[Tweeters] Grays Harbor Sizzles

Jim Owens jimo at brainerd.org
Sat Sep 6 22:29:49 PDT 2014


On Saturday, Jeanelle Richardson and I led part of Seattle Audubon Society's new Master Birder class on a field trip to the Grays Harbor area. We started strong at the Hoquiam STP with a Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, two Stilt Sandpipers, Least and Pectoral Sandpipers, and a Red-necked Phalarope in addition to the usual waterfowl of the STP. Arriving at Bottle Beach hoping to see vast numbers of shorebirds being pushed to us by the rising tide, we were dismayed to see less than one hundred Black-bellied Plovers, a handful of Semipalmated Plovers and many Northern Pintails and other ducks and geese. Only the appearance of a group led by Bob Sundstrom and George Gerdts cheered us up, though George advised us that with a north wind, we weren't likely to see much in the way of shorebirds. The appearance of another Seattle Audubon group led by Andy McCormick gave us further moral support, though they were headed to Oyhut while we were headed south.

We looked without success for Wandering Tattlers at Westport, finding instead a Common Murre, hundreds of Marbled Godwits on a float near the Coast Guard Station and Tom Mansfield. He may have left to find a cold beverage, since the heat was on the rise. Pushing on, we walked the beach at Grayland Beach State Park (in 86 F weather) seeking Snowy Plovers, who were no doubt cooling their feet under bushes up on the beach while we wandered around on the hot beach like mad dogs and Englishmen. While walking back to our cars along the beach, we found small groups of Sanderlings, a Western Sandpiper, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and four Baird's Sandpipers. Thousands of Sooty Shearwaters were glimpsed through heat waves beyond the breakers, and Todd Sahl reported three American Pipits seen during his return to the parking lot.

Graveyard Spit was hot, but produced Whimbrels, a Long-billed Curlew and seven Black Turnstones. At the Tokeland Marina, we were pleased to pick up Willets, more Marbled Godwits at close range, and Western and Least Sandpipers. Running into Mike and Merry Lynn Denny and John Gachet and other birding friends was a treat; Mike reminded us of WOS's Potholes Pelagic Trip scheduled for Sep. 14, where the temperature may be lower than the Outer Coast was today! Unable to give up our search for more species, our group made one last stop at the Johns River Wildlife Area, where we found Belted Kingfishers and more Spotted Sandpipers.

Our congenial group of Master Birder students ended the day with 61 species, not bad for a blistering hot day on the coast.

Jim Owens
Mercer Island

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