[Tweeters] JBLM - 8-24-2013 - WFO/WOS trip - Bluebirds+
avnacrs4birds at outlook.com
Sun Aug 25 11:50:54 PDT 2013
On Saturday, 12 of us took the field to JBLM on a misty, overcast, morning
and visited the sites that Rod Gilbert (JBLM biologist) and I had selected
for this brief outing. We were supposed to be back at the hotel in Olympia
by 11am, but the birds, and traffic, held us up - we didn't make that time.
However, we did manage to score on a few good birds: WESTERN BLUEBIRD,
MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, and PERIGRINE FALCON being
notable of the 46 species we spotted.
On the way to JBLM, Rod gave us a really good overview of the largest
prairie in western Washington, touching on the geology and history of the
area. This laid the foundation for our visits to OP (observation post) 8,
Muck Creek bridge, Brandenburg Marsh, and Chambers Lake - an all-too brief
exposure to some very different habitats.
OP-8 again produced a variety of species. MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER, which I
didn't find last Thursday, was seen by most of us as it flitted around the
shrubs and blackberry tangle on the slope below the observation flat. We
also picked up YELLOW-RUMPED and ORANGE-CROWNED Warblers; CHIPPING and SONG
Sparrows; WESTERN TANAGER; HOUSE WREN; and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK to name a
few. I also tallied a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, not seen by others, when it popped
up on a blackberry vine in front of me.
The area around the Muck Creek Bridge again proved to be good, and is one of
my favorite spots to bird at JBLM. As we drove up, a NORTHERN HARRIER
coursed across in front of us, and as we got out of the van, a BELTED
KINGFISHER sounded off and flew away. One of the target birds for the day
was WESTERN BLUEBIRD, which no WOS/WFO field trip had thus far recorded.
Neither Rod nor I had seen bluebirds on the prairies recently, but today was
an exception. We first heard some bluebird calls, and then at least 15 birds
at that spot showed up in several small flocks, most of which passed close
by us. We also saw several in the nearby snags, and another bird at Chambers
Lake, for about 20 altogether. At the open area adjacent to Roy, we saw
about a hundred BARN SWALLOWS on the electrical wires in the distance, and
then we heard the distinctive "I-see-a-predator" call from the swallows. A
PEREGRINE FALCON, prey in talons, passed in front of us, and many folks saw
it change the prey from one talon to the other. Very cool for us, but not
likely for the swallows. We also picked up HAIRY WOODPECKER, RED-BREASTED
SAPSUCKER, GREAT BLUE HERON, CALIFORNIA QUAIL, SAVANNAH SPARROW, BROWN
CREEPER, MOURNING DOVE, WESTERN SCRUB-JAY, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and EURASIAN
COLLARED-DOVE. This latter bird was a disappointment in that as two of them
flew by us, strongly back-lit, I thought they were Band-tailed Pigeons.
Better lighting when the birds landed showed them to be the doves.
Good views of PURPLE MARTINS were had by all at Brandenburg Marsh. We also
picked up VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE. As we were
starting to load up the van to continue, one of our group suggested that I
play OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER calls after I mentioned I'd seen one on
Thursday. Sure enough, a flycatcher responded and continued to call from
atop a Douglas-fir in the distance. We piled out of the van and everyone had
a good view of this bird, which was being dive-bombed by what looked to be a
female Purple Martin. Go figure that one!
The downed snag at the north part of Chambers Lake again had 10 WOOD DUCKS
on it. Surprising were the several GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS that passed by us
in the oak trees - we saw or heard none in the conifer areas we visited
Also surprising: we didn't spot Dark-eyed Juncos anywhere.
Thanks to all the Western Field Ornithologist visitors that accompanied us -
from California: Vern (Alameda), Lena (Huntington Beach), Starlyn (Laguna
Woods), John (Chico), Muriel and Robert (Sacramento), Curtis and Tate (Menlo
Park), Liz (Galt); and to Erika (Sierra Vista, AZ). And to Brian Bell, who
hadn't visited JBLM in over a decade, but whose Washington birding expertise
was quite a welcome addition.
And a very big tip of the birding hat to Rod Gilbert (taking time from
moving into a new abode), who painted us a great portrait of what's one of
the habitat treasures of western Washington: Joint Base Lewis McChord.
May all your birds be identified,
Mailto: avnacrs4birds at outlook.com
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