[Tweeters] What a difference an hour makes!

bruce paige BBPaige at nikola.com
Mon Apr 1 05:57:21 PDT 2013

I made a trip to the lower Olympics above Sequim the morning of March 30, since fog had rolled in overnight to cloak the lowlands. The sun broke through above 1000 ft. and I drove on to the 2200 ft. elevation, then parked and walked a Forest Service Road 2.7 mi. eastward and then back. The morning was spectacular, calm, and bright. As I walked, two things at least were very apparent.

First it occurred on the way up, there has been an invasion of feathered life at the mountains' mid-elevations in the past two weeks. Varied Thrushes were everywhere in flocks of 4 to 14, and I counted 45. One of the NWs favorite songs reverberated for most of the 2.7 miles. Red-breasted Sapsuckers were hyper. I saw or heard a total of 8 individuals, including 3 males flying around each other from tree to tree, red heads flashing. Pacific Wren songs rose from the understory along with the rising mist. A Gray Jay flew overhead with a load of moss. As the snow retreats, obviously the birds advance!

The second thought came along the way as I retraced my steps. It was still calm, but the sun had gone behind the clouds and stayed. That made a huge difference, in the temperatures, and the presence of birds along the way. For example, instead of 45 Varied Thrushes, I saw and/or heard 4 on the way back and the 8 sapsuckers were reduced to 2! The only new species was a FOY Band-tailed Pigeon calling down-slope. Had someone joined me on that leg of the trip, their impression of the mountains's bird life would have been very subdued! It's obvious that timing at that elevation at this time of year is very important.

Bruce Paige
Sequim, WA

spruceak at yahoo.com
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