[Tweeters] Two out of three ain't bad!

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Fri Nov 6 19:11:56 PST 2015

Hi Tweets - Today I set out to try and see three species with varying degrees of unusual in NW Wash. The first target was the 'Queen Eider' along Ruston Way in Tacoma. This one was easy! Driving along Ruston Way, I didn't see the expected gaggle of birders on the Eider so went all the way west to the historic ferry. Looking east from there, I saw Horned Grebes, American Widgeon, and Red-breasted Mergansers, along with 1 chunky duck that looked worthy of a closer look. I drove back east and parked in the long 1-lane parking area. It was quickly evident (about 0830) that this was indeed the female King Eider seen by many in the last 2 days - A lifer!! She continued to be quite successful in finding small crabs on most dives, but was frequently harassed by gulls and sometimes a bit stymied by having come up with a hermit crab in a pretty bulky shell. No problem though - she ended up swallowing the host shells that she couldn't get the crab out of. By the time I left there was a pretty good crowd of happy birders forming!
Next, I headed to Nisqually to try for the Red-shouldered Hawk that seems to have been pretty visible over the last week. Well...it wasn't. After about an hour there (big raptor day, though: BAEA, NOHA, PEFA, MAKE, RTHA), I decided to take a break and head for Olympia for the Northern Mocking bird, also previously seen by many in the last week or so. I drove to the end of Jackson Street and stopped, wondering - OK, what do I do now? I quickly saw a Steller's Jay in a tree in front of me, and Golden-crowned Sparrows in the low shrubbery. Then, quickly, there was motion in a colorful deciduous tree up ahead to the left - It was the NOMO! It was moving about a quite a bit, and before I could get a photo, it flew off to the south, landing on a wire on the next street. It then flew down out of site, so I drove around and went west on Garfield street and in behind a bowling alley where the bird had gone. Parking behind the bowling alley, and walking west, I found the bird (and got some poorly lighted photos) but...I also found about 5 youngsters, one wearing a mask, passing money for goods! I ignored them, and fortunately, they ignored me (the old guy with the bins and the CAMERA!). After I backed out from behind the bowling alley, there was a police car there so I stopped to mention what I'd seen (not the bird), and beat feet out of there. So...the message is - the NOMO likes Jackson Street, but sometimes heads for the bowling alley - Pursue at your own risk!! I then stopped back at Nisqually spending another couple of hours looking hard, with others including Carol Riddell, until about 1330 when we collectively decided to head back north before Friday traffic trapped us away good old Edmonds. Happy Birding!

Jon Houghton,

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