A Day on the Slough

The Sammamish Slough connects Lake Sammamish with Lake Washington. It borders Marymoor Park in Redmond, a park well-known for good birding and also for its expansive off-leash dog exercise area. Last Friday, I spent 5 hours kayaking up and down a 1-mile stretch, watching both the many birds and the dogs whose owners had brought them to play in the water.

View Sammamish River Slough in a larger map

Mother and Juvenile Wood DuckAn early discovery was this mother Wood Duck with her juvenile duckling. Quite likely her brood started out with as many as a dozen babies—it’s a hard world for birds that leave the nest almost immediately upon hatching. Their predators include Bald Eagles, River Otters, and even large fish and bullfrogs. Note the lovely colors on the mother’s speculum (the patch on the wing), especially irridescent in the bright sunlight.

Great Blue Heron PreeningFor the second year in a row, Marymoor Park has been home to a Great Blue Heron Rookery—a cluster of nests high in several Cottonwood trees near the water. While the youngsters are busy chattering for food, the parents are making frequent flights over the water in response.
Great Blue Heron crossing the Sammamish Slough

Female Common Merganser yawningThis female Common Merganser was sunning on a log near the weir (a low damn used to control water flow). As I settled into some reeds to watch and photograph her, she took a deep yawn in the hot sun.
Female Red-winged Blackbird catches an insect for its youngShortly afterward, a female Red-winged Blackbird (named for the coloration of the male) nabbed a small flying critter among the lotus pads.

Dog jumping into the sloughAs a diversion, I spent some time watching the many dogs whose owners had brought them to play in the water. This one really threw himself into the sport.
Mom & Kid on a WalkJust before taking my boat out of the water, I found that original pair of Wood Ducks strolling along the dock for the Sammamish Rowing Club, looking as if they had a lot to talk about.

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