[Tweeters] Grays Harbor Area Report

Carol Riddell cariddellwa at gmail.com
Tue Jan 13 09:13:20 PST 2015

Hi Tweets,

Frank Caruso and I drove out to Grays Harbor Monday, January 12th. Some birds were abundant and others were missing or with very thin ranks. Perhaps last week's rain storm caused some species to retreat inland. We started at the Hoquiam STPs where we found next to nothing. There were no gulls or heron perched on the railing and only a few Buffleheads and scaups in the lagoons. The east lagoon has such high water that all previously bare areas are covered. On the bay side of that lagoon, there is a major earth-fill operation in progress. We were told that they are dumping fill from last week's slides there. All vegetation had been removed and ongoing sounds of the construction equipment may have caused birds to retreat. What this will look like once spring migration commences is anyone's guess.

At Ocean Shores we went to Point Brown where we found a mixed flock of rock pipers on the jetty: 14 Rock Sandpipers, 1 Surfbird, 1 Black Turnstone, and 1 Sanderling. Several more Black Turnstones were visible at the far end of the jetty. We encountered the highest water I have ever seen at the Oyhut Game Range. We saw very little bird activity there and Frank could not hear any passerine chatter in the dune grass. There were no bird carcasses on the beach there, although we met a COASST team looking. Driving through Ocean Shores we found no geese. We drove the beach from the north end of town to the Casino and stopped to scope the ocean. We saw somewhat small numbers of gulls that included a couple of Herring Gulls. Sanderlings were spread out along the shore break with only three Dunlins for variety. We did note a Merlin and we watched a Peregrine Falcon bathing in one of the smaller streams.

We bypassed Bottle Beach and stopped at Brady's Oysters to scan the birds on the exposed tide flats. There were at least 2,000 Dunlins, 125 Marbled Godwits, and about 100 Least Sandpipers with about 10 Black-bellied Plovers. Due to distance, we could not determine whether a Western Sandpiper or two might have been mixed in the Least flock. We had both Common and Red-throated Loons here.

Our next stop was Tokeland where we saw Sanderlings, Least Sandpipers, Dunlins, and some Black-bellied Plovers at Graveyard Spit. There were no Willets to be had in Tokeland. So we finished our day with a beach drive for several miles to the south of Grayland Beach State Park and then a mile or two north, back into Grays Harbor County. Shorebirds were Sanderlings at regular intervals along the beach. We noted 2 California Gulls in one of the small flocks of gulls. We could not find the Snowy Plovers either along the shore or higher up on the beach. I easily found them at this time last year so we wondered if last week's rain and weather may have caused a retreat of this small population. Driving north we found one more Peregrine and then watched a flock of about 2,000 Dunlins fly south along the shore break. It may have been the same flock we saw at Brady's because at that time the high tide would have covered the tide flats.

Our last stop before dark was in Grayland Beach State Park where we found a few Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and one Hermit Thrush. The weather was beautiful, it was enjoyable birding, we each added species to our year lists, but there were notable absences, perhaps affected by last week's weather. We would have liked to check the standing water at the Brady Loop for dowitchers but it was dark by the time we passed there.

If Dianna Moore, or anyone else, has further information to share about the current operation at the Hoquiam STPS, I'm sure many would find it helpful. Niether Frank nor I had ever seen a bathing Peregrine. I will add a couple of photos today to an ebird checklist for the Ocean Shores -- outer beach hot spot.

Carol Riddell
Edmonds, Wa

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