[Tweeters] WA State Big Day May 10 - Team Raven Loonatics

Doug Schurman doug at bodyresults.com
Mon May 12 13:17:23 PDT 2014

On Saturday team Raven Loonatics completed a Seattle Audubon Bird-a-thon
State Big Day. We ended the day with 154 species and should have raised just
over $1,000. Team members were Sarah Peden, Jordan Gunn, Travis Keay and
Doug Schurman.

Our route this year was similar to last year except this year we were able
to make it to the planned end. Last year we were over 3 hours late and
stopped at Ridgefield before making it to the coast and finished with 127
species. This year we were determined to do better. We did some scouting in
Yakima county ahead of time and refined our route which helped.

To help us be a little more fresh for the start we got a hotel room in
Packwood for some sleep. After about 3-4 hours of sleep we left the hotel at
11pm and began owling up in the mountains in Lewis county right at midnight.
We had rain and snow with temps reaching as low as 36 degrees. Our 90
minutes of owling turned up zilch. Next stop was East of White Pass at
Tieton Marsh. We had nothing here and started up Bethel Ridge. On our way up
the road we stopped and listened at several places. Finally around 4am we
heard a pair of Flammulated Owls calling from high up on the ridge. Soon the
Robins started chatting and our day light birding began. We had scouted
Bethel ridge extensively and made good use of it getting Williamson's and
Red Naped Sapsuckers and Black-backed, White-headed, Downy and Hairy
Woodpeckers along with Dusky and Hammond's Flycatchers and other expected
forest birds.

Daytime Tieton Marsh yielded a few ducks, several swallows, kingfisher,
Pipit, Cowbird, Purple Finch and Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Various
stops going down the Tieton River yielded Harlequin, Rufous and Calliope
Hummingbirds, Warbling Vireo, Black-headed Grosbeak, and MacGillvray's

At Oak Creek Rd we had Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Canyon Wren, Bullock's Oriole,
Western Kingbird, Say's Phoebe, White-throated Swift and Cliff Swallows.

Driving to Granger Ponds yielded a flock of White Pelicans in flight along
with 8 other common species. Granger Ponds had Coot, Stilts, Killdeer, Least
Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper and a Swainson's Hawk in flight. At Toppenish
we had Avocets, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Sora, Virginia Rail, Great Horned
Owl and Pheasants that startled us as we flushed them. Sarah saw 3 Bitterns
fly in but the other 3 of us could not get on them so we couldn't count it
on the day.

At Tule Rd we Sagebrush, Vesper and Brewer's Sparrows along and Horned Lark.
At BIA 148 we had Rock Wren, Lazuli Bunting, Goldfinch, Towhee, Ruby-crowned
Kinglet and Orange-crowned Warbler. From there we headed South to Balch Lake
where we had Scrub Jay, Nashville Warbler, Vaux's Swift and Wild Turkeys. We
missed Acorn Woodpecker, White-throated Flycatcher and Lesser Goldfinches
and left at 1:45pm.

>From there we went straight to Ridgefield. We didn't find neither as many

species as expected here. Conditions didn't seem good for shorebirds. We did
add Purple Martin to complete the 7 Swallow species and the other 3 Wren
species to complete the WA Wren family. A few more waterfowl were found but
not much else that added to our list.

Next stop was Rainbow Falls SP which none of us had ever been to before. The
short stop yielded Pileated Woodpecker, Wilson's and Hermit Warbler, Evening
Grosbeak and our 10th woodpecker species the Red-breasted Sapsucker. Driving
away from the area led to seeing Cooper's Hawk and Band-tailed Pigeons.

Our first stop on the Coast was Tokeland where we had 3 gulls, Whimbrel,
Red-breasted Merganser, Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs and the Arctic Loon
Michael Hobbs described. At Westport Jetty we found a flock of shorebirds
foraging on the beach that included Semipalmated Plover, Western Sandpiper
and Sanderling. Scanning out over the water we found Brown Pelican, Common
Loon, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot. As light was fading we stopped
at Brad's Oysters just before 9pm. Tide was already way up so no shorebirds
were around but we did pick up both Lesser and Greater Scaup.

Just on a chance that there might be some shorebirds on the other side of
the bridge there we took a look. No shorebirds but we did see our 3rd owl
species, a Short-eared Owl glide low over the marsh that was then harassed
by a Northern Harrier. Wanting to go to the last minute we owled at 4 more
locations and turned up our 4th owl species and final bird of the day a
Barn Owl way out in Oakville just before midnight.

Exhausted from our marathon birding we drove back to Seattle and arrived at
the park and ride just after 2am.

We had help with scouting and tips from over a dozen people that we can't
thank enough. Finally a big thanks to the team. We all got along great and
had a ton of laughs along the way through the intense birding adventure.

If anyone would still like to contribute to Seattle Audubon under our Team
our donation page can be found at


Doug Schurman

NE Seattle

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