[Tweeters] Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, etc. / Caryn / Wedgwood

Caryn Schutzler bluedarner1 at seanet.com
Mon May 4 10:28:14 PDT 2015

Good morning, Tweeters -

Back from a wonderful weekend viewing the incredible shorebird spectacle at the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival in Hoquiam. Weather was equally spectacular.

We actually stayed in Aberdeen with a view of the river out back. We even had a couple pair of Canada Geese each with little ones at different ages. It was fun watching them guide them around their territory - sometimes in a straight line like the trains overhead. Also watched a GB Heron do some fishing.

Friday morning: we went out to the HS (oops - it's a school day...further down the road where the signs were! DUH!) We met our amazing bird pal Dianna Moore, at her desk, taking names, setting us straight and on our way. Headed to the Sandpiper Trail about 10:30 to see what was happening. There were already 20+thousands of peeps - mostly W. Sandpipers and Dunlin and several SP Plovers. Missed the BP Plovers that were mixed in last year. The tide was not as high as last year, so they did not come in quite as close but still got all the amazing aerobatics - some of course induced by hunting raptors. (We did get to see upstairs in Hoquiam HS a Peregrine and Turkey Vulture up close and personal. It's always great to be able to see them without having to strain your neck.) After walking by them once, I realized two wonderful volunteers from Nisqually Jan and Nancy (did I get that right guys??) were there again, doing their counting magic as well as answering a gazillion questions - a million from me alone!! Thank you!

Saturday was beyond spectacular!! We decided to head out to Bottle Beach after several recommendations. Arriving at high noon, there was no need to wait or walk very far - the birds waiting for us, just below the high tide line - in huge numbers!! Sandpipers, Dunlin, Dowitchers (L/S?). Jim Danzenbaker had mentioned seeing Red Knot so we were hoping to spot them. With the help of the Tooheys (sp), they first got them in their scope, although our scopes were not needed since they were all so close. They are always a treat to see with a bit of work. But the highlight for us came as one man walking back mentioned that there were Ruddy Turnstones in the mix. We had not seen one before. There were about 4 of them. I got a few photos of one working on a shell. We stayed at BB for about three hours. The birds did too - feeding and resting and seemingly unnerved by all who watched (although there were probably only about 20 people or so).

Back to get ready to head to the Elks for dinner and the presentation by Jim Danzenbaker. The evening was well planned - first met there by Dianna, again at the desk - a nice social hour prior to dinner. I was so impressed by all the people that made this event happen and do so much work to make it such a success. Dinner was great followed by opening speeches and then to Jim Danzenbaker who gave a presentation "Birds without Borders" - explaining the long trek for all the shorebirds to the place we all observed them, on their way north. It certainly made it much more heartfelt to realize the distances these birds travel, stopping by for a few days each year for our "entertainment"! Way better than stage show I've seen!! Thank you Jim, for making me more appreciative and putting me in awe of their annual adventure. (And last, but not "least" showing my photo of the Least Sandpiper! ;-))

Just as we were leaving, a couple of "rare birds" started calling my name, and as I peeked around the corner, there was Faye and Diane! What a treat that was - albeit brief, since they were headed north too - home. I'd last seen them on 1/1 on a Ferry Birding New Years Day outing to Bremerton and Back! As we left the building, a beautiful full moon gleamed overhead - hopefully to bring the birds even closer on a higher tide. But we too headed north the next day - home.

On the way back to Seattle, we stopped at Nisqually NWR to see what we could see and a picnic near the barns. (Not quite as long a hike as the Sandpiper Trail!). All leafed out, it was hard to see who was in the trees, but saw a pair of yellow warblers to start. Along the boardwalk, we saw frogs, turtles and snakes - oh my! (Green and black snake - id anyone?) . Then a bunny was lying there. Thought it was dead, but it wiggled alive and hopped off. We did see a Cinnamon Teal pair and later on a Wood Duck pair and then a female Hooded Merganser, preening in a pond in the lovely light. There was a lovely Japanese woman doing Sumi-e beautiful brush paintings - she shared her lovely simple images she captured.

We did see Bushtits and YR Warblers flitting overhead, but I've gone on way too long. Still in a daze over the beautiful weekend. In fact I did have bird dreams after Bottle Beach!

Came home to empty bird feeders as I came back down to earth.

Caryn / Wedgwood (heavy on the "ETC."

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