Avians and Atmospheric Phenomena

Part 2

Skagit Flats Bird Sanctuary

I was taking Natural Science art classes at the time, and that Saturday, February 7th we went on a field trip to the Skagit Flats Bird Sanctuary. This is a popular spot for migrating birds (it offers water, food from farmer’s fields, and shelter) and hence bird watchers. It was cold, windy and raw–the aftermath from the afore mentioned storm–so we didn’t see too many birds. But those we did see were fun to watch and photograph. The photographs were taken at the Skagit Wildlife Area, near the small town of Conway, Washington.

Behind the Conway 76 gas station, just off I-5 and 534 road:

The all-white birds are real (swans I believe). The black-with-a-white-head birds are fake, made to resemble bald eagles to frighten off the swans. You can see how well this works.

So yes, we saw just a few birds that day:

The sanctuary is so popular with birds during peak migration times there routinely are flocks many times this size. If my field notes are accurate the birds with black-tipped wings are snow geese, the all-white birds are trumpeter swans and tundra swans. These swans are migratory, and in it for the long haul: each year they leave their homes in Northern Europe and Siberia, fly over the arctic circle, and head south over Canada and America, occasionally venturing as far south as Texas and Florida.

Other birds are more stay-at-homes. Here is a local long-eared owl, napping in a tree in preparation for nocturnal activities. This image was photographed through the eyepiece of the instructor’s monocular (telescope for bird watching). It worked surprisingly well, thought it did require a rock-steady grip on my camera.

And here he is from behind. See him in the tree, upper center?

Same scene, but closer.

(There were also reports from birdwatchers of a short-eared owl in the area, but we didn’t see him. Presumably he was off doing owly things.)

A bald eagle. Admittedly a poor photograph, but it was the first time I’ve seen one.

I was going to delete this photograph, but then decided I like it. It’s a bird in flight with an unusual wing pose, looking like an ornithological UFO.

See poofy cacti and the world’s largest lilly pad.