Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Aug 25 (Day 237) - Seattle visit, bike repairs, a bit of birding, and TWITCH TIME!

I have been to the Seattle area 3-4 times over the years, but I have never really spent any time in the city proper. That all changed today. I was able to secure housing right on Pike Street in the city center for tonight. This spot served perfectly as my base to access Seattle's numerous bike shops and to explore this now understandably awesome city. I dropped my bike off a The Bicycle Repair Shop at 10pm this morning. They said they would have it back to me by 5pm which would be perfect! I had the day to explore the waterfront, Pike Market, and the rest of the downtown area. I was thoroughly impressed; I now see why so many people are moving to this beautiful place. I will certainly concede that I am visiting the area at the best time of year weather-wise, but this place is great. It is also an incredibly bike-friendly place. I crossed one bridge that even had a digital display of the number of bikes that used it during the morning commute. I was number 870 - at 7:45am! I also spent some time today catching up with several scientist friends who work at either the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center or the University of Washington. It was a really nice, relaxing day.

Obligatory fish shot at Pike Market!

The serviced bike ran like a charm when I picked it up at 4:30. To give it a thorough test ride though, I decided to meet local birder (and scientist!) Evan Houston for a bit of birding at Discovery Park. This is probably the best metro-Seattle birding area, and although it was a bit quiet on the high tide this evening, I can see why it is a popular birding destination. We did find several cooperative Rhinoceros auklets at relatively close range for year bird #528. I also had some much better looks at Mew gulls. Mostly though Evan and I talked birding shop and just enjoyed the day out.

Me with Evan

Mew Gull from today

Tomorrow is going to be exciting as I will attempt to twitch a Slaty-backed gull in Tacoma, 35 miles to the south of Seattle. This same adult bird has returned to the exact same spot for the last 3 winters. It has been seen the last two days and is apparently always in the area. This would be a HUGE addition to the year list, and as such I think it is worth pushing a few days into the search for it. The bird is exactly zero miles out of my way, and I have the time at the moment. It would also be a life bird for me which adds additional excitement.

I am having a very difficult time deciding what to do about Sooty grouse. I could go to Rainier after the gull search, but that's in the exact opposite direction to where I ultimately need to go (Olympia, Westport/Aberdeen. What I really need is a reliable Sooty grouse spot in Southern Washington, Oregon, or Northern California. Pipe up if you have any really solid leads/ideas!

An easy 24 miles around Seattle


  1. I hope you got to take the tour of the Seattle Underground.


  2. Dorian, Sooty Grouse are all around you, but I don't bird the area often enough to know any reliable spots. I've seen them near the Mt. St. Helen's Visitor Center, Hurricane Ridge (wrong direction) and Larch Mountain in Clark County. I am sure that the Tweeters group could put you onto one. Post your plea there! (or if you can't, let me know at motmot@shaw.ca, and I'll do it for you.

  3. We had one strutting around the parking lot at the Hurricane Ridge visitors center above Olympic National park a few years ago in August. It was even sitting on some of the cars. Not sure if this is always a good spot for this species but it sure was obliging on our visit there.

  4. While in grad school at OSU in Corvallis I remember regularly seeing Blue Grouse while hiking and mountain biking in the coast range hills west of town. you might try Mary's peak, there is a paved road to about 4,000 feet elevation.

  5. Hi Dorian, A few of my friends and I saw 5 different individuals (including 2 young) about 2-1/2 weeks ago at Mt. Walker. This is just off from Hwy 101, between Dosewallips State Park and Quilcene. One of the birds was only 1 mile up the road, shortly after it reverts to dirt/gravel. Depending on your route, this might not be too far off the path for you. Faye