Friday, November 21, 2008

Seattle, Washington

Last week I was in Seattle, Washington for a conference held at the Washington Convention Center on Pike Street. The conference was very good, but Seattle was impressive. Busy, active, alive and clean are descriptors that come to mind quickly. No matter the age or gender of a person, it's a jeans and hiking shoes city. My kind of place.
On Saturday morning I took the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton and back to do some Puget Sound birding. I was not disappointed. Life birds for me were Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Glaucous-winged Gull and Common Murre. You might ask how I identified the Pelagic Cormorant from the larger Brandt Cormorant which was also present. That's how - size. Even with body half underwater, the Pelagic Cormorant appears a similar size to Herring Gull. They were often floating in the water together or perched together on a piece of debris. There were probably other life birds, e.g. Black-legged Kittiwakes, which I am sure I saw flying by (right size, fast flying and different flight style) but did not see field marks to count. There were also small. floating alcids which I could not get enough on to make an identification.
Pigeon Guillemots were common and beautiful. I should have cropped the above photo before posting it here, but this is how they are seen on the water. Little birds surrounded by lots of water.
A pleasant surprise were the Glaucous-winged Gulls. A flock of four and often more chose to accompany the ferry all the way across the sound and then made the return trip too. In the full quality version of the photo below you can actually see the bird's "toenails." I am quite certain I've never gotten a shot of a gulls toenails before (see earlier post If at first you don't succeed, keep trying.)
I stayed at the Red Lion Hotel on 5th Street between Union and Pike streets. I would recommend this hotel both for cost and for comfort of the accommodations. Also, there was a very nice pub, The Elephant and Castle, on the lower level that served a very good, locally brewed porter. What do I know about porter? Nothing, except that it was good.
Seattle is not an inexpensive city, but it seemed wonderfully livable. Now I need to find a conference in Portland, Oregon to attend!

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