[Tweeters] Ruff (Skagit Co.) and American Avocet (Island Co.) still there on Sept. 15

Wayne Weber contopus at telus.net
Tue Sep 16 22:07:59 PDT 2014


Yesterday just after lunch, I decided to try for some of the rare birds
recently reported at the Skagit Wildlife Area near Conway. I arrived at
about 1 PM, and quickly met Rick Taylor and MaryFrances Mathis, who assured
me they had just seen the RUFF perched with yellowlegs on logs in the water,
near the second (boat launch) parking area. I drove over there in short
order, only to find that as I was driving, a PEREGRINE FALCON had attacked
and driven off nearly all the shorebirds. The falcon was still perched in a
dead tree nearby, and the only shorebirds I could see were a couple of
distant yellowlegs. The falcon remained at least 10 minutes before finally
flying off. Drat, I thought, I've missed the Ruff by a hair! Apparently, no
one had seen the LEWIS'S WOODPECKER and LITTLE BLUE HERON that were there on

I decided to walk down the remaining dyke (west dyke), and it soon became
apparent that most of the shorebirds had resettled in several groups along
the water's edge farther south, although not all of them were easily
visible. The first couple of groups of yellowlegs and dowitchers did not
include the Ruff. However, a third group of shorebirds was perched on logs
and stumps just south of the junction of the main dyke and the new
(east-west) dyke, and careful scanning revealed the Ruff in the middle of
this group. After looking for a better viewing position farther down the
dyke, I got close and prolonged views of the Ruff, as did Michelle Barr of
Bellingham and Jim and Betsy Walker of Anacortes, who were also looking for
it. The $@!!*$# Peregrine came back a couple of times, but did not flush
this group of birds, which stayed put close to the dyke. I also met a group
of about 8 birders including Dave Hutchinson and Marcus Roening, who also
got to see the Ruff. So it took awhile to track down the Ruff, but it was

I am starting to get quite familiar with the looks of juvenile Ruffs. This
is the third one I have seen in 2 weeks, including one the previous day (!)
at Iona Island near Vancouver, and one in early September at the Reifel Bird
Sanctuary. Together with the Ruff(s?) at Ocean Shores, this has been a good
fall for Ruffs so far.

I then decided to head for Crockett Lake on Whidbey Island to see if I could
find the AMERICAN AVOCET found by Rick Taylor the previous day. Shortly
after I got to the east end of the lake, there it was, feeding by itself a
long way out in the shallow water, although it took a scope to get a good
view of the bird. I watched it from about 5:40 to 6 PM, and looked for but
did not see any other rare birds in the area.

Being a dedicated county lister, I was very pleased to find both the Ruff,
which was new for my Skagit County list, and the Avocet, new for my Island
County list. I am now closing in on 250 species lifetime in Skagit County
and 200 in Island County, although each new one gets harder.

Now, if they would just move Asotin County a bit closer to Vancouver, BC so
that I can augment my Asotin County list more easily!

Many thanks to everyone who reports their rare bird sightings on TWEETERS--
please keep those reports coming!

Wayne C. Weber

Delta, BC

contopus at telus.net

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