[Tweeters] Neah Bay birds, Nov. 9-11.

bruce paige BBPaige at nikola.com
Wed Nov 12 13:22:19 PST 2014

Having just returned from a 3 day birding trip to Neah Bay, I’ll share some thoughts as well as birds.

Neah Bay is in the far NW corner of the continental US, about a four hour, very curvy drive from the Puget Sound metropoli. It’s a great place for scenery and birds and is on the Makah (The Strong People) Reservation. In a way, we are guests and they have been good hosts to birders visits- and that is a relationship that is still developing. As the numbers of birders increase (as it definitely has been with all the recent good birds!) so are the depth of contacts with the Makah community. That can be a very great thing if all parties are respectful. It is a pleasure to have vehicles stop as the local residents ask about “What is it that you’ve come to see”? Then to show interest in the explanation. On the other side of the coin, I’ve been worried about some birders who walk on lawns and private driveways without express permission. We represent a culture as do they! Hopefully everyone will see the advantages of developing increasingly close ties. This could lead to more than the present few bird feeders in town, and a better feeling from everyone of why the spot is appealing.

One factor to consider about Neah Bay, is the weather. It’s rainy and/or windy much of the time. In the summer, when the weather’s good it’s a popular tourist destination. Things can become very busy with campers, sightseers, surf boarders, and others. In the winter months, it’s still wet and windy, but much colder. On this last trip, the SW wind gusted to 50 mph the first day, was a moderate 10 mph the second, and much colder air blasted to 45 mph from the NE the last. Timing is everything, as passerines can hunker down out of sight for days on end until conditions improve or move elsewhere, and rough seas that come into town with a N wind make spotting waterbirds difficult.

In any event, this trip was a birding success, wind or not! On the 9th, a Palm Warbler emerged in the lee out of a bramble patch east of town near the Coast Guard Station, dipped it’s tail, and flew off. On the relatively calm 10th, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher searched for insects in conifers near the Raven’s Corner late in the afternoon. On the morning of the 11th, while waiting among the brambles near the Raven’s Corner for an hour, the Lucy’s Warbler was a no show and it was too windy to hear it even if it was present, but a male Pine Grosbeak lit in a nearby conifer for a moment before continuing eastward, and 3 Tundra Swans called once overhead heading likewise. Also, the first 7 Trumpeter Swans showed on the Wa’atch River that morning as a part of what must have been a major movement throughout the region, likely taking advantage of the clear weather and NE wind.

See you out there,
Bruce Paige

spruceak at yahoo.com
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