[Tweeters] TAS/RAS Field Trip to Swan Creek Tuesday 4/22

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 08:39:51 PDT 2014


Hi Tweets,

thirteen of us enjoyed a pleasant morning of birding, with initial light
rain, then cloudy skies with sun breaks and temperatures in the 50's
degrees Fahrenheit. Highlights included high counts of HAMMOND'S
FLYCATCHER, HERMIT THRUSH and PURPLE FINCH. We also had great looks at
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, CHIPPING SPARROW, PACIFIC WREN, and HUTTON'S
VIREO.

We started the morning at 6am at the Pioneer Way East entrance. Here we
observed our first of many HERMIT THRUSH, and MALLARD, YELLOW-RUMPED
WARBLER (AUDUBON'S VARIETY), and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. As we walked along
Swan Creek in the north end of the park, initially things were slow. At
the bridge that crosses the creek we observed our first BLACK-THROATED GRAY
WARBLER and HAIRY WOODPECKER. As we started to ascend the slope of the
west bank of the gulch, we came across many more HERMIT THRUSH and many
PACIFIC WREN. The Pacific Wren were in full song and we had many wonderful
looks. We also saw SPOTTED TOWHEE, SONG SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO (OREGON
VARIETY) and BROWN CREEPER. Both CHESTNUT BACKED CHICKADEE and AMERICAN
ROBIN were observed nest building.

The most activity was in the vicinity of the undeveloped neighborhood at
the southwest end of the park. Coming out of the woods along the west rim
of the gulch, we were able to see the many PURPLE FINCH that were singing.
We initially observed RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET,
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH and additional YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. We had great
looks at BAND-TAILED PIGEON roosting in the conifers. And nice fly overs
of GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL and GREAT BLUE HERON.

As we explored the undeveloped neighborhood, the birding was really great,
and we could have spent all day looking for different species. Along the
forest edge we heard several ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. As soon as the sun
warmed things up we had great looks at several CHIPPING SPARROW in the
shrubs around the conifers. In the deciduous trees we initially heard then
observed several BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS singing. We also observed in
two different locations a small gray empid with a small dark bill, and long
primary projection, HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER! FOY for many, we played digital
recordings to elicit a response for confirmation. The Hammond's
Flycatchers not only responded to the playback, but occasionally called
back with a definitive "peek" call note. We also had nice observations of
COOPER'S HAWK, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, NORTHERN FLICKER, TREE SWALLOW and
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW. PILEATED WOODPECKER were heard and
NORTHWESTERN/AMERICAN CROW were observed eating ants from THATCH ANT nest
mounds. Sadly many of the Madrone Trees appear to be dead or dieing. One
of our birders reported that many Madrone Trees are dieing in our region
from a contagious spreading infectious organism.

The dense predominantly Douglas Fir Stand between the undeveloped
neighborhood and the South 56th street entrance has a large COMMON RAVEN
nest. We had several sightings of Common Raven with nice vocalizations.
At the south end of the park, there is an open area on the rim of the
southwest gulch, usually birdy, we had nice looks at HUTTON'S VIREO,
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, and STELLER'S JAY.

The walk back north along the creek at the bottom of the gulch was
gorgeous. We had several additional nice looks at HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER,
this species is obviously migrating through the Puget Sound Lowlands to the
higher elevation coniferous forest and stream side riparian habitat where
it more typically resides for breeding. We also had great looks of a
PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER adjacent to the Hammond's, providing an
opportunity to contrast the longer, more spatulated, yellow-mandibular bill
of the more yellow and shorter primary projection of the PSFL. We also had
great looks at RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER.

We finished up our walk around 2pm with more HERMIT THRUSH at the trail
head. I wish I had spent more time in the undeveloped neighborhood, a
fascinating area, but a very fun day with 47 species seen.

Until next time, good birding!

Shep Thorp
sthorp at theaec.com
253-370-3742
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