[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday walk 7/24/13

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 25 13:21:54 PDT 2013


Hi Tweets,

over 40 of us enjoyed a gorgeous day at the Refuge with fog in the morning
burning off to sunny skies by late morning and temperatures in the 60-70's
degrees Fahrenheit. There was a Low -2'2" Tide at 1:26pm, so we chased the
receding tide and decided to bird the Nisqually Estuary Trail, new dike,
first.

Starting out at the Visitor Center at 8am, we heard Yellow Warbler,
Swainson's Thrush, and Song Sparrow. Species seen included Wood Duck,
American Robin, Barn Swallow and Tree Swallow. Most notable was how quiet
the morning chorus was, fewer species and individuals singing then the week
before. The Cliff Swallows have finished nesting in the Visitor Center.

We elected to walk quickly out the Access Road to the Nisqually Estuary
Trail to chase the >13' outgoing tide. There is a family of Western
Wood-pewee's around the Twin Barns. On the new dike, we had great looks at
immature White-crowned Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat. The inside or
fresh water side of the trail did not disappoint as our group enjoyed close
views of a Semipalmated Sandpiper contrasted with several Least Sandpiper.
The Semipalmated Sandpiper was buffy, gray and white with a short straight
blunt tipped bill and black legs. We also enjoyed very nice looks at
Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Long-billed Dowitchers. The
Wilson's Snipe were easy to spot and very close to the dike, we probably
saw 8 individuals. A Sora was seen walking adjacent to the central access
road and several Virginia Rail were seen foraging around the grass islands
along the waters edge of the flooded field. The Killdeer were abundant.
Waterfowl identified included Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern
Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Cinnamon Teal, possible Blue-winged Teal, Green
Winged Teal, Hooded Merganser and American Coot. Many Red-winged
Blackbirds, European Starlings, and Brown-headed Cowbirds were also
observed. Marsh Wren were active raising their young.

On the Nisqually Estaury Boardwalk Trail, at the McAllister Creek Viewing
Platform, we observed a juvenile Bald Eagle on the south nest fly across
the Refuge, Unfortunately, fishing line with a bobber or weight was seen
on one of the legs, but otherwise the bird appeared healthy. The Refuge
has been informed, and we will continue to monitor this bird. Dozens of
Ring-billed Gull foraged on the mudflats while several Caspian Tern hunted
Shannon Slough and McAllister Creek. A Raccoon was digging into the sandy
beach in shallow water presumably foraging adjacent to a large group of
Canada Geese. From the Puget Sound Viewing Platform, we enjoyed the
breeding pair of Bald Eagles from the north nest with their two juveniles
roosting on the marsh plain and flying around the northwest delta. Three
Bonaparte's Gull were observed on the reach with the many Caspian Tern,
Ring-billed Gull, and Glaucous-winged Gull. Many Great Blue Heron were
observed. Double-crested Cormorant were identified on the pilings. A pair
of Purple Martin were seen at the Luhr Beach Martin boxes. A pair of
Spotted Sandpiper were observed foraging along the west bank of McAllister
Creek and flying across the creek to the marsh side. Many Barn Swallows
were seen foraging over the creek and roosting in the dead trees just west
of the boardwalk. Flocks of hundreds of European Starlings foraged and
flew over the marsh as well.

On our return, we enjoyed all the same species on the inside of the
Nisqually Estuary Trail, new dike, previously seen. On the north portion
of the Twin Barns Loop Trail we had nice looks at Willow Flycatcher and
Cedar Waxwing. The flycatcher has stopped singing his sneezy "Fitz-bew."
At the Nisqually River Overlook we were treated to a nice surprise with
our first of the year, Green Heron, foraging along the east bank of the
Nisqually River. Along the east side of Loop Trail new species seen
included Black-capped Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Wilson's
Warbler. At the Riparian Forest Overlook, Brown Creeper and Swainson's
Thrush were observed, as well a Long-tailed Weasel. We were not able to
relocate the Great Horned Owl seen last week.

We observed 64 species for the day with 162 species for the year. Mammals
seen included Cotton-tailed Rabbit, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Raccoon, Harbor
Seal, and Long-tailed Weasel.

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

Shep Thorp
Browns Point
sthorp at theaec.com
253-370-3742
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