[Tweeters] WA State Big Day Report - 10 May 2014 [long]

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Sun May 11 12:01:35 PDT 2014

Tweets -
Yesterday, May 10 2014, Michael Hobbs, Sharon Cormier-Aagaard and I held our third State Big Day. Our plan was to try to find as many species as possible in a 24 hour period by zooming around the state and pushing our limits. The day was great fun, with surprise birds, cooperative birds, frustratingly elusive birds and more. Weather was cooperative, but not particularly summer-like: We may have just barely seen temps break 60 for part of the day, but mostly it was overcast to cloudy, with occasional rain showers -- fortunately, the showers mostly came during driving periods, and the winds were only rarely an issue.

Our total for the day was: 168 species -- 7 fewer than our 2012 best, but 6 better than last year's attempt.

We began at midnight up Durr Road in Kittitas County. Sage Thrashers were singing away around us for our first bird. A Brewer's Sparrow joined in briefly, as did a distant Great Horned Owl. At the intersection of Durr Rd. and Umptanum Rd. we heard our first Common Poorwill of the day. Next up was a long streak of trying in vain for owls -- At Wenas Campground we battled late night party music to try to call in a Western Screech-Owl to no avail. Black Canyon was quiet as well, but we did get great looks at a Common Poorwill. Coming into Naches, a couple Great Horned Owls popped up. Along Valley Mall Blvd. in Yakima, we called in a Barn Owl for a magical fly-over. The pre-dawn birding ended with another failed shot at Screech-Owl up US 97 at BIA 148.

As light emerged, we started south of Toppenish at BIA 148 and picked up Rock Wren & Say's Phoebe. Moving down to Tule Road, Grasshopper, Sagebrush, & Vesper Sparrows were in place and singing for our sage species of the day.
We moved on to Toppenish NWR for our first big dawn birding stop. At the flooded area 3/4 miles north of the HQ, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts, Wilson's Phalarope, Long-billed Dowitchers, Wison's Snipe & Killdeer were cooperative, along with some ducks, Virginia Rail & three blackbird species. In the Headquarters trees, we picked up a nice passel of passerines including Bullock's Oriole, Cedar Waxwing, Western Kingbird, lingering Golden-crowned Sparrows, and a couple warblers. The new [to us] walking path around a pond near the HQ looked great but we hadn't scouted and needed to move on. The rest of the NWR had pretty low water levels visible, so we might have done better by spending more time at the HQ. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a flock of American White-Pelicans in one canal, a Golden Eagle perched on the cliffs above Pumphouse Rd., a flying Prairie Falcon and a gorgeous Swainson's Hawk.

We left Toppenish at about 8:00am with 72 species, a little lower than desired but still pretty good for 8AM!

We headed west through Yakima and out US 12, stopping at the cliffs just west of town to pick up Vaux's & White-throated Swifts [and an overdue Osprey!]. A flyby Spotted Sandpiper at the bridge over the Tieton across from Oak Creek WA was a nice find. Oak Creek offered great looks at Lewis's Woodpecker along with our first Nashville & Townsend's Warblers and a Western Wood-pewee. At Bear Canyon, birding was pretty slow, but we picked up one of very few Black-headed Grosbeaks of the day, a couple Dusky Flycatchers, Cassin's Vireo and a soaring Cooper's Hawk. We had no luck snagging a Harlequin Duck or Dipper as we headed uphlll, but Bethel Ridge came through with mountain forest birds: Red-naped Sapsucker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Brown Creeper, both kinglets, Townsend's Solitaire, Lincoln's Sparrow on territory, Western Tanager, Cassin's Finch & Red Crossbill were all cooperative. Most fun was finding a Calliope Hummingbird picking moss from a tree -- a bird we'd thought we'd missed by then. At Soup Creek Rd., we were fortunate to successfully find a Black-backed Woodpecker without much effort. Tieton Marsh held Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck & more Cinnamon Teal. Around the edges we also enjoyed a possibly nesting Western Bluebird pair and finally got views of Yellow Warbler. At Clear Lake we scoped Barrow's Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers & American Wigeon before heading up to the pass. Just on the Yakima side of White Pass, our final east-side stop gave us four final species before crossing over --While light snow fell around us we found Gray Jay Hermit Thrush, Pine Siskin and Evening Grosbeak.

We crossed the pass at a little after 1:00 with 117 species for the day so far -- not too shabby for half a day!

The drive through Lewis County is mostly driving time to get to the coast, with a few strategic stops to pick up westside birds. Just across White Pass, we stopped briefly and were rewarded with Varied Thrush. At Packwood, the gas station proved again reliable for Rufous Hummingbirds [5 or more coming to the feeder there]. A roadside stop turned up MacGillivray's Warbler & Red-breasted Sapsucker. A quick trip up FR 25 out of Randle gave us Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren & Pac-slope Flycatchers. At Peters Road, we finally saw our first Bank Swallows of day and were happy to find a Wilson's Phalarope -- not a new big day bird, but a county lifer for all of us. We were running late so we skipped Riffe Lake and pushed on past I-5 to Rainbow Falls State Park -- Hermit Warblers are back and cooperated with great views, and a house with feeders outside the park provided our first Band-tailed Pigeons and Anna's Hummingbirds of the day. Driving through Pe Ell we ticked Western Scrub-Jay and just after crossing into Pacific County we stopped at an abandoned house along the roadside where we finally saw Black-capped Chickadee for the day. Our final stop before hitting the water was Fork Creek Hatchery, where American Dipper under the bridge did not disappoint.

With the day getting closer to its end, we began the final stretch, driving the north edge of Willapa Bay from Raymond through Tokeland and up to Westport. The tide was waaay out along Willapa Bay, not ideal for picking up too many birds, but probably helpful in pushing us to get to Westport a bit earlier. Along Willapa Bay, though, we did find our first gulls of the day [Western, Glaucous-winged, California & Ring-billed] along with Caspian Terns, Whimbrel & Semipalmated Plover. Common & Pacific Loons and Red-brested Mergansers were about the only birds out on the distant water we could distinguish.

At Tokeland Marina, the star bird of the day was front & center -- I'd heard a third-hand report of a credible sounding ARCTIC LOON the day before, and sure enough, there it was. None of us are experts at Arctic Loon id, but this bird allowed great viewing and appeared to conform to all the field marks we could think to check: The white flanks drew us to the bird, and they were extensive, stretching almost half-way long the body, and never disappearing despite several dives, posture changes and the like. The straight line dividing the black back of the neck from the white throat was straight, ruling out a confusing Common Loon easily. No sign of a chin-strap [a la Pacific]. The bill was pretty substantial looking -- seemingly moreso than a Pacific , and the forehead was steeper than the Pacific we could briefly compare with. At all times, the loon stayed inside the marina, actively diving, but allowing amazingly close views -- here's hoping others are able to get looks and help document the bird.

Back to the big day! Besides the Arctic Loon, a Great Egret was also hanging out in the marina - a nice late pick-up we'd regretted missing at Toppenish. A handful of Dunlin but no confirmed Marbled Godwits, our first Surf Scoters and glimpses of Greater Scaup rounded out our Tokeland stop.

The daylight ended at Westport -- where the birds just poured into view in an exciting end to the day: At the Westport Jetty a flock of breeding plumage Sanderling moved along the beach with a few Least Sandpipers & Semipalm Plovers mixed in;Brandt's and Pelagic Cormorants were nesting out on a channel marker; Rhino Auklets, Common Murre & Pigeon Guillemots showed up. Distant Brant were on the water off the jetty point; Common Terns were flitting around in the bay between Westport & Ocean Shores; and a constant stream of Brown Pelicans cruised by as it got darker. After waving briefly at another Big Day team that showed up at the Jetty, we moved over to the Westport Coastguard station for one last bit of visible birding -- Our first Black-bellied Plovers were good enough, then, not far below us on the rocks we noticed a huddled group of 6 shorebirds -- 5 of them were Short-billed Dowitchers [tick], and one of them was a Red Knot - sweet! A Peregrine Falcon cruised by as well to finish off the daylight birding.

Before calling the day to an end, we made a couple more stops - at Bottle Beach in the dark, we were able to hear American Bittern pumping away. That turned out to be our final species, as stops for Western Screech-Owl and Barred Owl were not successful.

A couple of hours of driving back to the Seattle area and we were done with our 26+hour day of birding, with 168 species tallied between midnights.

Notable misses for the day included: Warbling Vireo, Bushtit, American Coot, Greater Yellowlegs, Blue-winged Teal, Chukar, Williamson's Sapsucker, Pileated Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Hutton's Vireo, Purple Martin, Canyon Wren, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Bunting, Purple Finch, many owls and more -- plenty of room to improve next time around, despite an excellent and fun day all around.

Here's our tally for the day along with the first location observed:
1. Brant - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

2. Canada Goose - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

3. Wood Duck - Tieton Marsh, Yakima County

4. Gadwall - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

5. American Wigeon - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

6. Mallard - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

7. Cinnamon Teal - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

8. Northern Shoveler - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

9. Green-winged Teal - Tieton Marsh, Yakima County

10. Ring-necked Duck - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

11. Greater Scaup - Tokeland Marina, Pacific County

12. Surf Scoter - Tokeland Marina, Pacific County

13. Bufflehead - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

14. Barrow's Goldeneye - Clear Lake, Yakima County

15. Hooded Merganser - Peters Road, Lewis County

16. Common Merganser - US 12 Tieton River, Yakima County

17. Red-breasted Merganser - Willapa Bay #4, Pacific County

18. California Quail - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

19. Ring-necked Pheasant - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

20. Arctic Loon - Tokeland Marina, Pacific County

21. Pacific Loon - Willapa Bay #4, Pacific County

22. Common Loon - Willapa Bay #4, Pacific County

23. Pied-billed Grebe - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

24. Horned Grebe - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

25. Brandt's Cormorant - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

26. Double-crested Cormorant - Raymond waterfront, Pacific County

27. Pelagic Cormorant - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

28. American White Pelican - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

29. Brown Pelican - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

30. American Bittern - Bottle Beach, Grays Harbor County

31. Great Blue Heron - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

32. Great Egret - Tokeland Marina, Pacific County

33. Turkey Vulture - Bear Canyon, Yakima County

34. Osprey - US 12 Fruitdale Blvd area cliffs, Yakima County

35. Bald Eagle - US 12 Packwood area, Lewis County

36. Northern Harrier - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

37. Cooper's Hawk - Bear Canyon, Yakima County

38. Swainson's Hawk - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

39. Red-tailed Hawk - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

40. Golden Eagle - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

41. Virginia Rail - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

42. Sora - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

43. Black-necked Stilt - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

44. American Avocet - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

45. Black-bellied Plover - Westport Coast Guard Station, Grays Harbor County

46. Semipalmated Plover - Willapa Bay #3, Pacific County

47. Killdeer - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

48. Spotted Sandpiper - US 12 at Oak Creek WA bridge over Tieton, Yakima County

49. Lesser Yellowlegs - Tokeland, Graveyard Spit, Pacific County

50. Whimbrel - Willapa Bay #5, Pacific County

51. Red Knot - Westport Coast Guard Station, Grays Harbor County

52. Sanderling - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

53. Dunlin - Tokeland Marina, Pacific County

54. Least Sandpiper - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

55. Short-billed Dowitcher - Westport Coast Guard Station, Grays Harbor County

56. Long-billed Dowitcher - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

57. Wilson's Snipe - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

58. Wilson's Phalarope - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

59. Common Murre - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

60. Pigeon Guillemot - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

61. Rhinoceros Auklet - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

62. Ring-billed Gull - Willapa Bay #3, Pacific County

63. Western Gull - Willapa Bay #1, Pacific County

64. California Gull - Willapa Bay #3, Pacific County

65. Glaucous-winged Gull - Willapa Bay #2, Pacific County

66. Caspian Tern - willapa Bay #1, Pacific County

67. Common Tern - Westport Jetty, Grays Harbor County

68. Rock Pigeon - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

69. Band-tailed Pigeon - Rainbow Falls SP, Lewis County

70. Eurasian Collared-Dove - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

71. Mourning Dove - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

72. Barn Owl - Yakima, Valley Mall Blvd., Yakima County

73. Great Horned Owl - Durr Rd., Kittitas County

74. Common Poorwill - Durr Rd., Kittitas County

75. Vaux's Swift - US 12 Fruitdale Blvd area cliffs, Yakima County

76. White-throated Swift - US 12 Fruitdale Blvd area cliffs, Yakima County

77. Anna's Hummingbird - Rainbow Falls SP, Lewis County

78. Rufous Hummingbird - Packwood Gas Station, Lewis County

79. Calliope Hummingbird - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

80. Belted Kingfisher - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

81. Lewis's Woodpecker - Oak Creek WA, Yakima County

82. Red-naped Sapsucker - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

83. Red-breasted Sapsucker - US 12 Packwood area, Lewis County

84. Downy Woodpecker - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

85. Hairy Woodpecker - Tieton Marsh, Yakima County

86. Black-backed Woodpecker - Soup Creek, Yakima County

87. Northern Flicker - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

88. American Kestrel - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

89. Peregrine Falcon - Westport Coast Guard Station, Grays Harbor County

90. Prairie Falcon - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

91. Western Wood-Pewee - Oak Creek WA, Yakima County

92. Hammond's Flycatcher - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

93. Dusky Flycatcher - Bear Canyon, Yakima County

94. Pacific-slope Flycatcher - FR 25, Randle, Lewis County

95. Say's Phoebe - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

96. Western Kingbird - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

97. Cassin's Vireo - Bear Canyon, Yakima County

98. Gray Jay - White Pass, Yakima side, Yakima County

99. Steller's Jay - Bear Canyon, Yakima County

100. Western Scrub-Jay - Pe Ell, Lewis County

101. Black-billed Magpie - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

102. American Crow - Lateral A, Toppenish, Yakima County

103. Common Raven - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

104. Horned Lark - Tule Rd., Yakima County

105. Tree Swallow - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

106. Violet-green Swallow - US 12 Fruitdale Blvd area cliffs, Yakima County

107. N. Rough-winged Swallow - US 12 Tieton River, Yakima County

108. Bank Swallow - Peters Road, Lewis County

109. Cliff Swallow - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

110. Barn Swallow - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

111. Black-capped Chickadee - US 12 mp 23 abandoned house, Pacific County

112. Mountain Chickadee - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

113. Chestnut-backed Chickadee - FR 25, Randle, Lewis County

114. Red-breasted Nuthatch - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

115. Brown Creeper - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

116. Rock Wren - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

117. House Wren - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

118. Pacific Wren - FR 25, Randle, Lewis County

119. Marsh Wren - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

120. Bewick's Wren - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

121. American Dipper - Fork Creek Hatchery, Pacific County

122. Golden-crowned Kinglet - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

123. Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

124. Western Bluebird - Tieton Marsh, Yakima County

125. Townsend's Solitaire - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

126. Hermit Thrush - White Pass, Yakima side, Yakima County

127. American Robin - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

128. Varied Thrush - White Pass, Lewis side, Lewis County

129. Sage Thrasher - Durr Rd., Kittitas County

130. European Starling - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

131. Cedar Waxwing - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

132. Orange-crowned Warbler - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

133. Nashville Warbler - Oak Creek WA, Yakima County

134. MacGillivray's Warbler - US 12 Packwood area, Lewis County

135. Common Yellowthroat - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

136. Yellow Warbler - Tieton Marsh, Yakima County

137. Yellow-rumped Warbler - Oak Creek WA, Yakima County

138. Black-throated Gray Warbler - Willapa Bay #3, Pacific County

139. Townsend's Warbler - Oak Creek WA, Yakima County

140. Hermit Warbler - Rainbow Falls SP, Lewis County

141. Wilson's Warbler - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

142. Spotted Towhee - BIA 148 West, Yakima County

143. Chipping Sparrow - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

144. Brewer's Sparrow - Durr Rd., Kittitas County

145. Vesper Sparrow - Tule Rd., Yakima County

146. Sagebrush Sparrow - Tule Rd., Yakima County

147. Savannah Sparrow - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

148. Grasshopper Sparrow - Tule Rd., Yakima County

149. Song Sparrow - BIA 148 East, Yakima County

150. Lincoln's Sparrow - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

151. White-crowned Sparrow - FR 25, Randle, Lewis County

152. Golden-crowned Sparrow - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

153. Dark-eyed Junco - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

154. Western Tanager - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

155. Black-headed Grosbeak - Bear Canyon, Yakima County

156. Red-winged Blackbird - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

157. Western Meadowlark - Tule Rd., Yakima County

158. Yellow-headed Blackbird - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

159. Brewer's Blackbird - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

160. Brown-headed Cowbird - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

161. Bullock's Oriole - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

162. House Finch - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

163. Cassin's Finch - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

164. Red Crossbill - Bethel Ridge, Yakima County

165. Pine Siskin - White Pass, Yakima side, Yakima County

166. American Goldfinch - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

167. Evening Grosbeak - White Pass, Yakima side, Yakima County

168. House Sparrow - Toppenish NWR, Yakima County

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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