[Tweeters] Swamp sparrow and short-eared owls - Fir Island, North Fork Access Skagit

Emily Larson larsonek at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 27 12:00:51 PST 2013

I was able to find at least one swamp sparrow along the dike south of the North Fork Access on Rawlins Road on December 24th and then again on the 25th. There were numerous song sparrows and some Lincoln's sparrows in the same area moving between the field on the inland side, the brush and brambles along the sides of the dike, and the salt marsh on the bay side. Both sightings were mid-morning with the tide quite high.

The short eared owls were also south of the access flying over the salt marsh and perching on logs or on the ground. One was seen late morning on the 25th and two late afternoon on the 26th. Numerous harriers, bald eagles, a red-tailed hawk and a kestrel made this a busy raptor area during the afternoon low tide on the 26th.

Also spotted along the dike: an American bittern, numerous marsh wrens, black-capped chickadees, spotted towhees, ruby-crowned kinglets, great blue herons, a lone snow goose, and a northern flicker. I was told I just missed seeing a northern shrike on the path over the footbridge out on the marsh on the 26th, but was unable to find it. Huge flocks of water birds including some swans were visible out on the bay all three days - fun to listen to, but too far out for inspection with binoculars.

Many thanks to the thoughtful person who provided the hand-drawn birding maps showing access points to bird in the area. I got mine at the interpretive center at Padilla Bay, and we have really enjoyed the recommended sights we've visited so far this winter. Thank you!

Emily Larson
North Bend, WA
larsonek at yahoo dot com

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