[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk 7/29/2015
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Jul 30 13:39:41 PDT 2015
thirty of us enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at the Refuge with temperatures
in the 70's-80's degrees Fahrenheit and a Low -1'6" Tide at 10:47am.
Highlights included our collaboration with the USGS, survey week, allowing
a few volunteers to survey the south dike, and rarities including EASTERN
KINGBIRD and LONG-BILLED CURLEW.
Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am, we had great looks
of PIED-BILLED GREBE, on the pond, and BARN SWALLOW, TREE SWALLOW,
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW perched on the roof of the center. VAUX'S SWIFT were
observed flying overhead, and over the entire Refuge very large flocks of
EUROPEAN STARLING predominate.
Jerry Broadus reported from the south dike, which is restricted from public
access and is a sanctuary for the Refuge wildlife. Since 2008 we have
helped our fabulous USGS technicians survey this area on a monthly basis
providing a few dedicated regular volunteers access for survey purposes
only. On the south dike birds seen and more frequently reported included
AMERICAN BITTERN, VIRGINIA RAIL, SORA, KILLDEER, and SPOTTED SANDPIPER.
Additional nice observations of 19 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, a PEREGRINE FALCON,
and a CHIPPING SPARROW.
>From the fields adjacent to the Access Road, we observed good numbers of
CEDAR WAXWING, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, and REDWING BLACKBIRD. Additional
swallows seen included CLIFF SWALLOW, 10 plus NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED
SWALLOW, and 3 plus BANK SWALLOW. There were also immature WHITE-CROWNED
SPARROW and BUSHTITS around the parking lot, as well a few COMMON
Entering the Twin Barns Loop Trail from the west entrance, we had good
observation of juvenile AMERICAN ROBIN, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, and BLACK-CAPPED
CHICKADEE. YELLOW WARBLER was heard. Jon Anderson spotted a HOUSE FINCH,
which is an unusual find for us. Along the west side of the trail, we
picked up DOWNY WOODPECKER, WILLOW FLYCATCHER and MARSH WREN. At the
cut-off for the Twin Barns, Doug Martin spotted a Virginia Rail, and we
bumped into Dennis Ellison who had just photographed an EASTERN KINGBIRD in
"Magic Pond" or the fresh water pond adjacent to the cat tail marsh on the
inside of the Nisqually Estuary Trail, new dike, just west of Leschi
Slough. The chase was on, but sadly our twitchers were unable to relocate
the bird, thank goodness Dennis took a photograph.
Out on the Nisqually Estuary Trail, or new dike, we had nice fly overs of
MALLARDS, CANADA GEESE, BALD EAGLE, RED-TAILED HAWK and GREAT BLUE HERON.
On the surge plain, just north of the dike and east of Leschi Slough we
observed a large shore bird that we initially identified as a Whimbrel. I
returned later in the afternoon around 4:30pm during the tidal push of a
High 13' Tide at 6:00pm to further observe this bird and watched it fly in
closer to the marsh plain just east of Leschi. While in flight the flight
feathers were cinnamon with black leading primaries and a rather plain
cinnamon face. I think we misidentified this bird, which I now suspect is
a LONG-BILLED CURLEW.
Photos: <a data-flickr-embed="true" href="
title="Long-billed Curlew. Nisqually NWR."><img src="
width="480" height="640" alt="Long-billed Curlew. Nisqually
NWR."></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js"
On the new dike we also observed good sized flocks of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.
"Magic Pond" and the fresh water marsh provided habitat for GREATER
YELLOWLEGS, WILSON'S SNIPE, HOODED MERGANSER, and CINNAMON TEAL. During
the low tide, there were 4 BELTED KINGFISHER perched in Elder Berry bushes
through out the fresh water marsh. The survey does not go further out on
survey day, so we headed back towards the Nisqually River Overlook.
Along the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, we picked up BLACK-HEADED
GROSBEAK, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, BROWN CREEPER and WILSON'S WARBLER.
Back at the Visitor Center by noon, I got word from Ralph Gross that some
birders had seen a Bald Eagle that may have been in trouble on a sand bar
along McAllister Creek. Our walk had dispersed by this time, so I headed
out to the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail to help Ralph evaluate the
eagle situation. As it turns out, two adult Bald Eagles had caught a
flounder and were teaching their juvenile how to finish the kill. All was
well as we watched the adults mentor their offspring. By this time it was
mid afternoon, so I elected to stay on the boardwalk and watch the 13' tide
due in at 6pm move the birds. Out at the Puget Sound Viewing Platform I
enjoyed observing three OSPREY, 100+ GREAT BLUE HERON, BONOPARTE'S GULL,
RING-BILLED GULL, CALIFORNIA GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, CASPIAN TERN,
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and PURPLE MARTIN.
While walking back on the boardwalk, I observed 20 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS
near the photo blind. "Michael" or white winged GBHE was roosting west of
the boardwalk north of the McAllister Creek Viewing Platform. Back on the
Nisqually Estuary Trail, additional finds included NORTHERN HARRIER, female
AMERICAN KESTREL, and approximately 400-500 peeps moving around, a
combination of LEAST SANDPIPER and WESTERN SANDPIPER. I also spotted a
LESSER YELLOWLEGS in the fresh water marsh. There were reports of TURKEY
VULTURE flying over the parking lot.
73 species for the day, with 163 species for the year on my list. Mammals
seen included Cotton-tailed Rabbit, Coyote, Columbia Black-tailed Deer,
Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Harbor Seal.
Until next week when we meet again at 8am, happy birding.
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