Friday, May 18, 2012

Seattle Parks: Join a Naturalist-Led Bird or Beach Walk

Early on a sunny Saturday morning—way earlier than I'd get to the office during the work week—a group of us  gather at Seattle's Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center. It's International Migratory Bird Day, and I'm here to go birdwatching with some ace birders.

With the early morning sun filtering through the verdant canopy of spring green trees, several people with binoculars hanging around their necks are scattered nearby. 

Volunteer naturalists Arne and Kate are here to lead this outing sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation.  For a paltry $3 each, six of us get 2 hours with seasoned birders.

And things get started before we even leave the parking lot. 

"Look for movement up in the trees," says Kate  "like right there!" Rustling high up the big-leaf maple on the edge of the lot is a western tanager, newly arrived from the tropics of Central America. It's a beautiful yellow bird with bright red on its head.

We continue for the next couple hours, wandering the forested trails and then up to the bluff past remnant buildings of historic Fort Lawson.  Along the way Kate and Arne point out to us lots of birds: a northern grosbeak, lots of sparrows, goldfinches (the Washington state bird), hummingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, juncos, a big osprey, and more.


Of course I don't get photos of the birds, which move too fast (like the Anna's hummingbirds we see). And I can't capture them adequately without a bigger lens. But trust me, it's a thrill to see them.

If you're on a tight schedule, bear in mind that when birders spot birds, they tend to lose track of time. I had to cut out ahead of the group to get back to my car a little after 9 to be somewhere else.

Are you a birder or wannabe? What are some of the most memorable birds you've seen in Seattle or in the region? Would love to hear your comments below.

When You Go
Besides these Saturday morning bird walks, Seattle Parks and Recreation is also sponsoring low-tide beach walks this spring and summer. For the bird walks, bring binoculars and dress for the weather. You need to preregister. Call the number at this link for a schedule and directions. And be prepared for an early morning, because, as most of us learned, the early birds get the worms.


martha said...

One of my most favorite sights was years ago working at the barn. There were some trees and the back of the property and on one tree was a sapphire blue bluebird and a few limbs away was a candy apple red cardinal. The beauty of the birds plus the chirping was Mother Nature at her best.

jill said...

Beautiful image you paint with your words Martha!

Mab said...

Jill -- I just bought Lucy her first bird book of Seattle Birds at an Audubon Society event last week- and we've been looking up and listening to bird songs daily. She's my first convert to bird-watching in the family! - We'll have to go to Discovery Park next.