[Tweeters] The good (SAGE THRASHER, AM. REDSTART), the sad and the ugly of central Skagit County birding today

Scott Atkinson scottratkinson at hotmail.com
Sat Jun 15 21:04:47 PDT 2013


What an odd day--the common thread was near-misses, or outright automobile collisions, with birds. Imagine my surprise when at about 5:30 a.m., I almost hit a SAGE THRASHER (!) right along Rt 530 near Martin Rd. (right by the southbound sign with mileages to Darrington, Arlington, etc.). When I turned the car around, the bird afforded a brief view before it flew off in a westerly direction, through the cut-over area, in the direction of Concrete, not to be seen again. There is a previous Dave Beaudette May 29 entry (the first for Skagit County, many years back) from Martin Rd nearby, but mid-June seems late for sure. Also odd for this stop were six ROOSEVELT ELK; I have not seen this species anywhere in the area previously, or for that matter anywhere in the county...The last animal made it interesting (and consonant with other encounters over the morning) by darting too close in front of the vehicle as I headed into town, luckily at a slow clip.

Sadly, about a half-hour later, I hit a female MacGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER not far from Rockport along Rt 20, this even though I almost halted outright to avoid impact. Pitiful it was when I noted the male staying very close by, calling relentlessly, afterward. And the scene wasn't better later when, headed for County Line, I came across a real mashed RUFFED GROUSE that someone had just hit, near Milemarker 111. Two downy young were cheeping so close that they were almost on the road as well. They dropped into cover when I came to look, at least both were fliers. And finally, territorial Am. Robins along this same stretch cut it too close for comfort at least a couple times, but I slowed and they thought better of their initial flight plans.

On a happier note, an intact family of RUFFED GROUSE were seen right along the entry road into Barnaby Slough. I came around a corner on foot and surprised them, the 7 downy young quickly dispersed while the hen put on quite a show; one young bird flew while the others scrambled for cover. As I stood motionless, the hen came at me within five feet (!), puffing herself up as large as possible while making a hissing sound and clapping her beak as menacingly as possible, until the cheeping youngsters were out of sight. There was also an EASTERN KINGBIRD in the dead trees along the slough itself (west end). If you travel into this area, best to bring some insect repellent, the mosquitos are annoying enough, in the shaded spots especially.

At the Sauk River boat launch (along the west side of the river, right by the Sauk River bridge about midway between Darrington and Rockport), an AM. REDSTART was on territory, singing endlessly. Notably, none were present (yet at least) at County Line (Skagit Co side), n.e. of Marblemount. No sign of the Gray Catbird near the Marblemount boat launch either, but a pair of LAZULIS were at the entrance road. Many years ago, I had a singing Gray Catbird at the boat launch side of the Cascade River Bridge, also along river and in June. I don't believe we've yet reached double-digit records/reports for this species in the county, but over the next three weeks observers in the area should be alert.

As Ryan noted, LAZULI BUNTINGS seem to be everywhere this year. I counted 16 at Corkindale Creek, my highest count ever for Skagit Co. There was also a lone BANK SWALLOW here (they were infrequent today), but no kingbirds or Least Fly. RED-EYED VIREOS were heard at every single stop I made, as were WILLOW FLYCATCHERS, which both have to be at migration peak arrival now. A pair of low-elevation VARIED THRUSH were heard singing at the south end of Martin Rd., and three NASHVILLE WARBLERS could be heard singing at different spots high on the hillsides above the Rockport Quarry. WARBLING VIREOS seem very common this year; I had a double-digit count going near the base of the Bacon Creek Rd, just off Rt 20, in the late morning.

Scott Atkinson
Lake Stevens
mail to: scottratkinson at hotmail.com

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