Alice and I traveled to Seattle, Washington for a 12 day trip. Her youngest son lives there, and she had a week long bridge tournament, so I had a good opportunity to see some west coast bird species. For the past four months, I had studied the ABA bird guide for Washington, followed the ABA Washington and Marymoor Park birding list servers, checked eBird frequently, and used various field guides to plan my birding outings. I then used Google Earth to derive coordinates for about 30 locations, and pre-stored them in my Garmin GPS unit.
I compiled a target species list of about 20 birds that I wanted to see. Most of them were potential life birds, as well as a few species for which I wanted better photos than I already had taken elsewhere. Six of the potential life birds were my highest priority, and I decided to visit birding locations where these species were most likely to been seen. I had gotten my 500th life bird in Seattle (Steller's Jay) two years ago, and now with 599 life birds, I thought that #600 would be in Seattle as well, but I got #600 here in Virginia four days prior to this trip. I ended this Seattle area trip with 75 avian species, including 11 life birds, but only one of my top 6.
The first four birding trips were family events where touring was the main objective, and the last five trips were birding only. We stayed in Lynnwood near the bridge tournament, about 16 miles north of downtown Seattle. The main routes south are I-5 and I-405 on the west and east sides of Lake Washington, respectively, and the traffic on I-5 was a nightmare every day, and almost as bad on I-405. I had to adjust my birding trip plans because of this, limited my trips to the south, and did not visit a few of my planned locations. On the last five five trips, I wasn't able to leave the hotel until about 9:00 a.m. because of the traffic and other considerations, and birded those days until about 4:00 p.m.
A few of the birding sites were very good, and the others poor to marginal. I suspect that time of day and time of year played a role in the birding, as some of the summer birds had gone, and autumn migration had just started. Major fires on the east side of the Cascade Mountains only seemed to affect birding to a small amount, but the winds changed near the end of the trip, and smoke was blowing into the Puget Sound area.
We did a bit of hiking at these sites. It was very hot, and many of the birds were hunkered down in shaded areas. I saw only a few birds on Mercer Island, and a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos (Oregon sub-species) on Cougar Mountain.
Marymoor Park was a bit more "birdy," but the afternoon heat was very uncomfortable.
A distant Olive-sided Flycatcher
I saw a small bird that appeared to have a gray back and a brownish cap, but its back looks more brownish in the photo. I'm not sure what species it is, and would appreciate suggestions. My first thought was a Bushtit, but its bill looks too long for that species.
[8/31/15 Update] Michael Hobbs, the Marymoor Park birding guru, confirmed this bird as a Bushtit, and also stated that the Olive-sided Flycatcher I show above is quite an unusual bird for Marymoor Park - only the 7th fall record for this species at Marymoor Park.]
Click here to continue on the trip to Whidbey Island; 8/14/15