[Tweeters] Neah Bay, Apr 23 - 25

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Fri Apr 25 22:41:10 PDT 2014

My wife Barb and I spent the last three days at Neah Bay, staying at Hobuck Beach. There is a impressive fall-out of Orange-crowned Warblers at Neah Bay and along the western Clallam coastline right now. The epicenter of it all seemed to be the Hobuck Beach area, from the campground north to the Wa’atch River, where there were several hundred (500+?) OCWAs working the willows and stunted Sitka spruces behind the beach on 4/24 & 4/25. There could have been several times that number. OCWAs were easily visible at just about every stop we made between Clallam Bay and the outer coast. Other warblers were few in comparison, with lower numbers of Yellow-rumps and Common Yellowthroats mixed in, and a few Wilson’s singing at different stops.

Lots of migrant sparrows as well, particularly flocks of Savannah Sparrows and Golden-crowned Sparrows, along with a few Lincoln Sparrows, at several sites, especially along Hobuck Beach and in the Wa’atch River Valley.

This morning after the showers broke, there was an superb flight of Tree Swallows traveling north along Hobuck Beach. For the hour and a half that we walked on the beach, groups of TRSWs passed by continuously in scattered flocks right along the beach. When we reached the mouth of the Wa’atch River, there was a flock of several hundred swallows, mostly TRSWs, but also some numbers of Rough-wingeds, Barns, and a couple Cliffs, all flying in tight flocks picking insects out of the air right above the water.

Other birds of note: On 4/23, one first-cycle Glaucous Gull was at the Village Creek gull roost by the Makah Senior Center in Neah Bay. On 4/24, two Tufted Puffins swam to the east of Tatoosh Island in the Strait, seen from Cape Flattery. An Osprey caught good-sized fish well offshore in Makaw Bay and flew up into the hills with the fish, likely to the nest site by Hobuck Lake. Perhaps a male feeding an incubating female. Nice flocks of shorebirds along the outer beach and ducks, grebes, and loons in Neah Bay, but nothing unexpected. Lots of lovely gulls and handsome cormorants.

It's interesting that species we normally think of as “early-spring migrants,” such as Orange-crowned Warblers, Savannah Sparrows, and Tree Swallows, are apparently migrating in big numbers on the outer coast right now, even though the earliest individuals of these species arrived in western WA several weeks ago. I surmise (but don’t really know for sure) that the big flocks now must be birds destined to go much further north to Alaska and Canada.

Bob Boekelheide

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