[Tweeters] Neah Bay LUCY'S WARBLER & BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER - new additions to the ever-growing rarity list

Brad Waggoner wagtail24 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 7 21:54:59 PST 2014

Hi All,

I just returned from two exciting days of birding in Neah Bay. Some of
that excitement included a heck of a wind and rain storm on Thursday
that packed enough punch to close both highways heading west of PA and
shutting off the power to the town of Neah Bay until late afternoon on
Thursday. Birding in sideways rain in Neah Bay is really something one
needs to experience to get the true flavor of this incredible spot in
our state.

First, sorry for the unleashing of the idea of a "mystery warbler". And,
thanks to Ryan Merrill for clarifying its identitity to today. Given
this very awesome bird redefines skulker, it was my understanding with
Blair that I would let its identity and presence be known once I had
garnered access permission to the vacant lot from the owner. I know
Blair did not reveal this warbler or location, but obviously this was
the first question I was asked by birders visiting today. I finally
received birder access permission late today from Jeff Sawyer, a Neah
Bay police officer and owner of the lot. If it is still present, this
access seems almost essential to hopefully catch a glimpse of it.
Location described below. Anyway, sorry for the delay. It was not my
intent to hide this sighting. There is a fantastic relationship going
with the folks of Neah Bay and the birders flocking to there for the
list of fantastic birds. Their sign on the main store coming into town
says welcome birders so it was my hope that this great feeling was
maintained. Every encounter I have had with local folks has been very
positive. And, the businesses like the owners of Butlers Motel where I
stay, have been ecstatic for the increased business during a usually
very quiet time in town.

LUCY'S WARBLER - Found in blackberry patch yesterday morning in the
vacant lot directly across from a well marked house/business signed
Ravens Corner. A sign to this spot is clearly visible on the main drag
into town once one passes the museum. It is a neighborhood accessed by
roads Hemlock and Nursery and you really can't miss Ravens Corner. The
bird was viewable for a brief time for me yesterday morning, but then
subsequent detections both yesterday mid-day with Blair and again first
thing this morning with brother Dan and Randy Knapp were by a handful of
response call notes only - perfect matches to call notes from playback.
It also vocalized this way a few times for me after my viewing of the
bird. Notes on its ID and circumstance will be placed on my eBird
submission by tomorrow. Suffice it to say that it is very tiny,
non-descript, gray warbler with a short tail, tiny bill, and a chestnut
rump patch. Hopefully it will end up showing up at a hummingbird feeder
as did one of the two Oregon records for this species. In this current
spot it is a big, I mean small, pain in the rear. And, sadly sideways
blowing rain and a small bird tucked a few feet back in blackberry
bushes is not a good formula for auto-focus on my camera lens. Ah well,
so it goes.

BLUE- GRAY GNATCATCHER - Dan, Randy, and I found this one mid-morning
today amongst a chickadee and kinglet flock in a wooded area along
Wahdah View drive. This road is after you drop down the hill toward town
just prior to the Coast Guard Station. It is marked by a sign pointing
toward Makah Tribal Housing Department. The road parallels a gravel
swath with a few parked cars and a wooded area bordered by a cyclone
fence. The flock and the gnatcatcher were at the corner of this area
near an outbuilding and a utility truck with a yellow light on the roof.
Unlike the warbler, this sucker was Mr. Cooperative, flashing its tail
about and nicely posing for the camera lens. Finding the roving flock
might be needed to re-find this one.

As tough as yesterday was, today was a walk in the park - sunny, mild
with calm winds. Even without the continuing goodies, a calm bay reveals
countless waterbirds and is an impressive sight. One can come up with an
incredible day-list here. Other goodies, as Ryan had mentioned, were the
two Orioles, the cooperative Brambling (at least today, as I did not see
it during the storm), up to 3 Tropical Kingbirds, 3 Pine Grosbeaks in
flight over the Mini-mart, and 3 Red Phalaropes on the bay. No doubt I
am forgetting something. I did not see the Harris's Sparrow or the
Vesper Sparrow. The Cattle Egret was seen today but the main attraction,
the hobby, has not been seen since last Saturday as far as I know.

Wow, what an amazing stretch of bird finds in Neah Bay!

Good Birding,
Brad Waggoner

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