[Tweeters] UWRA Ocean Shores-Grays Harbor NWR trip 4-22-2014 - Wandering Tattler, lots of Western Sandpipers+

Denis DeSilvis avnacrs4birds at outlook.com
Wed Apr 23 14:14:50 PDT 2014


Rain, hail, and wind did little to deter the U of W Retirement Association
birders (11 plus me) on an Earth-Day trip to Ocean Shores and Bowerman Basin
(Grays Harbor NWR). It looks as if the Shorebird Festival this weekend
should be a hit, if what we saw at the refuge is any indication: I estimated
there were a minimum of 50,000 WESTERN SANDPIPERS scattered across the
mudflats - with quite a few large groupings of several thousands of birds.
The only other shorebirds we saw there were about 15 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS.

Other highlights included a lone WANDERING TATTLER on the jetty at Point
Brown; a WHIMBREL alongside Ocean Shores Blvd just south of the last of the
motels; three MERLINS at differing locations; and a lone PEREGRINE FALCON

On the way to Ocean Shores, we noted over a dozen TURKEY VULTURES from Elma
to the outskirts of Aberdeen. While stopping at the state-maintained rest
area (no permit needed for Earth Day) on Damon Road, we waited out a heavy
rain shower and saw two large flights with over 300 CACKLING GEESE in each
flight. The outgoing tide was still fairly high at the beach at the end of
Damon Rd., so we couldn't drive out onto the beach to get closer to the
water. Nonetheless, we saw many DUNLIN, about 30 MARBLED GODWITS, some
SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, and several thousand peeps we couldn't identify
because of the distance. A MERLIN coursed north past us, then dipped down
just over the sand toward a large group of shorebirds, putting them to
flight, but not getting any prey. It stooped a time or two more, but still
didn't catch anything. We noted another big flock of geese, which included
some CANADAs among the more numerous Cackling Geese.

Heading south on Ocean Shores Blvd toward Point Brown, we spotted a WHIMBREL
in the median strip. Not too much at Point Brown, but ace spotter Ellen saw
a shorebird on the jetty rocks, about half-way between the beach and the end
of the jetty. After discussing what it might be (given the bright yellow
legs, Surfbird was a prime contender), I noticed the bird bobbing like a
Spotted Sandpiper as it moved from one rock to another. Then, with better
lighting, we could see that the bill length was fairly long (longer than
that of a Surfbird): WANDERING TATTLER, the first for some of us. A couple
of PELEAGIC CORMORANTS, SURF SCOTERS, a single loon (unknown species), and a
couple of small flocks of BRANT rounded out this site for us.

The marina had several new species for us: WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, GREAT BLUE
SAVANNAH SPARROW (very bright coloring on the three we saw), WHITE-CROWNED
SPARROW (singing in the distance), and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. A pair of Canada
geese with about 5 goslings was on the berm on the west side of the marina.
In addition, another MERLIN buzzed past us. (Here is where we got pelted
with hail and a cold shower - not the best for our lunch stop, but the views
of some of the birds was excellent.)

On our way to Burrows Road, a SPOTTED TOWHEE crossed in front of our car,
and as we traveled to the wildlife viewing site, an immature BALD EAGLE flew
over. At the stop, we saw about a dozen Canada geese, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS,
several more Barn Swallows, and yet another MERLIN.

Two OSPREYS were on the ground (!) next to the nest location beside Paulson
Road. When we parked, we heard, then saw a MARSH WREN close by, and at the
mudflat/plant intersection, about 125 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. Two other
folks had just come from walking the refuge boardwalk, and told us that
they'd seen the geese, but there was "not much out there." Even with the
wind and the rain headed our way, we weren't going to take other folk's word
for it (and noting they didn't have spotting scopes). As we walked along, we
GOLDFINCHES, GREAT BLUE HERONS, and a deer that walked ahead of us on the
boardwalk. At our first stop, scope-views of the mudflats assured us that we
made the right choice: we could see that there were quite a few shorebirds
feeding out there. We set up scopes in the boardwalk loop, and were amazed
at the number of WESTERN SANDPIPERS: thousands of them from the mouth of
Bowerman Basin to about a quarter-mile from where we saw the white-fronted
geese. One group of about a thousand birds came in closer to us, and as we
scanned the flats (and with the five scopes set up, we looked hard), with
the exception of a small group of SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, we could ID only one
species of shorebird: the Westerns. Everywhere we looked, we saw them! As
did the PEREGRINE FALCON that was on a log to the west of the loop.

On the way back to the parked cars, we heard a PACIFIC WREN singing from an
area in the boardwalk loop, and also ticked an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and a

Note: eBird reports were made for each of the major stops. Total species for
today's trip: 44 - which, given the weather and tide conditions, was pretty

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18043080 - Damon Road

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18042936 - Point Brown

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18043205 - Marina

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18043276 - Burrows Road

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18043432 - Grays Harbor NWR

Here's hoping the Shorebird Festival has good weather, 'cause the shorebirds
appear to be in!

May all your birds be identified,

Denis DeSilvis

Roy, WA

Mailto: avnacrs4birds at outlook.com

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