Almost Birding

I spent much of the day repairing the section of the fence that was blown down in Friday night’s wind storm.

It wasn’t as painful as replacing roof shingles because I didn’t have to bend over nearly as much, but, like most repairs, it was full of its own small frustrations.

I discovered that it was nearly impossible to dig up the concrete that encased the downed post because I’d managed to build an extensive raised bed over part of the concrete. That necessitated offsetting the post a good six inches, which, in turn, meant that the eight foot long stringer I’d just purchased were six inches too short, thus requiring another trip across town to buy to ten foot stringers that needed to be chopped down to eight feet, six inches long.

It didn’t help much that it was only about 37 degrees at its warmest, making it difficult to pick up the innumerable nails I had to first remove, and, then replace with wood screws when I reassembled the fence. Still, the work went as fast as could be expected, and the fence is secure enough I can leave the doggy-door open during the day when we go to Leavenworth next week.

Of course, a thorough inspection of the fence revealed that the back section was also considerably damaged, though not enough to flatten it. Tomorrow I will reinforce it, and after everyone has left after Christmas vacation I will set to work fixing that section, too.

The day wasn’t an entire waste, though, as it turned out to be one of the best birding days in months, probably because I didn’t have a camera with me. First, I was visited by three beautiful blue jays in full dress blues. Shortly afterwards, I was visited by a pair of Red-Shafted Flickers.

The day was capped by another visit from our Sharp-Shinned Hawk, which despite my attempts to chase it off refused to leave the yard after it chased a black-capped chickadee into the bamboo shrubs. I was surprised it didn’t leave until I got within two feet of it. Then it flew off a short distance and sat glaring down at me from the telephone line until I went back to work. It was nearly ten minutes later when I saw it swooping down after the chickadee flew out of its shelter. I didn’t see it if it actually caught its prey, but I had to admire its persistence.

6 thoughts on “Almost Birding”

  1. That was a wild wind, wasn’t it? Sorry to hear that your home suffered some damage.

    In the past week I’ve seen a greater variety of birds at the suet feeders on my porch, including a Steller’s Jay. There is a grove of cottonwoods at the northeast edge of the cattail marsh I look out on. A pair of bald eagles have been working on a nest there, but the high winds may have undone some of their work. Today is very still and dark, with the temperature in the low 30s.

  2. What are the little birds that dive down into the Sound and grab fish out from just under the surface? I think maybe terns, but I don’t know much about birds. They were fun to watch as I was replacing my dad’s shingles today!

  3. Unless they’re white, I suspect you’re actually describing a grebe, tarakuanyin. They’re certainly much more comman than terns this time of year.

    There are several varieties. If you do a search for grebe on this site you’ll find pictures of the most common varieties around here.

    It is wonderful to be able to enjoy the wildlife even while repairing storm damage, isn’t it? Small consolations.

  4. Hi Loren,
    They’re definitely not grebes, at least as far as the images I saw on your site. They’re white, kind of like small gulls but with a “swallow” look to the shape of their flight (does that make sense?). They hovered over the water, and darted just under the surface to grab little fish. They’d be completely submerged, but just for a fraction of a second, and then they’d fly out, a couple of laborious wingflaps and then soaring off. I could see the little fish in their beaks. I checked online and I guess there’s a colony at Asarco, around the point, but it’s pretty late in the season to find them, especially the two dozen or so I saw all fishing together at dusk. Might those be terns?

  5. tarakuanyin, I’ve never actually seen terns at the beach, but I do think that’s what you’re seeing. They often fly over our house in the summer, but strangely enough I’ve never seent them at the beach.

    Maybe they are pretty much restricted to fishing in one area as you most often see particular species at particular spots along the beach.

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