[Tweeters] Stilly to Deception today (long, as usuial)

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Sat Nov 21 21:50:09 PST 2015

Hi Tweets - Just couldn't resist escaping the vast city of Edmonds this sunny day, so we got a late start and headed north to the recently flooded Stilly delta and on to Deception Pass. Good news is that Silvana has emerged, as usual, from the flood waters and only a few local residents were still shoveling Stilly mud out of their garages. Farmers were busy at both concrete silage bunkers on Norman Rd. so we didn't stop to search for the usual sparrow bonanza at those places. A lot of water remained on both sides of the road and much of it was frozen. Big news is that there were huge numbers (many 100s!)of swans along the route; the ones we ID'd were Trumpeters but, who knows?? A few ducks (the usual Mallards, GW Teal, Bufflehead, and a couple of Shovelers) were present in unfrozen places. Near the west end of Norman Rd. and later on Thomle Rd., we saw at least 3 pr of Bald Eagles at, and IN, previously used nests - this seem really early, but hey...it's a weird year. Along Bow Rd. there was the classic scene: a dozen or more hunters sitting on chairs with their eager dogs, 100 ft north of the road, and 1,000s of Snow Geese feeding contentedly in fields to the south of the road. While we were there, none of the SNGO got the ill-advised urge to get up and fly north, so peace prevailed (along with fab views to the finally-snowy mountains to the east; I never realized till this year how much I count on seeing snowy peaks on both sides of my world [Olys and Cascades]-- ALL summer!). In any case, we didn't trespass too much on the TNC property, but could see Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks scattered about over the marshes and flats to the north and west.
On Thomle Rd. we had great looks at a Sharp-shinned Hawk and a couple of American Kestrels and a few of the consistent local passerines. We made to Eide Rd. (Leque Is.) for lunch and while watching a parade of hunters out across the corn stubble, picked out a large number of Northern Harriers and a single Short-eared Owl way out there (OK, so noon isn't exactly crepuscular, even in November). The other highlight for me, here (in addition to a Northern Shrike along the entrance road) was about a dozen Western Meadowlarks, flitting about the meadows. Nothing like a nice bright yellow breasted bird to relieve late fall doldrums.
On to the north, we saw another Sharpie just before reaching the new Conway circle. But, Fir Island was remarkable for 2 things today: A - we didn't see a single Snow Goose or swan or, a single swan here - highly unusual it seems!?! B: there was a large flock of Dunlin (500+) along with a couple dozen Black-bellied Plovers in muddy ponds opposite the (closed) Snow Goose farm/ice cream stand.
Rosario Head was glorious (but closed) in sun and little wind - Highlights here, as usual, were close-in Harlequin Ducks and Black Oystercatchers. Scope views of these gaudy birds were much appreciated by some passers-by - I think we all need to share special critters with the 'general public' when we can! From the top of the rock (the Head?) at Rosario, there were many gulls working tide rips well offshore, but few alcids other than Pigeon Guillemots. Several Harbor Porpoise were also enjoying whatever was the main course. A large number of (probable) Red-throated Loons were flying south well offshore.
Off to Deception Pass SP, on the West Beach rocks, were a few more HADU and BLOY, as well as a couple of Herring Gulls. Offshore, were many more Pigeon Guillemots (several dozen) and quite a few Surf Scoters. The setting sun on the ride back to Edmonds was fabulous on peaks from Mt. Baker - to 3 Fingers - to Rainier. Nice day - 57 spp. counting the yard this morning!! Happy Birding! - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

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