[Tweeters] LHG-Bellevue this morning (Sa 8/17) and current 'hot spot' birding alert!

Pterodroma at aol.com Pterodroma at aol.com
Sat Aug 17 13:27:26 PDT 2013

Lake Hills Greenbelt (LHG), Bellevue, notes from the field....

17Aug -- 0628-0910hrs -- Wow, another epic morning in the Lake Hills
Greenbelt (LHG), 48 species again(!!) including 5 new for the month, 4 of which
weren't even on my expected August LHG radar including a flyover LESSER
YELLOWLEGS at the start (0630hrs) and calling a couple of times several
seconds apart ("tu-tu") at Phantom Lake, a female NORTHERN HARRIER circling high
over Larsen Lake and drifting north, 4-6 calling flyover EVENING GROSBEAKS
on the south side of the central section hemlock/cedar grove, and finally,
the season's first DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT right at the very end
(0910hrs) first seen circling high over Phantom Lake then settled briefly on the
lake just south of the observation deck. The 5th new bird for the month was a
MERLIN that strafed the south shore and blueberries on the south and SE
side of Larsen Lake launching what I first thought were in all 25-30 Barn
Swallows out of the shore-side grass and bushes into the air and the number
suddenly ballooned to 85+ while at the same time, all the Cedar Waxwings
concentrated down that way and estimated at 150-200 before the Merlin,
similarly went airborne revealing 300+, and I didn't even try to guesstimate all
the American Robins and House Finches and who knows what all else went up at
the same time. Of the three GREEN HERONS currently in the area the past
few days (1 at Phantom Lake, 2 at Larsen Lake), only one of those was seen
this morning perched on the 'cormorant log' at Larsen Lake (a log familiar to
regulars along the SE shore that juts out from the surrounding water
lilies that is typically used daily by a D-c Cormorant or two during the
winter). Notably missing from the hordes of berry feeders at the "elbow" this
morning were all the Western Tanagers, dramatically down from the upwards to
50 the past several mornings to only two this morning and no orioles this
morning either. Otherwise, everything else was about the same, waxwings,
robins, and house finches galore, plus B-h Grosbeaks, flycatchers, warblers,
and vireos. 2.7hrs, 48 species.

Hot Spot Alert! --- This past week the Larsen Lake area right now has
suddenly blossomed into what appears to be a veritable migrant trap of sorts.
The table is set, the blueberries are ripe as are the blackberries and all
sorts of other berry laden things plus the green catkin laden alders are
attractions too for all manor of resident, post breeding, and migrant
songbirds. Specifically, the "hot zone" is on the east side of Larsen Lake in an
area I call the "elbow", an area at the west end of the east-west running
fence line and trail where the trail veers left (SW) at the trees, shrubs,
mountain ash (orange berries), and willows along the east and SE edge of
Larsen Lake, and adjacent blueberry fields on both sides, especially the
blueberries on the north side and toward the protected NW corner there (the
"elbow"). The way things are going, this area could be quite good for a long
time, maybe all the way into October (Palm Warbler found here last Oct), and
anything could turn up in there, maybe even a genuine vagrant or two. At
first, I thought maybe early sunny mornings were best when the sun first
hits the trees there, but cloudy ones (today & yesterday) didn't seem to make
any difference as the action was going full speed ahead at and after
0730. It's great fun and for anyone wanting to see lots of birds and who has
the patience to sort through all the waxwings, robins, and house finches for
all the other hidden little gems, there might be some real rewards.

The most amazing spectacle of this past week has been all the WESTERN
TANAGERS!! The past few days, Western Tanagers have been concentrated in this
area, especially in the blueberries and alders on the east and NE side of
Larsen Lake. On Thursday, they were at times so thick in there gorging
themselves on blueberries, they looked like colorful animated Christmas tree
ornaments (males, females, immatures) all feeding on ripe blueberries and
flitting back and forth to the nearby alders! It was insane; 30-40 easily,
maybe even 50 or more just in that one spot! I've never seen a Western
Tanager outbreak like this around here before and the only other place I've
seen such an aggregation of Western Tanagers anywhere have been in the desert
oasis hot spots in Southern California like Butterbredt Spring (Kern Co)
and similar. Yesterday (Friday), there were still quite a few but not so
concentrated and scattered more widely. This morning, I was down to only two
at opposite ends of Larsen Lake plus a couple others down toward the Phantom
Lake end of things. So, maybe this was just the first and one big wave
of Western Tanagers and perhaps others will soon follow; it's still early in
the season, so who knows. One thing for sure, a mighty generous bounty of
food is on the table and waiting.

Easiest and quickest access is probably from the SE side off Lake Hills
Blvd and the parking area behind "The Club" (Teen Center, Bellevue Boys &
Girls Club), 15228 Lake Hills Blvd. Alternatively there's limited street
access parking on streets approaching from the NE, and also at the SW corner at
the Lake Hills Blueberry Farm parking lot off 148th Ave SE, but beware the
latter; this is blueberry picking season (you pick your own), and that lot
can get jammed to overflowing, especially on weekends after 10am.

Richard Rowlett
Bellevue (Eastgate), WA
Pterodroma AT aol.com

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