[Tweeters] Olympic Peninsula loop (Iceland Gulls, Long-eared Owl), plus Skagit

Ryan Merrill rjm284 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 31 11:37:50 PST 2013

I spent the last few days birding with Nick Bonomo and Frank Gallo who
were out visiting from Connecticut. Since the pelagic trip out of
Westport was postponed we spent Saturday through Monday making a loop
around the Olympic Peninsula before meeting up with Jay Withgott to
bird Skagit on Tuesday. Highlights included a Yellow-billed Loon, 2
Iceland Gulls, a Glaucous Gull, a Long-eared Owl, and the continuing
Gyrfalcon and Rusty Blackbird.

Saturday 1/26

Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands - We spent a couple hours studying the gulls
here. While we missed the wintering adult Slaty-backed, the time
spent sorting through over a thousand gulls was fun. Gulls included
20 Herrings, 30 Thayer's, 5 Glaucous-winged Herrings and an
interesting light-eyed, small-billed Thayer's-type gull with primaries
that weren't quite black.

Point Wilson - Some movement of seabirds here including a number of
small flocks of Ancient Murrelets that we had good views of. Also
good views of Marbled Murrelets that were still in their winter garb
while the Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres were represented by a
wide variety of plumages.

John Wayne Marina - A male Barrow's Goldeneye, two Black
Oystercatchers, and close Mew Gulls in a variety of plumages were the
highlights here.

Schmuck Rd - 29 Greater White-fronted Geese, 1 Taverner's Cackling
Goose, 15 Canada Geese, 32 Trumpeter Swans, 16 Tundra Swans (a very
high count for the area) and a young Northern Shrike.

Marlyn Nelson County Park - Scoping offshore here revealed large
numbers of birds as usual. There was an extremely distant large loon
that seemed to be holding its bill up and had a bulging forehead but
was too far off to confirm as a Yellow-billed. Otherwise we saw about
60 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Pacific Loons, 30 very distant Ancient
Murrelets, and a close River Otter.

Three Crabs - We were here at dusk and saw a couple Barn Owls flying
around the marsh to the southeast. Someone stopped by and told us
about a Snowy Owl at the end of the road so we went down and watched
it while it flew up to a rooftop and was looking around.

Dungeness Recreation Area - We stopped here just after dark and almost
immediately found a LONG-EARED OWL that circled us and perched in the
nearby trees. There was also another owl that looked to me more like
a Short-eared but seemed to behave more like a Long-eared.

Sunday 1/27

Neah Bay – We mostly focused on looking at water birds here. Birds in
the bay included 12 Lesser Scaup, 40 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Ruddy Ducks
and an Eared Grebe. To the north in the strait we watched an adult
YELLOW-BILLED LOON for about ten minutes. We also had a fun mixed
flock featuring both species of kinglets and a pair of Hutton's
Vireos. The most interesting passerine was probably the Marsh Wren
that was hanging out in the "mini-mart rarity patch", the thicket
across the street to the south of the mini-mart.

Cape Flattery - We spent a couple hours scoping offshore here. No
luck with any tubenoses but there were a lot of gulls (including 8
Black-legged Kittiwakes) and alcids (mostly Common Murres and
Rhinoceros Auklets). A group of 47 Black Oystercatchers were gathered
on the rocks below the viewing platform and out near Tatoosh Island
was a group of six Steller's Sea Lions on a rock.

Sooes Beach - We walked part of the beach looking for the Rock
Sandpiper, Cassin's Finch, and 50+ Purple Finches that Charlie Wright
had seen there the day before but had no luck with any of those birds.
We did have a nice group of several dozen of both Black Turnstones
and Surfbirds and more great views of Harlequin Ducks.

Monday 1/28

La Push - We were there at first light in hopes of checking out the
hundreds of gulls that I thought might be here. We were disappointed
to see just a small group of about twenty bathing in the river mouth
and another 20 on the wall of the marina so expected to be out of
there in just a few minutes, but little by little the numbers grew and
soon there were a hundred gulls, then two hundred gulls, and by the
time we left around noon there were nearly five hundred gulls present.
There was a wide variety of species and hybrids here including 40+
Thayer's Gulls, 2 apparently “good” "KUMLIEN'S" ICELAND GULLS, 5+
Herring x Glaucous-winged Gulls, 2 GLAUCOUS-WINGED X GLAUCOUS GULLS,
and a GLAUCOUS GULL. Another surprise was a lone SEMIPALMATED PLOVER
that flew over. Photos of some of these are in the eBird checklist:


Ocean Shores – We had no luck finding any Rock Sandpipers, presumably
due to a combination of the large swell, strong winds and non-stop
rain. The golf course had a small mixed group of Dusky Canada Geese
and Taverner's and Aleutian Cackling Geese.

Tuesday 1/29

Silvana - We had nice views of the continuing RUSTY BLACKBIRD at the
Hwy 530 x 7th Ave NE intersection.

Fir Island - We missed it during the first loop through, but in our
second attempt spotted the continuing GYRFALCON being chased by a Bald
Eagle. It then turned the tables and started diving at the eagle.
Also a Greater White-fronted Goose and continuing juv Blue Goose with
the Snow Geese, 2 Lesser Canada Geese on Polson Rd, 1 Eurasian x
American Wigeon at Hayton, 120 Common Goldeneye at Jensen Access, 2
adult Western Gulls at Jensen, 1 adult Herring Gull and 2 adult
Thayer's Gulls on Polson Rd, 1 Snowy and 1 Short-eared Owl at Jensen,
1 Northern Shrike, 2 American Pipits and 4 Western Meadowlarks.

Samish Flats – Raptors were everywhere! Highlights were 40 male
Eurasian Wigeon, 1 Eurasian x American Wigeon, the continuing juv
Harlan's Hawk at the West 90, 25+ Rough-legged Hawks, 1 Barn Owl and
30+ Short-eared Owls.

Good birding,
Ryan Merrill

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