How to Find Birds

Eurasian Wigeon, male

Today dawned heavy with clouds. A narrow ribbon of sunlight edged the foothills of the Cascades when I started my walk around the Loop Trail, but that didn’t last. Soon the clouds descended, and the light became dim. It was so dark, it seemed nature was trying to save on electricity: “Turn out the lights. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know!”

I sat for a while at East Point, congealing in the cold that I had thought wouldn’t return again until next winter. Rain began to spit down.  Luckily, master birder Evan Houston turned up to share the dawn  – and his scope.  “I always see Common Goldeneyes out here,” he said, setting up,“Oh, and there’s one now.”

I got creakily to my feet and looked through the scope. Evan had it focused way out in the middle of the lake, near the Floating Bridge.  Yep, there was a beautiful male goldeneye. I sat down. “Oh, and there’s a Red-necked Grebe,” Evan soon said. I got up again, looked, and sat down. “And a Western Grebe.” Again with the up and down.  “And a Horned Grebe.” I was beginning to feel like a yo-yo. Why find my own birds when Evan was doing such a great job?

“Well,” he finally said, packing up his scope, “I’ve got to go to work.” But before he headed out, he found me two more great birds: a Western Meadowlark singing in the Triple Trees, and a Eurasian Wigeon paddling in the big duck flock on the lake. A great day.

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