[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk for 7/17/13.

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 18 12:57:48 PDT 2013

Hi Tweets,

approximately 30 of us enjoyed a cool cloudy morning at the Refuge with
temperatures in the 60-70's degrees Fahrenheit and occasional thunder
around 10am. There was a High 10'1" Tide at 2:16pm. We temporarily
discontinued the walk between 10:30am-11:30am to avoid the thunder,
fortunately the Refuge did not experience any lightening storms.

Highlights included Great Horned Owl, Cooper's Hawk capturing a vole, two
Bank Swallow, good numbers of expected shorebirds, two Peregrine Falcon's
hunting on the Refuge, and fledgling Bald Eagle.

Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8 am, we observed
immature Hooded Mergansers in the Pond. Many species were singing and
visible including Willow Flycatcher, Song Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat,
Wilson's Warbler, Purple Finch and Red-winged Blackbird. American Robin,
Barn Swallow and Cliff Swallow are still nesting under the Visitor Center
eves, but most of the Cliff Swallows have moved on and the predominant
species are Barn Swallow and Tree Swallow. Last week we counted 75 Cliff
Swallows, this week only 5.

Reports of an immature Great Horned Owl seen from the Riparian Forest
Overlook motivated us to walk our route backwards and start at the east
entrance to the Twin Barns Loop Trail. We were fortunate and able to
relocate the Great Horned Owl where reported, but the owl flushes easily
and quickly hides in dense foliage around surrounding Alder and Maple Trees.

Along the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail adjacent to the old
Nisqually River Dike, we heard many singing species and were able to obtain
good looks of a few including Western Wood-pewee, Spotted Towhee, Bewick's
Wren, American Goldfinch and Cedar Waxwing. Much harder to observe species
included Swainson's Thrush, Brown Creeper, Yellow Warbler, and Pacific Wren.

>From the Twin Barns Observation Platform, we observed a Cooper's Hawk

returning from the fields to the riparian forest with a small mammal. We
also had additional great looks at American Goldfinch.

Thunder was heard, so we headed back to the Visitor Center, on our return
we observed a pair of Wilson's Warbler feeding a Brown-headed Cowbird
chick. After the storm passed us by, those remaining birders headed out to
the Nisqually Estuary Trail.

The waterfowl are in eclipse or nonbreeding plumage, making it very
challenging to identify different species. After some time and with the
help of a Bald Eagle flying over, we were able to find Cinnamon Teal,
Blue-winged Teal, American Green-winged Teal and Gadwall amongst all the
Mallards. We also observed American Coot and additional Hooded Mergansers.
Most of the swallows were Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows, but we did see
two Bank Swallows, one Northern-rough-winged Swallow and a couple Cliff
Swallows and Violet-green Swallows. A Peregrine Falcon flew over the fresh
water marsh hunting. The fields and marsh on the freshwater side of the
new dike have been permitted to stay flooded, and this provided a great
opportunity to observe many shorebirds. Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Western
Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers,
and Short-billed Dowitchers were seen. A Wilson's Phalarope was reported
earlier in the week but we were not able to relocate this species.

On the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, with a high 10'1" tide, we had
nice close observations of additional peeps. We had nice observation of
Caspian Tern, Ring-billed Gull, Great Blue Heron, and Bald Eagle fledgling
from both the south and north nest along the west bank of McAllister Creek.
Pelagic Cormorant were observed from the Puget Sound Viewing Platform in
the Sound, many Gulls were roosting on the delta. A second Peregrine
Falcon, lighter then the first, was observed flying around the Reach and
perched in a snag on the west bank of McAllister Creek.

We observed 64 species for the day, Short-billed Dowitcher was new for the
year, and our year list is 161 species. Mammals seen included American
Beaver, Muskrat, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Harbor Seal.

Until next week when we meet again at 8am, good birding!

Shep Thorp
Browns Point
sthorp at theaec.com
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