[Tweeters] good Skagit birding

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 20 20:05:07 PDT 2013

Dear Tweeters,
Today (20 October 2013) was a good day for birding in Skagit County. No super rarities turned up, but I think 90 species might be the new October big-day record for Skagit County. Here are a few highlights.
Single Red-throated Loons turned up at Samish Island Public Beach and Rosario Head.
Single Western Grebes (now seemingly having become a rather rare bird here) were at Rosario Head and Lake Campbell.
A Cinnamon Teal lingered on at the Game Range on Fir Island.
A few Greater Scaup turned up here and there, and there were some Lessers on Lake Erie.
Also at Lake Erie was presumably the same female Surf Scoter that was there a few weeks ago. I think the duck-watching would have been better, but there was a motor boat full of fishermen wearing pink out there, plus a couple of people operating miniature, remote-control jet-skis, which, I discovered, are every bit the bloody annoyance as their full-scale counterparts.
There were around twenty or so Ruddy Ducks on Lake Campbell.
A Sharpie buzzed me at Rosario Head; I don't think I'd seen one there before.
Also at Rosario were nine or ten California Quail.
At the Game Range, the Virginia Rails were calling a lot, as was presumably the same calendar-challenged Sora that was reported last week. Two Coots there provided a tough Gruiform hat-trick, for October, anyway.
Shorebirding today was a virtual bust. One Black-bellied Plover and one Killdeer on Fir Island were the only ones I found all day.
However, there were lots of gulls and alcids to be seen. There might have been more than just the five species of gulls that I saw at Rosario, but two snorkellers spent the whole time I was there splashing about the big kelp bed where the gulls like to sit.  Most of those gulls were Mews, but there were four Bonaparte's, five or six Heermann's, and several Californias, plus Glaucous-winged Gulls. Ring-billed Gulls were plentiful elsewhere. At Lyman was a flock of over 120 gulls, mostly Ring-billed, feeding on what I was told were dead humpies.
Rosario had two Murres, a Rhino, four Marbled Murrelets, and close to ten Pigeon Guillemots.
Passerines were a lot harder to find than non-passerines today. The best find among these birds was a small flock of late Barn Swallows at the Game Range.  
I missed quite a few pretty easy species today, most notably Rock Pigeon. The White-throated Sparrow that turned up in my yard yesterday was, of course, nowhere to be found. I'll see it as I pull out of the driveway tomorrow morning, no doubt. If I could have gotten to a good shorebirding spot, maybe even the hundred-species mark might have been attainable!
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

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