[Tweeters] Westport follow up and BTGo details

bill shelmerdine georn1 at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 15 06:31:20 PDT 2013

Among the other 59 species seen and reported yesterday to ebird were two Purple Martin near the observation tower at the north end of the Westport Boat Basin. This can be a tough species in Grays Harbor County.

Now on to the Bar-tailed Godwit… This seems like a very early date, and merits some more description/ discussion. Interestingly, last Sunday I checked the boat basin and there were 4 Marbled Godwits, and 1 Whimbrel at relatively high tide in the boat basin, suggesting that the larger group containing the Bar-tailed arrived sometime within the past week.

I arrived at the boat basin about 7:15 and noted a large flock of roosting godwits and the rocks east of the Coast Guard Station, somewhat further out than the typical roosting location. Most had their heads tucked. I estimated the size of the flock at 150 birds. There were two dowtichers, and 1 godwit sized bird that was much, less richly colored, a colder dull brown or even gray brown that appeared slightly smaller (at this point I thought or more correctly hoped it might be a Hudsonian). I left to get my scope and returned to scan the flock from the end of the docks this is Float 21 I believe. From this location I noted the dowitchers were dark, reddish below and rather richly colored and very dark in the back/ upperparts (consistent with alternate long-billed). Details of the godwit still could not been seen from this location. I moved to the point behind the Coast Guard Station, and at the south entrance to the boat basin. From this location I had much better views and lighting.

Unfortunately by this time there was a lot of activity and load banging in the storage yards directly above the godwit flock. They were becoming alert, nervous, and talkative. I was able to easily pick out the duller brown bird from within the group, it showed a distinct whitish supercillium, extending well behind the eye, and was offset by a dark line below and behind the line. As I was scoping this bird, a loud bang from above caused ½ the flock to fly, including this bird. At that point I had great views of the upperparts, including the lower back, rump, uppertail coverts, and tail. The uppertail coverts/rump showed a lot of white and was finely barred with black. The tail was more coarsly barred with black and whitish or dingly white so that it showed as darker overall than the rump. I took this bird to be an adult female, given the rather dull and uniform appearing upperparts/ coverts and time of year. But to be honest, I did not have time to study the upperparts in detail. The bird had the long, upturned godwit-shaped bill but for some reason I did not note the bi-colored aspect. Not sure if it just failed to register, or whether it was mostly dark, which seems like it could be consistent with alternate plumaged birds. I am concluding that this bird is an adult female, but would be interested to hear if otherrs see it differently.

Bill Shelmerdine

Olympia WA

Georn1 at hotmail.com

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