tiggymalvern: (summer lovin')
At 4.30 this morning, the coyotes held a howling competition in the garden, and it was already coming light with clear skies. So instead of swearing vengeance on everything four-pawed and furry, I got out of bed and went to Marymoor for the weekly bird walk.

Marymoor Today )
tiggymalvern: (wanna come get me?)
I haven't often seen California quail up a tree, but that's where they ended up yesterday morning.

Oh, no, the squirrels are after us! )

On a completely different subject, I find myself feeling surprisingly positive about the new Lib-Con coalition. There's a great deal of sense in the coalition document, and everyone's in tune about the important things (reducing the godawful debt, removing those nasty, intrusive spying laws, and we're going to get preferential voting, yay!). Europe is basically a non-issue for the next few years, with the euro in such a precarious state, and that's definitely something they can argue about later, once they've done the bigger deals. If they can both hold in check the eejits in their parties (and there are rather more Tory eejits, as an inevitable consequence of the fact that there are rather more Tories), I really think they can pull this off. I certainly hope so.

Whether they do or not, at least the political blogs and columns have been a source of a great deal more amusement over the last few days than they have in years XD Though I do wish they would stop slashing the politicians, my brain doesn't need it.
tiggymalvern: (WYGIWYS)
And the count for 2009 is 30 species of bird in my garden (29 visible ones, I only heard the barred owls this year, didn't see any). Mammalian visitors were raccoons, coyotes, black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, grey squirrels, long-tailed weasel and deer mouse (those last unfortunately turning up inside the house now and then, as usual) and bats. I am not remotely good enough at identifying dark things flying in the dark to try and put a species on the bats.

Full List of My Bird Friends, Mainly for Myself )

I am free!

Dec. 14th, 2009 08:58 pm
tiggymalvern: (crazy or what)
Saturday was my last day of work as an employee, yay! I am now purely an independent contractor, and I can work when I please :-)

So naturally, I drove over to Cle Elum on Sunday for the Christmas Bird Count today. I find when getting up at 4.30am, staying the night before is preferable. It started to snow not long after I started the drive, and I arrived in town with a bare dusting of snow over the pavements (two years ago in the same week, there were four foot snowbanks lining the road from the ploughing). It turned into a windless evening with huge snowflakes falling fast, and it was just gorgeous. Today we got to look for birds, tramping through 4-5 inches of pristine, perfect powder snow. It was a little windy and still snowing until around 9.30, but after that it was still and dry and crisp with gorgeous, untouched snow, and it was a fabulous day to be out. I cannot recommend enough a stroll in the winter canyons with raptors soaring everywhere :-) Bird of the day was our delightfully posed golden eagle, with all his glowing feathers sticking out from the back of his head.

Of course, all that stunning, fluffy white stuff lost some of its appeal when I had to drive back over the pass this evening, sharing the road with a number of complete dickwits. But still worth it!
tiggymalvern: (crazy or what)
And no, I'm not being facetious XD

Last week, a birdwatcher reported seeing a chestnut-collared longspur pecking around underneath the fence surrounding the lagoons at Hoquiam Sewage Treatment Plant. The next day, as various birders hung around the sewage plant looking for it, one of them spotted a clay-colored sparrow in the thistles on the other side of the fence, about half a mile from the longspur. Over the next few days an orchard oriole, tropical kingbird and palm warbler were added to the Sewage Plant list (one starts to wonder how rare some of these 'rarities' really are, and how many just aren't looked for).

So today was my day for a trip to the sewage plant. The forecast was for overcast with intermittent showers, but instead I found myself driving down there under near cloudless skies, with golden-leaved trees along the roads and over the hillsides, glowing in the angled sunlight . Just gorgeous. All the trees and scrubby undergrowth around the lagoons were in lovely autumn colour. I found the orchard oriole almost immediately, the clay-colored sparrow within an hour, and someone else spotted the longspur that started it all after a couple of hours. I also got to catch up with a few people I hadn't seen in a while (it is one of those quirks of birdwatching that a day trip to the sewage plant results in meeting people you know).

A truly stunning autumn day to be out, plus three life birds in a day - I wasn't expecting that to happen any more in western Washington!

And now I am back, I need to organise for flying to SF tomorrow - eek!
tiggymalvern: (touched - art by Death Powder)
I bring the hummingbird feeder in at night during icy weather, so it doesn't freeze, then put it out at first light. My feeder has a perch on it, so the birds don't have to burn calories hovering to feed, they can just sit while they suck in sugar water. I put one of those handwarmer thingies on the bottom so it doesn't freeze during the day.

Which means today, I crawled out of bed at 7.25 the morning after work's Christmas thingie, and into a dressing gown and boots to tramp through the snow and hang the hummingbird feeder at first light. I hung it on the hook and started sticking the handwarmer to it, when there was a buzz and a flash from my left. I'm used to being strafed by little fighter birds when I play with the feeder - they can get very aggressive and territorial, so that was nothing unusual.

But this time the Anna's hummingbird landed on the feeder I was still holding in my hands, and started sucking sugar six inches in front of my eyes. The whole length of her beak disappeared into the fake plastic flower, while she watched me with her right eye, black and beady below her tiny white eyebrow fleck.

I froze.

Every feather on her body was puffed up in full hairy detail, her abdomen pulsing as she lapped and swallowed. She pulled her beak out, cocked her head at me for a few moments, then went right back to sucking.

I slowly took my hands off the feeder, and backed away, thinking she'd fly at the first crucnch of snow. But she stayed, and I went back inside, and back to bed.

The poor thing must have been so hungry, to be desperate enough to come for food in the hands of a human.

I really don't mind getting out of bed at dawn on a Sunday to feed the birds.
tiggymalvern: (what world?)
Before lunch, I finished the section of my WIP that's been dragging its leaden boots through mud in my skull for weeks.

While I ate lunch, a Townsend's warbler came to my bird feeders. I've never seen a Townsend's in my garden before, and it was bright yellow and pretty in the very grey rain.

This evening, I got my hunter character to level 50 in LOTR online (and for all you players of WoW and such out there, who are used to 60 and 70, 50 is the LOTR limit).

Tomorrow, I get to go to the dentist, and take the car for a service, and other such tedious things. But not every day can be such a good day. And right now I'm going to bed, which always makes a Very Good Day indeed :-)
tiggymalvern: (wolfwood smoking)
In 2007, I saw 315 different species of birds, of which 284 were in Washington State (the only ones that really count), another 9 in the rest of North America, plus an extra 22 I fell over on my brief trip to England.

For myself, and the one person on my f-list who will actually be interested enough to read it )

The last bird of the year was the Harris's Sparrow on December 14th in West Edison. December 14th is ridiculously early for a last bird of the year, since when I've looked for swamp sparrow (three times), chukar, grey partridge (see? It's those gamebirds again) and rosy-crowned finches, and they haven't obliged. The last Washington birds of the year were the eight short-eared owls floating about the Samish flats at the West 90 at 3.30pm on December 31st, replacing my sightings just over the border in BC. I'd looked for them in that same spot before, and there hadn't been any.

The West 90 is Birding Central for birds of prey, and it was an absolutely glorious afternoon, cloudless with the low sun over the golden, flooded fields, ringed by snow-covered mountains. I was standing in a single spot, watching a bald eagle having an altercation with three owls, the same eagle later disagreeing with a rough-legged hawk, and the ubiquitous red-tailed hawks and northern harriers cruising by. The low sun highlighted all the birds' colours and painted them with a few extras - even the bush full of streaky brown female red-winged blackbirds looked to be full of exotic yellow orioles, the effect was so dramatic. Not a bad way to finish the daylight hours of the year.

Where the Owls Are )

On other fronts, I managed to get only one fic out in 2007, all 8,750 words of it. To make that look a little less patheitc, I'm 48,800 words into my current WIP out of a likely 60-65k total, of which 37,300 are actually consecutive from the start. (I've also got 2,000 words of the fic after that - did I mention I never write in order?) The writing lost a lot of time to the birds this year, but my intention is to really push that fic now, and hopefully get it finished and beta-ready within a couple of months. Damn, I want to to see it done so badly, because that will finally tie up my novel-length Mexico arc. And I sure as hell never thought I'd write a novel....

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