[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday walk 9/18/13
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Sep 19 12:19:14 PDT 2013
thirty of us enjoyed a cool Fall weather like day at the Refuge with cloudy
skies in the morning and sun from later morning on and the temperature in
the 60's degrees Fahrenheit. There was a Low 0'6" Tide at 11:20am.
Highlights included many mixed flocks of migrating warblers and newly
arriving sparrows on the west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, nice views
of a Ruff, Baird Sandpiper and many Pectoral Sandpiper from the
NisquallyEstuary Trail, Great Egret foraging along
McAllister Creek seen from the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, and
upclose fabulous views of the Great Horned Owl in the large Maple Trees on
the north side of the east entrance to the Twin Barns Loop Trail.
Starting out at 8am from the Visitor Center Pond Overlook, we observed
Pied-billed Grebe, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Barn Swallow,
American/Northwestern Crow, and European Starling. There were reports of
Western Scrub-Jay along the entrance road and American Beaver was seen in
the pond by early arriving birders.
The flooded field adjacent to the entrance road across from the orchard was
quiet, however we did spot a Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, and Northern
Flicker in the Cottonwood stand just north and a Red-tailed Hawk across the
The flooded field adjacent to the southwest corner of the Access Road,
southwest of the parking lot, had many Canada Geese and a pair of Northern
Shovelers. A Red-breasted Sapsucker and Eurasian Collared Dove were seen
in the surrounding stands. Many Barn Swallows with several Vaux's Swift
were observed flying overhead.
The fields west of the Access Road have been mowed, disked, and are
starting to flood. Many Savannah Sparrow and American Pipit are migrating
through. Large flocks of Cedar Waxwing were observed flying from one stand
to another, and many American Robin were active and flocking up as well.
Overhead we saw many immature Violet-Green Swallows mixed in with the Barn
Swallows. Interestingly, no Cliff Swallows, Tree Swallows or Brown-headed
Cowbird were spotted perhaps indicating that these species have migrated
out of the delta. An American Kestrel was observed flying through the area.
The west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail has provided very productive
birding in the morning over the last 3-6 weeks and todays walk was
consistent with this trend. Great views of singing Purple Finch, Black-
throated Gray Warbler and Hairy Woodpecker were enjoyed. Mixed flocks of
Black-capped Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Gray Warbler,
Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Common Yellow-throat kept us
busy, especially with the warblers and the worn plumaged males, less
distinctly plumaged females, and the many dull plumaged immature birds.
Savannah Sparrows uncharacteristically were foraging high in Oregon Ash
trees. Intermittently a Licoln's Sparrow would pop up to keep us checking
all the Song Sparrows. Worn and fluffy Marsh Wren and Bewick's Wren were
seen along the trail edge. An immature Virginia's Rail was seen feeding
across the pond from the last observation platform before the cut-off to
the Twin Barns. Breeding plumage Wood Duck and Mallard were seen foraging
in the riparian pond on the inside of the loop trail just south of the
At the cut-off to the Twin Barns we observed Willow Flycatcher,
Golden-crowned Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Warbling Vireo and additional
sparrows and mixed flock.
>From the Twin Barns Observation Platform we had great looks of Northern
Harrier and Bald Eagle. Rock Pigeon were roosting under the eves of the
Out on the Nisqually Estuary Trail, along the slough adjacent to the Twin
Barns, we picked up White-crown Sparrow and House Finch. Down Woodpecker
was seen foraging in an Elderberry Bush. Additional Northern Shoveler and
Mallard were seen in the surge plain. On the inside of the new dike, the
marsh is drying, and the fresh water marsh grasses provide food for Canada
Geese, American Pipit, and drying mud puddles for Pectoral Sandpiper. The
flooded areas between the cat tails were good areas to find remaining
Cinnamon Teal and Blue-winged Teal. We also observed Wilson's Snipe and
heard Sora. A very large Mink was observed running through the marsh.
On the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail we enjoyed Gulling spotting a
Herring or Herring X Glaucous-wing Hybrid Gull mixed in with some of the
newly arriving Glaucous winged X Western Hybrid or "Olympic" Gulls. Many
Ring-billed Gull were seen, and we picked out several California Gull and
Mew Gull. Many Glaucous-winged Gull were seen. Along McAllister Creek we
observed approximately 50 Common Mergansers and a foraging Belted
Kingfisher. The Great Egret made a nice showing. Many Great Blue Heron
and Double-crested Cormorant were seen. Small flocks of Least and Western
Sandpiper. And a Peregrine Falcon flew through to stir things up.
Steller's Jay were heard on the west bank of McAllister Creek.
On our return, with an incoming tide, something flushed approximately 1,000
waterfowl from the reach around the mouth of the Nisqually River and Red
Salmon Slough. Predominently American Wigeon were identified, but this
large flock also included Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Gadwall,
Northern Shoveler and Mallard. Apparently the wintering waterfowl are
At the Nisqually River Overlook, we had great looks at an Osprey soaring
over the river. Along the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail
additional mixed flocks were observed. Additional species seen included
Brown Creeper and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. As we exited the east
entrance of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, in the large Maple Trees just north
of the trail the Great Horned Owl was easily spotted 50 feet away roosting.
After finishing up the walk, I decided to head back out to the new dike or
Nisqually Estuary Trail for a High 13'10" Tide at 5:41pm. The push was
productive! While enjoying another 9 Pectoral Sandpipers and 2 Baird
Sandpipers I spotted a large shorebird the size of a Great Yellowlegs with
a buffy head, neck and breast approximately 100 feet north of the trail in
the marsh plain just west of Leschi Slough. It was a Ruff with a brown
cap, brown scaled mantle, short slightly decurved bill and dull yellow
legs. It eventually flew with three Pectorals and seemed 2/3rds larger
with a white U shaped upper tail coverts. The Ruff flew over the fresh
water section then north torward the reach. Fortunately Gene Revelas and
two very nice birders from Boston, the Petersons, were there to help
title="Ruff by Shep Thorp, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr
.com/7335/9812981355_b4f2315a85.jpg" width="375" height="500"
A Merlin was also observed hunting swallows and Greater Yellowlegs was
86 species for the day with 171 species for the year. Mammals seen
includedAmerican Beaver, Mink, and Columbia Black-tailed Deer.
Until next week, when we meet again at 8am.
sthorp at theaec.com
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