[Tweeters] Des Moines - Blk Scoters, Low Tides

Carol & Lynn Schulz carol.schulz50 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 19 09:12:26 PDT 2014

Hi Tweets:
Saltwater birding has been pretty good here in March, especially during low tides. Earlier in the month we had an annual Pink Salmon smolt run to the mouth of Des Moines Creek. After reading Bob Boekelheide's msg about the smolt runs (see msg below), I got out to view it here on March 7. I think I missed the main run, but the birding action was still going on. At low tide. Apparently the smolt will linger near the shallows by the creeks for awhile.

Mar 7, low tide:
5 Bald Eagles in the area. Red-necked Grebe w/ very-red neck. Many gulls. Usual seabirds. A Calif. Sea Lion close to the end of the fishing pier eating and thrashing a 2-foot plus salmon. (The gulls gathered around it for the feast.)

Yesterday, Mar 18 Fishing Pier
First I went to the Des Moines fishing pier at 11:40. There was a nice low tide at 1:00pm. Weather was mist and drizzle (mizzle), and water like glass. No wind.
The birding wasn't too exciting, with common birds incl. 30 Surf Scoters, both Goldeneyes, two Harlequin Ducks, and a Pigeon Guillemot. There were two female Red-breasted Mergansers close to shore which was neat, because I hadn't seen that species for awhile.
Since it was still low tide, I headed over to the Zenith Access, which is always good in winter on low tides. Birds were more exciting there. I had to use my scope for some of them.

Mar 18, Zenith Access:
Harlequin Ducks - 8 close in. Several more farther out.
BLACK SCOTERS - 3. Two males, one female. Very close. Haven't seen any for well over a month.
WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS - 5 In the distance to the north, in the water out from the Des M. marina jetty. We have only seen a few WWSCoters this winter.
Brant Geese - 24. Visible on sand beach to the north.
A Common Loon way out was getting close to breeding color w/ an almost black head. Approx. 40 Surf Scoters.

We have almost a week coming now of daylight low tides ranging from 0.7 to 0.1. If the weather is not too windy creating big waves, the birding should be good in Des Moines, especially at Zenith. Zenith Access is at the bottom of S 239th, located below and to the west of the "Castle" called Landmark on the Sound. It is a Des Moines City park, but is really only the end of 239th. It looks like a chain link gate which is not locked. Very limited parking for locals there. I park up on 7th Ave S, and walk down about 1.5 blocks.
Down at the bottom of some steps, there is a viewing platform. On a low tide, you can access the beach by going down a ladder/steps to the beach. I just stand on the platform. I use a scope for distant views, but viewing up close w/ bins should be good too. Birds are a little wary. Move slowly.

Many thanks to Bob Boekelheide! for his msg about Pink Salmon smolt going to the sound. See his msg below.
Yours, Carol Schulz
Des Moines

>From Bob Boekelheide To Tweets, Mar 6, '14.

Subj. Gulls, gulls, gulls:
Coincidentally, there was a similar feeding flock of 3000+/- gulls this morning (3/6/14) at the mouth of the Dungeness River in Dungeness Bay. They're madly feeding within the plume of brown water that's washing into the bay, most dipping from flight, others feeding while sitting on the surface and standing in shallow water. It's a chaotic scene. The majority are Mew Gulls, perhaps 2000+, most of which are dipping to the surface while flying.
I haven't looked close enough to know for sure, but I'm wondering if these birds are going after pink salmon smolts. We had a record pink salmon run in the Dungeness last fall, and now is the time for the smolts to be entering salt water, perhaps washed downstream by the big rains over the last 24 hours.
Bob Boekelheide

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