated Woodpecker. But just as I was about to find it, it swooped out of the tree and I feared it was gone.
But no. It landed about twenty feet in front of me, right alongside the path!
What a treat! I have never seen one in this area, and it's good to know they are here. It seemed to be posing for me!
A great way to end a great walk in the wild.


  1. That was a great walk in the woods and along the water. What a beautiful assortment of ducks you saw. I love the little buffleheads. We often see pileated woodpeckers in the trees beyond our back deck. Once I saw one at the suet cake feeder outside my kitchen window. That was a big surprise, as you can imagine.

  2. Linda, maybe you can make Peking Duck out of one of those ducks? Can't find raw duck in my supermarket!

  3. OH.MY. You have some of my favorite ducks in the whole wide world on your captures today...I love pileateds and those wood ducks and mergansers are AWESOME! I need to come there and take some photography..I would be in HEAVEN.

  4. What a wonderful walk and I can't believe how many different kinds of Mother Nature's finest made an appearance for you. I love nature.

  5. You really know your water fowl!! Mallards are beautiful but I really like the wood ducks.
    Pileated woodpeckers are such a healthy size! I saw one here about a year ago, but haven't seen it since. I did see bluebirds yesterday when we were working outside. They're so beautiful and always make me smile. It surprises me that they're still here.

  6. Ahhh, thank you for the lovely walk today. I needed just the thing with putting in my first day back to school, although the children were delightful!
    I love the ducks; my husband collects old duck decoys...I will share the photos with him!

  7. what fun photos you took on your natue walk...

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed walking along with you! What lovely trails you have. I love the different types of ducks...we have a female and male Merganser in the brook, right outside the window. So far just one pair, we usually have two pairs. How nice that the Pileated posed for you!

  9. Aren't wild birds just the BEST? I love the mergansers and the woodpecker, especially. Thank you for the wonderful walk with you...

  10. You found a greater variety than I did. There were a few others but they were too far away for me to get a good shot. The homeowners association is quite strict about keeping to the trails.

  11. Wow! How fabulous to be able to see so many different kinds of birdlife in your area. Signs of spring already? You sure wouldn't see that in Illinois. I've never seen a pileated woodpecker before. That is so cool. They're supposed to be pretty big birds, right?

  12. I loved this nature tour Linda, a wonderful variety of ducks and other birds you have out there. I truly look forward to the day I can once again visit the Seattle area. I have enjoyed catching up on your posts, and particularly the Seven Days of Christmas. I don't think you are ever too old to enjoy Lego. My 31 year old son was given the space shuttle by his wife for one of his gifts, and his brother-in-law and he enjoyed putting it together while his wife and future sister-in-law looked on, and occasionally joined in! Happy New Year!

  13. Wow, amazing amount of impressive duck sightings. I want to go on this trail. I can't remember when I have seen a Wood Duck! Great pictures too.

  14. Oh my, it's a flabbergastery of ducks! My day is made. I've seen ONE pileated, ever, and it was a flash through the woods--I might as well call it an Ivory-billed. Why not? (Don't answer that.) Good little walk you have there, ma'am.

  15. Loved all the birds..not sure on the sparrow though....wood ducks are beautiful indeed...what a great habitat...


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