When I look over my archive of the year, the second largest category of where I've taken my photos, after my garden, is Montlake Fill, a little birding sanctuary down the hill from my house. Lately it has become a frequent start to my day. I'll grab a breakfast sandwich and an organic coffee from the food co-op and bird and photograph the fill for an hour, after which I'm ready to park myself at the computer for the rest of the day.
I always take a camera, and I often get my Daily Photo done early in the day this way. Sometimes it's my G9, or a body with a macro lens, or a 300mm, or a wide angle. I'm not there to prepare for any eventuality—I'm there to respond with whatever camera and lens that I brought. Today I had my 5D and the 24-105 which, after last week's assignment, felt like a featherlight load. The day was gray and drizzly—the winter light is back. The dry season is done, and so are the spiders and their dew flecked webs. It's snowberry season, and the winter birds are starting to file in.
Today I actually kept a bird list, which started filling in quickly with the usual suspects—Black capped Chickadee, Bewick's Wren, Goldfinch, House Finch, White Crowned Sparrow. Then a familiar v-shaped flock of geese overhead, but the call was wrong, and I identified them as White-fronted Geese, a new bird at the fill for me. They pass through the region on their migration from the arctic, but it's quite rare to see them in the city. They flew over the marsh, then u-turned north out of sight.
The winter contingent of Yellow-rumped Warblers were in, the Savannah Sparrows are out of molt and were everywhere. Then a swoop out of the corner of my eye, a burst of birds, and an adult male Cooper's Hawk lifted up and perched on a snag 30 feet away. No bird in its talons, a miss. Hundreds of finches and blackbirds were in the sky, the chickadees were alarming away at anyone who didn't already know, and then the fill got very quiet.
I saw a second Coopers a little later, an immature, and heard an Eagle. In the channel between the fill and the boathouse I saw a lone Western Grebe, another first at the fill for me, and an unusual bird to see in fresh water. Also Mallards, Gadwall, teal, coots, Pied-billeds, a couple of female Wood Duck. On the meadow I got a Western Meadowlark, unusual for the west side of the mountains, but three wintered here last year, and this may be one of them.
28 species in one hour. Not a bad way to start the day.