[Tweeters] Nisqually Wednesday Walk 4/23/13

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Wed Apr 24 20:00:45 PDT 2013

Hi Tweets,

33 of us enjoyed a beautiful spring day at the Refuge with sunny skies,
temperature in the 60's degrees Fahrenheit, and a Low 0'0" Tide at 11:30am.

Highlights included breeding Cinnamon Teal, first of the year Nashville
Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler and Lesser Yellowlegs, nice looks at
Orange-crowned Warbler and Sora, and activity at both eagle nests on the
west bank of McAllister Creek.

I think spring migration is later this year then last, as we observed only
a few shorebirds most notably 5 Western Sandpipers and 20 Dunlin both in
breeding plumage.

Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am, we had nice
observation of nesting Cliff Swallow and Barn Swallow. Cinnamon Teal were
observed breeding in the pond, we also enjoyed seeing Ring-necked Duck,
Pied-billed Grebe, Hooded Merganser, Wood Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose.

The Nashville Warbler was photographed and seen by many in the group in the
riparian stand along the entrance road across the road from the Orchard and
just north of the flooded field. We also spotted a late Lincoln's Sparrow
which should be migrating to higher elevations soon.

Along the Access Road we had other nice sparrows including Golden-crowned
Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Savannah's Sparrow. The flooded fields
adjacent to the Access Road had plenty of waterfowl to enjoy including
Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, American
Wigeon, Bufflehead, American Coot, and a few small flocks of migrant
Cackling Geese.

Entering the west entrance to the Twin Barns Loop Trail, many Tree Swallows
are actively searching for nest cavities. Orange-crowned Warblers were
heard singing their rapid trill in many locations, one remained stationary
in the top of Maple Tree allowing nice views for the group. The Common
Yellowthroat's were singing their "Ta witchity wichity witchity" song and
occasionally were brave enough to show themselves. We even observed a pair
breeding. Many trees had a least one Yellow-rumped Warbler, chipping or
singing as well, most Audubon's variety with approximately 10-20% Myrtle
variety. We observed 5 Rufous Hummingbird nests on the Twin Barns Loop
Trail, one with chicks and two others with females incubating. On the
outside of the trail adjacent to the most north viewing platform on the
west side, a pair of Black-capped Chickadee were cleaning out a nest cavity
in a snag. The area near the Twin Barns Cut-off was very active with
sightings of Sora, Black-throated Gray Warbler and American Goldfinch.

The Twin Barns Observation Platform is a terrific spot for observing
waterfowl, swallows, and shorebirds seeking freshwater. This is where we
saw a single Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs. The Cliff Swallows
were foraging mud for their huts and we observed the females pointing their
wings vertically upward to deter extra pair breeding. We also had a very
nice look at a female Anna's Hummingbird.

Out on the Nisqually Estuary Trail, new dike, the surge plain and mud flats
had many Green-winged Teal and Savannah Sparrows, but shorebirds were hard
to find. Finally at the Observation Tower, we found a small group of
approximately 5 Western Sandpipers and 20 Dunlin molting into breeding
plumage. Shannon Slough, the confluence, and McAllister Creek provided
habitat for Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Double-crested Cormorant,
Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Ring-billed Gull and additional Greater
Yellowlegs. Both eagle nests were active with apparent feeding of chicks,
seen on the west bank of McAllister Creek, there are nests south and north
of the McAllister Creek Viewing Platform with approximately 1 mile
separation. The past few weeks we have observed a pair of Belted
Kingfisher excavating last years cavity in a bank on the west side just
north of the confluence. Today several Northern Rough-winged Swallow
examined the entrance of the cavity but did not enter. We probably
observed 6 Northern Rough-winged Swallows and I suspect they breed in old
kingfisher cavities and crevices in the many banks/bluffs along the west
side of McAllister Creek.

On our return, we observed additional hummingbird nests, a Hairy Woodpecker
and heard a Downy, but unfortunately did not relocate the Great Horned
Owls. The riparian forest inside the Twin Barns Loop Trail is leafing out,
making it a challenge to find our owls.

Another spectacular spring day at the Refuge, it doesn't get much better.
We added three FOY's to our 129 species for the year. Looking forward to
next week!

Good birding,

Shep Thorp
Browns Point
sthorp at theaec.com
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