This week’s photo, taken March 3, 2013 at Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland, WA, features a female BELTED KINGFISHER. In the world of birds, males are often more colorful than females, but only the female Belted Kingfisher has a chestnut band across the belly, so in this species, the female wins the color contest.
On Sunday morning, Laura and I drive around to the east side of Lake Washington, where we rendezvous with another birder at Juanita Beach Park. This small but scenic space offers nice habitat for water and land birds. 2 BELTED KINGFISHERS continually belt out their noisy rattle calls as they fly out beyond the beach before returning to the trees close to shore. A LINCOLN’S SPARROW plays hide and seek with us for a couple minutes, until it magically appears in plain view on top of a log. Above us, a BALD EAGLE perches in a towering tree and repeatedly rips apart its meal with its massive beak. We decide to move on the moment we realize that it’s not very smart to stand directly under an extremely large bird, especially when it’s eating.
When we walk the boardwalk south towards a neighboring park, we spot a dozen WILSON’S SNIPES, a new year bird for me. As we enter Juanita Bay Park and follow a path to the water’s edge, a VIRGINIA RAIL calls loudly several times, but it never shows itself. A more cooperative PACIFIC WREN gives its double note call and then pops out in the open and sits motionless for several seconds, which is highly unusual behavior for such a hyper little bird. We also get a brief look at a lovely RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER before it flies off to the east.
Our last discovery of the morning becomes our rarest sighting of the day. At least 11 COMMON REDPOLLS are feeding on catkins midway up in a row of birch trees. Despite the name, this redpoll is not common here in the western part of Washington state.