[Tweeters] Mason County This Morning- Mountain Quail, Ruffed Grouse, Barn and Rough Winged Swallows, "Cougar Prints" and a Possible Swainson's Hawk

Blair Bernson blair at washingtonadvisorygroup.com
Mon Apr 7 16:00:08 PDT 2014

I met Mary Hrudkaj early this morning at her home
on Bear Ridge Road. I had visited with Mary 4
years ago and had several Mountain Quail in
addition to some other nice birds, so this was
kind of an anniversary. Sure enough a beautiful
male Mountain Quail cooperated and strutted within
feet of my waiting camera. At least one other wsa
heard calling off in the woods. Other birds there
included beautiful close in Band Tailed Pigeons
and Mourning Doves and a Rufous Hummingbird.
Lured by a call from a neighbor we then took off
and looked at what very well may have been some
Cougar tracks maybe 200 yards from her house. A
cougar has been seen in the area this year. I
would trade all 2014 birds for a look at this
spectacular big cat.

With the weather so good we headed out for a
morning of birding in Mason County, an area Mary
knows like the back of her hand. We concentrated
mostly on waterbirds and although there was
nothing special in the water we had what we
believe to be a light phased Swainson's Hawk at
Menard's Landing Park. We had walked out without
scope to look at waterfowl and saw a shorebird
that was just too far away but appeared to be a
"smallish" Yellowlegs. I went back to the car to
get my scope and had a Buteo fly right overhead.
My immediate reaction was a Swainson's Hawk - dark
bib, light tannish belly without a belly band, and
narrow bands on its tail with a distinct dark
terminal band. A very good if quick look in the
sun. As it flew off, it was also clear that it was
not a Harrier. As I approached Mary, she was
intently watching a bird through her bins. When it
disappeared she dropped the bins with a look of
amazement on her face. As I got close, she
instantly said, "I think that was a Swainson's
Hawk". So we had come to the same initial
conclusion independently. Knowing that this was a
very unlikely bird for the area, we compared notes
and agreed on each field mark. We also consulted
field guides and again agreed that we had indeed
seen a light phased Swainson's Hawk. Sadly no
picture except for in our heads.

Also at the same location we had a single Northern
Rough Winged Swallow and a single Barn Swallow
(FOY for both of us).

On one of her back roads, we had several singling
Orange Crowned Swallows and heard a drumming
Ruffed Grouse.

Made such an early departure (5:00 a.m.) well
worth it.

Blair Bernson

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