[Tweeters] Port Townsend area (trip report)

Neil and Carleen Zimmerman n3zims at comcast.net
Thu Nov 13 16:35:23 PST 2014

Hello Tweeters,
I led a field trip for Seattle Audubon yesterday to the Port Townsend area. Nine of us enjoyed the amazing sunshine all though it was a bit chilly or should I say, cold. We started the trip at Salsbury Point Park near the east end of the Hood Canal Bridge. The lighting was fantastic, early sunlight at our backs lighting up the water birds. Highlights were 5 Marbled Murrelets, Common Loons, Common Goldeneyes, several grebe species. Many Surf Scoters, Buffelheads and Pigeon Gillemots were also present. There is a big snag in the wooded part of the park which in the past has held Peregrine Falcons. When I turned around to look, there was a nice adult Peregrine Falcon. This is about the 6th time I have seen a PIFA in that tree. After a couple other short stops, we went to the county park on the south end of Indian Island. There were 15+ Black Turnstones on the sand bar right out in front of us. There were several Black Oystercatchers and more Black Turnstones on the rock breakwater.
After a welcome stop at the Nordland Store for hot drinks, we went to Mystery Bay State Park on Marrowstone Island. This is about the 10th year I have led this trip. I normally would see Greater Yellowlegs in a couple of suitable habitats on Indian/Marrowstone Island. This year, like last year, the only yellowlegs that I could find was at Mystery Bay. Same bird hanging out by himself? We had 8 Hooded Mergansers of both sexes in the back water area. A nice bonus was a flock of about 40 Pine Siskins that landed in a small tree right next to us. It was nice to see these tree top dwellers down low where we could get some nice looks.
Next stop was the west side of Fort Flagler SP. We scoped out to the west. There were about a dozen Long-tailed Ducks out near the middle of the bay. There were Harlequin Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Pacific and Common Loons, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Surf Scoters cruising the water. A Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorant together on a post was a nice teaching opportunity. The only shorebirds seen were two Sanderlings walking down the beach right in front of us.
Point Hudson in Port Townsend was our next stop. There were two Black Oystercatchers and about a dozen Sanderlings mixed in with the gulls on the end of the little point. It was from here that we got fleeting glances of about 7-8 Ancient Murrelets. Hard to get good looks, but we had good enough looks that backed our ID. They are frustrating little buggers. They are so far out and when they land, they dive in the water making them really hard to see.
Point Wilson at Fort Worden SP was a bit of a disappointment. Not many birds to see. There was a Sharp-shinned Hawk on the logs at the point. He was last seen headed out over the bay, don't have a clue where he was heading.
Our last stop had the most birds. We ended the day at Kah Tai Lagoon in Port Townsend. The lagoon was covered by freshwater waterfowl.
Probably 4-500 birds. Highlights were three Eurasian Widgeons mixed with the A Widgeons, 20+ Common Goldeneyes, Ruddy Ducks and Gadwall. This is always a good stop in the winter. Nice warm bathrooms at McDonald's before the trip back to the ferry.
This is one of those trips that even without the birds, in the bright sun with clear air, the trip is fantastic because of the scenery.

Neil Zimmerman
Brier, WA

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