[Tweeters] Gray's Harbor NWR (Shorbird Festival),
Ocean Shores / Caryn / Wedgwood (Bushtit Update)
bluedarner1 at seanet.com
Tue Apr 29 21:44:04 PDT 2014
Home yesterday from a fabulous birding weekend (4/25-4/28). Homebase - Snuggler's Cove where we arrived 5:30 Friday. At our cabin we were greeted by a Spotted Towhee - (ok, not a shorebird, but a very good omen from my mother), then at the beach we saw several scoters, a nice formation (several over the weekend) of Greater White Fronted Geese (had help w/ that id) fly over and a couple of Common Loons - perfect, since there was a print of one in the cabin along with the two staying IN the cabin. (also a pelican) We had also heard a pheasant and I did saw an eagle or two and a raptor on a post, but couldn't positively id it. Grayish 15-20"...
The next day at NWR where we got to meet Dianna Moore at the registrars desk (Thanks Dianna for all the great tips - especially Bill's Spit!! -"Moore" on that later... fortunately we took the shuttle to the Sandpiper Trail (foot, don't fail me now...) where we marched along the boardwalk in heavy anticipation of the peeps. Along the way we heard a Virginia Rail taunting us right at the edge - I swear they are ventriloquists - but couldn't spot it so trekked on. Marsh Wrens also teased us - one lady had a nest in her scope. Very well hidden!! We could see groups of birds in the mud from viewing spots, but the tide was higher, earlier than expected, so when we got to the main viewing spot, things were relatively quiet...Except for the chatting on the dock. Thanks SO MUCH to Nancy and Jan - volunteers, make that GREAT volunteers who kept us there until the tide started to go out and taught us so many things. My most memorable being how Dunlin have the black tummy to easily id it from the sandpipers - eyeopening! Oh, and the Least Sandpipers yellowish legs! (That came in so handy (leggy?) later). And how the birds came in smaller flocks - scouting for "mud". I can't believe they stayed out there as long as they did - scouting for the birders! (A long way back to "facilities").
...and then there were birds (we did see some Black Bellied Plovers on the pilings...(I sure hope those great volunteers made a better list than I did!) to keep us on edge waiting for the show which was soon to swooosh in. Wow...we had seen "clouds" of birds waiting for the scouts to invite them in and then all of a sudden there were thousands (20,000 +/- how they counted I still can't comprehend!) of murmurating birds. There was a huge log where they landed, just waiting for mud. The water receded and they moved to it - swarmed to it, in those mesmerizing, undulating clouds. We watched the mixed flock of mostly sandpipers, plovers (semi-palmated, black bellied...). They did get spooked by an osprey and a peregrine at one point, but settled down. The biggest thrill was hearing the Fish and Wildlife mention "Redknots". Luckily my husband was right there and we got the two of them in our scope!! YES!! It was my "Moonbird" moment...the whole viewing was just incredible! (If you haven't read "Moonbird" - I highly recommend it!)
On the way back we heard the V. Rail again, and one woman spotted it and we got to see it in the brush. Another first for us this weekend. And of course the nesting Great Horned owl w/ two fluffy chicks. It began to squall again (I don't think I mentioned the couple of squalls on the birdwalk - but we waited them out and it was SO worth it!!)
The next day we spent a few great hours at Bill's Spit - all alone - and the Godwits were there and the sun came out. Then a lone Yellowlegs gave us a show. But then there were Whimbrels! One at one spot and then 3 resting in the grass. Along with plovers and peeps - (why didn't I take a voice recorder to keep track!). I did get some pretty darn good photos here - keepers! YAY! It was such a peaceful spot with the tide coming in and the birds working the mud. Several Least Sandpipers in the pickle grass - so Met Kathy and Arne there - nicest couple.
Headed to Ocean Shores Chance le Mer (sp) beach access and were thrilled to see hundreds of godwits, dowitchers, peeps. Best, rare bird of the day was Joanne from Wild Bird in Lake Forest Park! What are the chances!!!
Checked out the North Jetty, but didn't see anybody there - except a great Malmute named Bucky that could be the UW Mascot!!
Headed out the next day and stopped by the ponds outside the NWR to see the owls again. The ponds had scaups, shovelers, buffleheads, gadwalls...
Stopped at the Quinault Casino beach and there were again, hundreds of godwits (love their chattering), resting on one leg, bills tucked away, (one truck began hassling them - driving back and forth by the flock) and glad it left before I had to confront them. I would have!!! There were dowitchers and peeps too. Hated to leave them just sitting there. (It was great to see godwits beyond the ones we'd seen at Tokeland a few times)
I've carried on long enough...also sorry I didn't get to see Faye and Diane YTQ. So many birds...
Oh, one bird I'd like to say I thought I saw at Snuggler's Cove was a Parasitic Jaeger - could this be correct? There were Caspian terns (another one I didn't mention) but this sure was black and white and no orange bill...
Feel like I've been birding all over again - I know I forgot a few but hopefully there's someone who wrote them all down - Nancy, Jan???
When we got home, the Bushtits were still working on their nest and had made a lot of progress. And the best news, my foot held up - and swelled up too, but it was soooo worth it!!!
Caryn / Wedgwood
Now I have more photos to deal with. I WILL get them out along with the hummer photos - eventually!!
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