[Tweeters] Nisqually Wednesday Walk - 3/26/14

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Mar 27 12:32:40 PDT 2014


Hi Tweets,

approximately 25 of us enjoyed a damp day on the Refuge with intermittent
rain and temperatures in the 50's degrees Fahrenheit. There was a Low 6'
Tide at 9 am and a High 11' Tide at 2 pm.

Highlights included first of the year CINNAMON TEAL, CLIFF SWALLOW,
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, and SAVANNAH SPARROW. We were not able to relocate
the four Sandhill Cranes that were photographed on the fresh water side of
the Nisqually Estuary Trail Tuesday 3/25, unfortunately for the Wednesday
walkers these birds probably only visited for one day. The GREAT HORNED
OWLs were seen, three owlets and one adult.

We started at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am and had great looks
at CANADA GOOSE, HOODED MERGANSER, GADWALL and RING-NECKED DUCK. There
were many YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, mostly Audubon's variety with a few
Myrtle subspecies, sallying for insects over the water from the pond's
edge. There must have been lots of insects to eat as the TREE SWALLOWS and
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS were actively foraging everywhere. RED-WINGED
BLACKBIRDS were singing and defending cattails marsh territory.

Waterfowl numbers continue to diminish, as only a few CACKLING GEESE were
seen. Scanning the flooded fields along the Access Road, we observed
MALLARD, NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN
WIGEON, BUFFLEHEAD and many AMERICAN COOT. The magnificent 7 GREATER
WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were feeding along the Access Road. A single EURASIAN
WIGEON was seen south of the Twin Barns. Picking through the swallows, we
spotted a few CLIFF SWALLOW. Two SAVANNAH SPARROW's were see and heard
singing along the old McAllister Creek Access Road. Adjacent to the west
entrance of the Twin Barns Loop Trail the Intergrade NORTHERN FLICKER
continues with both a black and red malar strip and a red transverse V
shaped line across the nape. This was also a good spot to enjoy the
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. There was an adult BALD
EAGLE in the cottonwood trees by the Twin Barns.

On the Twin Barns Loop Trail we enjoyed great looks of the PIED-BILLED
GREBE sleeping on the pond. The RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET were singing and
showing off their beautiful red crowns. A couple PACIFIC WREN and BEWICK'S
WREN were also heard and seen. A female RUFUOS HUMMINGBIRD is nesting 50
feet high just north and outside the trail from the most northwest
observation platform along the west side.


>From the Twin Barns Overlook we scoped nice looks of NORTHERN HARRIER and

COOPER'S HAWK perched on snags in the surge plain. From this view point we
had additional great looks of all waterfowl and swallows. Nathanael
Swecker spotted a single BARN SWALLOW, to make it a 4 swallow species day.

The Nisqually Estuary Trail was active with great looks at NORTHERN SHRIKE,
GREAT EGRET, and GREATER YELLOWLEGS. Dave Richardson spotted two CINNAMON
TEAL, a beautiful cinnamon red male with female, foraging in the water of
the cattails marsh on the inside of the dike near the green gate. Whittier
Johnson reminded us the grunting was a VIRGINIA RAIL letting us know we
were disruptive to the peace and quiet of the wetland.

On the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail we had good observations of
BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL,
GLAUCOUS-WINGED X WESTERN GULL, MEW GULL and fewer RING-BILLED GULL. Both
BALD EAGLE nests did not appear to be occupied, however maybe the nests are
deep enough now that we can not see the adult incubating eggs. Along the
west bank of McAllister Creek we spotted the SPOTTED SANDPIPER and heard
STELLER'S JAY. From the Puget Sound Viewing Platform we could scope 125+
BRANT GEESE, GREATER SCAUP, SURF SCOTER, COMMON LOON, HORNED GREBE, all
three CORMORANTS, upwards of 25 GREAT BLUE HERON, and 10 BALD EAGLE.

On our return, there were two COMMON MERGANSERS feeding in the Nisqually
River seen from the Nisqually River overlook.

The Great Horned Owlets were seen in the short riparian stand on the inside
of the Twin Barns Loop Trail from the east side near the beaver dam. Other
species spotted in this area were PILEATED WOODPECKER, BROWN CREEPER,
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, and SPOTTED TOWHEE. Another RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD is
nesting directly above the old Nisqually River Dike just north of the
beaver dam.

For the day we saw 71 species with 120 species for the year. Mammals seen
include Eastern Gray Squirrel and Harbor Seal.

Until we meet again next week at 8am at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook,
good birding!

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