[Tweeters] SAS Birdathon King County Big Day 2013 - May 1

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Wed May 1 22:48:02 PDT 2013

Hi Tweets
Today Michael Hobbs & I led our 9th annual King County Big Day for Seattle Audubon's Birdathon. The weather was excellent, beginning below freezing [31 degrees] and warming up to t-shirt weather for much of the day. With all the recent reports of new arrivals, plenty of water in the Kent Valley for shorebirds and good weather, our hopes were high going in to the day. As it turned out , the 6 of us didn't do as well as hoped, but still had a great day with lots of good birds and a ton of fun along the way.

We ended up with 116 species for the day, one fewer than our Big Day average, and right on the median total for our big days so far.

We began at Red Brick Road Marsh in Redmond at 4:30, where we heard American Bittern, Virginia Rail and enough of a Barn Owl to count it [barely!]. The daylight birding began at Marymoor, our 'home turf' -- birds popped up with fun regularity in the park -- In the 2 1/2 hours we spent at Marymoor, highlights included the 5 regular woodpeckers, many Warbling Vireos, a Nashville Warbler giving amazing looks, a couple Hermit Thrush, a California Quail, Western Meadowlark and 2 Eurasian Collared Doves.
Doubling back to Red Brick Road, we picked up a Solitary Sandpiper before heading west.

Moving out to the Snoqualmie Valley, we relocated the Rough-legged Hawk along W. Snoqualmie River Road, along with Greater Yellowlegs. Up along Stoessel Creek we heard Pacific-slope Flycatcher, & saw Black-throated Gray Warbler. At Moss Lake we added Townsend Warbler, Red Crossbill, and Greater Scaup. Lake Joy was empty of ducks, but we did pick up Turkey Vulture soaring overhead.

At Stillwater, we called in a Black-headed Grosbeak after seeing Cinnamon Teal & Ring-necked Duck.

Sikes Lake had a Ruddy Duck, American Pipits and Lesser Scaup & more Least Sandpipers.

We dipped on American Dipper at Tokul Creek for the first time ever, but did see the Peregrine Falcon on its scrape at Snoqualmie Falls.

Next we headed south to Auburn -- Emerald Downs [M Street] was not particularly full of birds as it has been in past days - nothing new there for us. Likewise, 285th St. off W.Valley was quiet except for some Leasts. Lake Fenwick Park gave us our Barred Owl for the day -- nice to have it fly right in when we played. Along Frager Road south of SR 516, we tried in vain to coax out Western Scrub-Jay -- we did see 20+ Eurasian Collared Doves though -- at a wet field towards the south end, we had a nice flock of Greater White-fronted Geese and finally pulled a couple Western Sandpipers out of the peeps. Moving to 64th St. across from the Kent Ponds Grassy Knoll, we succeded with calling in a Western Scrub-Jay.

At 200th St [north of the traditional 204th st stop] we came across a small flock of Cackling Geese and more GWFG. The Cackling Geese were species #100 for the day. 204th was good , with a few Long-billed Dowitchers, a very visible Wilson's Snipe, and more Greater Yellowlegs and peeps. Best of all there were 3 Western Kingbirds flycatching north of the road!

Our last loop took us through West Seattle -- At Turning Basin 107 we found a convincing Western Gull. Jack Block Park offered our first Red-breasted Merganser, Barrow's Goldeneye, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot & Caspian Terns of the day. At Constellation Park we added Surf & White-winged Scoter, Sanderling, Dunlin, Horned Grebe and Brant. Me Kwa Mooks had Common Goldeneye and Marbled Murrelet. Those proved to be our last new birds of the day, as Lowman Beach & Lincoln Park were not cooperative

3 of the birds we saw were new for our KC Big Day 'life list' - Red-breasted Merganser, Red Crossbill & Rough-legged Hawk. Notable misses for the day included the following that we've never before missed: Western Grebe, Spotted Sandpiper, Band-tailed Pigeon, Vaux's Swift [!], American Dipper, & Brewer's Blackbird. Other misses we thought we shoulda got include: Harlequin Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Northern Pintail, Brandt's cormorant, Sora, Hammond's Flycatcher, Purple Martin, & Western Tanager.

As we considered our misses [always more striking than our 'gets', we realized how close we really were to the record of 126 in a day for King Co -- despite having a 'lower than average' big day, it was remarkably close to the record in a lot of ways --- next time!

Thanks to Brian, John, Sharon & Bob for joining us for a very fun outing in the midst of the fun season !

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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