[Tweeters] Surfbirds and Black Turnstones at Alki Beach

Evan Houston evanghouston at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 18 22:55:56 PST 2013


Hi Tweeters,

I couldn't resist stopping by Alki Beach in west Seattle yesterday (11-17) after seeing the White Pelican, and the birds put on a great show a couple of hours before the afternoon high tide.  3 things that were particularly notable to me:

- They were quite cooperative and not bothered by close approach due to being habituated at this site - here's a video of a couple of snazzy Surfbirds (best at 720p, full-screen, with volume down to avoid the wind noise): 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWjTfN8jDO8

- There were a lot of them!  I followed birds as they flew a couple of times, and each time they led me to a larger grouping.  Across from ~1150 Alki, they all seemed to come together in a large resting flock, so I decided to count them as carefully as possible 2 at a time (almost certainly an undercount because not all birds were visible all of the time) - I came up with 20 Black Turnstones, and no less than 130 Surfbirds!

- One of the Black Turnstones was banded - I just learned from the researchers, who are studying the migration patterns of this species, that this bird was banded in April of 2011 at Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.  They are intrigued by the possibility that birds might range this far in the winter, though they also said it's certainly possible that either my sighting or their banding could also represent birds in migration.  If you see a banded Turnstone at Alki (or anywhere), try to get the code on the lime green flag, and I'll be happy to put you in contact with the researchers.

Good birding,
Evan Houston
Seattle, WA


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